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Creamy Beef and Shells

This homemade creamy beef and shells recipe with its cheesy tomato sauce and tender pasta shells is so comforting and satisfying. The whole family will love it – even that picky eater.

side view of shells and beef in a creamy sauce

Creamy Beef and Shells Recipe

This easy ground beef recipe is perfect for busy weeknights and everyone will enjoy it.

With simple ingredients and easy preparation, you can have this tasty dish on the dinner table in less than an hour.

The best part of this family-friendly meal is it freezes well and is ready for you to reheat when you need a quick dinner. This is also a great way to use up leftover pasta with even less prep time.

The medium shell pasta simmers in the tomato cream sauce giving you that slow cooked meal.

Serve this up, sit back and enjoy the rave reviews!

If you like one pot meals, check out my beefaroni and my homemade hamburger helper!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.
labeled picture of ingredients for beef and shells

Ingredients Needed

Pasta shells – Medium pasta shells are the traditional pasta shape used in this recipe but you can use any type of pasta you have on hand.

Olive oil – You can also use vegetable or canola oil.

Ground beef – Choose a lean ground beef to eliminate extra fat and calories. You can also experiment with different ground meat such as ground chicken or turkey.

Onion – I like sweet onions, however yellow or white onions will work too. You can find diced onion in the produce or freezer section of your grocery store.

Garlic – Fresh minced garlic is best, but you can substitute garlic paste or ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.

Italian seasoning – This is a mix of several different herbs. Make it homemade for best results.

Flour – All purpose flour works best in this dish.

Beef broth – You can substitute beef stock or chicken broth in a pinch.

Marinara sauce – Choose your favorite jarred or homemade plain tomato sauce. You could also use creamy tomato sauce.

Sour cream – You could also use heavy cream or a combination of cream cheese and half and half.

Mozzarella cheese – You can experiment with different cheeses. Extra sharp cheddar cheese would add a punch of flavor. Also, save some extra cheese to sprinkle on each serving.

Parsley – Fresh chopped parsley makes a pretty finishing garnish.

Pantry staples – Salt, black pepper.

Looking for more comfort food? Follow LTB on Pinterest!

How the Make Easy Creamy Beef and Shells

First: Cook shells to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Second: Over medium high heat, cook beef and onion until you achieve perfectly crumbled ground beef and onion is soft. Drain excess grease and set aside.

Third: In the same skillet add garlic and seasonings to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the beef broth and add the marinara sauce and bring to a boil.

Fourth: Simmer for 3-5 minutes or longer until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the pasta and beef/onion mixture. Add the sour cream and stir. Fold in the cheese and stir until melted.

Fifth: Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parsley and serve. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

pasta shells with sauce and sour cream

Can I substitute ground turkey for ground beef?

Ground turkey is a healthier alternative to ground beef and can be substituted in most recipes, including this shells and beef. Check out my post which tells you how to make ground turkey taste like ground beef.

What herbs are found in Italian Seasoning?

All Italian seasonings are slightly different and are a combination of several different herbs such as parsley, oregano, marjoram, sage, basil, thyme, garlic powder, and rosemary.

Make your own because homemade Italian seasoning tastes better!

spoon of pasta and ground beef in sauce

How to Handle Leftover Creamy Beef and Shells

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The pasta may absorb the sauce so add a tablespoon of broth per cup of leftovers to keep it from drying out.

Freezing is not recommended as the pasta will become mushy. It’s best to make the sauce and freeze it. Thaw the sauce overnight in the fridge. Mix with freshly cooked pasta.

Make ahead of time, no more than 2 days, and cook fresh pasta the day of for best results.

bowl of pasta with salt and pepper shakers next to it

Tips for No Leftovers

  • For a creamier sauce, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water to add. Replace part of the broth with it.
  • Eliminate the large skillet and make this a one pot meal. Use a dutch oven or large pot to cook your shells AND cook the rest of the meal. Easy clean-up!
  • There are many different ingredients you can use to garnish this dish. Fresh basil, red pepper flakes, chopped thyme or parmesan cheese.
  • This hearty pasta dinner is fine all by itself, but you can serve it with garlic bread or a green salad for a complete meal.
  • Leftover beef and shells will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • This is a great recipe for a freezer meal. Prepare the recipe and allow it to cool to room temperature. Place in an airtight container or freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. Simply thaw, reheat and serve.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

skillet of shells with white banner and text

When you need a little comfort food and an easy meal, Creamy Beef and Shells is the recipe for you. Make this tonight and your entire family will have happy tummies.

overhead picture of beef and shells in a skillet

Creamy Beef and Shells

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This easy and creamy one pot meal is budget friendly and satisfying for the whole family!

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pasta shells
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup diced sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parsley for garnish

Instructions

    1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as directed on package. Cooke al dente and drain when done. Set aside.
    2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook ground beef and onion until beef is browned and no longer pink and onion is soft.
    3. Drain excess fat if desired. Set beef aside.
    4. Place the skillet back on the heat and add garlic and seasonings to the pan and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
    5. Whisk in the flour and stir to cook our raw flour taste.
    6. Whisk in beef broth and stir to mix.
    7. Pour in marinara sauce.
    8. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
    9. Stir in the pasta and beef/onion mixture.
    10. Add the sour cream and stir to combine and make the sauce creamy.
    11. Fold in mozzarella cheese and stir until melted.
    12. Remove from heat and serve warm.
    13. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Notes

  • For a creamier sauce, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water to add. Replace part of the broth with it.
  • Eliminate the large skillet and make this a one pot meal. Use a dutch oven or large pot to cook your shells AND cook the rest of the meal. Easy clean-up!
  • There are many different ingredients you can use to garnish this dish. Fresh basil, red pepper flakes, chopped thyme or parmesan cheese.
  • This hearty pasta dinner is fine all by itself, but you can serve it with garlic bread or a green salad for a complete meal.
  • Leftover beef and shells will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • This is a great recipe for a freezer meal. Prepare the recipe and allow it to cool to room temperature. Place in an airtight container or freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. Simply thaw, reheat and serve.

Recommended Products

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 588Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 1666mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 45g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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