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Skillet of cheesy beef and pasta shells.

Cheesy Beef and Shells

An easy, cheesy skillet dinner with seasoned ground beef and pasta shells in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beef and shells, cheesy pasta, homemade hamburger helper
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 872kcal


  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I like ground sirloin
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt I use Diamond Crystal
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes just a pinch, more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 (15-oz.) can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream, room temp
  • 2 cups grated extra sharp/sharp cheddar cheese
  • Grated parmesan cheese for serving optional


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous few pinches of salt and cook pasta shells according to package instructions, about 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and brown, stir and crumble about 4 or 5 minutes. Add onion to the beef and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until onions are translucent.
  • Stir in garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt and Worcestershire and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle with flour, stir to incorporate and cook off the flour taste, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in the beef broth and crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until slightly reduced and starting to thicken, about 7 or 8 minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta shells to the skillet, stir in heavy cream and sour cream and heat through, about 2 minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Add the grated cheese and stir to combine and melt, about 2 more minutes.
  • Serve immediately, or let rest 5 minutes or so off heat to thicken more. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, if desired.


  • Depending on appetites, this skillet dinner will serve 4 to 6 people.
  • I highly recommend Better Than Bouillon to make the beef stock called for in this recipe, comes in a jar, just follow the directions.
  • Can use regular crushed tomatoes or sauce, instead of fire roasted.
  • Grating the cheese yourself is best, it will melt better. You'll grate about ¾ of an 8-ounce block of cheddar cheese to yield about 2 cups.
  • The cheesy beef and shells will thicken upon sitting for several minutes.


Calories: 872kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 863mg | Potassium: 824mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1079IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 490mg | Iron: 4mg