Baked rigatoni pairs tube pasta with a meaty, garlicky tomato sauce made with ground beef and Italian sausage, creamy ricotta, and melty shredded mozzarella. It’s the kind of comfort food dinner that’s always a hit!
As the weather starts to cool down and the seasons change, we go from light dinner recipes like California Grilled Chicken and Cobb Salad to those cozy, hearty dinners that warm us up and keep us full and satisfied. Now’s the time of year when we crave dishes like Sloppy Joe Casserole, or big, meaty pasta bakes like Cheesy and Easy Lasagna With Meat Sauce and this baked rigatoni.
Cheesy Baked Rigatoni Recipe
Rigatoni is a pasta shape a little bit like ziti or penne, with nice big tubes that are perfect for holding onto all that saucy goodness. In this baked rigatoni recipe, we start by browning some ground beef and Italian sausage until it’s nice and crumbly, then add in a few cloves of garlic and a jar of your favorite marinara sauce.
The sizable rigatoni tubes are the perfect pairing with such a hearty sauce—a sauce that would overwhelm so many other pasta shapes! Then, to take this baked rigatoni to the next level, dollops of ricotta are added to the top, along with a generous sprinkling of mozzarella. This adds creaminess and lots of cheesy flavor to the dish.
Baked rigatoni is ideal for a weeknight dinner, easy to make in advance, and it’s always a hit if you serve it at a potluck or even for a holiday dinner. If your family loves big, bold pasta dishes, this one is going to be a winner!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Rigatoni pasta
- Ground beef – You can substitute ground turkey if you prefer.
- Ground Italian sausage
- Olive oil
- Onion – A yellow onion is just fine.
- Marinara sauce – Use your favorite brand!
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Chili flakes – Adjust the heat level by adding more or less.
- Ricotta cheese – I prefer whole milk ricotta for the creamiest baked rigatoni.
- Shredded mozzarella
- Salt & black pepper
- Basil leaves – You can add more if you’d like!
- Add in some chopped vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms when you’re browning the beef and sausage.
- Make meatless baked rigatoni by using vegetables instead of the meat, or by using plant-based meat substitutes.
- Use an Italian blend of shredded cheeses, or substitute half of the mozzarella with shredded Parmesan cheese.
How to Make Baked Rigatoni
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook the Rigatoni
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions. Drain, toss with a little oil to keep it from sticking, and set aside.
3. Brown the Meat
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, once it’s hot, stir in the beef, sausage, garlic, and onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Finish the Baked Rigatoni Sauce
Pour the marinara into the skillet, along with the seasonings. Stir to combine, then bring the sauce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat. Stir in the pasta.
Add a layer of pasta and sauce to the prepared baking dish. Top with 4 or 5 spoonfuls of ricotta and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with cheese on top.
Bake the rigatoni uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Garnish with the basil before serving.
How to Store Leftover Baked Rigatoni
Baked rigatoni can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let it cool completely before storing in an airtight container. When you’re ready to eat, reheat individual portions in the microwave or heat the whole dish in a 350ºF oven until warmed through.
Serve this baked rigatoni recipe with your go-to sides for pasta like:
- A simple green salad
- Some garlic bread or cheesy breadsticks
- Roasted vegetables
- Steamed broccoli
The main difference is the pasta shape. Baked ziti is typically made with a shorter, tubular pasta like ziti or penne, while baked rigatoni is made with the longer, larger rigatoni tubes. Other than that, they are both hearty, cheesy casseroles that are perfect for a satisfying dinner!
For this recipe, you will bake the pasta uncovered so the cheese can get nice and bubbly. If you find that the cheese is browning too quickly, you can cover the dish with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Cook the rigatoni al dente according to the instructions on the box. This usually means cooking it for 1-2 minutes less than the package recommends. The pasta will continue to cook a bit more when you bake it, so you don’t want to overcook it at this stage.
You can absolutely make this dish ahead of time! Just assemble everything as directed up to 2 days in advance and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as directed. You may need to add a few minutes onto the bake time since it will be starting out cold.
More Satisfying Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Tomato and Basil Penne Pasta
- Baked Spaghetti
- Instant Pot Penne Alfredo
- Crock Pot Ravioli Lasagna
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta
- ½ lb ground beef
- ½ lb ground italian sausage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium onion diced
- 2 ea garlic cloves minced
- 1 24oz jar marinara sauce
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp basil leaves chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the instructions on the box. Drain, toss with a little oil, and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, add the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef, italian sausage, garlic and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the marinara sauce and seasonings and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. Toss the pasta in the sauce.
- Add a layer of pasta and sauce to the prepared baking dish. Top with 4-5 spoons of ricotta and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the process ending with a top layer of cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Garnish with chopped basil.