Shotgun Shells Recipe (Oven Baked)

Hey there, my fellow blogger and dear friend! I’m genuinely excited to share a culinary masterpiece that’s been a cherished treasure in my repertoire – Shotgun Shells (Oven Baked). These stuffed pasta shells aren’t your run-of-the-mill recipe; they are a culinary marvel waiting to captivate your taste buds. Imagine a dish that’s not only a guaranteed crowd-pleaser but also a source of ultimate comfort and satisfaction.

Picture this: a quiet evening at home, wrapped in the cozy embrace of your space, or perhaps the joyous anticipation of hosting guests for a memorable meal. This is where Shotgun Shells truly shine, transcending mere sustenance to become a culinary experience.

What makes this dish extraordinary is its ability to effortlessly merge the hearty essence of pasta with a filling that’s a symphony of flavors. It’s a harmonious blend of textures and tastes, where each bite carries the promise of delight. The pasta shells, cooked to perfection, cradle a medley of ingredients that dance on your palate. Savory meat and cheese combine to form a filling that’s both indulgent and comforting.

So, whether you’re seeking solace in the warmth of comfort food after a long day or you’re on a quest to impress your guests with a touch of gourmet brilliance, this recipe is your culinary compass. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey that will not only satisfy your hunger but also ignite your passion for cooking. Shotgun Shells (Oven Baked) are about to become your new favorite indulgence, and sharing them with loved ones will create cherished moments around the dining table.

Choosing the Ingredients:

  • Pasta Shells: The foundation of this recipe, large pasta shells work best. Look for high-quality brands that hold their shape well when cooked.
  • Protein: While the recipe traditionally calls for ground beef, you can opt for lean ground turkey or even ground chicken for a lighter twist.
  • Vegetables: Diced onions and bell peppers add a delightful crunch and sweetness to the filling. Feel free to customize with your favorite veggies like mushrooms or spinach.
  • Sauce: Marinara sauce is a classic choice, but you can experiment with different pasta sauces like tomato basil or a spicy arrabbiata for extra flavor.
  • Cheeses: Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese are the stars here. Go for fresh, high-quality cheeses for the best melt and taste.
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, and pepper provide the essential flavor profile. You can adjust these to suit your taste.

Making Shotgun Shells:

  • Cook the Pasta: Boil the pasta shells until they’re al dente. Be sure not to overcook, as they’ll continue to cook in the oven.
  • Prepare the Filling: Brown your chosen meat in a skillet, then sauté the onions, bell peppers, and garlic until they’re tender. Stir in your sauce of choice and seasonings. Let it simmer to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Stuff the Shells: Carefully fill each pasta shell with the meat and sauce mixture. A small spoon works great for this.
  • Layer and Bake: Create a flavorful base layer in your baking dish with a bit of sauce. Arrange the stuffed shells in the dish and pour the remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  • Baking: Cover the dish with foil and bake until the cheese is beautifully melted and bubbly. You can remove the foil for a few minutes at the end to get that golden crust.

Variations and Substitutions:

  • Vegetarian Option: Skip the meat altogether and load your shells with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or a mix of your favorite vegetables.
  • Cheese Lover’s Twist: Experiment with different cheese blends like cheddar, provolone, or goat cheese for a unique flavor.
  • Healthier Choice: Opt for whole wheat pasta shells and use ground turkey or lean beef to make it a bit healthier.
  • Spice It Up: If you love heat, add some red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the filling for a spicy kick.
  • Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free pasta shells for a gluten-free version of this dish.

Shotgun Shells Recipe (Oven Baked)


  • 12 large pasta shells
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper (red or green)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Drain and set them aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef or turkey until it’s browned and crumbled. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Take a baking dish and spread a thin layer of the sauce mixture at the bottom.
  • Carefully stuff each pasta shell with the meat and sauce mixture and place them in the baking dish.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the stuffed shells.
  • Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • If you like, you can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking to get a golden crust on top.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves if you have them on hand for a touch of freshness.
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