Baked rigatoni is a super easy dinner option for busy evenings. This gooey noodle bake is a dish that the entire family will enjoy! So filling, and loaded with marinara sauce and cheesy goodness.
Baked Rigatoni Recipe
If you love Italian food, then you are going to swoon over this hearty pasta bake. Baked rigatoni is one of the easiest ways to make a homemade Italian dinner. It's the ultimate comfort food!
The tender noodles are layered in between a flavorful meat sauce and topped with melted gooey cheese. I've never seen anyone turn down a dish this warm and comforting. It's a meal the whole family will love...even your picky eaters!
It is now a family favorite, and I even make it for gatherings and dinner parties too. Italian recipes are always easy to "dress up" and make fancy, but are great for quick dinners too.
Make this heart warming dish whenever you need a good "stick to your ribs" kind of meal!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
You'll love this recipe, for a few reasons:
- This gooey pasta bake is a great make ahead recipe. You can assemble everything and then freeze it until you've got a pasta craving!
- Pasta casserole reheats very easily and very well. Make this dish as a dish on rotation in your meal prep.
- Prep baked rigatoni in just 15 minutes and then let it bake until warm and cheesy.
Make a list of everything you need to grab at the grocery store in order to make the best rigatoni ever:
- olive oil
- diced onion
- minced garlic
- ground beef
- marinara sauce
- dried rigatoni pasta
- mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper,
- fresh basil
Substitutions and Variations
Add spice to this rigatoni pasta bake by using hot Italian sausage instead of ground beef. You can also add red pepper flakes to the marinara sauce to give it a little kick.
Feel free to swap out the ground beef with Italian sausage, ground turkey, or even ground chicken.
Make a creamy sauce by using ricotta cheese or parmesan cheese along with the mozzarella that this recipe calls for.
Although this recipe calls for rigatoni pasta, you can use other types of pasta if that is all you have on hand! Penne pasta and any other tube-shaped pasta will work as a replacement. Ensure you still cook them all to al dente.
How to Make Baked Rigatoni
Follow the package instructions and cook rigatoni until al dente. Drain the pasta water and then set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and cook until it has just softened. Then add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
Place ground beef into the pan and cook until no pink remains. As it cooks, break up the lumps with a wooden spoon and make sure the beef cooks into small crumbles.
Add marinara sauce to the the beef pasta mixture and stir until the sauce has been heated through. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the cooked al dente rigatoni pasta into the meaty sauce and mix well.
Transfer the mixture into a 13x9 inch casserole dish. Covered the prepared baking dish with aluminum foil and place into a preheated oven.
Bake this easy baked rigatoni for 20 minutes. Then, remove the foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for another 10 minutes. Once the cheese has melted and is slightly golden brown, it's done!
Serve while hot and enjoy!
What to Serve with Baked Rigatoni
How to Store Leftover Baked Rigatoni
Place leftovers into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, place in a preheated oven until warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave but the texture may change a bit.
Baked rigatoni is a fabulous dish to freeze. Freeze baked or unbaked in an airtight container. You can also wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months and defrost in the fridge before heating in the oven.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
- Boil your noodles in a large pot of salted water, even if the package instructions don't call for salt. This helps to flavor the noodles a bit and assists in cooking them to the perfect texture.
- Shred your own mozzarella cheese instead of using pre-shredded cheese. Shredding your own makes it more melty and gooey than the stuff you can buy in the store that has already been shredded.
- If the pasta has finished cooking before the sauce is ready, drizzle a little olive oil over the cooked pasta. This will prevent it from sticking together and make it more easy to mix in with the sauce.
If you love Italian food, you'll love this Pasta Fagioli too!
It is very important to cover pasta dishes while they bake so that the noodles don't dry out. Covering the dish traps in the steam and locks moisture into the noodles. Only uncover the dish for a short time to get a golden brown color on the top of the cheese.
This whole dish could be mixed up and served immediately, but baking it does have purpose! When you bake pasta, it soaks in the flavor from all other ingredients around it. It also create a crunchy edges and "crust" that add to the overall flavor and texture of the entire dish.
More Pasta Recipes
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
- Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad
- Easy Pasta Salad without Mayo
If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 jars marinara sauce, approximately 5 cups
- 1 pound dried rigatoni, cooked according to packet directions until just al dente
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil, roughly chopped, for garnishing
- Cook the rigatoni pasta according to instructions on the package. Once al dente, drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until just softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
- Place ground beef into the pan and cook, breaking up any chunks while it browns. Cook until there is no pink left.
- Add marinara sauce to the ground beef and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Stir the beef mixture through the cooked pasta. Transfer to a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and cover loosely with a sheet of foil.
- Bake the rigatoni at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle over the mozzarella and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden.