Baked Seafood-Stuffed Shells with Béchamel Sauce

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This recipe for Seafood Stuffed Shells is the ultimate pasta dinner! Cooked jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a seafood filling made of shrimp, scallops, and lump crab (or any other seafood you love) and baked in a creamy, white Old Bay béchamel sauce until golden brown and bubbling. This baked seafood pasta is decadent, comforting and a terrific meal for special occasions, but easy enough for a weekday dinner or date night at home.

Perfect for special occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day dinner, or date night at home!

Baked seafood stuffed shells fill a large white 9x13 baking dish that sits atop a dark gray textured surface. The stuffed seafood shells have been garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley. A large gold serving spoon rests atop the baking dish and the baking dish is surrounded by a stack of plates topped with gold silverware, a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, and a red and white muted linen napkin.

Celebrate Special Moments with Decadent Seafood Pasta!

Somewhere along the line, a big piece of red meat became the go-to centerpiece for special occasion dinners. Don’t get me wrong, my family loves to celebrate with a beautiful prime rib or cast-iron steak, but lately I’ve been on a mission to create some special seafood dinners for our pescatarian and fish-loving friends. We’ve got an epic Salmon Wellington recipe, our favorite Quick-Baked Shrimp Scampi, and a decadent Prosecco Butter Poached Shrimp and today we’re adding to the collection with these Creamy Seafood Stuffed Shells.

These stuffed seafood shells are decadent, delicious, and absolutely loaded with seafood! Each jumbo pasta shell is stuffed to the brim with tender shrimp, scallops, and lump crab meat (though you can use whatever fish or seafood you love most), then they’re smothered in a rich and creamy béchamel sauce laced with Old Bay, finished with a sprinkling of crispy panko breadcrumbs, and baked until golden and bubbling.

Set the seafood stuffed shells down at the center of a Sunday supper or holiday dinner spread and everyone will be so impressed – especially folks who don’t eat red meat! This baked seafood pasta is creamy, cozy, and totally special occasion-worthy.

Seafood Stuffed Shells Recipe Highlights

Stuffed seafood shells are the ultimate seafood pasta dinner! They’re…

SEAFOOD LOADED. Fill the jumbo seafood-stuffed shells to the brim with 3 kinds of seafood – shrimp, scallops, and lump crab meat (or whatever you love most!) – so every bite is absolutely loaded with seafood.

CREAMY AND COZY. Pour creamy seafood béchamel laced with Old Bay seasoning over the stuffed shells, then bake until they’re bubbling and golden. The perfect cozy meal for chilly winter nights!

SPECIAL OCCASION WORTHY. While this seafood stuffed shells recipe is easy enough for any night of the week, it’s especially festive and makes for a great addition to a Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day dinner menu. Plus, it’s a great dish to keep pescatarians included at the table!

You can’t go wrong with creamy pasta + seafood! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Seafood Stuffed Shells, or jump straight to the recipe and get cooking!

Key Ingredients

This stuffed shells recipe is all about highlighting seafood! As such, there are a couple of flavor-boosting specialty ingredients involved, but nothing that’s terribly difficult to source – especially if you shop at a grocery store with a nice seafood counter.

Seafood stuffed shells ingredients arranged on a dark gray textured surface: jumbo pasta shells, unsalted butter, yellow onion, garlic, shrimp, bay scallops, lump crab meat, fresh parsley, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon, unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, clam juice, and half & half.

Note: Full ingredients list and measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

To make this festive seafood stuffed shells recipe, you need…

  • Pasta shells – For the ultimate stuffed seafood shells, use jumbo-sized pasta shells. Not only are they easier to work with, bigger shells = more room for delicious filling! I love DeLallo’s Jumbo Shells.
  • Seafood – This recipe calls for shrimp, bay scallops, and lump crabmeat, though lobster, hearty white fish, and langoustines are all great options too! Feel free to use whatever seafood mixture you enjoy most, and if you don’t live near the coasts, frozen seafood is a great substitute for fresh – just be sure to safely thaw before using. See the Recipe Notes, below, for thawing tips!
  • AromaticsYellow onion and garlic – the ultimate flavor duo – build the aromatic base of the seafood stuffed shell filling.
  • Seafood spices and seasoningOld Bay seasoning is a classic seafood seasoning with hints of celery salt, paprika, cayenne, and pepper – it adds an irresistibly complex kick of flavor that complements the seafood beautifully! Lemon juice and flat-leaf parsley add brightness and freshness while Dijon mustard and mayonnaise give the seafood filling a creamy texture and added flavor.
  • Seafood béchamel – Bechamel is a classic creamy sauce made from white roux and milk. The French consider it one of the “mother sauces” of cooking! This seafood version is made with butter, all-purpose flour, clam juice, Old Bay seasoning, and half and half. Clam juice is the key to the sauce’s rich seafood flavor – ask your local fish market for some or buy it online.
  • Crispy breadcrumbs – Toast panko breadcrumbs in a tablespoon of butter or two until nice and crisp. Just a sprinkle adds a welcomed crunchy texture to the top of the creamy stuffed seafood shells.

How to Make Seafood Stuffed Shells

This recipe consists of 3 key components: pasta shells, fresh seafood filling and a creamy Old Bay-infused béchamel sauce. Combined, they make a seriously special occasion-worthy seafood pasta dinner – and it couldn’t be easier!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Boil the pasta shells. This recipe uses about 22 pasta shells, but it never hurts to cook a few extras (a couple are bound to break as you stuff them!). Be sure to boil the pasta 2-3 minutes shy of al dente. Why? ⇢ The pasta shells continue to cook in the oven, so undercooking them ensures they won’t turn mushy as they bake. Learn more! 🤓 ⇢ How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!

2

Prepare the seafood filling. Par-cook the shrimp and scallops with softened onion and garlic, then combine in a large bowl with lump crab meat, fresh parsley, mayo, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, and lemon juice to create an easy-to-stuff and flavor-packed filling. Why? ⇢ Similar to the al dente pasta, the seafood continues to cook in the oven as the stuffed shells bake. Letting the delicate scallops and shrimp cook just partially before stuffing the shells helps ensure they’re perfectly cooked once you pull the seafood stuffed shells out of the oven.

3

Make a seafood béchamel. A French sauce like béchamel sounds super fancy, but it’s really just a simple cream sauce – think of it as a lighter alfredo sauce, sans heavy cream and parmesan cheese. To make this seafood version, create a roux by whisking flour into melted butter, then slowly whisk in clam juice, Old Bay seasoning, and half and half, whisking until a thick and creamy sauce forms.

4

Stuff the shells. Spread some béchamel sauce in the baking pan to prevent sticking, then set a layer of stuffed seafood shells on top. The seafood filling should burst from each pasta shell – no holding back here! Finish by pouring any remaining sauce on top and sprinkling on crispy panko breadcrumbs for extra texture.

5

Bake the seafood pasta stuffed shells with white sauce for about 30 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling and golden brown. Bonus! ⇢ For an extra golden-brown finish, pop on the broiler and let the stuffed seafood shells cook for a few minutes. This happens fast, so keep your eye on it!

A close up macro shot of seafood stuffed shells garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Make Ahead Stuffed Seafood Shells

Preparing this seafood stuffed shells recipe in advance is an easy way to save time, especially if you’re hosting a holiday dinner or gathering! To make them ahead of time, simply assemble the stuffed shells in a baking dish and store them in the fridge overnight. Given the delicate nature of fresh seafood, it’s best not to prepare the seafood filling and creamy béchamel more than 1 day in advance. When you’re ready to serve simply pop the baking dish in the oven – easy! Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance.

Storage and Reheating

How long are stuffed shells good for? ⇢ Store any leftover seafood stuffed shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Seafood leftovers don’t last as long, so try to enjoy them while they’re fresh out of the oven! If you know you won’t be able to eat all the leftovers right away, you can also freeze them for an easy dinner down the road.

Serving Suggestions

What side dishes go with stuffed shells? ⇢ While you can never go wrong with garlic bread, Seafood stuffed shells are super creamy and filling, so a few veggie-forward sides can help create a well-rounded, festive meal. A few ideas to get you started…

Baked seafood stuffed shells are served inside of a shallow red bowl that sits atop a dark gray surface. The shells are served alongside a simple green salad with a gold fork resting inside of the bowl. The bowl is surrounded by another red bowl, a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, a red and white muted linen napkin, and a white 9x13 baking dish filled with seafood stuffed shells.

We can’t wait for you to try these Seafood Stuffed Shells! They’re so decadent and comforting but also a really easy pasta dinner idea and so simple to prepare. We know you’ll love them just as much as we do.

If you do give them a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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Baked seafood stuffed shells fill a large white 9x13 baking dish that sits atop a dark gray textured surface. The stuffed seafood shells have been garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley. A large gold serving spoon rests atop the baking dish and a red and white muted linen napkin rests alongside.

Baked Seafood-Stuffed Shells with Béchamel Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6-8 1x
  • Category: Pasta Dishes, Main Dishes, Seafood Recipes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian-American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This recipe for Seafood Stuffed Shells is the ultimate pasta dinner! Cooked jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a seafood filling made of shrimp, scallops, and lump crab (or any other seafood you love) and baked in a creamy, white Old bay béchamel sauce until golden brown and bubbling. This baked seafood pasta is decadent, comforting and a terrific meal for special occasions, but easy enough for a weekday dinner or date night at home.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (approx. 22 shells)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 8 ounces shrimp, thawed if frozen, peeled, deveined, and cut into ½-inch pieces (see Recipe Notes)
  • 8 ounces bay scallops, thawed if frozen and cut into ½-inch pieces if necessary (see Recipe Notes)
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat (see Recipe Notes)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • seafood bechemel, below
  • crispy breadcrumbs, below
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

for the seafood béchamel sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup clam juice (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

for the crispy breadcrumbs:

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Spray a 9×13 oven-safe and broiler-safe casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. If using frozen seafood, thaw (see Recipe Notes) and use a paper towel to pat as dry as possible. Set aside. Gather and prep remaining ingredients (e.g. dice veggies, measure liquid ingredients, etc.) and set within an arm’s reach of the stovetop.Seafood stuffed shells ingredients arranged on a dark gray textured surface: jumbo pasta shells, unsalted butter, yellow onion, garlic, shrimp, bay scallops, lump crab meat, fresh parsley, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon, unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, clam juice, and half & half.
  2. Boil the pasta: Generously season a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the jumbo shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is 2-3 minutes under al dente (“al dente” cooking time is typically included in package directions). Drain the pasta – do not rinse! – and set aside. (Learn more ⇢ How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!)Drained jumbo pasta shells for stuffed seafood shells fill a large white colander. The colander sits atop a dark gray textured surface.
  3. Prepare the seafood filling: Meanwhile, as the pasta cooks, prepare the seafood filling. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and season with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until golden and softened. Add the garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the scallops and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the shrimp and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a large mixing bowl with the crab meat, fresh parsley, mayonnaise, Dijon, Old Bay, and lemon juice. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Set aside.Seafood filling for seafood stuffed shells fills a large clear glass mixing bowl that sits atop a dark gray textured surface.
  4. Prepare the seafood béchamel sauce: Use a paper towel to carefully wipe the skillet used to prep the seafood filling, then return to medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add in the flour, whisking vigorously to eliminate any lumps in the roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown. While whisking constantly to eliminate any lumps, slowly add the clam juice and half and half to the skillet. Season with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ground black pepper as desired. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened to the point that it coats the back of a spoon (nappe). Remove from the heat and set aside.Seafood béchamel sauce for seafood stuffed shells fills a large gray skillet that sits atop a dark gray textured surface. A metal whisk rests atop the skillet for mixing.
  5. Prepare the crispy breadcrumbs: To a small bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs and melted butter. Season with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper as desired. Toss to combine well, coating the breadcrumbs with butter. Set aside.Crispy breadcrumbs are mixed inside of a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a dark gray textured surface. A gold spoon rests inside of the bowl for mixing.
  6. Seafood stuffed shells assembly: Pour 1 cup of the seafood béchamel into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out to coat the bottom of the pan. Generously stuff the par-cooked jumbo shells with the prepared seafood filling. Nestle the stuffed shells in a single layer in the baking dish, seafood side facing up. Pour the remaining seafood béchamel over the stuffed shells, then sprinkle the crispy panko breadcrumbs over top each shell.Assembled seafood stuffed shells fill a 9x13 baking dish atop a layer of seafood béchamel sauce. The stuffed seafood shells have been covered in more seafood béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs. The baking dish sits atop a dark gray textured surface.
  7. Bake the stuffed shells: Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and bake 30 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through, the sauce is bubbly, and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. If desired, turn the broiler on for 2-3 minutes, keeping a close eye on it as it broils to make sure it doesn’t burn, until it’s as bubbly and golden brown as you like.Baked seafood stuffed shells fill a large white 9x13 baking dish that sits atop a dark gray textured surface. The stuffed seafood shells have been garnished with finely chopped fresh parsley. A large gold serving spoon rests atop the baking dish and a red and white muted linen napkin rests alongside.
  8. Serve: Carefully remove the stuffed shells from the oven. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately. Enjoy!An overhead shot of seafood stuffed shells served inside of a shallow red bowl that sits atop a dark gray surface. The shells are served alongside a simple green salad with a gold fork resting inside of the bowl. The bowl is surrounded by another red bowl, a gold fork, a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, a red and white muted linen napkin, and a white 9x13 baking dish filled with seafood stuffed shells.

Notes

  • Ingredient Notes: 
    • Seafood: The beauty of seafood stuffed shells is that they’re pretty versatile! While we like the combination of scallops, shrimp, and lump crab meat, you can use whatever seafood you like most – provided it’s hearty enough to hold up to a 30-minute bake. Swap lump crab meat with lobster, swap scallops with 1-inch pieces of hearty white fish, swap shrimp with langoustines, etc. – have fun with it and use whatever looks best to you at the grocery store or fish market, aiming for about 1 ½ pounds seafood total. If you don’t live on the coasts, consider using frozen seafood, which is often fresher than what’s available at the seafood counter of a conventional grocery store – see below for thawing guidance.
    • Thawing frozen seafood: The fastest and safest way to thaw frozen seafood is to place it in a zip-top bag and submerge in cool water. The steady, cool temperature of the water creates a really controlled environment for the frozen seafood to come up to room temperature. This is better from a food safety standpoint, since it limits bacterial growth. Refresh the water every 10 minutes or so, until the seafood is completely thawed – 25-30 minutes, tops!
    • Clam juice: Aside from the seafood, the clam juice is what give these stuffed shells rich seafood flavor. Check your local fish market or purchase online (the brand we use is linked above).
  • Make-Ahead, Storage, and Freezing:
    • Make-Ahead Instructions: Seafood stuffed shells can be assembled up to 1 day in advance and baked off just before serving. To make ahead of time, complete Steps 2-6 of Recipe Directions above. Allow to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed in Steps 1 and 7, above, adding an extra 5-10 minutes of baking time as needed to heat through the center of the dish.
    • Storage and Reheating: Leftover seafood stuffed shells will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
    • Freezer Instructions: You can also freeze leftover seafood stuffed shells for an easy dinner down the road. Simply transfer leftover the leftover stuffed shells into a freezer container – I love using these freezer containers to freeze individual portions. Freeze up to 3 months.

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by KJ & Company, Kate Poskochil

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 4.9.23
    Ashley said:

    Do you think I could add marinara/tomato sauce to the béchamel? I’m not a huge fan of white sauce but this sounds so good I want to try and adapt it a bit if possible!

  2. 3.26.23
    James Simpson said:

    This recipe is very good – I made it for my wife’s birthday dinner. Some random observations: (a) The servings in the recipe may be over-estimated. I expanded the ingredient quantities to make 30 stuffed shells, and that served 6 adults. (b) The sodium content seemed really high, so I used no salt homemade shrimp stock in place of the high-sodium clam juice. To my taste, the stuffed shells were still plenty salty for my taste thanks to the Old Bay seasoning. (c) I use a Pyrex 9 x 13 baking dish, which is not safe to put under the broiler, according to manufacturer’s warnings. What can I do, Jess?






    • 3.27.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi James! Thanks so much for taking the time to review we’re so glad you could adjust to fit your needs & that it was a hit for your wife’s birthday! As for the Pyrex dish, great call out! We recommend a oven-safe and broiler casserole dish & added these details to the recipe card for clarification. Again, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  3. 2.20.23
    Stephanie said:

    I’ve had this recipe pinned for months. For some reason jumbo shells are absolutely no where to be found in my area- or on amazon (for any reasonable price). I decided to try rolling the filling up in lasagna noodles. It makes nice neat packages, but there are definitely fewer of them. I was able to make 11 rolls total. I subbed extra shrimp and a small lobster tail (found it on sale!) for the clams. I otherwise followed the recipe. This was delicious! I served it with garlic bread and salad. Big hit with the whole family. Might just bring it for Easter this year- wild card potluck item 😉






    • 2.21.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad you were able to make it work with what was available, Stephanie! Garlic bread & salad sound like the perfect pairing & we love that you are already planning ahead to sharing this dish at Easter – thanks so much for leaving a comment!!