Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells


Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells: A Comforting Classic


There’s something utterly comforting about the rich, creamy flavors of Chicken Alfredo paired with the tender embrace of jumbo pasta shells. This delightful recipe combines the best of both worlds, offering a dish that’s not only satisfying but also perfect for gatherings or a cozy family dinner. The origins of Alfredo sauce trace back to early 20th century Italy, where it was created by Alfredo di Lelio for his pregnant wife. This version adds a modern twist by incorporating it into stuffed shells, making it a heartwarming meal that’s sure to become a favorite in your household.

Ingredient Overview

Let’s delve into the ingredients that make this dish so special:

  • 1 pound jumbo pasta shells: These large shells are perfect for holding the creamy filling.
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken: A great way to use leftover chicken, ensuring the dish is both hearty and protein-packed.
  • 1 (15-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce: The star of the recipe, providing that creamy, garlicky goodness.
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained: Adds a nutritious touch and a pop of color.
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese: Brings a light, creamy texture to the filling.
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese: Melts beautifully to create a gooey, cheesy finish.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese: Adds a salty, nutty flavor that complements the Alfredo sauce.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced: Enhances the overall flavor with its pungent aroma.
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning: A blend of herbs that ties all the flavors together.
  • Salt and pepper to taste: Essential for seasoning the filling perfectly.
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish: Adds a fresh, vibrant touch to the final dish.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Preheat the Oven:
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray to ensure easy cleanup and prevent sticking.

Cook the Pasta Shells:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded chicken, Alfredo sauce, thawed and drained spinach, ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Stuff the Shells:
Spoon the chicken Alfredo mixture into each cooked pasta shell, filling them generously. Arrange the stuffed shells in the prepared baking dish in a single layer.

Bake the Shells:
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden brown.

Garnish and Serve:
Sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley over the top before serving to add a burst of color and freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use fresh spinach instead of frozen?
A: Yes, you can use fresh spinach. Simply sauté it in a little olive oil until wilted, then chop and drain it before adding it to the mixture.

Q: What type of chicken works best for this recipe?
A: Any cooked chicken will work, but using a rotisserie chicken adds extra flavor and convenience.

Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time?
A: Absolutely! You can prepare the stuffed shells and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before baking.

Q: Is it possible to freeze this dish?
A: Yes, this dish freezes well. Assemble the stuffed shells, cover tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

Q: What can I serve alongside these stuffed shells?
A: A simple green salad and garlic bread make excellent side dishes.

Q: Can I use a homemade Alfredo sauce?
A: Certainly! Homemade Alfredo sauce can add an extra layer of flavor.

Q: How can I make this dish gluten-free?
A: Use gluten-free pasta shells and ensure your Alfredo sauce is gluten-free.

Q: Can I add other vegetables to the filling?
A: Yes, sautéed mushrooms or bell peppers make great additions.

Q: How do I prevent the pasta shells from sticking together?
A: Stir them occasionally while cooking and rinse with cold water after draining.

Q: Can I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta?
A: Yes, but the texture will be slightly different.

Q: Is it possible to make this dish vegetarian?
A: Omit the chicken and increase the amount of spinach or add other vegetables.

Q: How do I know when the dish is done baking?
A: The filling should be hot and bubbly, and the cheese on top should be melted and golden brown.

Q: Can I use a different type of cheese?
A: Feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses.

Q: What’s the best way to shred cooked chicken?
A: Use two forks to pull the chicken apart, or use a hand mixer for quicker shredding.

Q: Can I make this dish spicy?
A: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or some diced jalapeños to the filling.

Q: How can I make the dish more creamy?
A: Add a little extra Alfredo sauce or a splash of heavy cream to the mixture.

Q: How do I store leftovers?
A: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Q: What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?
A: Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through, or microwave individual portions.

Q: Can I use low-fat cheeses?
A: Yes, but the texture may be slightly less creamy.

Q: How do I make sure the filling is evenly distributed?
A: Mix the filling thoroughly and use a spoon to pack it into each shell.

Helpful Tips

Tip 1: Use leftover chicken for convenience.
Tip 2: Rinse the pasta shells with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Tip 3: Use a piping bag to fill the shells for less mess.
Tip 4: Add a pinch of nutmeg to the filling for a hint of warmth.
Tip 5: Let the dish sit for a few minutes after baking to set.
Tip 6: Sprinkle extra Parmesan on top before baking for a crispier finish.
Tip 7: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
Tip 8: If using fresh spinach, make sure to drain it well.
Tip 9: Adjust the seasoning to your taste before filling the shells.
Tip 10: Garnish with extra herbs like basil or thyme for added freshness.
Tip 11: Pair with a crisp white wine for an elegant touch.
Tip 12: Double the recipe and freeze half for a future meal.
Tip 13: Use a glass baking dish for even cooking.
Tip 14: Stir the filling mixture well to ensure even distribution of ingredients.
Tip 15: Add a layer of Alfredo sauce at the bottom of the baking dish for extra creaminess.
Tip 16: Cover with foil to prevent the cheese from burning.
Tip 17: Check the pasta shells occasionally while cooking to avoid overcooking.
Tip 18: Use whole milk ricotta for a richer filling.
Tip 19: For a lighter version, use low-fat cheeses and Greek yogurt instead of ricotta.
Tip 20: Serve with a side of steamed vegetables for a balanced meal.

Storage Tips

  1. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through.
  3. Microwave individual portions for a quick meal.
  4. Freeze assembled, unbaked shells for up to 3 months.
  5. Thaw frozen shells in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
  6. Store components separately if preparing ahead to maintain texture.
  7. Keep extra sauce on hand for reheating to prevent dryness.
  8. Use freezer-safe containers to store and freeze the dish.
  9. Label containers with the date and contents for easy identification.
  10. Reheat covered with foil to retain moisture.

Recipe Secrets

  1. Mix a bit of cream cheese into the filling for extra richness.
  2. Add a splash of white wine to the Alfredo sauce for depth of flavor.
  3. Use freshly grated Parmesan for the best taste.
  4. Season the pasta water generously for flavorful shells.
  5. Incorporate fresh herbs into the filling for a vibrant taste.
  6. Let the filled shells rest before baking to meld flavors.
  7. Bake on the middle rack for even cooking.
  8. Use a blend of cheeses for a complex flavor profile.
  1. Drizzle extra Alfredo sauce over the top before baking for added creaminess.
  2. Use rotisserie chicken for convenience and flavor.
  3. Shred the chicken finely for a more uniform filling.
  4. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a subtle kick.
  5. Let the dish cool slightly before serving to set the filling.
  6. Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs for a burst of color and freshness.
  7. Use a combination of light and dark meat for a richer filling.
  8. Cook the pasta shells just shy of al dente, as they will continue cooking in the oven.
  9. Season each layer lightly as you assemble for balanced flavor.
  10. Add a touch of lemon zest to the filling for a bright, zesty flavor.
  11. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top for added crunch.

Additional Sections

Nutritional Benefits

This dish not only brings comfort and flavor but also packs some nutritional benefits. The chicken provides a good source of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. Spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, offering iron, calcium, and antioxidants. The combination of cheeses delivers calcium and protein, while the garlic adds immune-boosting properties. Together, these ingredients create a balanced meal that’s both satisfying and nutritious.

Pairing Suggestions

To enhance your dining experience, consider pairing Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells with:

  • Wine: A crisp white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc complements the creamy sauce beautifully.
  • Salad: A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette balances the richness of the dish.
  • Bread: Serve with warm garlic bread or a crusty baguette to soak up the delicious sauce.
  • Vegetables: Steamed or roasted vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or carrots add color and nutrition.

History of Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce has an interesting origin story. It was invented by Alfredo di Lelio, an Italian restaurateur, in the early 1900s. He created the dish to help his wife recover her appetite after childbirth. The original recipe was simply butter and Parmesan cheese mixed with pasta. Over the years, it evolved, especially in America, to include heavy cream and other ingredients, making it the rich, creamy sauce we love today.


Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells is a delightful blend of creamy, cheesy goodness with the added health benefits of spinach and the hearty satisfaction of chicken. This dish is perfect for a comforting family dinner or an impressive meal for guests. With its rich history and versatile ingredients, it’s sure to become a beloved recipe in your kitchen. Enjoy the process of making this delicious dish, and don’t forget to share your culinary masterpiece with loved ones!

Add Comment