Ultra Creamy Beef and Shells

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This Ultra Creamy Beef and Shells recipe is easy-to-make and can be on your table in 30 minutes. Pasta shells and lean ground beef tossed in a creamy, cheesy tomato sauce – making it the ultimate comfort food!

If you were ever a fan of Hamburger Helper as a kid, then you’re going to love this dish! It tastes like creamy lasagna pasta in a bowl!

Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef.


Are you ready for the yummiest, creamiest and cheesiest pasta dish you will ever have? Then what are you waiting for? Scroll down, print this recipe off and head to the store for the ingredients. You are going to want to make this dish tonight! Not only will you love it, but your entire family (including the kiddos!) will love it. 

This dish will soon become a requested dish in your home. You may even need double the batch for leftovers! Highly recommend. It is pure heaven in a bowl and my husband can attest to that. Shortly after my second of third round at perfecting the sauce, I knew I had a winner when my husband ate an entire bowl and even had seconds!

I’m not even sure I heard or saw him come up for air! I consider it a compliment when I serve a dish and there is silence followed by an empty plate or bowl. It means I hit a home run. That I perfected the dish.

And that is exactly what this Ultra Creamy Beef and Shells recipe is – perfection.

Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef.


Full recipe with directions can be found via the printable recipe card below. Scroll down!  🙂

  • Lean ground beef
  • Yellow (or white) onion
  • Regular tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Unsalted beef stock
  • Cream cheese & extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Pasta shells
  • Half and half
  • Minced garlic
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, & Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Cornstarch (can substitute with flour or arrowroot – just use accordingly)


  1. SAUCE: As noted in the recipe below, the sauce will need time to thicken and reduce by one-third. You will be able to note the amount of reduction in the sauce by the line of tomato sauce that forms along the edge of the pan.
    – This recipe calls for (1) 15-ounce can of regular tomato sauce. You can also use any flavored tomato sauce, as well. If not using regular, plain tomato sauce, I would recommend using the seasonings listed within the recipe card sparingly and to taste.
  2. STOCK: All of my recipes will state either unsalted or low-sodium stock or broth. I prefer to be able to control the amount of sodium that goes into my dishes. If you use regular, salted stock or broth I recommend reducing the amount of salt added, adding to taste.
    – You can also use vegetable stock or broth. Keep in mind, beef stock (or stock in general) will have more flavor than broth.
  3. BEEF: This recipe calls for lean ground beef. If you use a more fatty ground beef, I recommend draining a little of the grease that cooks out before adding any sauce or stock.
    – Ground chicken or ground turkey can be used in replacement of beef for a leaner meat option. Or omit the meat completely for a meat-free meal!
  4. PASTA: You can use any pasta you have on hand for this recipe. I recommend shells, rotini, or any pasta that will hold sauce best. Think macaroni and cheese here!
    – Don’t forget to salt the water prior to adding the pasta to boil. This will help prevent the pasta from sticking together when you drain it.
  5. CHEESES: I recommend using freshly grated cheddar cheese, as well as allowing the cream cheese to soften at room temperature before adding it to the sauce. Both will melt and blend a lot easier and quicker.

Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef.

Have I convinced you yet? Give it a try and let me know what you think below in a comment! I love receiving your feedback on recipes whether its here or on Instagram!


  1. Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta
  2. Garlic Butter Shrimp with Asiago Risotto
  3. Roasted Red Pepper Rigatoni
  4. Super Tender Instant Pot Pot Roast 
  5. Lemon Garlic and Feta Pasta Salad 



Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef.

Ultra Creamy Beef and Shells

4.53 from 23 votes
Cheesy, creamy beef and shells is an easy-to-make recipe that will have you reaching for seconds! Rich tomato flavor combined with two cheese make up the most scrumptious meat sauce. A flavorful dish your entire family will love!
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Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Creamy Beef and Shells, Easy Pasta Dishes, Easy Recipes, Ultra Creamy Beef and Shells
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 649kcal
Author: Samantha Buckner


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce, (canned or jarred)
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, (more or less - to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, (more or less - to taste)
  • 2 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch + 2 teaspoons of water, (mixed)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, (softened & cut into small cubes)
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Optional Garnishment:

  • Freshly shredded parmesan or cheddar cheese


  • Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onions and saute 3-4 minutes, or until they are translucent. Add in the minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Stir to mix. Saute 30 seconds, or untl fragrant.
  • Add in the ground beef, breaking the meat apart as it cooks. Cook until the beef has browned and is no longer pink, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  • While the beef is cooking, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.
  • Raise the temperature of the skillet to medium-high. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper and beef stock. Stir well and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for 6-7 minutes.
  • To a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Stir until mixed well. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and stir well. Allow to sauce to thicken.
    You will note a reduction in the sauce by a sauce line that forms along the edges of the pan. Run a spatula or spoon along the edges and back into the sauce.
  • Add in the cream cheese and stir until melted, followed by the cheddar cheese.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Pour in the half and half, stirring to full combine. Cook 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Serve garnished with parmesan or cheddar cheese (optional).
large, deep skillet is necessary for this dish!
Ground beef can be substituted with ground chicken or turkey. If the meat appears to be on the dry side when cooking, add 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil.
If using regular, salted stock you may want to decrease the amount of salt added (1/2 teaspoon listed above). Season the sauce with salt (& pepper) to taste.
If you don't have beef stock, you can substitute with vegetable stock. Broth's will work, too, but stock gives a dish much more of a pronounced flavor.
Remove the cream cheese from the fridge first thing and leave it on the counter to soften at room temperature. The softer the cheese is the easier it will melt in the sauce.
I recommend using grating the cheddar cheese by hand from a block. Pre-shredded cheeses contain ingredients that prevent it from clumping as it sits in the bag. But it also prevents it from melting the way cheese naturally should.
TRIED THIS RECIPE?Tag me @withpeanutbutterontop or use my hashtag #withpeanutbutterontop on Instagram!
Serving:1serving || Calories:649kcal || Carbohydrates:56g || Protein:45g || Fat:27g || Saturated Fat:14g || Cholesterol:127mg || Sodium:1365mg || Potassium:1140mg || Fiber:4g || Sugar:10g || Vitamin A:950IU || Vitamin C:11.7mg || Calcium:284mg || Iron:6.2mg
Disclaimer:The nutritional information provided on each recipe on With Peanut Butter on Top is given as a courtesy and as approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Nutritional information varies per brand/product. We recommend using an app to calculate full and accurate nutrition based on your ingredients used per recipe. Thank you! 🙂
Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef. Bowl filled with creamy pasta with beef.
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    Making this tonight!

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