Mexican Stuffed Shells – If you love Mexican food and love food that reheats well for leftovers, then try these simple, yet delicious Mexican Stuffed Shells. A perfect main dish recipe!
This Mexican Stuffed Shells recipe is not only a great weeknight meal, but a fantastic make-ahead-and-freeze meal as well! Decadently cheesy with delicious Mexican flair, this meal is destined to become a family favorite in your home, just as it has in ours.
Busy weeknights call for appropriately non-time consuming dinners, and these busy at-home Mexican Stuffed Shells are the perfect meal for those nights when you’re short on time.
Whether you’re making them fresh that day or popping a frozen pan of them in the oven, these tasty guys will bring loads of flavor to the table within just an hour of your time!
I love recipes that are easy to double and freeze. Freezer meals are great for days when you’re pressed for time, feeling sick, or even for taking to a friend in need. So whip up a batch of these delightful Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells (actually, make two! One for now, and one for the freezer) and enjoy!
What do I need to make Mexican Stuffed Shells?
For this simple and delicious Mexican Stuffed Shells recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Jumbo pasta shells – you’ll want the jumbo shells for stuffing, anything else is too small to work with. If you can’t find jumbo shells, you can use a smaller shell and mix everything together as a casserole instead.
- Ground beef – ground beef makes up the protein portion of your stuffed shells. Feel free to substitute your favorite ground meat!
- Taco seasoning – if you don’t already have packets of taco seasoning, I highly recommend you try our homemade taco seasoning recipe!
- Salsa – here’s where you can amp up or reduce some of the spice factor in your Mexican Stuffed Shells. Go mild or hot — whatever your family’s preference! We like to use black bean & corn salsa.
- Cream cheese – adding a bit of room temperature cream cheese to your stuffed shell filling provides a richness and creaminess that is utterly delicious!
- Red enchilada sauce – here’s another way you can play with the spice level of your Mexican Stuffed Shells. Not a fan of red sauce? Try subbing a green salsa and enchilada sauce!
- Cheddar cheese – nothing says comfort food like melty cheese topping, and this recipe is no exception!
- Monterey Jack cheese – Monterey Jack Cheese has a wonderful texture when melted. If you’d like more kick in you dish, you can sub for Pepper Jack! A Mexican blend or Colby Jack also work great!
How to make Mexican Stuffed Shells?
Making these Mexican Stuffed Shells may seem complicated but trust me, they are SO easy to make!
- Cook your pasta shells!
- While Pasta is cooking, in a separate pan, cook your ground beef mixture.
- Stuff your cooked shells with your ground beef mixture.
- Place stuffed shells in pan and cover with sauce.
- Bake, then top with your favorite toppings!
What to serve with Mexican Stuffed Shells?
I believe the toppings really elevate and customize this delicious dinner. Some of our favorites are diced tomatoes, guacamole or diced avocado, sour cream, cilantro, shredded lettuce, olives, green onions, jalapenos, and/or bell peppers.
Some other tasty ideas are:
What Easy Side Dishes go with Mexican Stuffed Shells?
Below are some great, tried-and-true side dishes from Num’s the Word that would pair excellently with your tasty Mexican Stuffed Shells.
- Esquites Recipe
- Sour Cream Rice
- Authentic Mexican Rice
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Broccoli Salad
- Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
- Carrot Casserole
- Creamed Corn Casserole
- Pistachio Fruit Salad
- Squash Casserole
Can you freeze Mexican Stuffed Shells?
Absolutely, you can freeze Mexican Stuffed Shells! In fact, I highly recommend you do, as it’s a great freezer meal that is simple to prepare and reheat.
Prepare the shells as directed up until it’s time to bake. DO NOT bake the stuffed shells before freezing.
I recommend preparing the stuffed shells you intend to freeze in a disposable pan, that way you don’t have to worry about clean up later!
Once shells are prepared, cover them tightly with foil and freeze.
You can freeze your Mexican Stuffed Shells for up to three months.
How to cook frozen Mexican Stuffed Shells?
When you’re ready to cook, you can either thaw in the freezer for 24 hours or cook from frozen.
To bake from frozen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the casserole dish in the oven, still covered tightly with foil, for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered, until the cheese is bubbly and the casserole is heated through.
Shells should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees when reheating.
Whether you are making this meal on a busy weeknight, preparing it for freezing and use on a future day, or both, this delicious Mexican Stuffed Shell recipe is sure to be a hit with your family.
Simple, cheesy, and delicious with so many customization options, even the pickiest of eaters can find something to love about this recipe! Enjoy!
- 25 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey
- 1 package taco seasoning or 2 Tablespoons of your own homemade
- 1 1/2 cup salsa (we like black bean & corn salsa)
- 4 ounces of cream cheese (1/2 a block), room temperature.
- 1 cup red enchilada sauce (or more per taste preference)
- 1 cup Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
- Sour cream (optional)
- Avocado (optional)
- Black Olives (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350*F
- Cook sells according to package directions. You'll want to make about 25 of them.
- While shells are cooking, in a separate skillet, combine ground beef, taco seasoning and salsa. Cook until beef is cooked through.
- Add cream cheese to beef and mix well. Continue mixing until cream cheese is melted and well combined with beef mixture.
- Shells should be done right about now. Lay sells out individually on a plate or rack so they don't stick together.
- In a 9x13 baking dish, pour 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce onto bottom of the dish.
- Stuff shells with beef mixture and put them into the pan, keep them close!
- Once pan is full, drizzle remaining 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce over shells and top with cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and shells are hot.
- Top with sour cream, avocado, olives or additional salsa.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 945Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 977mgCarbohydrates: 111gFiber: 9gSugar: 7gProtein: 48g
Photos updated: July 21, 2017
Photos & Text Updated: March 9, 2021