This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

The classic ricotta stuffed shells dish made vegan! This plant-based version is just as delicious, satisfying, and comforting! These vegan stuffed shells are filled with a creamy ricotta and spinach filling and baked in plenty of marinara sauce!

Vegan stuffed shells topped with chopped parsley in a baking dish.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Packed with bold flavors. From the slightly tangy ricotta to the garlic, spinach, and marinara sauce, this Italian-American classic surely doesn’t lack flavor.
  • Family-friendly. These shells are perfect for feeding a small crowd. Both grown-ups and kids love it!
  • Great for meal prep. You can make these shells one day ahead of time and even freeze the stuffed shells to bake them later.

📘 What Are Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells is a pasta dish that consists of jumbo shells stuffed with a filling that can be made of cheese and/or some type of meat and baked in a sauce. It’s a delicious, family-friendly dish that is both hearty and comforting.

🧄 Ingredient Notes

Here is what you will need:

  • Jumbo shells – Also called “Conchiglioni”, jumbo shells are a type of pasta that resembles a sea shell. It is large and specifically designed to be stuffed. You can use regular jumbo shells or a gluten-free version if you want to keep this recipe free of gluten.
  • Vegan ricotta – Ricotta makes the base of the filling. It brings creaminess and a fresh flavor to this dish. You can use homemade vegan ricotta or store-bought one.
  • Spinach – I chose frozen spinach as it’s more convenient and available year-round. If you have access to fresh spinach, use that instead, it will be even tastier!
  • Nutritional yeast – For cheesiness. Feel free to double the amount if you want the filling to be more cheesy.
  • Dried thyme and oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic, not garlic powder. I used two whole garlic cloves for plenty of garlic flavor, but you can use just one if you want it less pungent.
  • Chopped basil or parsley – Optional. I like to chop 4-5 leaves of fresh basil if I have some on hand and stir it into the ricotta filling. It adds a subtle peppery flavor.
  • Tomato sauce – Basically, any tomato sauce will work. A few tasty options are marinara or passata sauce. I also tried this dish with arrabbiata sauce, but I thought the spiciness of the sauce didn’t really balance well with the ricotta filling.
Ingredients like ricotta, jumbo shells, spinach, and tomato sauce.

🥣 How to Make It

This recipe is simple to prepare, but be aware that stuffing each shell takes some time, so patience is recommended!

Combining ricotta, garlic, spinach, nutritional yeast, and herbs in a bowl.

It starts with the filling that is made in just one bowl. To prepare the filling:

  1. Add the vegan ricotta to a mixing bowl.
  2. Finely mince the garlic and chop the spinach. Add them to the ricotta.
  3. Next, season with nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and dried herbs.
  4. Stir to combine and taste to adjust the saltiness to your liking. Set aside.
Stirring vegan ricotta with spinach and garlic in a bowl.

Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the jumbo shells. I cooked mine for 10 minutes, but depending on the brand, you might have to adjust the cooking time.

The shells should be al dente, even slightly under-cooked, as they will be baked later. Once the shells are ready, drain them and rinse them under cold water. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. This will prevent the shells from sticking to each other.

Pasta shells filled with ricotta and spinach.

Finally, it’s time to assemble! To do so:

  1. Pour the marinara or passata sauce into a baking dish.
  2. Using a spoon, fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling.
  3. Arrange the shells, seam up, in the baking dish. Note: I baked 9 shells in a rectangle dish (as shown in the photos) and the 5 leftovers in another smaller dish. Feel free to bake the 14 shells in a single baking dish!
  4. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Next, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

❄️ Freezing

If you want to freeze these vegan shells:

  1. Fill each shell with the ricotta filling. Place them on a baking dish or plate, making sure they don’t touch each other. Freeze them for 4-6 hours.
  2. Next, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. Stuffed shells will keep for up to 2 months.
  3. To bake, add the tomato sauce to a baking dish, arrange the frozen shells on top, and cover with foil.
  4. Bake covered in a 400°F (200°C) preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.

🥗 What to Serve It With

You can serve these shells with a green salad like this 10-Minute Carrot & Kale Salad, or with sautéed vegetables like Garlic Winged Beans or Caramelized Zucchini!

Close-up of vegan stuffed shells.

📔 Tips

  • Do not overcook the shells. Since the shells are baked for about 20 minutes in a sauce, I recommend slightly undercooking them.
  • Cook 2-3 extra shells. Jumbo shells are fragile, and some may break during cooking or filling. I recommend cooking at least 2 more shells, in case some break.
  • Tweak the filling to your liking. You can add chopped sautéed mushrooms to the filling if you want to make it heartier.
  • Top with vegan cheese! While I didn’t add topping here, I highly recommend sprinkling some grated vegan cheese on top of the shells before baking. It’s basically the icing on the cake, and your shell dish will taste even more satisfying!
  • Garnish. Once baked, top with stuffed shells with chopped parsley or cilantro. It will add not only color but also flavor!
Close-up of a jumbo shell filled with ricotta.

💬 FAQ

Can I substitute the vegan ricotta?

Yes, you can use your favorite store-bought vegan ricotta or simply use medium or firm tofu. If using tofu, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the filling to add some tanginess, as well as increasing the salt.

Can I prepare these shells ahead of time?

Yes, you can stuff the shells and place them in a baking dish with the sauce. Then, cover with aluminum foil and keep for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Bake as noted in the recipe.

How long do these shells keep?

Once baked, you can keep the shells for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Reheat covered with foil for about 15 minutes in a 375°F (190°C) preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

I hope you are going to love these vegan stuffed shells with ricotta! It’s a comforting and satisfying dish that is saucy and so flavorful!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Stuffed shells with ricotta and  tomato sauce in a baking dish.
full of plants in envelope

Want to Save This Recipe?

Enter your email below & we’ll send it straight to your inbox! Plus, you will receive new recipes every week!

Save Recipe

I’d like to receive more tips & recipes from Full of Plants.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recipe

Vegan Stuffed Shells (With Spinach and Ricotta)

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
The classic ricotta stuffed shells dish made vegan! This plant-based version is just as delicious, satisfying, and comforting! These vegan stuffed shells are filled with a creamy ricotta and spinach filling and baked in plenty of marinara sauce!
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Cook Time : 35 minutes
Total Time : 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 14 shells

Ingredients
 

Ricotta Filling

  • 9 ounces vegan ricotta
  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil optional, chopped

The Rest

  • 14 Jumbo shells
  • 1 and 1/2 cup marinara sauce or passata sauce

Instructions
 

Ricotta Filling

  • Add the vegan ricotta, chopped spinach, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, black pepper, salt, thyme, oregano, and fresh basil, if using, to a mixing bowl.
  • Stir to combine and taste to adjust the saltiness to your liking. Set aside.

Stuffed Shells

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200°C).
  • Cook the shells. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the jumbo shells for about 10 minutes. Depending on the brand, you might have to adjust the cooking time. The shells should be al dente, even slightly under-cooked, as they will be baked later.
  • Once the shells are ready, drain them and rinse them under water. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. This will prevent the shells from sticking to each other.
  • Stuff the shells. Using a spoon, fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling.
  • Assemble. Pour the marinara or passata sauce into an 8×8-inch baking dish. Arrange the shells, seam up, in the baking dish, over the marinara sauce. 
  • Bake. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Next, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and serve hot with a salad on the side.

Notes

  • Do not overcook the shells. Since the shells are baked for about 20 minutes in a sauce, I recommend slightly undercooking them.
  • Cook 2-3 extra shells. Jumbo shells are fragile, and some may break during cooking or filling. I recommend cooking at least 2 more shells, in case some break.
  • Tweak the filling to your liking. You can add chopped sautéed mushrooms to the filling if you want to make it heartier.
  • Top with vegan cheese! While I didn’t add topping here, I highly recommend sprinkling some grated vegan cheese on top of the shells before baking. It’s basically the icing on the cake, and your shell dish will taste even more satisfying!
  • Garnish. Once baked, top with stuffed shells with chopped parsley or cilantro. It will add not only color but also flavor!
Course : Dinner, Entree
Cuisine : American, Italian
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
Share this recipe!

About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

Leave a Comment

Subscribe
Notify of
Did you make this recipe? Rate it!




7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

With all due respect, ricotta cheese is an animal by-product and therefore not vegan.

Vegan ricotta is plant based, not dairy-based. You can purchase it pre-made from several companies, or there are great recipes for self-made.

5 stars
gorgeous photo! Can’t wait to start trying to make vegan cheeses…i’m so darn allergic to dairy! Thanks for this!!

5 stars
Vegan Stuffed Shells. This is something new for my family this weekend. Thank you for sharing.