Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
The creamy butternut filling for these butternut squash stuffed shells is lightened up with a secret ingredient. Plus, brown butter alfredo sauce! Need I say more?
It’s the middle of October, and I am ready for the fall season. I’m ready to feel a chill in the air, ready to wear boots and sweaters, ready to spend afternoons snuggling in and drinking hot cocoa with the kids.
I’ve been craving soup and this weekend it was finally cool enough that I made one of our favorite butternut squash soup recipes. Our other favorite is this winter soup, full of squash, potatoes, and leeks.
We’ve been getting lots of squash in our farm box, and I’ve had to get creative with how to use it like my butternut squash lasagna. Sometimes I’ll just toss cubes of squash with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and we will have roasted butternut squash as a side dish.
My family loves my spinach and cheese stuffed shells recipe so much that I thought I’d try butternut squash stuffed shells for a change.
This butternut squash recipe is another favorite way to enjoy butternut squash. In this recipe, cottage cheese is a shortcut that blends in with the squash, adds some creaminess, and I find that I hardly know it’s there when I’m eating these shells. If cottage cheese is just not your thing, go ahead and substitute ricotta.
How to Make Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Prepping these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells involves a few steps, but they are all relatively simple. First, you’ll want to peel and chop your butternut squash into half-inch cubes.
You’ll place the chopped squash in a baking dish, toss it with some olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning, and roast it in your oven at 425 degrees F until tender.
While the squash roasts, boil the jumbo shells and make the brown butter alfredo sauce. This creamy sauce starts with brown butter and fresh sage, and ends with Parmesan cheese and a dash of nutmeg. It’s a delicious complement to the creamy mashed butternut squash. You’ll mix some of the sauce into the mashed squash and pour the rest on top of the shells before baking.
Stuffing the squash/cottage cheese/alfredo mixture into the shells is really fast and easy. I like to sprinkle chopped walnuts on my shells before baking. The walnuts toast up as the shells bake and add another dimension of flavor and texture to the finished dish.
Brown butter, roasted squash, cheese, toasty walnuts… these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells have so much deliciousness going on. They are a comforting fall meal that you’ll want to sit down to many times this season.
More Delicious Squash Recipes:
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
- Butternut Squash Salad
- Roasted Delicata Squash
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
For the Stuffed Shells:
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper
- 24 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 cup cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
For the Brown Butter Sage Alfredo Sauce
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups lowfat milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper
Roast the squash:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into ½-inch pieces. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, until tender, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Cook the pasta shells:
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook according to package directions for al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain and lay shells on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.
While the squash and pasta cook, prepare the brown butter alfredo sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until brown flecks appear in the butter. Be very careful as the butter can go from brown to burned very quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic. Slowly whisk in the flour; return the pan to the heat and whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fill the shells:
- Scoop the roasted squash into a medium bowl. Use a fork to mash the squash. Add the cottage cheese and ½ cup of the alfredo sauce and stir to combine.
- Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Scoop about 1 ½ tablespoons of the squash mixture into each shell and place shells, seam side up, in the baking dish. Pour the remaining alfredo sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. Bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes until hot. Serve.
Oh you had me at brown butter alfredo sauce! These shells look amazing, Kristine! I love your creativity of stuffing butternut squash into them. What a flavorful fall dish!
Thank you, Gayle!
I love this creative take on stuffed shells! What a great fall dinner option!
Thank you, Kelly! Aren’t you loving all of the fall foods right now? 🙂
I recently moved from FL to NC so I totally understand your desire to feel Fall weather! Hopefully you will get your wish soon! Anyways, these shells look sensational! I’m for ALL the things butternut squash in the fall, but stuffed into shells with walnuts and cottage cheese? OMG, YES! Plus that brown butter alfredo sauce sounds like THE perfect finishing touch! Cheers and thanks for sharing the YUM!
You are too kind, Cheyanne! Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
These look awesome and that sauce looks to die for- totally loving the pop of color from the squash 🙂
Thank you, Medha! 🙂
I am just dying for it to cool down too! No more Hotober! I shouldn’t have to turn on my A/C in October. It’s just wrong. This pasta sounds amazing! I need to make this for dinner!
Ugh, I know! And it’s supposed to be mid- to high- 80’s again this week!
I love butternut squash ravioli, and that’s almost what we’ve got here. It’s like deconstructed ravioli! This is such a great idea, Kristine, and making that alfredo with brown butter sounds like the best possible thing!
These stuffed shells were inspired by my love of butternut squash ravioli, Marcie! But they are SO much easier than making your own ravioli. Thanks for your kind words!
I definitely know the feeling of wishing fall would HURRY already! We’re in Texas and it’s been hot – but it will come 🙂 I love this recipe it looks fantastic!
Thank you, Sarah! I guess we should just enjoy the sunshine while it’s here. 🙂
I seriously love the looks of these shells, Kristine! I am such a butternut…nut (LOL), and anything brown butter too! These look amazing!
LOL! Love it! 🙂 Thanks, Denise!
Is the grated cheese the kind that you buy already grated in the supermarket or do you buy the chunk and grate it yourself?
Wonderful texture and flavor without velveeta. Reheats smooth. This was delicious and so easy to make. Makes a bigger batch than I was expecting.
Do you think this can be made with gluten free shells and flour?
I haven’t tried it but my guess would be yes.
Whiz the cottage cheese in the blender or processor & no one will notice it’s not ricotta. Most people are put off by the texture, more than the flavor. I’m cow dairy allergic so I will be trying this with goat cheese, Romano ( the sheep milk kind), buffalo mozzarella, & almond milk. Probably need more Italian Seasoning to balance the more flavorful cheese. I use fresh steamed, squeezed, spinach, I just don’t care for frozen. It will turn out well. Thank You for such a great recipe to start from, it will be more expensive, but at least I can have it. Always looking for ways to serve butternut squash. Pumpkin might work too.
I hope your stuffed shells turn out great! That’s a good tip about blending the cottage cheese if the texture bothers you.
Does this recipe freeze well?
I haven’t tested these in the freezer. I believe that the stuffed shells would freeze well, wrapped tightly. Make the sauce right before serving for best results.
I can’t wait to make this on Sunday for my mother-in-law. It looks fabulous!
I’d love to be able to make as much as possible the day before, since that day is cram-packed. I’m planning to roast the squash and make the filling in advance, but do you think I could make and fill the shells in advance, too, then bake them the next day?
Thank you in advance for your help!
Yes, I think that will work great. It might be best to make the sauce the day of.