No one can pass up this amazing baked rigatoni recipe!
Hearty and meaty, full of robust tomato flavor, and loaded with three kinds of cheese, this cozy and comforting pasta dish never fails to satisfy!
The best part is that it’s made in one casserole dish, making this an easy meal to prepare ahead of time and to clean up!
Best Baked Rigatoni
- With layers of rigatoni, velvety smooth ricotta, and a rich and meaty tomato sauce, baked rigatoni is the perfect make-ahead meal to enjoy all week long!
- Double up and freeze for later or share at a potluck or party. Baked rigatoni is as hearty as it is delicious!
- Easy ingredients and easy assembly make this a great dish for newish home cooks who want a healthy and filling family dinner everyone will love! Just add a simple salad and some dinner rolls or garlic bread.
Ingredients and Variations
Pasta – Rigatoni is short and tubular which makes it perfect for holding in all that tasty sauce. Otherwise, look for larger shapes that pair well with the chunky sauce like penne, bowtie, ziti, or even larger shells.
Meat – This recipe is perfect for bigger chunks of ground beef. In a pinch, a bag of frozen meatballs will do! So will leftover chunks of chicken or turkey. Large cooked shrimp or Italian sausage are also excellent subs for ground beef, too! Or omit the meat altogether and use sauteed zucchini noodles or toss in a bag or two of your favorite vegetable medley!
Sauce – Storebought pasta sauce is a time and energy saver! But if you have leftover marinara or spaghetti sauce, go ahead and use it!
Cheese – Ricotta gives baked rigatoni a rich and creamy taste and texture. Keep costs down and use cottage cheese instead of ricotta if you like, but keep the amounts on the mozzarella and parmesan since that’s what makes this dish a hit!
Variations – Spice up your dish with crushed red pepper flakes or a hit of some adobo seasoning or jerk seasoning. Feel free to sneak in some healthy veggies like chopped spinach or kale, or sliced zucchini and mushrooms and picky eaters will never know!
How to Make Baked Rigatoni
- Saute ground beef and onion until meat is browned (as per the recipe below).
- Stir sauce, tomatoes, water, seasonings, and salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil then simmer until thickened.
- Meanwhile, prepare pasta al dente and drain.
- Mix ricotta, herbs, egg, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the parmesan cheese in a bowl.
- Pour 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a prepared casserole dish. Layer half the pasta, then half the sauce.
- Lightly spread the ricotta mixture over the top and layer with the rest of the pasta. Cover with remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.
- Bake until golden and bubbly. Let rest a few minutes before serving.
Pro Tips & Tricks
Remember to cook pasta al dente and reserve about ½ cup of pasta water just in case you need to thicken the sauce a little.
Make ahead by assembling baked rigatoni and covering it in plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking and serving. For best results, pour ½ cup water over the top before baking to keep it from drying out.
Keep leftover baked rigatoni covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheat portions in the microwave. Freeze baked rigatoni pasta by covering it in plastic wrap, then foil, and label it with the name and date. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, simply place in the oven at 350˚F, covered only with foil, and bake until heated through (keep an eye on it).
Delicious Italian Recipes
Have you tried this Baked Rigatoni recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ onion diced
- 28 ounces tomato pasta sauce your favorite
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes canned, undrained
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs basil and parsley
- 1 egg
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13 or similar casserole dish.
- In a large skillet on medium high heat, add ground beef and onion. Cook until meat is browned, breaking up with meat chopper (or wooden spoon), about 5-7 minutes.
- Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, water, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook rigatoni per package directions until al dente. Drain.
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, herbs, egg, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and parmesan.
- Add about 1 cup of sauce to the bottom of the dish. Add half of the rigatoni. Spoon about half of the sauce over top. Spoon the ricotta overtop, spreading lightly.
- Add remaining rigatoni, and spoon with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- Cook pasta al dente and reserve ½ cup of pasta water in case you need to thicken the sauce.
- Keep leftover baked rigatoni covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freeze baked rigatoni pasta by covering it in plastic wrap, then cover it in foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Recipe very slightly adapted from Spend With Pennies