Incredible Shells and Cheese

shells and cheese

Most recipes call for elbow macaroni, but using shells makes this… incredible!

If you have read many of my recipes and posts you probably know I travel off the beaten path, but it’s not different for difference sake, there’s a reason. Shells have more surface area and have a nice pocket to fill with sauce. I also find shells to be more toothsome with a nice firm al dente bite. Texture and utility is a great combination.

The sauce however, makes or breaks this dish. I prefer a smooth and creamy sauce that coats your taste buds with the first bite. No stringy, oily cheeses allowed. That’s why any hard cheese like a sharp cheddar is verboten and it’s why you don’t find mozzarella in a mac and cheese recipe. Who wants to use a scissors to cut the cord with each dip from the serving dish?

Everyone loves it but there is a schism among mac and cheese lovers. The dividing line is based upon the conviction to bake, or not bake. This can be a touchy subject so I shall tread lightly here.

Personally, I am in the no-bake camp. Give me the shells coated in the luscious cheesy sauce and my eyes roll into the back of my head while I do a happy dance. However I do appreciate the texture that can be added with a few breadcrumbs. If you are a person of the baked persuasion then I recommend you cover the shells and cheese with panko bread crumbs in a baking dish and broil for a few minutes or so until they brown.

shells and cheese baked

And just one more thing…

My grandson refuses to even taste my shells and cheese because it’s the wrong color. A certain boxed variety is his favorite and he likes the orange flavor. Sigh. Print

Incredible Shells and Cheese

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Pasta shells immersed in a luscious blend of cheeses!

  • Author: TJ
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 8 oz medium shells
  • 8 oz white american cheese – shredded
  • 68 oz gruyere cheese – shredded
  • 1 pint of half and half
  • 2 TBL butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Coarse non-iodized salt for the pasta water


  1. Shred your cheeses, weigh your shells, measure out your butter and flour
  2. Place a pot of well salted water on at medium heat
  3. Melt butter in a sauce pan to make your roux
  4. Whisk in flour and cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes
  5. Add the half and half, nutmeg, white pepper and a half tsp of sea salt
  6. Stir to incorporate while the temperature rises enough to melt the cheese
  7. Turn up the heat on the water to high until it is a rolling boil
  8. Add the pasta and boil for 7-9 minutes or per pasta makers instruction. Taste it to make sure it’s al dente and do not overcook
  9. While the pasta is boiling stir in the cheese with a spatula a little at a time to your sauce until it’s all melted
  10. Taste the cheese sauce and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper to suit yourself
  11. When pasta is done, drain it well, then fold it into the cheese sauce on low heat