How Long Leftover Stuffed Shells Will Last In The Fridge And Freezer

Stuffed shells make for a delicious dinner any day of the week on their own or paired with a salad. The pasta stuffed with cheeses, vegetables, and often ground meat takes some effort including patiently stuffing the shells with the filling and then baking. Here at Tasting Table, we have original recipes for baked stuffed shells and creamy seafood stuffed shells so we understand how all of that effort pays off when you take each bite. Still, many of these recipes make at least four servings so there's a chance you end up with leftovers.

With all of that dairy, sometimes eggs, and cooked meat, it's essential to know how long those leftovers will last in the fridge and freezer — especially because you don't want all of that effort to go to waste. Like most leftovers, your stuffed shells should last for three to four days in a fridge set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower .

If you can't eat the extra stuffed shells so soon, put them in the freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and they will stay fresh for four months. Freezing food can preserve leftovers for longer, but the flavor and texture will start to diminish. And you don't want the cheeses to lose their moisture or the filling might not be as creamy when defrosted and reheated.

An airtight container helps leftover stuffed shells stay fresh

To properly store your leftover stuffed shells, there are a couple of options. If you want to make it easy on yourself, store the leftovers in the same dish used to cook the shells and cover it with a lid or tightly wrapped with aluminum foil. You can also transfer the leftovers into an airtight glass or plastic container with a lid. Don't let the cooked shells stay on the counter or dining table for more than two hours before putting them away. Making sure the leftovers are stored properly in the fridge will prevent the growth of bacteria and retain their moisture, per the USDA. For freezing, transfer the shells to a freezer-safe airtight container or freezer bag that fully seals.

When it's time to eat the stuffed shells, it's important to check for signs of spoilage regardless of how old the leftovers are. The first way is with a smell test so if the shells have a pungent or sour odor, then the leftovers are past their prime. If there is no foul smell, check for discoloration or signs of mold, both signs that it's time for the leftovers to be trashed. And if they're slimy or watery then you've also likely missed out on the opportunity to eat them.