Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
Creamy, rich shells stuffed with three kinds of cheese, spinach, and chicken tossed in buffalo sauce. This unique spin on a classic will have you coming back for more!
I’ve really been wanting to share more unique/creative recipes that are still family friendly, and this one fit the bill (at least for our family). I have to admit though, I felt a little like a mad scientist when I was testing this recipe. I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out or if anyone would enjoy it. Thankfully the stars aligned and everyone went back for seconds! #success
We’re no strangers to using buffalo sauce in recipes. I shared my Instant Pot buffalo chicken sliders and crispy buffalo chicken nuggets a few months ago, both of which were big hits. Since I’m cooking for little ones, I alway use Frank’s “original” buffalo sauce which is a lot more toned down than the “hot.” The kids can definitely detect the heat, but they aren’t bothered by it. Sweet Baby Ray’s also makes a really good sauce. ??
What pasta should you use for this recipe?
Grab the BIG stuffed shells. Not small or medium, big! If stuffed shells seem tedious or they’re just not your thing, you can always use no-boil lasagna sheets and adapt the recipe into a lasagna.
The very first thing you should do is boil the shells, drain them and set them aside. While you’re doing that, you can prep the rest of the recipe.
You’ll need to toss 2 cups of pulled chicken thighs or rotisserie chicken in 1/2 cup of buffalo sauce. Set it aside while you mix together the ingredients for the ricotta filling.
The filling consists of whole milk ricotta (part-skim works too), mozzarella, parmesan, garlic powder, salt (or celery salt if you have it), ground black pepper, minced green onion, an egg, and 2 heaping cups of freshly chopped spinach. Note: the spinach does not need to be cooked beforehand. I tried that, and it was not appetizing! ??
What other vegetables can be added to these shells?
These shells are also delicious with a grated zucchini (just make sure to press any and all the moisture out you can), lightly cooked cauliflower (make sure you chop it up into small pieces), or sautéed mushrooms. I think the key here is getting those vegetables nice and small, and cooking them just a bit if needed.
Once you have the filling make you”ll place a spoonful into the bottom of each shell, then top with a spoonful of buffalo chicken. Repeat the process until you’ve used all of the shells.
Then in a small saucepan, you’ll make the bechamel sauce.
What is bechamel sauce?
It’s a rich white sauce typically made from butter, flour, and milk. Sometimes it’s infused with seasonings or other ingredients to give it more flavor.
The process is pretty straightforward- melt the butter, add in the flour, whisk until golden brown, then slowly pour in the milk and heat until thickened. I like to add cheese to mine (especially when using it in an Italian recipe), so I added parmesan. Another option would be adding blue cheese. We’re not blue cheese eaters (gasp, I know!), but if you are, feel free to go that route. It will make this dish taste just like your favorite wings!
Pour half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish, then add the shells. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, then let the shells rest for 10, they’ll be piping hot!
Our family (specifically my husband) raved about these buffalo chicken stuffed shells. They were creamy with a hit of heat and so incredibly flavorful! If you love buffalo wings and all things cheese, you need to try this recipe ASAP!
LOOKING FOR MORE BUFFALO CHICKEN RECIPES? TRY THESE:
- 30 Minute Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Spicy Cajun Crust
- Crispy Buffalo Chicken Nuggets
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Sliders
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza Pinwheels
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- 1 lb. jumbo pasta shells
For the filling:
- 2 c. shredded chicken thighs or rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 c. buffalo chicken sauce
- 16 oz. ricotta cheese (I used whole milk)
- 1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 c. shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt OR celery salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2 c. freshly chopped spinach
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 3 c. whole milk
- 1/3 c. shaved parmesan or blue cheese
For the topping:
- 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large stockpot full of water, cook jumbo shells according to the package's instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the chicken and buffalo sauce, toss to combine and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion, and spinach. Mix together until combined.
- Place a spoonful of filling into the bottom of each shell, followed by a spoonful of buffalo chicken. (I place them on the piece of foil I use to cover the pan when they go in the oven to bake)
- In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, add the butter. Once melted add the flour and whisk until pale golden brown. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking until a smooth, creamy sauce forms. Turn up the heat to medium and bring to a low simmer. Once thickened, whisk in the cheese and remove from the heat.
- Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place the shells over top, then pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Top with grated mozzarella, then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Top with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.
-This can prepared 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake.