How to Prepare Creamy Beef and Shells

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Creamy Beef and Shells makes me feel warm and fuzzy because I often ate Hamburger Helper’s version of it when I was a child. But after some tweaking and testing, I’ve come up with a new, updated version of this meal that I hope you and your family will love as much as my family does. It is rich, creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor. This is a rich and indulgent meal, but it’s perfect for dinner when served with lighter, vegetable-heavy sides such as roasted broccoli and a quick garden salad.

Cooking Tips:

  • If you don’t want to use shells, you can use penne, elbow macaroni, or rotini.
  • Make sure to cook the pasta until it’s firm or al dente so that more cooking won’t make it too soft when you mix it with the sauce.
  • It’s also important to eliminate most beef grease, leaving only 1–2 tablespoons for flavor.
  • You can add vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots, but make sure to saute them with the onion until they are soft.


  • 8 ounces of medium shells of pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound of beef ground
  • 1 small sweet onion (diced)
  • 5 heads of garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian spice
  • 1 milligram of dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 (15oz can) marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cup of full-fat cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper that was just ground (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups of cheddar (freshly grated)


  • Boil the pasta in compliance with the directions on the package in a large pot of salted water that is boiling, then drain it well.
  • In a great pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the ground beef and cook for 3–5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned. Remove any extra fat and set it aside.
  • Add diced onion to the same pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and boil for about a minute until it smells good.
  • For about 1 minute, whisk in the flour until it turns a light brown.
  • Whisk in the beef stock slowly and stir to mix. Add pasta sauce and stir in Italian salt and pepper, dried parsley, oregano, and paprika.
  • Take to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring every once in a while, for about 6–8 minutes, until it has reduced and become slightly thicker.
  • Mix in the cooked pasta and beef.
  • Next, stir in the heavy cream until it is completely warm, about 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and attach salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir in the sour cream after that.
  • Next, mix in the cheddar cheese until it melts, which should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Serve right away, with parsley on top if you want.

How to keep leftovers:

  • Let it cool completely, put it in a container that won’t let air in, and put it in the fridge. Use it up within three days. Remind that the pasta will soak up the different sauces when cold. So, when you heat it again, add a little more heavy cream or beef stock.
  • Freeze: You can freeze this for a few weeks. Let it thaw at nighttime in the fridge before warming. This way, you won’t break the pasta into pieces when you reheat it.
  • Make-Ahead: You can freeze the sauce and add pasta when you want to serve it. This is a great option for people who plan their meals. You can prepare the pasta before time and freeze it. Don’t forget to drizzle oil on the food before freezing it to keep it from sticking.

Creamy Beef And Shells Recipe (FAQs)

How do beef and shells work?

This dish is made with short pasta, seasoned ground beef, and a sauce made from tomatoes and milk. In this recipe, we add heavy cream, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. In other recipes, cheese is the only ingredient. This makes the dish as a whole creamier.

Should you get rid of beef grease?

Yes and no are both the right answers. If you throw away the grease, you will also throw away the flavor. This question has two answers, then. Yes, if the kind you used had too much fat. Since too much grease isn’t good, you should eliminate it. I like to leave about 1 to 2 tbsp in the pan in this case.

No, if you chose meat with less fat. Then there won’t be much grease, so you can keep that small amount and not throw it away. So, I think you should use extra-lean meat for this one because it will taste better. And since there is sauce on this dish, you don’t have to worry about it getting too dry.

What can you use instead of marinara?

Marinara is a simple soup made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and some spices. You can easily replace it with tomato sauce and probably add more aromatics and spices to this dish. You could also use diced tomatoes from a can. I like the fire-roasted ones with herbs.

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