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Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

I cre­at­ed this Mex­i­can Chick­en Stuffed Shells recipe in 2011, in an attempt to do some­thing “not Ital­ian” with pas­ta. I exper­i­ment­ed, focus­ing on my family’s love of Mex­i­can and south­west fla­vors. The hap­py result was these Mex­i­can Chick­en Stuffed Shells. 

My recipe makes enough to feed a crowd (about 40 shells) and it freezes eas­i­ly. My favorite prep ses­sion for the cheesy, south­west-inspired stuffed shells is to pre­pare them into a vari­ety of foil pans for the freez­er and still have one for our din­ner, that night. Then, I have plen­ty for future meals, as well as to share with friends or fam­i­ly who just need a break from cook­ing for a night.

Left­overs heat up beau­ti­ful­ly in the microwave and the fla­vor is as cheesy, spicy-sat­is­fy­ing as the night the Mex­i­can Chick­en Stuffed Shells were orig­i­nal­ly made.

How to Make Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

Start with any pre-cook­ing and chop­ping you need to do. If you don’t have pre-cooked chick­en in your freez­er, (We need to talk. 🙂 ) that’s the first order of busi­ness. You want to prep enough to make 4 cups of chopped chick­en. That’s prob­a­bly 4 or 5 bone­less skin­less chick­en breasts. Rotis­serie chick­en, or even left­over chick­en if you have enough, would work real­ly well, too.

You also need to pre-cook your pas­ta shells. Leave them slight­ly al dente (cooked, but with a firm bite). The shells will con­tin­ue to cook as you bake them, so you don’t want them to be too soft. They will also be eas­i­er to stuff.

Chop the cooked chick­en into ⅜‑inch or small­er cubes. You could shred it, too, if you pre­fer that tex­ture. Mince the pep­pers and green onions. Once you have this lit­tle bit of prep done, the recipe goes togeth­er quick­ly. One of the best invest­ments I ever made was a *high-qual­i­ty chef’s knife for my kitchen. It makes my cut­ting and chop­ping jobs go so much more quick­ly and smooth­ly. When it fits your bud­get, it’s a tool I high­ly recommend.

Put the chopped chick­en and veg­gies in a large mix­ing bowl and add black beans.

stuffing ingredients for Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

Mix Up the Sauce

ingredients for Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells sauce

In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix togeth­er soft­ened cream cheese, cumin, toma­toes with chiles (like Rotel) and chick­en broth. This sauce adds scrump­tious fla­vor to the Mex­i­can Chick­en Stuffed Shells. As a pho­to, it’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly appeal­ing, but I want­ed you to see how it looks mixed up. It won’t be smooth and I want­ed you to see you’re doing it right.

sauce combined

Pour the sauce over the chick­en, beans and veg­gies in the oth­er bowl. Mix until the fill­ing is thor­ough­ly com­bined. Now, you’re ready to stuff the shells.

Filling for Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

Add sal­sa or picante sauce to the bot­tom of a large rec­tan­gu­lar bak­ing pan. I used a 13x18x2 pan, for this batch, but you could use two 9x13s or even four 8x8 pans. 

Prepare the Pan and Stuff the Shells

picante in baking pan

You’re ready to stuff the pas­ta shells. Use a spoon to scoop mix­ture into each cooked shell. Fill them full and then place them into the pre­pared bak­ing pan.

filled shells in baking pan

Once the pan is full, driz­zle the remain­ing picante or sal­sa over the pre­pared shells. Then spread the grat­ed Mex­i­can blend cheese over the whole pan. You can use sharp ched­dar, if you pre­fer, but I find that the Mex­i­can blend melts more easily.

Secure­ly cov­er the pan (or pans) with foil. At this point you can freeze for lat­er use, or bake the Mex­i­can Stuffed Shells at 350° for 30 minutes. 

Remove the foil and serve Mex­i­can Stuffed Shells with a big green sal­ad or your favorite steamed veg­gies. They’re going to blow your mind!


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Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 40 shells 1x


Hearty, deli­cious chick­en and pas­ta dish with a lit­tle south­west­ern flair. The stuffed shells are mild­ly spicy.  Make them for com­pa­ny and you’ll be the hit of the party! 


  • 4 cups chick­en breast, cooked and chopped or shredded
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 large bell pep­pers (any col­or), minced
  • 2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, soft­ened (not melted)
  • 2 cans diced toma­toes with chiles (don’t drain) (Rotel or store brand, either works)
  • ½ cup chick­en stock
  • 1 Table­spoon cumin
  • 1½ cups shred­ded Mex­i­can Blend Cheese
  • 1 cup of sal­sa or picante sauce + extra for drizzling
  • 40 large pas­ta shells, cooked al dente


  1. Cook pas­ta shells in well salt­ed, boil­ing water until al dente (still have a lit­tle bite to them). If you cook them too long, they will be dif­fi­cult to stuff.  They are going to have addi­tion­al cook­ing time in the oven. Drain the pas­ta and set aside while you make the filling.
  2. Cook and dice, or shred, enough chick­en breast to make 4 cups.
  3. To assem­ble the fill­ing, mix diced chick­en, drained black beans, green onions, diced pep­pers, and cumin in a large mix­ing bowl. Thor­ough­ly incor­po­rate all the ingredients.
  4. In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix the cream cheese, chick­en stock and undrained toma­toes with chiles. When the sauce is com­bined, pour it over the chick­en mix­ture and mix well.
  5. Spread 1 c. sal­sa or picante sauce in the bot­tom of a large bak­ing pan. (I used an 18x12x2, but I’m guess­ing that two 9×13s or four 8x8s would also work.)
  6. Using a spoon, or your fin­gers, fill each of your cooked and cooled pas­ta shells, set­ting them into the picante cov­ered pan. Con­tin­ue until all shells are filled and arranged in the pan.
  7. When the pan is full, driz­zle the shells with a lit­tle more sal­sa or picante and then sprin­kle with the shred­ded cheese.
  8. Cov­er the bak­ing pan tight­ly with foil and bake at 350 degrees 30 min­utes or until hot and bubbly.


I also think the addi­tion of 2 cups of frozen corn to the fill­ing would be real­ly good.

  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Main Dish
  • Cui­sine: Mex­i­can

If you’re hun­gry for even more Mex­i­can-inspired dish­es, be sure to check out my Easy Sheet Pan Chick­en Faji­tas, Enchi­la­da Casse­role or Jalapeno Chick­en and Corn Chow­der.

enchilada casserole
jalapeno chicken and corn chowder

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