The Best Vegan Stuffed Shells | Gluten-Free

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These vegan stuffed shells are made from simple ingredients but don’t fall short on creamy, cheesy flavor! Perfect for a special occasion or holiday meal.

I loved a lot of foods as a kid (unlike my picky brothers), but two foods I particularly loved? Pasta and Cheese. We had regular ol’ noodles at least once a week, but every once in a while my mom would make the best Stuffed Shells. 

These vegan stuffed shells are a little different from my momma’s but they’re still just as creamy, cozy, and satisfying. All thanks to a few simple and accessible plant-based ingredients!

vegan stuffed shells with red sauce and fresh basil on small white plate on marble background

INGREDIENTS FOR VEGAN STUFFED SHELLS

My goal with this recipe was to keep the ingredient list as short and sweet as possible, without cutting short on flavor.

ingredients for stuffed shells in small white bowls on marble background

Stuffed shells are primarily pasta, cheese, and sauce anyways, so you’ll need:

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells: I used gluten-free ones, but regular will work as well
  • Your Favorite Marinara Sauce: kudos to you if you make your own, but I usually take the store-bought route.
  • Vegan Ricotta Cheese: I posted this recipe on my blog a while ago and it hasn’t failed me yet. It’s made some damn good lasagna in the past, and helps to take these vegan stuffed shells to the next level
  • Fresh Basil, for a little extra oomph and greens 🙂

I also added a sprinkle of dairy-free parmesan cheese on top of my shells for some extra texture and flavor, but you can skip it as well.

STEPS TO MAKE VEGAN STUFFED SHELLS

white bowl of vegan ricotta cheese with basil mixed in grey spatula spreading marinara across white baking panstuffed shells in white baking tray with marble background

  1. Par-cook your shells while you make the vegan ricotta
  2. Stuff the shells with above ricotta
  3. Spread some sauce on the base of a pan, then fill with stuffed shells
  4. Top with the remaining marinara and a sprinkle of cheese if you’re feeling fancy, then
  5. Bake, serve, and devour!

The longest part of making stuffed shells is easily the “stuffing” part, but this goes by quickly if you have a Netflix show to watch or friend to help you out 🙂 You can also make the vegan ricotta filling up to two days in advance to save you time day-of!

vegan stuffed shells topped with fresh basil in white casserole dish with metal serving spoon

TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS FOR STUFFED SHELLS

Stuffed shells, unfortunately, are a lot more time-intensive (and inevitably messy) compared to other noodle dishes, such as as baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, or even lasagna. Regardless, here are a few tips to make your next stuffed shell attempt your best one yet:

  • Don’t overcook your pasta. Most jumbo shell boxes will have a modified baking time listed for stuffed shells, especially gluten-free varieties. Whatever you do, don’t fully cook your pasta! We want the noodles to be slightly undercooked, otherwise they’ll turn into a soggy mess after they bake again in the oven. A good rule of thumb is to cut the cooking time in half, then add 2 minutes.
  • Be careful with your shells! Broken shells = less shells for stuffing, so we want to avoid this as much as possible. Make sure to cook your pasta in a pot with plenty of water, so nothing sticks together. Rinse the noodles gently with cool water (for gluten-free), and immediately separate the shells and place them on a baking tray. Yes it’s an extra dish, but well worth the saved effort.
  • A piping bag makes things so much easier. Unfortunately I learned this in retrospect, but stuffing shells with a spoon can easily turn into a hot mess. Use a piping bag (or cut the corner off of another plastic baggie) to place the perfect amount of filling in each shell, without getting your hands dirty.

 These vegan stuffed shells are made from simple ingredients but don't fall short on creamy, cheesy flavor! Perfect for a special occasion or holiday meal. #pasta #stuffedshells #dairyfree #glutenfree #vegan #plantbased | frommybowl.com

If you’re looking for more cozy pasta recipes, you’ll also love this Garlic Cream Sauce Pasta, this Avocado Pesto Pastaand this Mushroom & Garlic Pasta with Brussels Sprouts!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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The Best Vegan Stuffed Shells

vegan stuffed shells with red sauce and basil in white baking dish on marble background

These vegan stuffed shells are made from simple ingredients but don’t fall short on creamy, cheesy flavor! Perfect for a special occasion or holiday meal. 

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

For the Stuffed Shells: 

  • 8 oz jumbo pasta shells (gluten-free or regular) 
  • Vegan Ricotta, below
  • ½ cup (13 g) loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
  • 25 ounce (700 g) jar pasta/marinara sauce of choice
  • 1/41/2 cup dairy-free parmesan (optional)

For the Vegan Ricotta: 

  • 1 block organic firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 35 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (about ½ small lemon) 
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend 
  • 1 tsp pink himalayan or sea salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  2. Par-cook the pasta: most jumbo shell packages will have cooking instructions for stuffed shells, but if not, cut the cooking time of the pasta in half, then add two minutes. Make sure to cook the shells in a large pot with plenty of (salted) water and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Once the noodles have finished cooking, carefully drain them and rinse with cold water, then lie each shell out on a clean baking tray to prevent sticking.
  3. Make the Ricotta: by adding all ingredients to a food processor and processing until smooth and creamy, 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and fold in the freshly chopped basil, reserving a few leaves to sprinkle on top after the shells bake.
  4. Stuff the Shells: add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the base of a 9 x 13″ pan and spread it around evenly with a spatula. Use a spoon, cookie dough scoop, or piping bag to fill each shell, gently close it, then place it cut side-up in the pan. The amount of ricotta needed will vary on the size of the shell; I used gluten-free shells and used around 2 tablespoons for each shell.
  5. Cover the shells with the remaining marinara and parmesan cheese, if using, then bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Top with additional fresh basil, then serve warm.

Notes

  • This recipe doesn’t call for many ingredients, so purchase the highest quality ones that you can.
  • If you’d like to you can also add up to 6 ounces of frozen spinach to the mix for extra veggies! Just be sure to thaw it completely and squeeze as much of the extra liquid out as possible

Keywords: vegan stuffed shells, dairy free stuffed shells, gluten free stuffed shells, egg free stuffed shells, healthy stuffed shells, vegan stuffed shells oil free

 

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. This was a hit! I couldn’t find pasta shells so I ended up buying jumbo rigatoni and made the recipe as a pasta bake instead. I also added spinach and topped with vegan cheese. The ricotta recipe was stellar!

  2. Made this for dinner and it was so good! Caitlin’s recipes never disappoint so I was delighted to find a stuffed shell recipe. It was the perfect dinner and the ricotta will definitely be making an appearance in other meals.

    Side note: piping the shells was an A+ tip and there was no mess.

  3. I can’t wait to make it! First of all it looks delicious, secondly I read the comments and everyone is so enthusiastic about it! Even non vegans liked it, just what I’m looking for. Thanks for the recipe, and the beautiful pictures. I’ll try it soon!

  4. I made this for my younger cousins (non-vegan) along with some vegan garlic bread and salad and they LOVED it. I’m happy to have this in my recipe arsenal, it was absolutely delicious.

  5. So delicious! My husband loved it. Very creamy and the basil was a great touch.

    Any chance you have the nutritional values? Wasn’t sure if I missed it or if you had it.

    Thanks!

    1. So glad you both enjoyed it! Out of personal philosophy we don’t calculate calories/nutritional info but you can use something like Cronometer to figure that out for any meal!

  6. This looks amazing! What pan are you using for baking in the oven ? Is it ceramic?
    Can’t wait to try!

  7. This meal was DIVINE! Caitlin thank you for putting so much time into each recipe, the quality shows! I made it for Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend loved it:)

  8. This was absolutely delicious! We added some mushrooms in the marinara sauce before putting it in the baking dish and my non-vegan family loved it. Thanks Caitlin for another amazing recipe <3

  9. I made this recipe for a holiday potluck. Everyone loved it, even my non-veggie friends! I will definitely be making these stuffed shells again.

  10. Delicious! I added mushrooms to the sauce and ricotta mixture, and added spinach to the ricotta as well. Turned out amazing!! Thank you Caitlin ❤️

  11. Loved this recipe! The vegan ricotta is so good – had to resist eating it with a spoon. Took it along with a SAD version to a holiday pot luck and the vegan version was gone first. I made my own marinara sauce and I used a hemp seed/nutritional yeast vegan parmesan recipe for the topping. Yummy! Thank you Caitlin. Your recipes never disappoint!