Creamy Beef and Shells [Video]

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
4.98 from 38 reviews

Beef Lunch Box Pasta Recipes

Cook time Cook time: 20 minutes

Creamy Beef and Shells is a hearty pasta dish that is perfect for a quick dinner for the whole family! It is rich, flavorful, and cheesy and even kids will love it!

We have a lot of pasta dishes that you can choose from and we keep on growing that list! You can also try Crack Chicken Pasta Salad, Tuscan Chicken Pasta, and Garlic Parmesan Shrimp Pasta!

Creamy Beef and Shells Recipe

Creamy Beef and Shells is such a tasty dinner! It is meaty, never dry, and the flavors are awesome!

The combination of marinara sauce and dairy makes it so yummy. And you get all sorts of savory flavors coming from the aromatics and the different herbs and seasonings.

You have protein and carbs in one dish and that makes this hearty and filling. Serve it with a side of veggies, and you get yourself a complete lunch or dinner!

Kids also love it! It is easy to eat and each bite gives you cheesy and beefy goodness.

Busy on weeknights? That is not a problem with this recipe. You can finish cooking this in under 30 minutes!

What is “beef and shells”?

It refers to this dish made with short pasta and seasoned ground beef in a sauce that is both tomato-based and dairy-based.

In this recipe, we are also adding in heavy cream and sour cream aside from the cheddar cheese while others add in cheese only. This makes this dish creamier overall.

How do you make beef and shells?

  1. Cook the pasta: Follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Sauté the meat: In a skillet, brown the ground beef, drain the excess fat, then, set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: In the same large skillet, sauté onion and garlic. Stir in the flour for about a minute. Slowly stir in the stock, marinara sauce, and the herbs and seasonings. Let the whole thing boil and thicken.
  4. Combine: Add in the pasta, meat, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Then, add in the sour cream and cheese.
  5. Serve: Once the cheese has melted, serve it while hot!

Can I use different ground meat?

Sure! You can replace the beef with other meat like chicken or turkey.

Do you need to discard beef grease?

The answer is both yes and no. You will be throwing away flavor along with the grease when you discard it. So, there are two answers to this question.

Yes, if you used the kind that has too much fat. Too much grease is not desirable so you need to discard it.

And no, if you used extra lean meat. There is not much grease that will develop, so you can keep that tiny amount and not discard it.

Hence, I strongly recommend that you use extra lean meat for this one as it would be more flavorful. And since this dish has sauce, do not worry about it getting too dry.

What can be used in place of marinara sauce?

It is a simple sauce made with tomatoes and some aromatics like onion, garlic, and some seasonings. For this dish, you can simply substitute it with tomato sauce and probably add more of the aromatics and seasonings.

How to Store Creamy Beef and Shells:

  • Refrigerate: Let it cool completely and transfer it to an airtight container before putting it in the fridge. Consume it within 3 days. You can simply reheat it on the stove.
  • Freeze: You can freeze this for a few weeks, simply thaw completely before reheating. This way, when you reheat, you will not be breaking the pasta into pieces.
  • Make-Ahead: You can freeze the sauce and simply add cooked pasta on the day you want to serve it. You can also pre-cook the pasta and freeze it. Before freezing, remember to drizzle some oil to prevent sticking.

Recipe Tips:

  • You can choose from penne, elbow macaroni, or rotini as a substitute for the shells.
  • To prevent the pasta from being soggy, you can cook it just al dente so that when you combine it with the sauce, further cooking will not make it too mushy.
  • You can vegetables like bell peppers and carrots.

Save Recipe
4.98 from 38 reviews

Creamy Beef and Shells

Creamy Beef and Shells is a hearty pasta dish that is perfect for a quick dinner for the whole family! It is rich, flavorful, and cheesy and even kids will love it!

Author: Catalina Castravet Serves: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 mins



Nutrition information

Calories: 480 Carbohydrates: 39 Protein: 28 Fat: 23 Saturated Fat: 9 Cholesterol: 66 Sodium: 370 Potassium: 553 Fiber: 2 Sugar: 6 Vitamin A: 221 Vitamin C: 3 Calcium: 215 Iron: 3
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This dish was absolutely wonderful! So creamy and flavorful! We absolutely loved it! Thanks for a great recipe, I left out the onion but everything else was perfect!


Thank you!



Very flavorful, easy to make and clear directions. 100% recommend this. Great for a weeknight dinner or even a celebration. Thanks so much for this recipe. Adding to my fam fav recipes!


Tiffany Days

Do I have to add sour cream I hate it?


Add yogurt, or light whipped cream cheese


Heather Baker

Just made this, and it was a hit! I didn't have sour cream, so I used 1 whole cup of heavy cream instead. Other than that, followed the recipe to the T, and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing!


Beatrice Elliott

My husband and son loved it!!! served it with garlic Tuscan bread and a toss salad it was so good. 👍👍👍


Happy that you loved it!



Delicious! Read reviews about it being too saucy so cooked about 12 oz shells instead of 8. It was a perfect ratio. Didn’t change another thing besides adding a little cayenne for my husband who likes hot sauce on everything.


Happy that you loved it!


Jenny Smith

This is the third time making this easy and so delicious!!!



Could I substitute whole milk for the heavy cream? Looks great!


yes, you can



We made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The recipe was easy to follow and it turned out great. We will absolutely be making this again in the future. Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow for lunch!



Love this! Kinda reminded me of a more delicious hamburger helper. Will put this in the rotation



good & creamy. Easy to make.


I am very happy that you loved it, thanks for the feedback!



This was sooooo good!! The entire family loved it and husband said it was “restaurant quality” which is a BIG deal! 😅😍


I am very happy that you loved it, thanks for the feedback!



This is fantastic! Turned out soupier than the picture, but doesn't bother me :) Tons of flavor and definitely a keeper!!



Let me tell y’all I love this recipe I missed a couple of steps and it was still too good. I also used beef broth instead of stick also


I am so happy that you like it!



Wowwww!!! Just got done eating this for the first time and this recipe is absolutely out of this world! The flavors were outstanding, I really don’t have enough words to sum up how fantastic this recipe is right now!! I CANNOT to make this again!! (And for tomorrow’s leftovers!)


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