This post is a collaboration with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.
This Creamy Beefy Shells & Cheese recipe is a hearty pasta dish that’s perfect for those back-to-school weeknights! It’s rich, flavorful, cheesy—and of course, kid-friendly!
School is back in session, which means that our weeknights are about to get even busier! During this time, I’m always looking for quick and easy meals that are wholesome, hearty, and delicious. This Creamy Beefy Shells & Cheese dish fits that description perfectly!
This recipe is comfort food at its best! It’s made with marinara sauce, pasta, lots of flavorful seasonings, cream, and ground beef. You may not know this, but ground beef is a complete, high-quality protein that contains all the essential amino acids the body needs to support physical activity.
*School-age children, including teens, need adequate intakes of nutrients such as high-quality protein, zinc, iron, choline, and selenium, as well as vitamins B6 and B12. Nutrient deficiencies during this pivotal growth period can lead to significant growth challenges, decreased cognitive function and depressed immune function. Adding beef to your meals is a delicious way to provide your kids with these key nutrients to help fuel development and improve overall health.
What You Need to Make Creamy Beefy Shells & Cheese
- Shell Pasta – I recommend using the medium pasta shells to help trap in some of the creamy beefy mixture.
- Ground Beef
- Yellow Onion
- Garlic – Using fresh garlic will add extra flavors, but if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use garlic powder.
- Italian Seasoning
- Smoked Paprika
- Marinara Sauce – To save time, I recommend using store bought marinara sauce, but you can definitely make your own.
- Heavy Cream – You can also use half and half.
- Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Salt & Pepper
How to Make Creamy Beefy Shells & Cheese
Cook the pasta shells per the package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the Ground Beef and stir, breaking it with a wooden spoon until nicely browned and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, as measured by a meat thermometer. After that, drain the excess fat, then bring it back to the heat. In the same skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and tender.
Next, reduce the heat to low and add in the marinara sauce, about 1/3 cup of water, cream, cheese, herbs, and seasonings. Let simmer, for about 3 minutes, and allow the sauce to slightly thicken. Add in the cooked pasta, stir until evenly coated and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!
* Home | dietary guidelines for Americans. (n.d.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf
Creamy Beefy Shells & Cheese
- 16 ounces medium pasta shells
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta shells per the package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the Ground Beef and cook stirring and breaking it with a wooden spoon until nicely browned and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, as measured by a meat thermometer. Drain any excess fat, and then bring it back to the heat.
- In the same skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and tender.
- Next, reduce the heat to low and add in the marinara sauce, water, cream, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, and cheese. Let simmer, for about 3 minutes, and allow the sauce to slightly thicken.
- Add in the cooked pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!