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Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

Classic stuffed shells get an Instant Pot makeover! No need to pre-cook the pasta means no dirtying extra pot. And instead of spooning the filling into the shells, put the filling into a piping bag (or a ziplock bag) and pipe into the shells. It’s so much faster that way.


  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups (1lb) mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 8oz conchiglioni pasta/ jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce of your choice


  1. To brown the meat: set the Instant Pot to Sauté.
  2. When the display reads “HOT”, add ground beef, salt and seasonings and brown the meat, breaking it apart, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. To make the cheese filling: while meat is browning, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese and 3 cups of mozzarella cheese. Mix well and transfer the mixture in a piping bag with a round tip (or a ziplock bag with one corner cut).
  4. Fill the pasta shells with the cheese mixture.
  5. Once the meat is browned, drain, if needed, and spread it evenly in the bottom of the pan. (Note: deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of water if there is any bits and pieces are stuck to the pan.)
  6. To assemble: layer the filled pasta shells over the meat.
  7. Pour water and then pasta sauce over the pasta. Do NOT stir.
  8. Close the lid and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”.
  9. Set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook/Manual for 8 minutes on high. (NOTE: It took 20-24 minutes for my IP to come to pressure.)
  10. Do quick release by carefully turning the valve to venting. And carefully open the lid.
  11. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and close the lid. Let it sit for about 3 minutes and then open the lid. Stir gently and serve.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 servings, Serving Size: 1 serving

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 413 Calories
  • Total Fat: 12.7g
  • Cholesterol: 99.7mg
  • Sodium: 1248.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 31g
  • Sugar: 5.9g
  • Protein: 44.1g
Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimate only. Read full disclosure here.
All images and text © for Busy Cooks
Scroll down to read more tips and story behind the recipe

Less than 1 hour to make these satisfying stuffed shells from start to finish. And it’ll actually take about 15 minutes tops of your time. The rest is just a waiting game!

Speedy tips for quickest stuffed shells:

  1. Multi-task! Start with browning the ground beef. And while the meat is cooking, which will take about 10 minutes, work on ricotta filling and pasta. But make sure to quickly stir meat a few times.
  2. Good quality pasta sauce. I love Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce. 
  3. No need to par-cook the pasta shells, which not only saves you time, but also one less pot to clean! 
  4. Use a piping bag (or a ziplock bag with one corner cut) to fill the pasta shells with ricotta filling. It’s so much faster than spooning the filling into each shell.

You can’t wrong with classic ricotta cheese filling! It’s a classic for a reason. Simple, flavorful and oh-so-creamy! 

Classic ricotta filling is simple and delicious!

And here are step by step photos to show you how to assemble the dish in an Instant Pot.

This recipe is tested in 6qt Instant Pot.

Final step: give it a good stir before serving! All the meat is on the bottom, so you want to gently stir from top to bottom and back to top. 🙂 Enjoy!

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30 comments on “Instant Pot Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce”

  1. This was so good and very easy. I was really impressed that the shells were cooked to a perfect al dente. Thanks for this recipe!

    Rating: 5
  2. These were easy to make and super yummy!! Thank you so much Shinee!

    Rating: 5
  3. Really good but I ended up having to finish cooking in the oven. This is the first recipe I’ve ever gotten a burn notice on. :/ 

    Rating: 4
    • Glad you enjoyed it, Kelly, despite the extra step. My suggestion for next time: make sure to deglaze the pan well after browning the meat and before adding more ingredients. And add water before adding pasta sauce.

  4. I make this dish all the time in the oven so I’m very eager to try it in the instant pot. It will be so much faster. To be clear, you don’t boil the pasta first? Seems like it would be hard to fill them while they are still hard?
    Thanks for the help😊

    • Hi, Karla. That’s correct, no boiling pasta. If you put the filling in a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag with one corner cut, and pipe the filling into the shells, it’s much easier and faster. Hope you give it a try. Let us know.

  5. Try the pot in pot method, no worries of getting the burn message.  I prefer the PIP method when ever possible.

  6. So good! I used half ground beef and half Italian sausage, and I added fresh chopped tomato at the end. Yum!!

    Rating: 5
  7. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, it did not hold up after cooking, All the shells exploded. Note to self, use ricotta cheese next time!

    • Hi, Pam. Thanks for your feedback. What do you mean it didn’t hold up? Do you mean the filling didn’t stay in the shells? Did it got mixed with the sauce when you stirred it? If so, it’s normal for some of the filling to get mixed in with the sauce when you stir everything. I’ve tried this recipe with cottage cheese as well, and it worked fine for me. Let me know if you try it with ricotta cheese though.

  8. This looks so good! I can’t wait to try it. I’ve never had much luck with pasta but I’m excited to try this!

  9. Is this in a 6qt or 8qt? How would you make it in the opposite size? 

  10. Any thoughts on how to make this meatless and not trigger a burn notice? Thanks!

    • Hi, Pamela. I haven’t tested this recipe without meat. But I’ve cooked pasta in my IP without anything on the bottom, so I would suggest layering the stuffed shells on the bottom, pour water first, and then the sauce on top. I *think* that would work. Let me know if you give it a try this way.

  11.  How many will fit in a 6 quart IP?

  12. Made this for my boyfriend and omg. It was SO GOOD. 

    Rating: 5
  13. Came out amazing in half the time of baking with way less mess. Made it exactly as recipe says. Came out perfect. 

    Rating: 5
    • Yay, so happy you loved it, Amanda. Thank you so much for your feedback.

    • I’m so sad this didn’t work I got a burn notice I think the meat sauce was to thick on the bottom and I should have had just water and sauce   I ended up having to cook it in the oven. But I do like the piping bag idea made it super fast 

      Rating: 2
      • Hey, Sara. Sorry to hear yours didn’t work. Did you mix the pasta sauce with the meat before adding the stuffed shells? If so, that’d definitely trigger the “burn” notice. You should only have meat on the bottom, and it’s important to deglaze the pan if there’s anything stuck on the bottom, before adding the stuffed shells. Then water and pasta sauce goes over the shells. Layering in this order is key here. Let me know if this helps. Hope you’ll give it another try. 😉

  14. Very quick and easy to make!! Very filling!! There’s only two of us so there will be plenty of leftovers!! Highly recommend!! 

    Rating: 5
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