Best Seafood Stuffed Shells Recipe – Learn how easy it is to make the most tantalizing stuffed shells filled with tender shrimp, crab meat, and a combination of creamy cheeses and bold spices.

Serving of cheesy seafood pasta on a white plate.

Why We Love This Seafood Stuffed Shells Recipe

Want to serve your family something that tastes luxurious but is also a cozy crowd-pleaser? This is the recipe for you! Fabulous silky Seafood Stuffed Shells are loaded with fresh shrimp, crab, and cheese. Then kissed with a delicate creamy seafood sauce and baked to perfection.

While jumbo stuffed shells might seem a bit intimidating, this recipe is remarkably easy to make! It takes only an hour to prepare from start to finish, and serves beautifully both an elegant and comforting dish.

Top down view baked stuffed shells seafood pasta.

Ingredients You Need

For the Seafood Shells

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Butter
  • Sweet onion
  • Garlicfreshly minced
  • Raw shrimpchopped
  • Crab meat fresh, claw crab meat if you can find it
  • Cream cheesefor a creamy texture
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Old Bay seasoningfor loads of flavor
  • Crushed red pepper optional, if you like a little spice!

Pro Tip: We used a combination of shrimp and crab meat because it is readily available to us, but feel free to use equal amounts of any variety of seafood, chopped into small pieces.

For the Seafood Sauce

  • Butter
  • Flourto thicken the sauce
  • Seafood stock for the best flavor, or you can use chicken or vegetable broth
  • Cooking sherry
  • Tomato sauce
  • Heavy cream
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
Serving of cheesy seafood pasta on a white plate with fork.

Best Crab Meat to Use

We suggest purchasing fresh wild-caught claw crabmeat. This has the most meaty pieces and the hard work is already done. However, you do need to watch out for little bits of shells.

You can also choose jumbo lump crab meat, but this is more expensive and will need to be chopped before cooking.

Two containers of crab claw meat.

How to Make Seafood Stuffed Shells

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Then set a large pot of water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Do not salt the water!

Once the water is boiling, drop the jumbo pasta shells into the water and cook according to the package instructions. I usually like to throw in a couple of extra shells just in case any of them break.

Once cooked, drain the shells and place them open-side-up in the baking dish.

Boiled large pasta shells.

Meanwhile, make the shrimp and crab meat filling. Set a large skillet (or sauté pan) over medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Once melted, add the diced onion and garlic to the skillet. Stir and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Then stir in the chopped shrimp pieces. Stir and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes until cooked and pink.

Cooked shrimp and crab in a skillet.
Adding cream cheese and water to the skillet with seafood.

Now stir in the crab meat, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, Old Bay seasoning, chopped parsley, and crushed red pepper.

Gently stir until the cream cheese melts and the seafood is well coated in the sauce. Turn off the heat.

Seafood meat and cheese mixture in a saucepan.
Top down view large raw shells stuffed with crab and shrimp mixture.

Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of seafood mixture into each jumbo shell. If you have extra filling, it’s OK to go back and add more filling where needed. 

Next, make the seafood sauce. Rinse out the skillet and set it back on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and flour. As the butter melts, whisk it together with the flour to create a smooth roux. Continue to whisk the roux around the pan until it reaches a golden brown color. Then whisk in the seafood stock, cooking sherry, tomato sauce, heavy cream, and Old Bay seasoning.

Cheesy pasta sauce.

Continue to whisk until the sauce comes to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer low for 4-6 minutes to thicken, then turn off the heat.

Get the Complete (Printable) Seafood Stuffed Shells Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Hand with blue spatula stirring cheese mixture in a saucepan.
Adding liquid to the white baking dish with stuffed noodles.

Carefully pour the seafood sauce over the top of each stuffed shell. Then sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake the shells, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the dish.

Adding grated parmesan cheese to the baking dish with stuffed pasta.
Top down view baked stuffed shells seafood pasta.

Recipe Variations and Tips

  • We like a combination of shrimp and crab meat, but you can use equal amounts of any variety of seafood, such as crawfish meat, scallops, lobster, or clams. Chop it into small pieces before cooking.
  • Swap seafood stock with more budget-friendly chicken or veggie stock.
  • Use gluten-free jumbo pasta shells, if you like.
  • If you want it cheesier, you can add shredded mozzarella cheese to the top along with the parmesan cheese before baking!
  • Do not overcook the seafood mix! The cooking goes very quickly, and the heat should be turned off immediately.
  • Don’t overstuff the shells! They should be plump, but not close to overflowing.
Hand with metal spoon, showing a scoop of pasta to the camera.

Serving Suggestions

Pair crab and shrimp stuffed jumbo shells with a fresh salad and crusty bread. These simple side dishes really bring the restaurant-style ambiance!

You definitely can’t go wrong with Homemade Breadsticks or Garlic Bread. And who could resist a warm basket of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits?

To lighten things up, pair it with a fresh salad like a classic Steakhouse Caesar Salad, Ultimate Wedge Salad, or a Crunchy Bell Pepper Salad!

Serving of cheesy seafood pasta on a white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to boil the pasta before baking it?

While we do recommend boiling them, you can try our no-boil method. To do so, soak the shells in a large pot of hot water from the tap for 20-25 minutes. Drain off the water and stuff per the recipe. The shells will be slightly more firm, making them a little harder to stuff.

Why do stuffed shells get watery?

This typically happens because the cooked shells did not drain thoroughly before stuffing.

Why do my pasta shells break?

Make sure that you do not stir or agitate the pasta shells too much while they are boiling! Also, don’t over cook them, you want them to be al dente before baking them. If they are too soft, they are more prone to breaking!

How many stuffed shells is a serving?

Each serving is approximately 4 large stuffed jumbo shells.

How long do leftovers last?

Cool the leftovers and transfer them to an airtight container. Homemade seafood stuffed shells will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze stuffed shells?

Yes, you can! Assemble the dish and do not bake. I suggest using a disposable metal pan that can easily go from the freezer to the oven. Wrap the container in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw and bake for 30 minutes, or bake from frozen for 1 hour.

Looking for More Delicious Pasta Recipes? Be Sure to Try:

Top down view baked stuffed shells seafood pasta.
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Seafood Stuffed Shells Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
It's easy to make the most tantalizing seafood stuffed shells filled with tender shrimp, crab meat, and a combination of creamy cheeses and bold spices.
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Seafood Shells –

For the Seafood Sauce –

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Then set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. (Do not salt the water.)
  • Once the water is boiling, drop the jumbo pasta shells into the water and cook according to the package instructions. (I usually like to throw in a couple extra shells just in case any of them break.) Once cooked, drain the shells and place them open-side-up in the baking dish.
  • For the Seafood Filling: Meanwhile, set a large skillet (or sauté pan) over medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Once melted, add the diced onion and garlic to the skillet. Stir and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Then stir in the chopped shrimp pieces. Stir and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes until cooked and pink.
  • Now stir in the crab meat, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, old bay seasoning, chopped parsley, and crushed red pepper. Gently stir until the cream cheese melts and the seafood is well coated in the sauce. Turn off the heat.
  • Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of seafood filling into each jumbo shell. If you have extra filling, it’s OK to go back and add more filling where needed.
  • For the Seafood Sauce: Rinse out the skillet and set it back on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and flour. As the butter melts, whisk it together with the flour to create a smooth roux. Continue to whisk the roux around the pan until it reaches a golden brown color. Then whisk in the seafood stock, cooking sherry, tomato sauce, heavy cream, and old bay seasoning. Continue to whisk until the sauce comes to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer on low for 4-6 minutes to thicken, then turn off the heat. (Do not let the sauce boil.)
  • Carefully pour the seafood sauce over the top of each stuffed shell. Then sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake the shells, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the dish. Serve warm with an extra sprinkling of parsley if desired.

Notes

Cool the leftovers and transfer them to an airtight container. Homemade seafood stuffed shells will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To freeze: Assemble the dish and do not bake. I suggest using a disposable metal pan that can easily go from the freezer to the oven. Wrap the container in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw and bake for 30 minutes, or bake from frozen for 1 hour.

Nutrition

Serving: 4shells, Calories: 523kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 113mg, Sodium: 1399mg, Potassium: 493mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1094IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 336mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Main, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier
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