Instant Pot Stuffed Shells—jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a beefy cheesy mixture and smothered in marinara sauce.
Related: SLOW COOKER stuffed shells recipe
Instant Pot Stuffed Shells
These stuffed shells have great flavor! My son ate and ate and ate them until he couldn’t eat anymore.
I tried this recipe with two different methods. The first method was to cook uncooked pasta shells directly in the Instant Pot with a marinara sauce. The second method was to cook already boiled pasta shells using the pot-in-pot method.
There are pros and cons to each method. For method 1 you don’t have to boil the pasta noodles. You just stuff the uncooked shells and cook directly inside the pot for only 4 minutes. The cons are that the hard pasta shells are a little hard to stuff. Plus some of the filling escapes the shells when you pressure cook.
How come the burn message doesn’t come on? You might be thinking marinara sauce straight in the bottom of an Instant Pot is a sure-fire way to get the dreaded burn notice. Well I read on Rootitoot this amazing idea and it totally worked…
Thick Sauces Without the Burn Warning
“Here’s how to avoid that dreaded BURN warning when cooking thick, tomato-based sauces like spaghetti sauce and chili.
A little while ago, my son phoned me to say he got the Burn warning while cooking my spaghetti sauce. He loves that sauce; we all do.
“Mom, help! My pot says ‘Burn.’ What should I do?” I gave him the standard “deglaze the pot” thing, but it got me thinking. And a few minutes later, a light bulb went off in my head.
Of COURSE, it burns. It’s a tomato-based sauce just sitting still on a hot element. I wouldn’t dream of putting a sauce like that together, setting it on a hot stove and just walking away to let it heat for 15 minutes without stirring. Neither would you, right? That’s essentially what’s happening inside the Instant Pot. Once a sauce reaches the boil, it virtually stirs itself, but until then, it will likely burn without stirring. But with this method, as long as a sauce has enough liquid to produce the necessary steam, it’ll work without having to water it down.
For these thick sauces, the trick is to brown the meat/vegetables on Saute as you would on the stove, add the other ingredients and be sure to scrape any browned bits off the bottom. Then…the KEY: bring it to a full boil using the Saute function, stirring frequently. Only then do you close the lid and cook under pressure.
When you do close that pot, it will come to pressure within a minute or two so it won’t have time to burn.
So, I phoned my son back and told him what to do. And it worked. He used Saute to bring the spaghetti sauce to a boil and then closed the pot to pressure cook it. It has worked for me ever since. Problem solved.” (from the Rootitoot website)
For method 2 the pasta shells are easier to stuff because they are boiled and pliable. They are cooked using the pot-in-pot method for 15 minutes. The shells retain their filling better when using this method.
So choose the method that you like best and go for it! These shells are the bomb diggity. They are my kids new favorite food!
What Equipment Do I Need?
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. The 8 quart pot will also work for this recipe, no changes. 3 quart pot will work if you halve the recipe. Halve ingredients, same cooking time.
What should I serve with Instant Pot Stuffed Shells?
I’m a fan of a plain green salad with the olive garden salad dressing. You could also serve with garlic bread or garlic knots to sop up of some of the marinara sauce.
More Recipes You’ll Love…
Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a beefy cheesy mixture and smothered in marinara sauce.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 (26 oz jar or can) marinara sauce
- 1 (12 oz) box jumbo pasta shells (has about 42 shells in it)
- 2 cups water
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute (more) setting. When the display says HOT add in the ground beef and break it up*. Add in the salt, garlic powder, pepper, basil, onion powder, parsley and oregano. Brown for about 5 minutes. Pour the meat into a medium mixing bowl.
- Pour 2 cups water into the bottom of the Instant Pot and scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Turn off your Instant Pot.
- Add cottage/ricotta cheese, egg, mozzarella and parmesan into the bowl with the meat. Stir to combine.
- Use your fingers to stuff the meat mixture into the pasta shells. Some shells will be easier to stuff than others.
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting. Pour the marinara sauce into the Instant Pot with the 2 cups of water that’s already in there. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it’s boiling drop in the shells working quickly. Turn off the saute setting.
- Cover the pot and move valve to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 4 minutes. When the time is up let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting and remove the lid.
- Use a large spoon to scoop the shells onto serving plates. Serve with the sauce.
This makes a lot of shells, you can easily halve this recipe. Halve all the ingredients and keep the cooking time the same.
Alternately you can cook the shells ahead of time so that they are pliable and easier to stuff. Boil the noodles according to package directions. Stuff them with filling. Then use the pot in pot method to cook so they do not overcook. Pile the stuffed shells into a pan that will fit inside your Instant Pot. I like to use this 3 quart mini Instant Pot liner inside by 6 or 8 quart pot. Pour the jar of marinara sauce over the shells (you don’t need to add water in with the marinara). Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot. Lower the pan with shells into the bottom of the Instant Pot with a trivet/sling. Cover the Instant pot and turn valve to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 15 minutes. When time is up let the pot sit for 5 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid and serve.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*.
Try swapping out the lean ground beef for a pound of Italian sausage. Then omit all the spices.
- Category: Beef
- Method: Instant Pot
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.