Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

By Maria Lichty

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Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta –  smothered small pasta shells with ricotta, spinach, and marinara sauce. Similar to stuffed shells, minus the work of stuffing, and in baked pasta form! 

Baked spinach pasta shells served with french bread

Lazy Day? Easy Baked Pasta!

I love me some stuffed pasta shells, but sometimes I don’t like to take the time to stuff the shells. I know it isn’t that hard, but I am allowed to have lazy days. I love giving myself permission to be lazy. The joys of being an adult.

Well, last week I was feeling very lazy. It was 4:00 p.m. and I was still in my pajamas. I was tempted to bag the whole dinner idea, but I was craving cheesy stuffed shells. Instead of making stuffed shells, I made Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta. All of the same goodness as stuffed shells, but in baked pasta form.

ricotta pasta bake with spinach in casserole dish

Ricotta Spinach Pasta Filling + Easy Marinara Sauce

And because I was feeling lazy, I made sure I got Josh in on the action. He whipped up the spinach-ricotta filling while I made my favorite Easy Marinara Sauce. You can use whatever sauce you want, but I promise my marinara sauce is super simple. And not to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty darn tasty. Store bought sauce doesn’t stand a chance against my sauce. Give it a go!

ricotta spinach pasta shells smothered in marinara sauce

Marinara and Ricotta Spinach pasta Shells on dinner plate ready to serve

Baked Pasta for the Win

I used mini shells for the pasta because they are cute and I was craving shells. See, this recipe is just like stuffed shells, but instead of stuffing the shells, the shells get smothered with ricotta, spinach, and marinara sauce. Oh, yeah! Bring on the smothering action!

Pasta, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and marinara all in one dish, talk about delish! Look at all of that cheese! Mmmm!

Baked pasta dish with ricotta cheese, spinach, and marinara

Make Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Day Before

If you are looking for an easy dinner idea, add Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta to your menu. And good news, you can prepare this ricotta spinach pasta dish in advance. Get everything in the pan and pop it in the oven when you are ready to eat. It also freezes well after baking. I put individual portions in freezer containers for easy lunches! I told you this is a great lazy day recipe! Enjoy!

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Baked pasta shells on wooden spoon

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

Easy baked pasta with spinach, ricotta, parmesan, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese-a great weeknight meal!
4.39 from 13 votes


  • 12 ounces pasta we used mini shells
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook the pasta according to instructions for al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • 2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Stir until smooth. Add the garlic, spinach, nutmeg, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper.
  • 3. Put half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the marinara sauce. Spoon the spinach ricotta mixture on top of the sauce in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the mixture. Cover with the remaining pasta and the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • 6. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned. Serve warm.
  • Note-you can prepare this dish one day ahead of time. Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook. You can also freeze the leftovers. Place cooked pasta in freezer containers and freeze!

Have you tried this recipe?

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Disclosure: This post is in partnership with the Dairy Council of Utah, but all of our opinions are our own. “For more dairy & nutrition information visit: and to get to know more about your local dairy farmers visit” 

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. I have this baking right now! Super excited. But wanted to let you know Pinterest won’t let me pin this, it says the link may be spam

    1. Thanks so much for letting us know. Pinterest is having issues right now and marking lots of sites as spam. We put in a help ticket and hope to get it resolved soon! Thanks for wanting to pin our posts! We hope it is up soon!

  2. This recipe is sooooo easy and omg soooo delish! I’m making it again tonight at the request of le boyfriend. First time I made it exactly as written and the leftovers were even more tasty the second day. This time, I added fresh spinach and kale instead of frozen, and used vodka sauce instead of marinara. Also added some cooked ground turkey breast to the sauce for extra protein. I will be making this for years to come. And it being so versatile, you can do lots with it to add more veggies or change the flavor. Total winner! Thanks so much!

  3. This is one of my go-to dishes to make for my family. Tastes just like lasagna without all the hassle. thank you!!

  4. 5 stars
    This was so yummy! Much easier than stuffing shells or manicotti. The homemade marinara really put it over the top,and it was even better reheated for lunches later in the week! 

  5. This turned out yummy Quick to prepare. I am the only one who has a difficult time with pasta measurements? So many recipes call for so many ounces of pasta and it’s not the usual on the box How do you measure pasta? I kinda eyeballed the 12oz for your pasta and it turned out fine and fit in the 9×13 dish but I was wondering any helpful hints?

  6. 2 stars
    Seemed to be lacking flavor and bland. Probably would make again adding more cheese, another flavor and possibly browned sausage. 

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious and super easy to make. I used 2 cups of marinara instead of the recommended 4 and only a handful of chopped fresh spinach. I also messed up the layers and added the ricotta/ mozzarella layer on top instead of ricotta center and mozzarella on top. I also cooked slightly longer and the bottom came out a little crispy. Great! Would make again!

  8. Says you can make ahead a refrigerate. But can you make it and freeze right away? Or does it need to be baked first because of the egg? Thanks!

  9. We made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I added ground beef (for the boys) along with some mushrooms. All I had was ditalini (the small salad pasta), but it still held together and sliced beautifully as if it were a lasagna. We paired it with a salad, and it was a great meal. Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe!

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