These unstuffed shells are a fun twist on the classic stuffed shells! Jumbo pasta shells are tossed in a spicy, silky vodka sauce and dolloped with ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with parm and fresh basil and it’s a dreamy meal!

Dinner is here!

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

These unstuffed shells are made with my spicy vodka sauce, lots of ricotta cheese, parmesan basil and crushed red pepper. Silky, spicy, cheesy and so satisfying. 

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

Hello hello!

Why yes, I am back with another vodka sauce pasta recipe. 

We can’t get enough. 

I want to eat it in every capacity possible. 


spicy vodka unstuffed shells

These unstuffed shells are fun. They are different.

And they probably won’t be for everyone. But if you like big slabs of pasta with a silky, smooth saucy blanket, dollops of ricotta and lots of fresh basil?

This is for you. I made it for you! 

Oh and parmesan. Tons of parm, of course. 

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

I didn’t even realize unstuffed shells were a thing until I came across this recipe. This looked like the exact type of pasta dish that I love to eat. Not too saucy, some crunchy, cheesy golden and crisp bits from the oven, lots of cheese and herbs. 

Adore that. I never even liked tomato sauce growing up, so I still prefer my sauce on the lighter side. 

I say that this may not be for everyone because some may think it’s just TOO much pasta. Big shells of pasta coated in sauce. The sauce sneaks into that pasta coil and it’s perfect! But, you know,  Eddie prefers this with ground beef or turkey. The kids love it, and I have to cut it up for Jordan. They also don’t like it super spicy, so crushed red pepper is minimal. 

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

I like these as a main dish with a big greens salad. You can also serve them as a side dish. Any kind of protein – even meatballs! That’s Eddie’s preferred method of consuming them. 

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

They are really quite simple!

This is how I make the dish.

First, I make a double batch of my vodka sauce. I like to have a lot of that silky sauce to coat the noodles, and it thickens up a bit in the oven too. 

I also boil some jumbo pasta shells. You can use small ones too. No big deal! 

Once those two things are combined, I dollop ricotta everywhere. All over!

Next, I bake the dish until bubbly and the cheese is warm and melty and perfect. 

Finally, a shower of parm, maybe more red pepper and lots of basil.

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

LOVE. Serve it up and it is straight heaven!

spicy vodka unstuffed shells

Spicy Vodka Unstuffed Shells

Spicy Vodka Unstuffed Shells

These unstuffed shells are a fun twist on the classic stuffed shells! Jumbo pasta shells are tossed in a spicy, silky vodka sauce and dolloped with ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with parm and fresh basil and it's a dreamy meal!
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  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells according to the package directions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water. Drain the shells and give them a toss or spray with olive oil, just so they don’t fully stick together.
  • While the pasta is boiling, make the vodka sauce. Heat the butter in an oven-safe saucepan, dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the shallots and garlic with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Add the pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the onions soften. Add in the tomato paste and stir, cooking for 5 minutes. The color will darken - this is where the flavor is!
  • Stream in the vodka and stir, scraping the brown bits and flavor from the bottom. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add another ½ cup of reserved water. Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan, stirring until the cheese melts. Taste and season the sauce with more salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat.
  • Gently add the jumbo shells into the vodka sauce. You don’t want them to break, and you want them to be fully coated with the sauce too. Once the shells are in the sauce, dollop the ricotta all over the shells.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until the ricotta is creamy and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and top with parmesan, crushed red pepper and tons of fresh basil. Serve!

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spicy vodka unstuffed shells