Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

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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 love the idea of lazy day recipe! This pasta dish looks delicious and so cheesy! Lovely post.

  2. Oh Maria, this looks incredible! Can not wait to try it and we are having the perfect weather for this here in Australia at the moment. Thanks for sharing another winning dish xo

  3. Yum! Your baked pasta looks so yummy!! Love spinach and ricotta together!

  4. Sometimes the meals we make when we feel a little bit lazy turn out to be the best. I agree, stuffing shells can be cumbersome, but these look fantastic. A nice springtime meatless meal.

  5. Love the idea with marinara sauce!! I make something similar – mini shells, ricotta, bechamel, and fresh spinach. I like to add a pine nut and parm topping. So quick and easy

  6. I love one-dish meals, and this one looks so tasty! This is one that I know for sure the kids will like. Definitely adding to my list of recipes to try!

  7. Looks delicious and perfect for weeknights! Definitely trying this sometime soon!

  8. The only question I have is where is mine? And as always, glad to see you put Josh to work.

  9. I definitely had those lazy days! I’m pretty sure that when I was off for maternity leave I wore pj’s every single day! NO LIE! Love this pasta.

  10. This looks so good!! I need to have lunch now or I’ll keep drooling over your photos!

  11. Great idea to just toss the shells in with the other ingredients instead of spending the time to fill them. This is the perfect comfort food for a rainy spring day.

  12. I love me some stuffed shells too! This dish is great for when I’m not in the mood for stuffing!

  13. I hate stuffing the shells too! This is much easies and just as good I’m sure. I gotta try your homemade marinara too.

  14. Looks completely delicious! I love a lazy dinner that looks like you spent forever in the kitchen. SOLD!

  15. I almost always feel too lazy to make a multi-step dinner so this easy baked pasta sounds good to me!

  16. I made that tonight and it was absolutely AMAZING! I used fresh spinach instead of frozen and 90 grams of sharp cheddar in place of the 2 cups of mozzarella it called for and made my own marinara. It was so good my bf went for seconds. I refrained though… Thanks for that recipe! 😉

  17. Wish this was my dinner right now! I’m bagging the whole dinner idea tonight! LOL

  18. I’m completely in favor of skipping steps and getting the same flavors. Especially when that step involves burning my hands on hot pasta. I can’t wait to try this.

  19. I love the idea of skipping the stuffing process! And, not losing any of the wonderful filling! 🙂

  20. 4 PM and still in pajamas sounds exactly like weekends at my house.
    This looks fantastic, saving this to make later.

  21. Wow, the pasta with spinach and ricotta sounds amazing! It seems like a great dish to make for dinner & it’s so fresh. Thank you for the recipe!

  22. This is the first recipe of yours I’ve tried…finally. And WOW. THis is my new favorite dinner….thought I’d died and gone to heaven, it was so good. BUT I laugh at your comments on how it was for a “lazy day”…not that easy in my book. So mabey I won’t jump at too many of your recipes after all 🙂

  23. I love this recipe as I’m a big stuffed shells fan myself. Sometimes I like to add broccoli bits and cut up mushrooms as well.

  24. Great dish! Made it today and it was really tasty. I used only 1 cup of mozzarella and it was plenty for us. It was easy to make as well. I use the sauce recipe that’s linked as well and it was delicious too.

  25. I made this the other night and we all liked it very much. I used rice pasta (small shells) because a family member has gluten allergies, and you would never know it was made with rice pasta. I did use store-bought marinara sauce, but a good quality one. Thanks for a yummy recipe!

  26. All you need to do is to coat the chicken by rolling them over the
    seasoning mixture. You do need to take care when handling the raw meat and wash any surfaces touched
    by the raw chicken with hot, soapy water afterwards.
    Essentially the most important portion of frying fish is making
    it possible for the oil to reach the best temperature prior to including
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  27. Feel I should comment as this as gone into regular rotation at my house. We make this exactly as written and turns out perfectly every time. Both my kids always go for seconds. Thank you!

  28. I made this tonight as part of a potluck for football – it was awesome! I was rushing, didn’t read, and separated the cheesy-spinach mixture between the two layers, almost like a lasagna and it turned out great. Thanks!

  29. I made this dish last night and it was a huge success! We had enough for leftovers so I’m already thinking of that tasty meal I will have at lunch. Even my 18 month old had seconds. We will definitely add this into the will-make-again-many-more-times file! Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I followed your tomato sauce recipe too! I think that made it even better! Yummmm.

  30. REALLY want to try this recipe – it looks Delish! But does anyone know the measurements in grams rather than cups?

  31. Someone essentially assist to make seriously posts I might state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular post extraordinary. Fantastic task!

  32. I plan on making this tonight, but want to add some protein instead of a side of chicken, so I’ll add some crumbled ground chicken. Can’t wait to wow my family with all the goodness! This Italian loves some pasta bake!

  33. Can you tell me the nutritional data for this recipe? Also, can you add this data to more recipes? I’m following weight watchers and love your recipes, but need to know how to count them:).

  34. This was the first recipe we’ve tried from your site, and I’ll definitely be making it again. The whole family enjoyed it. Always on the lookout for a meat-free dish that the whole family loves since we’re half vegetarians and half carnivores here. Looking forward to trying more recipes.

  35. Hoping to make this tonight but I happen to have fresh spinach on hand. I don’t really cook with fresh spinach though so should I blanch it first? Sorry it this is a silly question!

    1. You can blanch it or sauté it first. You will need a lot of spinach because it really cooks down. Enjoy!

  36. Thank you so much for this recipe – it totally saved my bacon this evening. I had a bag of fresh spinach and a pot of ricotta about to go out of date and your blog provided the inspiration I needed.

  37. This looks delicious but my husband will not eat it if it doesn’t have meat. What would be the best meat to use in this recipe? Ground beef?

  38. I had this for the first time last night and it was awesome! Which is pretty monumental for me because I’m not a pasta person. My kiddo liked it to and she ONLY like alfredo sauces and usually hates marinara. The only variations I had were, I used fresh chopped spinach instead of frozen, (I just can’t do canned or frozen spinach but it was great and I think I’ll even add more next time) and I used half whole wheat pasta. I also split this into two 9 inch round foil pans because I’m only cooking for two. I’ll break it down even smaller next time (I clearly didn’t read that it was 8 servings and it was) but I enjoyed the left-overs. And it freezes beautifully!

  39. I’m making this tonight for my family! I even made your sauce…can’t wait for everyone’s verdict! 🙂 Meanwhile, all you recipes that I have tried so far have been a hit, so I’m not worried.

  40. I used bowtie pasta because it was all we had. Needed more than 12 oz. More like 18oz or more. Other than that, delicious.

  41. I’ve made this dish twice, both times using a butternut squash pasta sauce I found at the store in place of traditional marinara, and I LOVE it. I also added some cooked crumbled Italian sausage. Yum!

  42. 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!

  43. 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!

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

  45. 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! 

  46. 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?

  47. 2 stars
    Seemed to be lacking flavor and bland. Probably would make again adding more cheese, another flavor and possibly browned sausage. 

  48. 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!

  49. 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!

  50. 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!