The Cozy Cook

Creamy Beef and Shells

Creamy Beef and Shells is an easy ground beef recipe that your family will love! Serve it with cheesy garlic bread  for an easy Italian dinner with simple ingredients!

Be sure to try my heart Beef Vegetable Soup recipe next!

A skillet filled with Creamy Beef and Shells topped with fresh parsley.

Creamy Beef and Shells

promise you- the extra ingredients that I have listed in this recipe are all SO entirely worth the outcome. It might seem strange to have a dab of hot sauce or mustard powder in here, but they really compliment and enhance the other flavors in this recipe. (And don’t skimp out on the cream cheese! It’s heavenly.)

This sauce has the perfect balance of every flavor. It’s creamy, but still has a distinct tomato flavor with a perfect ratio of ground beef and pasta.

You will be super proud of yourself when you taste it. My husband’s exact reaction: “Mmmm…. (4 seconds later)… Oh my GOSH! This is REALLY good!” -all of those flavors roll in after a few seconds and that’s what makes this recipe so great.

Okay- let’s do it!

How to Make It

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Shred the cheese and measure out all ingredients prior to beginning. Begin heating the pasta water for boiling.

Cook and crumble the ground beef over medium-high heat. Add onions halfway through and cook until softened. Drain any grease. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add 1 tsp hot sauce, 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp mustard powder, 1 pinch of red pepper flakes, and 3 TBS flour. Cook for one minute.

Cooking ground beef and adding tomato sauce for Creamy Beef and Shells

Add the beef broth and use a silicone spatula to ‘clean’ the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and softened cream cheese. Let the sauce simmer while you boil the shells for 7-8 minutes or as instructed on package. (Optional, add a few teaspoons of kosher salt to the boiling water.)

Decrease heat to low. Stir in the half and half. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the shredded cheese until well-combined.

Mixing cream and cheese into tomato sauce for Creamy Beef and Shells.

Add the drained pasta shells and stir to combine. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with cheesy garlic bread and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Adding pasta shells to a creamy tomato sauce to make Creamy Beef and Shells

Pro Tips

  • Shred the cheese from a block. It will melt and taste much better than bagged shredded cheese, which contains cellulose to prevent it from clumping in the bag (which also makes it melt less creamy.) I use Cracker Barrel sharp yellow cheddar.
  • The hot sauce enhances all of the other flavors in the dish. It won’t make it spicy. I use Texas Pete hot sauce.
  • If you don’t have mustard powder or tomato paste, they can be omitted, but they do add subtle yet excellent flavor to the sauce. The tomato paste also helps to thicken the sauce.
  • A variety of different pastas will work in this recipe, including rotini, farfalle (bowtie), and fusilli.

Storage

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Creamy Beef and Shells on a white plate with a fork.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)– Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • Kitchen Scale– Perfect for weighing the pasta or ground beef if needed.
  • Deep 13-inch skillet– You’ll have this one forever.
  • Box Grater– Always shred cheese from a block for best flavor and meltability. (Yes, that’s actually a word! 😂)

Try These Next

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Creamy Beef and Shells on a plate topped with fresh parsley.

Creamy Beef and Shells

5 from 9 votes
Creamy Beef and Shells is an easy ground beef recipe with shell pasta smothered in a creamy and flavorful tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef, 85% lean
  • 1 small diced yellow onion, can sub 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 cloves minced garlic, can sub ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 3 Tablespoons flour, optional-helps thicken the sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cups half and half
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ pound medium shell pasta
  • Fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving.

Instructions

  • Shred the cheese and measure out all ingredients prior to beginning. Begin heating the pasta water for boiling.
  • Cook and crumble the ground beef over medium-high heat. Add onions halfway through and cook until softened. Drain any grease.
  • Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add 1 tsp hot sauce, 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp mustard powder, 1 pinch of red pepper flakes, and 3 TBS flour. Cook for one minute.
  • Add the beef broth and use a silicone spatula to ‘clean’ the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and softened cream cheese. Let the sauce simmer while you boil the shells for 7-8 minutes or as instructed on package. (Optional, add a few teaspoons of kosher salt to the boiling water.)
  • Decrease heat to low. Stir in the half and half. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the shredded cheese until well-combined.
  • Add the drained pasta shells and stir to combine. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with cheesy garlic bread and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes

Shred the cheese from a block. It will melt (and taste!) much better than bagged shredded cheese, which contains cellulose to prevent it from clumping in the bag (but also makes it melt less creamy.) I use Cracker Barrel sharp yellow cheddar.

The hot sauce enhances all of the other flavors in the dish. It won’t make it spicy. I use Texas Pete hot sauce.

If you don’t have mustard powder or tomato paste, they can be omitted, but they do add subtle but excellent flavor to the sauce. The tomato paste also helps to thicken the sauce.

A variety of different pastas will work in this recipe, including rotini, farfalle (bowtie), and fusilli.

Nutrition

Calories: 543kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 130mg, Sodium: 1282mg, Potassium: 1051mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1154IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 399mg, Iron: 6mg

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Recipe Rating




20 comments on “Creamy Beef and Shells”

  1. Yum!!.. nice change from the everyday routine 

  2. Just made this as we really needed something comforting. It was delicious and fit the bill! Thank you! Might have allegedly added a bit more cheese than called for otherwise I followed the recipe as written.

    • Wooooooo!!!! So happy to hear that Jim!!! (I’ve been known to allegedly do the same thing with the cheese. 😂) – thank you so much for the review! -Stephanie

  3. Very delicious as all the recipes I’ve made from your website.

  4. Hmmmm all I taste is tomato sauce! I had to doctor this up with some Roa’s Marinara Sauce and it still needed help. Too much tomato sauce or something, sadly because I wanted to like it so bad but my family said it was a NO! 

    • Hey CC, I love Rao’s marinara sauce, but it definitely has a very concentrated tomato flavor and probably contributed to the issues that you had with too much tomato taste. Sorry that this didn’t work out for you!

  5. I’ve been looking at this recipe for a while and finally decided to try it— and I’m sad I didn’t try it sooner! This dish is fabulous and is something I will definitely be making again in the future. A nice easy recipe that will fed me and my boyfriend for a few days (less cooking for me yay). 

    • I’m so happy to hear this was a hit with you and the boyfriend!😃 Definitely a bonus when it gets you off the hook from cooking for a couple of days! Thanks so much for the review!❤️

  6. This was a hit for the whole family! My kids each gave me a high-five at the dinner table. That has NEVER happened before. Seriously, the flavors in this were delicious together. Thank you, Stephanie, this is a new family favorite! And I am excited to try more of your recipes!

    • You’re very welcome Jennifer! Wow, a high five from the kids, that’s impressive!❤️ My four year old daughter loves this one too. It’s definitely kid friendly. Thanks so much for the review, I can’t wait for you to check out other recipes!

  7. Made this last night for our dinner and it was so creamy and had a little hint of heat (hot sauce) that made it even better. Will definitely make again.

  8. This was a huge hit at our house! Our 2 toddlers loved it and so did my husband. My husband likes things a little spicy so I mixed in some extra hot sauce to his bowl! Will be adding this one to the rotation!

  9. This was delicious. Don’t change a thing. We did not add red pepper flakes because I can’t eat spicy food. ❤️

  10. This is amazing! I cooked this recipe precisely as Stephanie has it written and it was outstanding! Don’t omit anything as all of the flavors compliment each other in the most awesome way! It’s definitely going in my favorites!!

    • Hey Darla!! I’m SO happy to hear you say that about the flavors all coming together, I felt the exact same way! I appreciate that so much. Thank you for take the time to leave this review!! 🙂 -Stephanie

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