Can You Freeze Stuffed Shells?

Stuffed shells are a delicious pasta dish. They can be stuffed with all sorts of fillings and can be served as either a family meal or for a special event. However, what if you make too many or you want to make them in advance for a quick meal? Can you freeze them?

Is it Possible to Freeze Stuffed Shells?

The simple answer is yes, and that goes for both shop-bought shells and homemade ones. You can even freeze them with their fillings although you do have to take care with some fillings. For example, the most popular filling is a mixture of ricotta and spinach, but ricotta has a lot of moisture in it. You need to make sure that you have drained the filling completely, otherwise it will make the shells go soggy when they are thawed.

You can choose to completely cook your shells before freezing, in which case they will only need reheating, or you can partially cook them before freezing and then finish cooking them when they have defrosted.

Step-by-Step Guide to Freezing Stuffed Shells

  1. The shells have to be boiled to a certain extent to enable you to stuff them. You can choose to boil them part of the way or you can boil them completely so all that they will need is reheating.
  2. Let the shells cool down. This shouldn’t take long. Once they have cooled down, fill them with whatever your choice of stuffing is.
  3. You can add the sauce now if you wish, but this isn’t really a good idea. Once defrosted, the sauce may become watery. It is far better to add the sauce when you are going to serve the stuffed shells. Of course, if you are making a homemade sauce, you can freeze this at the same time.
  4. The next step is to flash freeze the shells. Place them on a lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer until they have hardened slightly. Make sure that they aren’t touching each other so that they don’t stick together.
  5. Get a hard airtight freezer container and put the shells in  next to each other. Even though it will have a lid, it is a good idea to wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before you put the lid on. This is an extra protection against air getting in the container. Air can cause freezer burn and while this isn’t detrimental to your health, it can alter the taste and texture of your food. It certainly won’t be as tasty.

Defrosting and Cooking Frozen Stuffed Shells

You have the choice of either defrosting the shells in the fridge overnight or heating them straight from the freezer. Either method will work although you will have to adjust the cooking time. It obviously takes longer to cook the shells from frozen. You will have to remove the shells from the plastic container as it won’t be oven safe. Put them into an oven safe container and pour over the sauce. Heat until the shells are cooked all the way through and the sauce is hot. It is best to serve the shells immediately while they are hot and steaming (see also Can You Freeze Dumplings).

A Recipe for Stuffed Shells

You can make the pasta from scratch (see also Freezing Dry Pasta) which is a good idea if you’re trying to impress guests. You would, in this case, need to have a pasta machine for the best results. However, for everyday dinners, why not just get store-bought hollow pasta shells (see also How To Freeze Ziti). This also negates the need to shape the shells which can be tricky. 

This is our suggestion for one of the best fillings you can stuff your shells with.

  • 15 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained completely of water
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese, drained
  • 10 oz. mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Basil, salt, and pepper

Mince the garlic cloves and then put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir. Once the mixture is combined, stuff the shells and then freeze. When you come to reheat them, you can sprinkle over some more mozzarella and parmesan (see also Can You Freeze Grated Parmesan) so that the dish oozes cheese. Get a pan and grease it. Put in the shells, pour over a sauce of your choice, tomato (see also Freezing Tomato Soup) and basil is probably best, and then heat in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy.

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