This giant cheese stuffed shells Olive Garden copycat recipe is so simple to make (and delicious) you’ll wonder why you have been going to the restaurant! We stuff the giant pasta shells with an Italian cheese blend, bake them on top of marinara, and drizzle them with creamy alfredo sauce. Sounds fancy? This Italian meal is ready in less than 1 hour!
When you bake a batch of Olive Garden stuffed shells, you get the best of both worlds because of the marinara and alfredo sauce. While I love all of their pasta dishes, grilled chicken alfredo is another one that I am a real sucker for. They also have the best fried mozzarella which I recreated into raviolis that are much better!
If you want the full experience of Olive Garden pasta night, start with this Italian salad and garlic knots, and finish the dinner with cannoli or a slice of the best no-bake cheesecake you’ve ever tried! Side note: once you taste jumbo stuffed shells, there’s no turning back. We also like to use them to make chipotle stuffed chicken pasta and taco stuffed shells!
Why You’ll Love This Olive Garden Cheese Stuffed Shells Copycat Recipe
- Super simple, but tastes just like the restaurant!
- Ready in under an hour.
- Can be made in a variety of ways.
- Very filling even when you don’t serve them with side dishes.
What Ingredients do I Need for Olive Garden’s Stuffed Shells Recipe?
- jumbo pasta shells
- panko breadcrumbs
- unsalted butter
- marinara sauce – using store-bought is easiest, but so is my homemade marinara and it tastes better!
- ricotta – we used full-fat ricotta cheese, but you can use low-fat as well for the same taste.
- parmesan cheese – freshly shredded adds a new layer of flavor!
- mozzarella cheese
- coarse black pepper
- garlic cloves – you can also use store-bought minced garlic or swap for a couple of dashes of garlic powder.
- cream cheese – allow time for it to soften up before using.
- half ‘n’ half or light cream
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Fresh parsley (for garnish)
Pro Tip: Avoid overcooking the pasta shells. They are best when they are al dente because we are going to bake them as well, plus they are easier to stuff.
How to Make Giant Stuffed Cheese Shells Like Olive Garden
PREP: Preheat the oven and boil the pasta shells. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter and stir it in with the breadcrumbs, then toast so they are golden brown.
MAKE THE CHEESE MIXTURE AND ALFREDO SAUCE: Mix the cheese, egg, and pepper in a medium bowl, then set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in a skillet, then add the garlic. Stir in the cream cheese and whisk. While whisking add the half and half and the rest of the parm. Stir until smooth.
STUFF THE SHELLS AND BAKE: Pour the marinara into the bottom of the pan. Spoon the cheese mixture into each shell and place on top of the sauce. Drizzle the alfredo sauce over the shells. Bake until the cheese is warm and top with the buttery bread crumbs and parsley.
- These shells are nice and full, so the serving size is three per person. To make it go further, use more shells and less cheesy filling in each one. Also, check out the variations below for adding protein and veggies.
- Cut down on time by using store-bought alfredo instead of homemade.
The dinner mints that you get at Olive Garden are custom-made by the company that produces Andes mints.
- Top with meat sauce or vodka cream pasta sauce instead of alfredo.
- Stuff the shells with ground beef or Italian pork sausage, along with the cheese blend.
- Go meatless and add vegetables. Simply saute them, then mix them in with the cheese.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.
While there may be a few technicalities on the difference long ago, now the main difference is the shape of the pasta. You can stuff both with whatever you would like!
About 1-2 minutes using the microwave. Before you reheat, add a little water or additional sauce on the top so they aren’t dry. You can also reheat them in the oven (covered with aluminum foil) until they are warmed through.
Copycat Olive Garden Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells
- 12 jumbo pasta shells about ⅓ of a standard package
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 12 oz. marinara sauce ½ of a standard jar
- 16 oz. ricotta
- ⅔ cup parmesan cheese divided
- ⅓ cup grated provolone
- ½ cup grated mozzarella
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese sliced and softened
- 1 cup half ‘n’ half or light cream
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stovetop and cook the jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions.
- Melt one tablespoon of butter and stir it into the breadcrumbs until they are evenly moistened. Spread breadcrumbs on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes until toasted.
- In a bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, ⅓ cup provolone, ½ cup mozzarella, ½ teaspoon black pepper and the egg. Mix until combined. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining butter (4 tablespoons). Saute the minced garlic in the butter 1–2 minutes until fragrant and slightly golden. Add the cream cheese to the skillet and whisk until combined (mixture will be lumpy).
- While whisking, add the cream to the skillet, cooking and whisking until smooth. Add in the remaining parmesan cheese, whisking until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat.
- Assemble shells by pouring the marinara sauce into a baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture then arrange stuffed shells on top of the marinara sauce.
- Drizzle the Alfredo sauce over the shells. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese filling is heated through.
- Garnish with toasted breadcrumbs and finely minced parsley.
Serving size is 3 stuffed shells per person. These are stuffed nice and full. You could use additional shells and spread the stuffing mixture between them to make the ingredients go further. Substitute store bought alfredo sauce if you wish. The buttery toasted panko breadcrumbs add nice crunch and flavor to the finished dish.