This Slow Cooker Creamy Beef and Shells recipe has become one of our favorite, weeknight meals. Ground beef flavored with pasta sauce and cooked with pasta shells and cheese for a dinner that even the pickiest eater will love!
And best of all, it is cooked in a slow cooker! That means little work, and even less clean up!!
This time of year when life seems to get crazy, we all could use an easy to make dinner recipe to feed the family. As much as we love Pizza Casserole, BBQ Cheeseburger Casserole, and Chicken Spaghetti Casserole, there are just some days when it is easier to make dinner in a slow cooker.
Programmable Slow Cooker
And it is even more convenient if you have a programmable slow cooker like our 6 quart Crock Pot brand! You set the timer for the length of time that you want your food to cook. Then, when the time expires, it has a keep warm function so that there is no worries of your food over cooking.
This comes in handy when the cook time is less for when you plan to be back home. For instance, this creamy beef and shells recipe requires a cook time of 6 hours on low heat before proceeding to the next step.
However, if you have to work for 8 hours, what are you suppose to do? Luckily, this recipe can actually cook longer than 6 hours on low if needed. Although, we still set our cook time for 6 hours and let it stay on warm until we get home.
Then we we walk through the door, we add the final ingredients and move on to our other nightly chores. Once everyone gets settled, dinner is ready!
Slow Cooker Creamy Beef and Shells Recipe
The base to this recipe starts with ground beef. Although, if you don’t eat red meat, you could substitute ground turkey or chicken instead. And if you eat a Vegetarian diet you can certainly use plant-based ‘meat’.
In a medium size skillet brown your meat. If you are using ground beef, you may not need to add any oil to the pan. But be sure to add a little oil if you are using a lean meat as a substitute.
Once the meat is no longer pink and cooked through, drain and then add it to a slow cooker. Add the diced onions and garlic to the meat and stir.
*You can saute your onions and garlic in the same skillet that you browned your meat if you prefer. I find it as an extra step that isn’t needed because they will become soft and tender while the creamy beef and shells are cooking in the slow cooker. In addition, we often brown several pounds of meat at once and save it for meals throughout the week. Therefore, I just throw refrigerated browned meat in the slow cooker and move to the next step.
Next, add the pasta sauce, tomatoes, beef broth, and spices to the ground beef and stir. Cook on LOW for 6 hours.
After 6 Hours of Cooking on Low
After the cook time, stir the mixture and add the pasta shells to the ground beef mixture along with 1/2 of the Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. We also add in some Heavy Cream so that this recipe becomes a true Creamy Beef and Shells dinner.
However, if you don’t have heavy cream, feel free to add in a little milk, half and half, or omit it all together. You could even add in more cheese if you prefer!
The important step here is to make sure that the pasta shells are submerged in the mixture. This will allow the pasta to cook all the way through. And yes, if you don’t have pasta shells, you can substitute any pasta that you prefer.
Top the mixture with the remaining Mozzarella cheese and continue to cook on LOW for 1 hour or until the cheese is nice and melted.
Serve warm. We like to serve this Slow Cooker Creamy Beef and Shells recipe with a little side salad and garlic bread to make it a complete meal.
Refrigerate any leftovers. It makes for a great take to work or school lunch the next day! Enjoy!
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Slow Cooker Creamy Beef and Shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup onions diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups pasta shells or any pasta
- 24 oz pasta sauce
- 1 cup diced tomatoes canned or fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded and divided
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup heavy cream optional
- Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Cook ground beef until it is no longer pink, drain. Place drained ground beef into the slow cooker.
- Add diced onions and minced garlic to the ground beef and stir.
- Add the jar of pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, broth, salt, pepper and broth. Stir.
- Cook on low heat for 6 hours.
- Stir the mixture and add the pasta, heavy cream, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and stir. Be sure that the pasta noodles are submerged in the mixture.
- Top with the remaining 1/2 mozzarella cheese and cook for another hour or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve immediately.