Go Back
+ servings
A spoon scoops beef and shells in a skillet.
Print Recipe
4.94 from 15 votes

Creamy Beef and Shells

Tender shell pasta in a meaty, deliciously seasoned tomato cream sauce. Creamy Beef and Shells is an incredibly comforting skillet pasta recipe that is ready in 30 minutes, start to finish!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time5 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6
Calories: 416kcal


  • 10 ounces medium pasta shells about 3 cups (can use elbows or penne, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • shredded Parmesan for garnish (optional)


  • Boil the pasta 1 minute shy of the package directions.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon until browned and crumbled, about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain the excess fat from the skillet and return it to the heat.
  • Add the Italian seasoning, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  • Slowly add the beef broth, stirring as you add it. Stir in the tomato sauce and increase the heat to MEDIUM HIGH. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  • Stir in the heavy cream or half and half and cheddar cheese. Stir in the cooked pasta and continue to cook for about 1 minute, or until warmed through. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving. It will continue to thicken a bit as it rests.
  • Garnish individual servings with Parmesan, if desired.



Leftovers should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated. Consume within 4 to 5 days for the best quality.
Make it a Freezer Meal
Creamy Beef and Shells can be frozen for meal prep or longer storage of leftovers. Allow the finished recipe to cool to room temperature then transfer it to a freezer safe, airtight container or plastic freezer bag, squeezing out any excess air. Label with the contents and date and freeze for up to 3 months.
If frozen, allow the pasta to safely thaw in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, warm it in a skillet on the stove. You may want to add a little water or additional cream to thin the sauce a bit. Individual servings can be warmed in the microwave, if preferred.


Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 996mg | Potassium: 751mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1162IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 4mg