This quick and easy creamy beef and shells pasta dinner combines hearty ground beef with plenty of cheese and tender pasta shells! It's a family-favorite dinner that can be on the table in just 20 minutes start to finish!
This quick and easy beef and shells recipe is a creamy masterpiece the whole family will enjoy!
When you think of an Italian-inspired dinner, you might dream up recipes that take hours to create. Well, think again. This delightfully creamy beef and shells recipe is ready in about 20 minutes, making it your new go-to for delicious weeknight dinners on the fly.
You’ll love this recipe because it utilizes ingredients you likely already have in your arsenal, such as tomato sauce, cheeses, shells, and spices. The combination creates a delicious and comforting dish that can feed up to eight people (or maybe six if you have some hungry teens!).
Who’s ready to create an Italian-style dinner in 20 minutes? Let’s dive in!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- Perfect weeknight meal! Ready in just 20 minutes, this recipe can be made even on your busiest weeknights.
- Super easy! With only two pots and a handful of ingredients, you can easily recreate this Italian dish from home.
- Tasty comfort food! If you love creamy pasta plates, then you will love indulging in this perfectly velvety recipe.
One of the best parts about this recipe is that it utilizes ingredients you likely have on hand, especially if you’re an Italian food lover.
- Olive Oil - This must-have cooking oil elevates the flavors of many dishes, especially those containing pasta. Use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) if you can!
- Tomato Sauce - With its acidity and sweetness, tomato sauce is the perfect base for Italian-inspired dishes such as this.
- White Onion - By adding some diced onion to this recipe, the tomato base is instantly amplified. Sub with yellow onion if needed.
- Ground Beef - This crumbly protein provides the ideal texture for mixing with cheese and sauce.
- Flour - Using flour in a recipe helps bulk the ingredients, creating that thick and velvety texture that we all know and love.
- Seasonings - Italian seasoning produces that infamous and adored Italian flavor with hints of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Beef Broth - This ingredient will be used to enhance the flavor of the beef and develop a comforting sauce.
- Cream Cheese - When we’re talking about creamy pasta dishes, you won’t make it far without cream cheese. Make sure it’s soft and cubed, so it is easily melted.
- Cheddar Cheese - The more cheese, the better! Add distinctive and flavorful grated cheddar cheese to increase the cheesy factor for that ooey-gooey finish.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Now, it’s time to bring these ingredients to life. All you’re going to need is a large pot for boiling water and a large skillet/non-stick frying pan to cook the rest of the ingredients.
- Boil the pasta shells. Fill a large pot with water and a sprinkle of salt. Once boiling, add eight ounces of medium-sized pasta shells. Cook until the shells have reached an al dente texture, about 1 to 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- Saute the onions and garlic. Add one tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to a simmer, add ¼ cup white onion and ¼ tablespoon garlic. Cook until translucent and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cook the ground beef. Add one pound of ground beef to the skillet and crumble it while it cooks. Add ¼ cup all-purpose flour and one tablespoon Italian seasoning. Then add ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper to the ground beef.
- Add the sauce. Once the beef is cooked through, add two cups of beef broth and 15 ounces of tomato sauce to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cheeses. Next, add four ounces of cream cheese and two cups of cheddar cheese to the mixture. Stir until the cheese has melted.
- Combine. Finally, combine the pasta shells with the sauce and ground beef mixture. Simmer for two to three minutes before serving.
Serve for dinner when you want something quick and simple but delicious. It can be served as-is, but don’t hesitate to top it with your favorite cheese (Parmesan is a great choice) if you’re a cheese lover. Consider garlic bread, salad, or broccoli as a side.
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
- Did you know you can also make this recipe in an instant pot? Simply saute the garlic and onion and cook the ground beef using the ‘saute’ mode. Add the pasta shells on top, followed by the liquid and seasonings. Make sure the pasta is covered. Pressure cook on HIGH for five minutes. Manually release the steam and add your cheeses.
- Slow cooker more of your thing? You can use that, too. Cook the garlic, onion, and ground beef before adding to the crock pot. Add the seasonings and sauce. Cook on low for six hours, then add the cheese and pasta shells. Cook for about an hour more and enjoy.
- If you don’t have ground beef on hand, you can always substitute for another meat that crumbles, such as ground chicken or turkey.
- Cheddar cheese can also be substituted for other types of cheese that melt readily, such as Colby or Monterey Jack.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
This creamy beef and shells recipe stores well in the fridge. Simply stick leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to four days.
Need to store for longer? No problem! Let the creamy beef and shells cool down entirely before placing them in an airtight container. Place in the freezer for up to two months.
Reheating creamy beef and shells is a cinch in the microwave, on the stove, or in the oven. Refrigerated leftovers can be warmed immediately, but frozen leftovers should be thawed for the best results. (If not, don’t worry - you can still reheat right out of the freezer. Add a few minutes.)
😋 More Ground Beef Recipes
Plain tomato sauce works best because you are adding your seasonings. But don’t panic if you only have a flavored sauce at home. As long as the tomato sauce ingredients complement this recipe’s flavors, you can use it.
You can always substitute with another type of broth, such as chicken or vegetable. You can use water as a last resort, but understand you will sacrifice the overall flavor a bit. Adding parsley, garlic, butter/oil, and bay leaves to the water can help enhance the flavor.
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Creamy Beef and Shells
- 8 oz medium shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
- ¼ cup white onion (diced, or use yellow onion)
- ½ tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 4 oz cream cheese (softened, cubed)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
- In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta shells to an al dente texture (firm to the bite). Usually 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.8 oz medium shells
- Heat a large skillet or non-stick frying pan with the olive oil to medium high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Saute until beginning to turn translucent and tender, about 3-4 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ cup white onion, ½ tablespoon garlic
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned, crumbling the beef as it cooks. Once the hamburger is browned, add the flour, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and stir them into the browned ground beef.1 lb lean ground beef, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper
- Slowly stir in the beef broth and tomato sauce, then bring the sauce to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as the sauce thickens.2 cups beef broth, 15 oz tomato sauce
- Add the cream cheese and grated cheddar cheese, stirring the sauce to melt the cheese. Once melted, add the cooked pasta shells and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving.4 oz cream cheese, 2 cups cheddar cheese
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!