This deliciously easy Cheesy Beef and Shells recipe is a hearty, homemade pasta with big flavor that only takes 25 minutes to make!
Rich and creamy Cheesy Beef and Shells are easy to make and always a winner at the dining room table! Kids and adults alike will enjoy a fresh bowl of this cheesy pasta loaded with hearty beef and juicy tomatoes and mixed in a delightfully seasoned cream sauce.
PARTY PLEASING PASTA
We all grew up eating some form of Hamburger Helper as kids, but how many have ever gotten the urge to recreate and elevate it as adults? I’m happy to report that this Cheesy Beef and Shells recipe is both nostalgic for your inner child and an enjoyable culinary experience for your adult self. Oh, and your actual kids enjoy this one too!
OTHER RECIPES TO SERVE WITH CHEESY BEEF AND SHELLS
- Parmesan Crusted Zucchini – This simple, crunchy zucchini recipe is the perfect side for any pasta dish.
- Pizza Dough Breadsticks – Not only are these super simple breadsticks easy to make, but they’re also seriously so yummy.
- Italian Chop Salad – This is my favorite go-to cold side dish for Italian food and pasta recipes.
Pasta: I use medium shells for this recipe, but you could use small shells or any shaped pasta you have on hand.
Protein: I use lean ground beef for this recipe, but feel free to use ground turkey or ground chicken.
Veggies: This creamy pasta has minced garlic, chopped onion as well as a can of crushed tomatoes to help give the sauce a depth of flavor.
Dairy: Make your shells cheesy and creamy with half and half, sour cream, and, of course, lots of cheddar cheese!
Sauce: The other half of this sauce consists of beef broth for flavor, and corn starch as a thickening agent.
Seasoning: Italian seasoning, oregano and paprika give this pasta an authentic flavor and red pepper flakes give it just a little bit of heat. Don’t forget to salt and pepper your pasta to taste and garnish it with freshly chopped parsley.
HOW TO MAKE CHEESY BEEF AND SHELLS
STEP ONE: Start by cooking the pasta until it is al dente and setting it aside for now. Be careful not to overcook it to avoid mushy noodles. Next, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Continue by adding the chopped onion to the pan. Allow the onions to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Then add in the minced garlic and cook it for another minute or so until it’s fragrant. Continue by adding the ground beef and cook it until it’s no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat from the cooked beef.
STEP TWO: Whisk together the beef broth and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add the beef broth mixture to the skillet and stir. Then, add the can of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, oregano, paprika, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
STEP THREE: Pour the cooked shell pasta into the skillet along with the half-and-half and sour cream. Stir the meat and sauce mixture until it is well combined. Now add the shredded cheddar cheese and allow it to melt throughout the sauce, stirring as needed. Then season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on some chopped parsley, and you’re ready to eat!
Tips for Success
- If you want even creamier pasta, use heavy cream instead of half and half.
- Remember to start small if adding red pepper flakes to your pasta. It’s easy to add more but impossible to take them out once they’re in.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT CHEESY BEEF AND SHELLS
You can keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. This creamy pasta dish is best reheated slowly over low heat on the stovetop. Stir the pasta frequently as it heats. If the cheese sauce is too thick or the pasta seems dry, add a little milk and continue to stir the pasta until the sauce thins out.
VARIATIONS ON CHEESY BEEF AND SHELLS
It’s easy to tweak this recipe for dietary preferences or switch out ingredients for ones you already have on hand. If beef isn’t your thing, ground turkey and ground chicken are a simple substitution. You can also change the pasta, like swapping shells for penne or elbow macaroni or opt to use whole wheat pasta instead. If you want a lighter take, you can use reduced-fat sour cream and cheese. You can also add your favorite veggies, like peas or bell peppers!
OTHER CREAMY PASTA RECIPES
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake
- Cheesy Instant Pot Chicken Pasta
- Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- One Pot Alfredo Pasta
- Spaghetti Casserole
- 8 ounces medium shell pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ tesapoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ tesapoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ cup half-and-half
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Spoon out excess fat from the skillet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the beef broth and cornstarch. Add it to the skillet and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, oregano, paprika, and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir until well combined.
- Pour the cooked pasta into the skillet along with the half-and-half and sour cream. Stir until combined. Add the shredded cheddar cheese and stir to allow it to melt completely into the sauce.
- Season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste and top with chopped parsley. Serve warm.