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Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells

A fun mash-up of two recipes, these Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells make a great dinner or appetizer that everyone will love! A Tik Tok viral recipe!

A FUN STUFFED SHELL RECIPE

If you haven’t noticed already, I kind of like thinking outside of the box when it comes to recipes. These Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells are a super easy viral Tik Tok recipe! With a slightly crunchy outside and gooey cheese and meat on the inside, this makes a great texture and flavor pairing. Make it as an appetizer for game days, movie nights or parties. Or you can make it as a main dish with some of your favorite taco night favorites. If you want something different, but super tasty, then you have to try my Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells recipe!

Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells on plate with parsley and dipping sauce.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What fillings can I use for stuffed shells?

For this recipe we stuffed the shells with carnita meat. You can also stuff them with taco meat, chicken fajita filling, beef fajita filling and more. To make it even easier, you can even use store-bought fillings from the refrigerated section of your grocery store. You can usually find pre-made carnita and taco fillings or how about pulled pork?!

What type of air fryer is best?

I only recommend using a basket air fryer for making these. I’ve tried making them in an oven-style air fryer and I didn’t like the uneven browning on them. They worked much better in a basket air fryer.

What is the texture like on air fryer stuffed shells?

They are a little crisp but with a nice chew! You want to make sure that you cook your pasta all the way through otherwise it will more crispy on the outside and not have the chew that we want.

Why do you spray the shells with nonstick spray?

We spray them because we want the outside to get slightly crispy and non-stick cooking spray helps with this.

Do I need to flip these in the air fryer?

No you do not. Best results are achieved without flipping, but ensuring that there is some breathing room between the shells in the air fryer. I found 8 at a time fit best in my air fryer. 

How do you store leftover stuffed shells?

While these are best eaten while they are hot and crisp you can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 2-3 days. You can reheat in the microwave until heated through.

Pinterest image of Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells stacked on plate with one showing inside and cheese running out of it.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (FULL RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)

  • jumbo pasta shells
  • carnitas
  • cheddar cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • sour cream
  • taco seasoning
Ingredients needed: jumbo pasta shells, carnitas, cheddar cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning.

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER TACO STUFFED SHELLS:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Shells should be fully cooked, not al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cool water. Cupping a pasta shell in your palm, place about a tablespoon of the carnitas into the shell. Wedge a stick of cheese over the carnitas.

Hand holding one shell with cheese and carnitas inside.

Wrap a second shell over the open side of the stuffed shell to form a “lid.”

Hand holding stuffed shell with another shell covering the top.

Spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray. Set the stuffed shells in the basket of the air fryer, leaving just a bit of space between each shell.

Stuffed Shells placed in air fryer.

Continue assembling the stuffed shells. Once the air fryer basket is filled, you can begin cooking the batch. Spray the tops and exposed sides of the stuffed shells in the basket.

Stuffed Shells being sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook at 400°F for 13 minutes until the shells are crispy and light golden brown.

Finished shells in air fryer showing golden brown shells.

Remove shells from the basket and keep warm while cooking the remaining batches. To make sauce, stir together the sour cream and taco seasoning.

Hand dipping one Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shell into dipping sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

Stacked Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells with one showing inside and cheese melting out.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES? GIVE THESE A TRY!

Credit for this amazing recipe idea is @amyshaba on Tik Tok

Square image of Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells on plate next to dipping sauce with bite out of one.

Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells

A fun mash-up of two recipes, these Air Fryer Taco Stuffed Shells make a great dinner or appetizer that everyone will love!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 43 minutes
Servings: 24

Ingredients

  • 1 pound box of jumbo pasta shells (about 48 shell
  • 2 cups carnitas
  • 24 ounces cheddar cheese cut into 1 ounce sticks
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Dipping Sauce::

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning more or less to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Shells should be fully cooked, not al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cool water.
  • Cupping a pasta shell in your palm, place about a tablespoon of the carnitas into the shell. Wedge a stick of cheese over the carnitas.
  • Wrap a second shell over the open side of the stuffed shell to form a “lid.”
  • Spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Set the stuffed shells in the basket of the air fryer, leaving just a bit of space between each shell.
  • Continue assembling the stuffed shells. Once the air fryer basket is filled, you can begin cooking the batch.
  • Spray the tops and exposed sides of the stuffed shells in the basket. Cook at 400°F for 13 minutes until the shells are crispy and light golden brown.
  • Remove shells from the basket and keep warm while cooking the remaining batches.
  • To make dipping sauce in bowl stir together sour cream and taco seasoning, serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use various fillings in these, see my tips above.
  • Feel free to play around with your cheese to find what works best for you and other fillings.
  • These should be crispy but yet have a nice chew to them, if they are too crispy the shells were not cooked long enough.
  • I only recommend using a basket-style air fryer, not an oven-style air fryer.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 202mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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