Chicken-Basil Baked Shells

Chicken-basil baked shells stuffed with chicken sausage, spinach, fresh mozzarella and baked in tomato sauce with basil.
Chicken-basil baked shells in a baking dish with a serving spoon

Chicken-Basil Baked Shells

Lasagna seems to hold a place at the top of the list of favorite baked pasta dishes, but I think there’s a case to make for baked pasta shells.  For about the same amount of work, a hot and bubbling baking dish filled with savory stuffed shells can make quite the impression at the dinner table. Plus, I think shells are easier to plate up – it’s a scoop and serve operation – while slices of lasagna can end up a sloppy mess on the plate. So, when times call for a more elegant-looking dinner I turn to recipes like this chicken-basil baked shells.

Some Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chicken sausage: although turkey or pork sausage will work well, too.
  • Frozen spinach: Look for bags of frozen chopped spinach which are a lot easier to work with than a frozen block of spinach, which you have to thaw and then squeeze out all the moisture. Frozen spinach in a bag can go right in the pan.
  • Fresh mozzarella: I like to cut the mozzarella into small cubes and stir it into the chicken mixture. That way, there are little pockets of melty cheese tucked in the shells.
  • Jarred marinara sauce: You can substitute homemade, but store-bought sauce makes this recipe so much easier.
  • Fresh basil: I like to slice it into ribbons and scatter it over the top of the shells before baking.
  • Provolone cheese
Chicken-Basil Baked Shells in a white baking dish

More Pasta Recipes


Chicken-Basil Baked Shells

Chicken-Basil Baked Shells

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5 from 1 review

If you can’t find chicken sausage, any sort of Italian-style sausage will work well (both pork or turkey sausage). Using store-bought marinara sauce makes this a simple recipe, but feel free to substitute homemade sauce if you have some on hand.

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz package frozen spinach (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 45 basil leaves rolled and sliced into ribbons


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the shells until very al dente, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken sausage and cook it, breaking it up with a spatula, until browned. Add the onion, garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook it for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Turn the heat off and add the mozzarella cubes.
  3. Spread a 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Fill the shells with the chicken sausage mixture and place in the baking dish. Top the shells with the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce. Top with the provolone cheese and sliced basil. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the shells for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.


Look for frozen spinach in a bag. There’s no need to defrost it like you would need to do with a frozen block of spinach.


  • Serving Size: 1/5 of recipe (4 shells with sauce)
  • Calories: 818
  • Sugar: 11.7g
  • Sodium: 2423.1mg
  • Fat: 37.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 15.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 74.9g
  • Fiber: 19.7g
  • Protein: 56.2g
  • Cholesterol: 161.9mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!


  1. I made this last weekend and it was another delicious winner! I love the many different flavors and it reheated perfectly for lunches during the week. I made the mistake of buying the kind of chicken sausage that is pre-cooked and doesn’t crumble when you cut off the casings. I chopped it instead and added it before the marinara. Still worked and tasted great, but next time I’ll get the right sausage because it has a better texture.

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