Homemade Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe, Ricotta Recipe

Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Mr. Saucy had a birthday recently.  He’s not much on going out to eat…somehow, I do believe that man has gotten spoiled; he just never gets a hankerin’ for eatin’ out food.  So, I decided, “Saucy,” I said, “You need to make that darlin’ a pasta dish for his birthday dinner…he just loves pasta.”  And since stuffed shells is one of his very favorite things, that’s just what I made. 

But, considering it was his birthday, I figured I needed to make it a little more special than my normal stuffed shells…so I made homemade ricotta.  Before you start handin’ me some fancy award for meritorious wifely behavior, I have to say, homemade ricotta is the easiest thing to make.  Ever.  Just don’t tell Mr. Saucy that…since I won some extra points for the effort!

You don’t have to make homemade ricotta, but heck, why not look the hero?  Here’s how you do it:

Homemade Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Recipe type: Entree
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar (or lemon juice) (or ½ teaspoon of citric acid)
  • 12 jumbo shells, cooked and drained.
  • 2 cups of fresh (or store-bought) ricotta
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ½ cup mozzarella, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade and diced
  • ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  2. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl.
  3. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
  4. Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel pot.
  5. Stir in the salt.
  6. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.
  8. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
  9. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl.
  10. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta.
  11. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.*
  13. Cook the shells according to the package instructions.
  14. Drain in a colander.
  15. Set aside.
  16. Place the remaining ingredients into the bowl containing the ricotta.
  17. Stir until completely mixed.
  18. Stuff the cooked shells with the cheese and herb mixture and place into a greased casserole dish with the open side facing up.
  19. Pour 1 cups of the marinara around the shells (reserving the remaining 2 cups, hot in a sauce pan).
  20. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.
  21. Plate the shells and drizzle with the remaining marinara.
* Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

I prefer to use the citric acid because I think it works a bit better than vinegar or lemon juice. Be sure to note the different measurement if you're using citric acid.

I browned some pieces of sweet Italian Sausage because, well…it’s really not a meal to Mr. Saucy if it doesn’t have meat of some sort.  I left it off my plate and so can you.

Check out the ricotta making photos below…you’ll see how easy it is to do! I also included photos of the shell assembly.

Buon compleanno, Mr. Saucy!



The ricotta draining in a sieve lined with cheesecloth…

See how it’s condensing as the whey drains from the curds?

I’m checking for firmness and crumble…

The finished ricotta turned out of the cheesecloth…

A cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano…

The remaining ingredients added to the bowl with the ricotta

The stuffed shells…

The baked shells…

Plate, drizzle marinara over the shells, add meat if you wish…serve…

About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight.

I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I’m gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading…and commenting! P~

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3 Responses to Homemade Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  1. Pingback: Tomato Pie | The Saucy Southerner

  2. Beth says:

    Looks just like what I was looking for. I hope to try this soon. Thanks for sharing it. It seems so scary though, because I’d prefer the homemade ricotta but nervous to try it.

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