No Need to Boil Pasta with This Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce Recipe
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Love Instant Pot meals the whole family can enjoy?
You’ve gotta check out these insanely delicious cheesy stuffed shells with meat sauce that you can make entirely in an Instant Pot! Yep, there’s no boiling the noodles first, which saves a step and makes this meal super smart and efficient. More importantly, this is possibly the best-tasting meal I’ve ever made using my Instant Pot pressure cooker, which makes me even more excited to share it with you!
Hip Tip: Don’t own an Instant Pot? Keep reading for slow cooker instructions.
Easy to find pantry ingredients are the BEST!
Yep, there’s nothing super fancy or over the top expensive here. We’re simply using traditional stuffed shells or common lasagna ingredients. Grab a jar of spaghetti or marinara sauce your family prefers and a box of the jumbo stuffed shells. I used the entire box of dried shells, and it all fit nicely in my 6-quart Instant Pot.
We used ground beef for a meat sauce, and next time I’d like to maybe try making this with ground sausage – yum! If you prefer a meatless dish, I’m confident you could just leave that step off and follow through with the rest of the process.
Using three types of cheese creates the ultimate cheese-fest you’re gonna love. I definitely prefer the richer whole milk ricotta texture to skim, but that’s up to you. Try using cream cheese if you’re not a ricotta fan. I added spinach to my cheese mixture and that was yummy, too, but optional.
Hip Tip: An easy way to get all the moisture out of frozen spinach is to defrost it, then press it against a small colander using another bowl or your hand to drain moisture.
Stuffing the shells takes a little time and patience.
For this reason, I’m not suggesting this as the fastest weeknight meal to prepare after you’ve worked all day and have been to multiple kids sports practices or games. LOL It’s a fairly straightforward recipe idea and worth the extra bit of effort to fill those shells – I promise, the results will be so TASTY! You could even fill your shells a day beforehand as a prep ahead idea.
For the jumbo shells, I honestly do NOT recommend this Market Pantry brand from Target that I used, as many of them were closed up super tightly, which made them a tad more tedious to fill. I have heard that the Barilla brand jumbo shells are great. (I also read later that running tightly-closed shells under warm water for a bit will soften them.)
Hip Tip: Place cheese filling inside a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and cut one end to use it like a squeezable pastry bag to fill shells.
After filling the shells, brown the meat at the bottom of the Instant Pot. Then stack all the stuffed cheese shells on top of the meat. Pour water and then the jar of sauce over the top of the shells, and seal the lid for cooking.
Once finished, top with the remaining cheese and cover with the lid again for about five minutes to let it melt (the noodles will soak up the remaining liquid nicely).
Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce
yield: 8 SERVINGS
prep time: 40 MINUTES
cook time: 8 MINUTES
total time: 48 MINUTES
This Instant Pot meal features delicious cheese and spinach filled shells with a hearty marinara meat sauce prepared using just one pot!
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
- 1 egg
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, shedded
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded & divided
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 12 oz. jumbo shells, uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 25 oz. jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce
- fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes for garnish
Serious comfort food ahead!
Oh man, this was so good. One can never go wrong with all that gooey melted cheese and a hearty sauce! My kids had seconds, and they’re tough critics when it comes to Instant Pot meals. This recipe also makes a generous amount of food if you have a larger family. The leftovers were great warmed up again for lunch the next day.
This Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce recipe was such a winner for us!
Slow Cooker instructions:
While I haven’t made this in the slow cooker yet, others have had great success with this recipe! Brown meat on the stove first, and follow the rest of the directions – except slow cook on low for 4-5 hours until pasta is cooked and tender. I did notice that most slow cooker stuffed shell recipes call for two jars of marinara sauce.