This baked rigatoni recipe is pasta tossed in a flavorful meat sauce, then topped with plenty of cheese and baked until golden brown. A super easy dinner option that’s great for feeding a crowd!

You can never go wrong with pasta as a hearty main course, whether it’s Cajun shrimp pasta, baked tortellini, or this simple yet satisfying baked rigatoni.

A spoon serving up a portion of baked rigatoni pasta.

When I need to cook for a large group, I often make a big dish full of baked rigatoni pasta. It’s east to make, popular with both kids and adults, and can be easily customized to fit anyone’s preferences.

If you are going to feed a large group, this pasta goes great with appetizers like mozzarella sticks or peperonata. You could also have a salad like caprese salad or Italian salad. Baked rigatoni is perfect for an Italian food feast!

Baked Rigatoni Pasta Ingredients

To make you baked rigatoni you will need olive oil, ground beef, Italian sausage, onion, garlic, marinara sauce, tomato sauce, rigatoni, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

Homemade meat sauce in a pan.

How Do You Make Baked Rigatoni?

Make baked rigatoni by first cooking up a combination of ground beef and mild Italian sausage. Make sure to break up the meat into small crumbles. Add an onion to the pan and cook it until softened. Sauté a little garlic in that pan and add marinara and tomato sauces. When the sauce has simmered and thickened, toss some al dente cooked rigatoni in the sauce. Pour the pasta and sauce into a baking pan or casserole dish and top it with mozzarella cheese. Bake the dish until the cheese is golden brown and melted. Serve the pasta with a little chopped parsley on top.

Rigatoni pasta tossed with meat sauce.

Tips For The Perfect Baked Rigatoni

  • Shred your own mozzarella cheese. Don’t use pre-shredded cheese which often has anti-caking agents that prevent the cheese from melting well.
  • Use a high quality marinara sauce. I like Newman’s Own which has a nice complex flavor.
  • I use 90% lean ground beef – it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy.
  • This dish can be assembled up to 6 hours before you plan to bake it. Store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to put it in the oven. You may need to add a few minutes more to the cook time to compensate for starting with a chilled dish.

Quick Tip

If you can’t find rigatoni at your local grocery store, penne is a good substitute.

A pan of pasta in sauce topped with shredded cheese.

Recipe FAQs

What is rigatoni pasta used for?

Rigatoni is a hearty, tube shaped pasta with ridges on the outside which help the sauce adhere to the noodles. Rigatoni is great for baked pasta dishes, and holds up well to thicker sauces such as cream sauces or chunky tomato sauces.

Can you freeze baked pasta?

This baked pasta can be frozen for up to 2 months. Tightly cover the top of your dish with foil, then cover everything with plastic wrap to get as tight of a seal as possible. You can thaw the dish, or bake it from frozen. If you bake from frozen, you’ll need to add another 20-30 minutes to the cook time.

What is the difference between baked ziti and baked rigatoni?

There is not a lot of difference between ziti and rigatoni because they are both medium sized pasta tubes. However, rigatoni is a little wider and shorter than ziti. Rigatoni also has ridged sides while ziti has smooth sides.

How long does baked rigatoni stay fresh in the refrigerator?

Baked rigatoni leftovers stay good for three days in an airtight container in a refrigerator.

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A plate of baked rigatoni topped with melted cheese.

Baked Rigatoni Pasta Variations

I typically make this recipe exactly as it’s written. However, you can modify the recipe to suit your tastes.

  • Meat – Try using ground turkey, turkey sausage or diced cooked chicken instead of ground beef and Italian sausage.
  • Vegetables – Add sauteed vegetables to the sauce such as mushrooms, spinach, zucchini or bell peppers. Olives, sun dried tomatoes or artichoke hearts are also fabulous in this dish.
  • Cheese – Instead of mozzarella, try another cheese that melts well like provolone or fontina. You can also add a layer of ricotta cheese in the middle of the dish. Feel free to grate some parmesan cheese over the top when you serve the pasta.
  • Spicy: You can add some red pepper flakes to the sauce or sprinkle red pepper flakes over the top before the pasta is served for a little spice.

This recipe is easy to make and will delight your family and friends. Give this dish a try the next time you are in the mood for some good old fashioned comfort food!

More Pasta Dishes You’ll Enjoy

Baked Rigatoni Video

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Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.

5 from 53 votes

Baked Rigatoni Pasta

AuthorSara Welch
A spoon serving up a portion of baked rigatoni pasta.
This baked rigatoni recipe is pasta tossed in a flavorful meat sauce, then topped with plenty of cheese and baked until golden brown. A super easy dinner option that's great for feeding a crowd!
Time
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Serves 8

Ingredients 

For the sauce

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage casings removed
  • 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

For assembly

  • 16 ounces rigatoni pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • cooking spray

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.

For the sauce

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the meat for 3-4 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon. Add the onion to the pan. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is softened.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the marinara sauce and tomato sauce to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until just thickened

For assembly

  • Toss the cooked rigatoni with the sauce.
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan and top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned.
  • Sprinkle with parsley. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

Notes

  1. Shred your own mozzarella cheese. Don’t use pre-shredded cheese which often has anti-caking agents that prevent the cheese from melting well.
  2. Use a high quality marinara sauce. I like Newman’s Own which has a nice complex flavor.
  3. I use 90% lean ground beef – it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy.
  4. If you can’t find rigatoni at your local grocery store, penne is a good substitute.

Nutrition

Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 726mg | Potassium: 863mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 680IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 4mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is definitely a family favorite! My daughter and son-in-law request it ALL THE TIME!
    I add some spinach to get the greens in and red pepper flakes.
    The recipe you provided is absolutely delicious .
    Thank you so much!! xo

  2. 5 stars
    So delish and so easy. I made it the day before and it was great! I did add a little dry red wine to the sauce. Also, I use a little less pasta, just to keep it more saucy. Will def make again!

  3. What a delicious looking rigatoni pasta! I would love to have this in front of me right now. Pinning your recipe for later.

  4. 5 stars
    This is our new favorite pasta recipe! I made it last night and my family devoured it!

  5. Ive made this before and it came out amazing! I only have hot Italian sausage not mild, can I substitute or will it really change the flavor?

  6. Husband is OBSESSED with this! I add a little more garlic and throw in some vegetables like zuchini and bell peppers when the onions cook and it’s amazing. I love how you can pre make it and put it in the oven when you’re ready.

    I have doubled and frozen it a couple times and it never quite comes out as good as when first made, any suggestions for freezing?

  7. 5 stars
    Love this recipe!! I added a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon because I’m Italian and that’s what we do and everyone loved it so much!! My Italian sausage was also a little spicy but because it was blended with ground beef it was perfect!! This one’s a keeper!

  8. 5 stars
    Just tried this recipe for last night’s dinner and it was such a hit that we went back for seconds. I followed your advice and opted for fresh mozzarella and shredded it.. YUM! We have so much leftover that I have to freeze it. This was my first time making a pasta bake and certainly won’t be the last. Thank you for such a delicious and easy recipe 🙂