Instant Pot Stuffed Shells


If you like pasta, Instant Pot stuffed shells is the dish for you! A combination of shells, spinach and cheese, what could be better?

Anyway, it’s a great option for meatless Monday or anytime you’d like a vegetarian dinner. You can make it in your Instant Pot or any other pressure cooker in just 25 minutes.

For the marinara sauce , you can make it yourself or just use store-bought.

Can I Use a Different Sauce?

Yes! Feel free to replace the marinara sauce with pesto, meat sauce or any other sauce you like. I’m always doing that when I want to diversify without getting bored of this Instant Pot stuffed shells recipe.

Can I Use Frozen Spinach?

I highly recommend using fresh baby spinach for this recipe. Frozen spinach contains a lot of water, so it may result in the shells becoming too watery.

If you do use frozen spinach, make sure to fully defrost and drain it first, squeezing out as much excess liquid as possible with your hands.

If using fresh spinach, you should briefly boil the spinach, then drain and squeeze out excess water before adding to the cheese mixture. The spinach can be minced after cooking and draining.

More Helpful Tips

It may seem strange to add water to the marinara sauce, but it’s necessary for this recipe. If you don’t add sufficient water, the marinara may start to burn and you’ll get a burn message on your Instant Pot, so make sure to add the full 2 cups of water.

After you add the water, use a wooden spoon or flexible rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and corners of the pot. Sometimes there will be bits of stuck on onion or marinara sauce that could also cause a burn message, so make sure to scrape them off before pressure cooking to prevent this.

Pre-cook the shells al dente—1-2 minutes less than the packaging suggests. This will make the shells flexible enough to stuff without breaking but will prevent them from overcooking and becoming mushy in the pressure cooker. They will be cooked perfectly this way!

How many shells do I need?

Since we are placing the shells in a single layer, the amount change based on your Instant Pot size.

If you have 6-quart Instant Pot – use 16 stuffed shells.

If you have 8-quart Instant Pot – use 20 stuffed shells.

Do You Have More One-Pot Meal Options?

Sure! I’m a huge fan of one-pot pasta dishes that make for easy and satisfying dinners.

If you are looking for more ideas, try this vegetarian lasagna, this chicken alfredo or this spaghetti bolognese.

Instant Pot Stuffed Shells
4.42 from 79 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, pasta, ricotta cheese, Stuffed Shells
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
  • 16-20 pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 10 ounces spinach boiled or defrosted, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook the pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes. Once cooked, rinse under water and put aside.
  • Take a bowl and mix spinach, ricotta, mozzarella (1 cup), parmesan cheese, whisked egg, salt, pepper and minced basil.
  • Stuff the pasta shells with the filling.
  • Press "Saute" and add olive oil to the Instant Pot.
  • Add onion and garlic and cook on saute for 2 minutes, until onion is golden.
  • Add marinara sauce, stir and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add water and stir.
  • Place the stuffed shells in the sauce in one layer.
  • Close the lid and cook at high pressure for about 5 minutes.
  • Once done, do a quick pressure release.
  • Open the lid.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and place the lid back on for 4 minutes (the heat melts the mozzarella).
  • Carefully remove shells with a slotted spoon to serve. Spoon extra sauce on top and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and fresh basil if desired.

This recipe is part of our 1001 Instant Pot recipes project, a huge collection of free, easy and delicious recipes.

26 thoughts on “Instant Pot Stuffed Shells

  1. I’m seeing comments about a BURN notice and the FB post where I found the recipe references BURN notices. Anyway to avoid this error message?

  2. Could I make this with an Alfredo based sauce or would it be too thick? Would the shells stick to the bottom without a thick layer of meat sauce to place the shells on top of?

    1. Its up to your choice to use the Alfredo sauce instead of marinara sauce. But definitely it would be a new taste.

  3. I got the BURN NOTICE too. GRRRRR. I wish the author would have addressed this.
    How frustrating. I should have listened to the posts.

  4. I am a new owner of the 1.5L cooker and I have a lot of difficulty resizing recipes for the smaller pot. I’m not to good at converting liters to cups.

  5. Horrible instructions. Gave me the burn notice as well. The recipe needs to be more specific. For instance it did not specify instructions for spinach. The shells exploded and now it’s soupy. Way to much liquid.

    1. For the spinach, use fresh baby spinach to avoid any liquid. If you’re using frozen spinach you can wrap it in paper towels or cheese cloth and press into a strainer to release all excess liquid.
      Hope this helps 🙂

  6. Thank you Corrie
    Just made Stuffed Shells today It was delicious the family all loved it especially my Naples born husband.
    I received a burn notice too but I believe my 8qt Pot was cramped with 20 shells. I made it in 2 batches had to double the recipe for my family. I added the water as instructed, The first time I got the burn notice It was slightly burned but didn’t affect the taste of the gravy. After cleaning I sprayed the pot got the burn notice but nothing was burnt Again I think it was just too cramped.
    PS yesterday was my initial meal and made Mongolian beef it was a big hit as well.

  7. I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. I followed the recipe and it seemed like there was too much sauce, the shells disappeared when first placed in the pot. Will be making this again!

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it!! It’s ok if the shells disappear in the sauce at first, you want to make sure you have enough liquid in there.

  8. Made this tonight. Yummmmm! I probably added more sauce and water. No burn notice. My very picky eater even enjoyed it. Thank you.

    1. It makes me very happy to hear when picky eaters enjoy my recipes 🙂 thank you! Glad it worked well for you!

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