Mexican Stuffed Shells

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Mexican Stuffed Shells are a cheesy, meaty dinner recipe with ground chicken sausage, jumbo pasta shells, and enchilada-cheese sauce. A delicious fusion of spicy Mexican flavors with Italian pasta. A perfect weeknight meal. 

9x13 pan of Mexican Stuffed Shells

My family has always loved pasta dinners. From carbonara to puttanesca, we would happily eat pasta several nights a week. But sometimes the classics can get boring. That’s why we love this unique twist on Italian stuffed shells.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This satisfying dish is comforting and kid-friendly. Instead of tomato sauce, it uses salsa and enchilada sauce. Instead of ground beef, chicken sausage. The result is more flavorful and festive! 

Update: This recipe is an old favorite, so I’ve updated it with new helpful tips and photos. 

A collage of pictures - unbaked stuffed shells and baked Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells

How to Make Mexican Stuffed Shells

If you’ve made Italian manicotti before, this recipe is quite similar. What’s different is that instead of the savory tomato sauce, you’ll use jarred salsa and enchilada sauce, and jumbo shell pasta. 

You can use your favorite variety of salsa, chunky or smooth will both work. I usually use mild salsa to accommodate my family, but if you like spice, go for medium or hot!

The sauce gets thickened from cream cheese. I often use reduced-fat to lighten up the calories, but full-fat cream cheese will also work. 

The other swap I make is to use chicken sausage rather than ground beef. It’s an easy way to instantly add a flavor boost.

You can use any flavor of ground chicken sausage you like, just keep in mind that hot sausage and hot salsa will add major heat to the dish! Of course if you prefer, you can sub ground beef as well. 

collage of the steps to make mexican stuffed shells in a baking dish

Toppings for Mexican Stuffed Shells

This is ready to eat straight out of the oven, but we often like to dress up the dish with a few fresh toppings. 

You may like to try:

  • Sliced green onions/scallions
  • Pitted black olives
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • More salsa!

Can I Double or Halve the Recipe?

This recipe makes 14 to 16 shells. You can certainly double or halve it to fit your needs, though you’ll want to use a smaller baking dish (probably 8×8) for a half recipe. Likewise, you’ll need two 9×13-inch baking dishes for a double recipe. 

You can freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to three months. Reheat covered with aluminum foil in the oven when you’re ready to serve. 

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with sausage and covered in enchilada sauce and cheese

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Whether you’re planning a Cinco de Mayo menu or just love fresh and fiery Mexican flavors, try these other favorites too:

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9x13 pan of Mexican Stuffed Shells
Yield: 14-16 jumbo shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Mexican stuffed shells feature chicken sausage, jumbo shells, and enchilada sauce with a melty cheese topping for dinner. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground chicken sausage
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • dash cayenne powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
  • 14-16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1.5 cup mild salsa
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese
  • Diced green onions, olives and sour cream for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a frying pan cook ground sausage. Stir in spices and water and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes until the water cooks off. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
  3. Pour salsa on bottom of 9"x13" baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9"x13" pan open side up. Cover shells with enchilada sauce and sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, bake uncovered 10-15 minutes until cheese starts to brown.
  5. Serve with green onions, black olives, sour cream and/or more salsa.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 861Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 1662mgCarbohydrates: 97gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 47g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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