This ground beef shell pasta is a lighter version of a beloved comfort food pasta dish. It's a hearty meal ready in just 30 minutes that's perfect for a speedy weeknight dinner.
Few things are more comforting than a bowl of cheesy pasta at the end of a busy day.
This ground beef shell pasta is made lighter with low-fat sour cream and light cheddar cheese for a guilt-free dinner the entire family will love.
If you love pasta dishes with ground beef, but you've grown tired of the same old spag bol, this pasta shells with ground beef recipe is a must-try.
The sauce is tomato based yet creamy, and the ingredients list mostly contains pantry staples.
Why you'll love this ground beef shell pasta
- Easy to make - It only takes about 30 minutes to make beef stuffed pasta shells from scratch.
- Creamy yet light - Even though it's made with light sour cream and low-fat cheddar, this pasta dish is creamy and delicious.
- Budget-friendly - The ingredients are mostly pantry staples for an economical meal.
What goes into pasta shells and ground beef
Olive oil - You only need a splash of olive oil to cook the onion and red pepper in before adding the ground beef.
Onion - Dice the onion on the smaller side so it cooks quickly. Yellow and red onions are both good options.
Red pepper - I used a pointed red pepper in this recipe, but bell peppers in any color would do.
Ground beef - I make these creamy beef pasta shells with lean 5% ground beef to keep it low-fat.
Garlic - Freshly minced garlic is always best in pasta sauces but you can use garlic powder or paste as well if that's what you have on hand.
Red pepper flakes - Adjust the quantity of red pepper flakes to your liking, or skip them altogether if you don't want the sauce to have a bit of a kick.
Tomato sauce (passata) - I like to keep the sauce smooth and creamy by using passata instead of crushed tomatoes. Crushed or diced tomatoes also work here if you don't mind little bits of tomatoes in your sauce.
Sour cream - Low-fat sour cream makes this pasta creamy. It's best to have it at room temperature before adding it to the sauce, so it doesn't split.
Cheddar cheese - I use low-fat cheddar cheese that I grate myself because it melts better than bagged grated cheese.
How to make beef and pasta shells
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes until browned, breaking it up with your spoon as you go.
Allow the sauce to bubble for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the sour cream and cooked pasta.
Add the cheddar cheese and stir to combine. It may look like there's too much sauce, but that's fine because the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid.
Stir in the parsley, season to taste and serve immediately.
Leftovers and storage
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.
- Reheat the pasta in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash of milk or broth when reheating if it looks too thick.
- I don't recommend freezing this pasta dish.
Recipe notes and tips
- You can substitute the sour cream with heavy (double) cream for a richer sauce.
- Other veggies that work well in the sauce besides bell peppers include frozen peas, carrots and mushrooms.
- Serve the pasta with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.
If you liked this ground beef shell pasta recipe, you might also like some of my other quick and easy pasta recipes:
- Creamy Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Lemon Butter Garlic Pasta Sauce (Pasta al Limone)
- Creamy Rasta Pasta Recipe
- White Wine Pasta Sauce
- Cream Cheese Pasta with Bacon
- 10.5 oz (300 g) pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red pepper, sliced
- 1 lb (450 g) lean ground beef (5% fat)
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cup (300 ml) tomato sauce (passata)
- 1 cup (250 ml) beef stock
- ½ cup (100 ml) low-fat sour cream
- ½ cup (120 g) low-fat cheddar, grated
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan or Dutch oven and fry the onion and red pepper for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes until browned, breaking it up with your spoon as you go.
- Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, then add the tomato sauce and beef stock.
- Allow the sauce to bubble for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the sour cream and cooked pasta.
- Add the cheddar cheese and stir to combine. It may look like there’s too much sauce, but that's fine because the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid.
- Stir in the parsley, season to taste and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 274mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 15g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.