Kitchen Tip: Stuffed Pasta – The Easy Way!

Kitchen Tips & Tricks | 42 comments

Do you have trouble with stuffed shells or filling manicotti? This post is for you!

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Some of you might already use this method for stuffing pasta, but I thought I’d share it anyway. It makes my life so much easier. I really enjoy recipes like Sundried Tomato and Cheese Stuffed Shells and Manicotti Primavera, but what a pain to make and fill, right? WRONG! Not when you use this tip for stuffing pasta!

how to make stuffed shells

In the picture I’m not holding the shell with one hand and the bag with the other because I had to press the button on the camera, but you get the idea. This makes cooking stuffed shells seem like a lot less work, doesn’t it? Or, dare I say – Easy!?

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How to Stuff Pasta – The Easy Way

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You’ll Need:

  • Pasta
  • Disposable pastry bag or quart size ziplock
  • Tall cup
  • Scissors
  • Filling


  1. Fill a disposable pastry bag or ziplock bag (quart size works great) with the filling you’ve made for your pasta. The easiest way to do this is to place the bag in a tall cup, then fold the edges over the outside of the cup.
  2. Spoon the filling into the cup – don’t fill it up too high because you’ll need to hold on to the end of the bag. Remove the bag from the cup and twist or fold over the end so the filling doesn’t escape.
  3. Snip the corner to make a small hole. You’ll want to make sure it’s big enough for the filling to come out but not so big that it oozes everywhere. Try cutting off about 1/2 inch from the tip of the bag’s corner.
  4. Hold your shell in one hand and the bag in the other. Hold the bag almost exactly how you’d hold a pastry bag if you were frosting something. Squeeze with gentle pressure because you don’t want to pop the bag.
  5. Squeeze the filling into the shell. Set aside and repeat with the rest.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef - October 05, 2010 @ 8:44 am

    what a great idea! i always struggle w/ this and so i restrain myself from making all these tasty shells/manacotti recipes. or i make my husband fill them because he has more patience than i do. thanks for the tip!


  • 2
    the blissful baker - October 05, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    this is such a neat idea! it makes stuffing pasta look so clean and easy. i can’t believe i never thought of this before. thanks!


  • 3
    Deborah - October 05, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    I totally do this – a major time saver and mess saver!!


  • 4
    Amanda - October 05, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    Thanks for this! I love stuffed shells, but I always dread the stuffing part! :)


  • 5
    claire - October 05, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    I love this- Have you ever used the ziplock trick for icing cupcakes?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 5th, 2010 @ 1:04 PM

      Yes, I’ve done that too. I do like a pastry bag better, but when I’ve been out of them I’ve used a ziplock instead.

  • 6
    meaghan - October 05, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    brilliant! I’ll post a link on my edible crafts column to your idea (ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com)… if that’s OK!


  • 7
    Carrie - October 05, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    How do you fill pasta tubes with this method, such as manicotti? I have always had trouble evenly dispersing the filling through the entire length of the tube without breaking the pasta.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 5th, 2010 @ 6:22 PM

      This might not be very helpful, but I’ve never done anything special. I just squeeze it in through one end till it gets to the other side.

    • Margie replied: — January 22nd, 2012 @ 7:06 AM

      To fill the manicotti, you can also use the Ziploc bag but fill the tube half way from one end and then turn and fill from the other end:)

  • 8
    Lori @ RecipeGirl - October 05, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    That’s how I do it! Even easier if you use an actual pastry bag that is cone shaped.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 5th, 2010 @ 6:18 PM

      I prefer the pastry bag too. :)

  • 9
    make my day - October 05, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    Oh my… the light bulb just went on for me! i felt incredibly frustrated when i made canneloni not long ago… I said i’ll never do it again because it took FOREVER to fill them! THE answer is right here. How did i not know this. thanks so much for an enlightening moment! cheers kari


  • 10
    Pam @ Kitchen Cookware - October 05, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing easy way to stuff pasta shell. I am so curious as to what is the filling made out of, as it looks so great and colorful.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 6th, 2010 @ 7:21 AM

      Hi Pam – the filling is leftovers from the Manicotti Primavera that I linked to in this post.

  • 11
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen - October 06, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    What a great idea!!! Stuffed shells just got sooo much easier! Thanks.


  • 12
    Mrs. Oh - October 06, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    I use the baggie technique to fill my deviled eggs too!


  • 13
    Beth - October 06, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    What a great tip! That photo made me hungry. Do you have a suggestion for making the filling?


  • 14
    Becky P - October 06, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

    Well, I’ve thought to do that with stuffed eggs, don’t know why I didn’t think of it with shells! LOL! Thanks!


  • 15
    Amy - October 11, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    You are so smart, Katie! I love this tip!!


  • 16
    Katy - October 11, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    Great tip! Definitely one of those”why didn’t I think of this before” kind of things. I actually used this technique tonight, and it sure made things easier! :)


  • 17
    Jennifer (Savor) - October 12, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    Yes, I use this technique and it is such a time and mess saver


  • 18
    Kris - October 14, 2010 @ 8:19 am

    I use this technique too, such a time/mess saver! I agree that filling looks delicious, I might have to make it! For those wondering how to do tube shells, I’ve read that you should fill one end(using the bag tip above), turn it around and fill the other. I haven’t tried it (my husband isn’t a huge pasta fan..boo!) but it seems to make sense!


  • 19
    Matt Kay - October 15, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    So much better than trying to get sticky filling off a spoon and into a pasta shell!

    I’m sure you’ve made a lot of foodies apply their palm to their forehead over this one. :D DOH!

    Thanks for sharing the great tip.
    Matt Kay


    • denise stine replied: — March 26th, 2012 @ 2:47 PM

      I know that I did the big “DAH !!!” thing !!! LOL… I do this for decorating candy & cookies with melted chocolate, why did I never think of it for shells???!!!

  • 20
    Seanna Lea - October 20, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    I make a lot of decorated cakes and I have a lot of decorator bags and tips, so this makes a ton of sense to me! Your method of filling the bag is the same method I use for filling a bag of frosting and I bet it would also make building ravioli easier too!


  • 21
    Marisa - October 25, 2010 @ 1:28 am



  • 22
    Angie -- Bigbearswife - May 23, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    oooo why didnt I think of that! I always fight with a spoon and the filling


  • 23
    Siobhan Malone - January 18, 2012 @ 6:06 am

    I use this tip as well!! Great post!! Question, the picture you took, what is that fillings recipe? It looks delicious!! :)


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — January 18th, 2012 @ 11:56 AM

      The filling is from the Manicotti Primavera recipe.

  • 24
    Aysha - January 22, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    The filling in this picture looks so tasty! recipe please!!!!! :)


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — January 22nd, 2012 @ 4:33 PM

      The filling recipe is from Manicotti Primavera.

  • 25
    Krissie - July 17, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

    I use this technique all the time. I fill Deviled eggs, decorate cookies, decorate cupcakes… It works so well!


  • 26
    Kira - July 23, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

    I’m sure this is a silly question, but do you stuff after pasta shells have been cooked? or do you stuff then cook? and if you do the second option how do you cook that??
    a humble new cook :)


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 7:01 PM

      I boil the pasta shells, but just a minute or two less than package instructions for pasta, stuff, then add to a casserole pan with sauce, cover and bake.

  • 27
    MsPiggy408 - July 31, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

    Can u please teach me your version of the filling? Thanx so much, Godbless!


  • 28
    Marie Wolfe - February 19, 2013 @ 5:09 am

    Great idea…will definitely try the next time I make stuffed shells. By the way, is that a Corian counter top you are working on? Just curious, as I work for DuPont and work directly with Corian.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — February 19th, 2013 @ 10:23 AM

      Yes it is Corian.

  • 29
    Russell - October 29, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    I use this method to fill devilled eggs


  • 30
    nabel - April 07, 2015 @ 11:17 am

    Please the recipe of the mixture.


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