Home Dinner Beef One-Pot Creamy Beef and Shells

One-Pot Creamy Beef and Shells

The next time you need a quick and easy weeknight dinner, make this one-pot creamy beef and shells.

Between the chewy pasta, flavorful ground beef, and creamy sauce, it’s one comforting dish. 

And since it’s so mild, it’s perfect for picky eaters, too!

Spoon scooping beef and shells in cheesy tomato sauce with ground beef and cheese.
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Creamy Beef and Shells

Creamy beef and shells is an easy pasta dish that calls for simple, affordable ingredients.

It’s a hearty blend of ground beef, pasta shells, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, and tomato sauce.

Made in one large skillet, it’s ready before you know it!

It sort of reminds me of Hamburger Helper. Except even better because you make it from scratch. 

Ready to get cooking? Great! Let’s take a quick look at what you’ll need.

Beef and shells in cheesy tomato sauce tossed in a large skillet.

Ingredients 

What I love about this ground beef pasta recipe is that it’s budget-friendly. It calls for mostly pantry staples and just a few fresh ingredients. 

So head to the kitchen and grab the following:

  • Pasta Shells – This shape is the best for trapping all that meaty, cheesy, creamy goodness.
  • Olive Oil – For sautéing.
  • Ground Beef – Rich and meaty, it’s the star of this dish. For less fat, use lean ground beef.
  • Onion and Garlic – Yellow onions are the most versatile, but sweet onions add a complementary flavor. Be sure to use fresh garlic.
  • Seasonings – Italian seasoning, paprika, mustard powder, salt, and pepper enhance all the savory flavors.
  • Flour and Beef Broth – This is the base of the sauce. Flour thickens the tasty broth so it coats the pasta just right.
  • Heavy Cream and Canned Tomato Sauce – Together, they create a creamy yet slightly tangy sauce I know you’ll love.
  • Cheddar Cheese – Use freshly grated cheddar cheese, so it melts into gooey goodness. Sharp, medium, or mild – take your pick.
  • Fresh Parsley – The final touch! Parsley adds freshness to this rich dish and a nice pop of color.
Beef and shells in cheesy tomato sauce served in a white plate.

How to Make Creamy Beef and Shells 

Forget the fuss! Keep dinner quick and easy with this kid-approved pasta recipe. 

Here are the steps:

1. Brown the beef for about 5-7 minutes in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Drain the excess fat.

2. Add the aromatics, seasonings, and flour. Cook until the onions are tender, then sprinkle the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the broth and pasta. Slowly stir in the beef broth and tomato sauce, stirring constantly. Then, bring the liquid to a boil and add the pasta. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the pasta is tender.

4. Add the cream and cheese. When the pasta is cooked, stir in the heavy cream. Then, add the cheese in small handfuls, mixing until it melts. Or, sprinkle it on top, cover, and leave for 2-3 minutes to melt.

5. Serve and enjoy! Add parsley for garnish, and dig in!

Recipe Tips and Variations

Want the best creamy beef and shells? Just follow these tips and variations:

  • Make it extra creamy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese. It’s rich, cheesy, and even more delish.
  • Try other pasta shapes. Out of pasta shells? I say, use what you’ve got, such as penne, rigatoni, or bowtie. 
  • Grate block cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains starches preventing it from melting readily. So I recommend shredding the cheese yourself. 
  • Use ground Italian sausage. For a richer flavor, try ground Italian sausage instead of beef – or a mix of the two.
  • Substitute milk. If you don’t have heavy cream, use milk instead. To make up for the thinner consistency, add an extra 1/2 tablespoon of flour.
  • Add a little spice. A pinch of red pepper chili flakes will complement the dish well. Plus, it adds just the right amount of spice. For more heat, add a dash or two of hot sauce.
Top view of a serving of beef and shell pasta with cheesy sauce on a white plate.

How to Store Leftovers

I love leftover creamy beef and shells! It’s great for a quick meal, especially on chilly nights. 

Just follow these tips for storing and reheating:

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To Store: Store cold leftover pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To Freeze: Transfer the cold leftovers to a freezer-friendly airtight container. Divide into single servings, if desired. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw frozen pasta in the fridge overnight. Reheat in a pot on low heat until warm. Add 1-2 tablespoons of broth or cream if needed.

More Easy Ground Beef Recipes 

Ground Beef Vegetable Soup
Easy Ground Beef Taco Salad
Porcupine Meatballs

Creamy Beef and Shells

Course: Main CourseCuisine: American
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

525

kcal

The next time you need a quick and easy weeknight dinner, make this one-pot creamy beef and shells. It’s heart, budget-friendly, and super comforting.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells, uncooked

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it apart with a spatula, until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any excess fat (optional).
  • Add the diced onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Then, stir in the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the beef mixture, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
  • Gradually add the beef broth, followed by the tomato sauce, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Add the pasta, stir well, then add the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Let simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking.
  • When the pasta is cooked, add the heavy cream and stir. Top the dish with the cheese, cover with a lid, and leave to melt for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir the cheese into the dish and serve with chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Make it extra creamy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese. It’s rich, cheesy, and even more delish.
  • Use ground Italian sausage. For a richer flavor, try ground Italian sausage instead of beef – or a mix of the two.
Creamy beef and shells.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

3 thoughts on “One-Pot Creamy Beef and Shells”

  1. This was very good. I didn’t have pasta shells so I used Penne, which held up well in the sauce.
    I added 1 cup chopped frozen spinach a few minutes before the cheese went in.
    I also added the cream cheese as suggested. This was a creamy delicious dish.

    Reply

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