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Easy Skillet Stuffed Spinach Shells & Meatballs

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Cast Iron Skillet on the kitchen counter filled with Stuffed Shells and meatballs in a rich sauce.

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Jumbo size pasta shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, spinach, and parmesan cheese with meatballs, red sauce, baked in a cast iron skillet for a delicious easy dinner your family will love!

I went years without using a Cast Iron pan. I had memories of growing up and seeing scrambled eggs stuck, permanently, to the bottom of the skillet! (I inwardly groaned!  I knew I’d be the one cleaning that pan!) 

It wasn’t until recently, that I discovered if a Cast Iron Skillet is properly seasoned…and the keyword  is “properly” seasoned, they are magically wonderful cooking instruments!  I’ll cover some of the “how to season” a cast iron skillet in this post so that you too can fall in love with “black gold” like I have! 

How To Make Easy Skillet Stuffed Spinach Shells with Meatballs

This dish begins by preparing the pasta. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 14 jumbo pasta shells and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, and set aside.

In a large bowl add 1 egg, 2 cups ricotta cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese, ½ cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained, 1 Tablespoon minced parsley, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic,  1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper.

eggs, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, salt, pepper, and parsley in a bowl for shell filling.

Mix until well combined.

Bowl full of cheeses and spinach mixed until well blended.

Stuff cooked shells with ricotta mixture. Place them on a lined plate or silicone lined baking pan. Set aside as you prepare the meatballs.

Pasta shells sitting on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat, stuffed with cheese filling.

In a large 12 inch cast iron skillet add 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil. Over medium heat add one dozen fresh prepared meatballs, purchased in the meat case of your grocery store. Cook until golden brown and juices run clear.

TIP: You can also use frozen prepared meatballs or make your own meatballs. Another option is to use my recipe for Slow Cooker Meatballs in rich tomato sauce. 

Large cast iron skillet on a stove top with browning meatballs.

How To Properly Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet

The goal is to achieve the perfect semi-shiny black patina on your Cast-Iron Skillet. One that is so slick an egg will slide across it. It takes time, but you can begin here.

There is only one way to achieve that goal. It happens by “baking” the seasoning, or oil, into the cast iron. Here are my tips for creating a well seasoned Cast-Iron Pan.

  • Begin by scrubbing your skillet well in hot water with steel wool.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your skillet really well. I like to place mine directly on the stove top over medium heat and wait till all the water dries.
  • Allow the pan to cool completely.
  • Rub the entire pan with vegetable oil. Inside and out. 
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Place the pan upside down on the baking rack. Bake for ONE hour. 
  • Allow pan to cool completely! 

You should now have a slightly shiny patina on the skillet. Lightly wipe the skillet down with vegetable oil. Wipe off any excess oil. 

Now Back to our Recipe…

In the same cast iron skillet you cooked the meatballs in, add half a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. You can use homemade sauce, but I’m all about keeping this dish quick and easy! Like I always say… “it’s completely up to you to be as creative as you want to be in your kitchen!” So get creative!

Skillet with pasta sauce and meatballs.

Tuck the stuffed pasta shells in amongst the meatballs. Nestle them here and there. They’ll all fit. 12 meatballs and 14 shells! Snuggly Buggily! 

Tomato sauce and meatballs in the bottom of a cast iron skillet and stuffed shells placed in amongst them.

Top with remaining pasta sauce and ½ cup mozzarella cheese and 4 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese.

Top the shells and meatballs with remaining pasta sauce and cheese.

Place the skillet full of goodness into a preheated 350° degree oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden brown. 

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan Cheese and garnish with fresh basil…but only if ya wanna be fancy and impress the family! If you don’t care about all that…just find a serving spoon and dig in! 

Baked Stuffed Pasta Shells and Meatballs with golden cheese and sauce in a large cast iron skillet

Such a great flavorful one skillet dish! I love a meal that shines! The pasta filled with cheesy goodness! The Sauce! The Meatballs. So good!

Make it a meal by serving it with my Three Cheese Garlic French Bread and Caesar Wedge SaladBoth are great sides that accompany this dish beautifully!

If you loved this recipe you may also enjoy these other great skillet meals!

Skillet Main Dish Recipes

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting today! I hope you enjoy this wonderful easy skillet dinner. It’s lasagna on a happy high! Well…at least it makes me happy! 

Happy Nesting!

Signature and photo for Norine

Yield: 6 servings

Easy Skillet Stuffed Spinach Shells & Meatballs

Cast Iron Skillet on the kitchen counter filled with Stuffed Shells and meatballs in a rich sauce.

Jumbo size pasta shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, spinach, and parmesan cheese with meatballs, red sauce, baked in a cast iron skillet for a delicious easy dinner your family will love!

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 1 package 12 fresh meatballs
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup set aside
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese and Fresh Basil for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a medium size bowl combine egg, ricotta cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, and spinach.
  4. Mix until well combined. Stuff each pasta shell with a heaping spoonful of the spinach cheese mixture. Set aside.
  5. In a 12 inch cast iron skillet, over medium heat add 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil. Brown meatballs until juices run clear.
  6. Leave meatballs in the skillet and add half the jar of pasta sauce. Nestle the stuffed shells in-between the meatballs and top with remaining pasta sauce.
  7. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until sauce is bubbling and cheese is lightly brown. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese and fresh Basil.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6 servings

Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 855Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 1382mgCarbohydrates: 91gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 42g

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