Marinara, alfredo, AND crispy breadcrumbs? Yes, please.
Here at 12 Tomatoes, we love a good copycat recipe because it means you get to enjoy your favorite restaurant food from the comfort of your own home anytime you want. Sometimes a copycat recipe is a great plan because you can make it quicker than going out to get it, or because you can choose to use higher-quality ingredients than a restaurant might, but in the case of Olive Garden’s Jumbo Stuffed Shells it’s just because we never want to stop eating them. Ever. Their stuffed shells are filled with a tender cheesy mixture and layered with marinara, creamy alfredo, and crunchy breadcrumbs, which is to say they are ahhhhmazing. And ours are an excellent likeness, if we do say so ourselves.
The reason Olive Garden’s Stuffed Shells are so incredible is that they feature so many different delicious components. While you can get this on the table in just about a half an hour, there are a few components to juggle but I can promise you it is so well worth the small amount of effort it takes.
The first step is to boil your shells and stuff them with a mixture made up of ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and garlic. Marinara goes under and around the shells, and the good news is that jarred marinara is totally fine here.
Now, most stuffed shells would stop there – shells, filling, marinara – but not Olive Garden. Instead, they layer theirs with a silky, creamy alfredo and a topping of crispy seasoned breadcrumbs. Those two additions really bring things to the next level – the breadcrumbs add texture and the alfredo adds a contrasting richness to the zesty marinara.
If you haven’t made alfredo before, rest assured it’s a very simple process and you’ll be so glad you did it. You’re just simmering some cream and butter in a skillet with some garlic and parmesan before spooning it over those loaded shells. If you’ve had these at the restaurant, you already know what you’re in for when you get to bite into these. If you haven’t, well, just know that you might not ever find another stuffed shell recipe that compares. They’re that good.
Copycat Olive Garden Stuffed Shells
Serves 4; 15 minutes prep, 25 minutes cook time
- 16 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 (15 oz) jar marinara sauce
For the filling:
- 15 oz ricotta
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
For the breadcrumbs:
- 1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the Alfredo sauce:
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
- Cook shells according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, make the filling by mixing together ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, oregano, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread 1 cup of marinara in bottom of pan.
- Stuff shells with 2 tablespoons of filling per shell and place each shell on top of marinara in baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauces and breadcrumb topping:
- In a skillet, melt the 1 tablespoon butter. Add breadcrumbs and stir until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Remove from skillet to a bowl and set aside.
- When shells have 5 minutes of baking time left, make the Alfredo sauce:
- In the same skillet, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in whipping cream, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir until sauce is smooth.
- Remove shells from oven and spoon Alfredo sauce over and around shells. Spoon a bit more marinara over the top. Top with breadcrumbs and return to oven. Broil on high 2-3 minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Food Hussy.