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Baked Rigatoni

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Baked Rigatoni is a family fav, kid-friendly meal with 5 ingredients for a cheesy baked pasta dish that can be customized in so many different ways! Add veggies, extra cheese, more or less meat. Make it yours!

Everybody loves Baked Rigatoni! (Totally something Garfield would scarf down in a heartbeat!) It’s packed with cheese, has that hearty touch of meat, and is smothered in a bright marinara that just brings everything together. This baked rigatoni recipes is also stupid easy to toss together (especially if you’ve got the basics in your pantry), and guarantees everyone at the table is happy and full.

This baked rigatoni is pretty much baked ziti’s cousin, just with different pasta. AND when you’ve got a lively bunch at home, figuring out a meal that everyone agrees on can be REALLY tricky. We’re a family of 7, so hearing a chorus of “Can we have pizza instead? and “I don’t like this, mom” is a daily occurrence. But let me tell you, this baked rigatoni recipe has saved the day more times than I can count! Who can say no to pasta smothered in a rich, tomatoey sauce with loads of melted cheese? It’s addictive, and there’s always enough to scoop out seconds!

Baked Rigatoni Overview

Cuisine Inspiration: Italian
Number of Ingredients: 5 (excluding salt, pepper, and optional basil)
Feeds: A family of 8+
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: Contains meat, dairy and gluten
Key Flavor: Cheesy, tomatoey, and meaty
Skill Level: Beginner

  • Easy to Make: Just boil pasta, brown some meat, toss it all together with sauce and cheese, and bake. No lengthy steps or weird techniques.
  • Hearty Comfort Food: Loaded with hearty ingredients like ground pork and creamy mozzarella, this baked rigatoni pasta is the definition of comfort food. It’s rich, it’s satisfying, and it’s packed with flavor!
  • Minimal Ingredients, Maximum Taste: Five main ingredients, that’s all it takes. Pasta, pork, sauce, cheese, and a splash of olive oil. It’s easy shopping, easy prepping, and easy eating.
  • Quick Clean-Up: One pan for cooking meat, one pot for boiling pasta, and one dish for baking. That’s all the mess you’ll deal with! More time to relax after dinner instead of scrubbing pots and pans.

Ingredients to make Baked Rigatoni

  • Dry rigatoni pasta: The ridges in rigatoni catch the sauce. But if you don’t have rigatoni on hand, you can replace it with other pasta like penne or ziti.
  • Ground pork: If you want to use seasoned, ground Italian style sausage in place of ground pork you can!
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper: Simple seasonings to enhance the flavors of rigatoni. Adjust to taste.
  • Marinara sauce: You can use your favorite store-bought marinara sauce or make your own from scratch if you have the time. Either way, go for what you enjoy!
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded: Melts over the pasta, adding a creamy, gooey, cheesy layer.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: For cooking the ground pork. If you don’t have olive oil, you can use vegetable or canola oil.
  • Fresh basil: Optional, but adds a delicious fresh touch.

How to make Baked Rigatoni

Step 1: Cook the sauce and mix it with the pasta

  1. Warm up the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the ground pork and season with salt and pepper. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Combine the marinara sauce with the cooked pork.
  3. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the rigatoni until just tender, usually about 10 minutes, then drain.
  4. Mix the drained rigatoni with the sauce until everything is well coated.

Step 2: Transfer the pasta to a baking dish and bake

  1. Transfer the pasta to the greased baking dish, evening it out.
  2. Top with a generous layer of shredded mozzarella and basil if you’re adding it.
  3. Let it bake until the cheese has melted and turned golden in color, which should take about 20-25 minutes. Before serving, let it rest so it’s not too hot. Enjoy your meal!
  • Flavored Marinara: Switch up the regular marinara with a flavored version like spicy arrabbiata, roasted garlic, or basil marinara. You can find them all in your nearest grocery store, and they’re usually pretty cheap!
  • Different Proteins: If you don’t like pork or can’t have it, you can easily swap in ground chicken, turkey, or beef. They keep the dish filling without weighing it down.
  • Cheese Variations: Get cheesy with it! Mixing mozzarella with a bit of Parmesan adds a nice sharpness, or you could go for a blend of Italian cheeses for that extra gooeyness. Also, you can mix some ricotta in with the meat sauce and noodles for a more creamy base.
  • Veggies: Toss in some mushrooms, onions, or even bell peppers to add even more flavor and color to your rigatoni pasta bake.
  • Sprinkle in Herbs: A little oregano goes a long way! Whether it’s dried or fresh, it gives the dish that classic Italian vibe.

Tips for making the best rigatoni pasta bake

  1. Shred Your Own Cheese: It’s worth the extra few minutes to shred your own cheese instead of grabbing the pre-shredded stuff. Freshly shredded cheese melts more evenly and smoothly, giving you that perfect cheesy pull.
  2. Generous Sauce Coverage: Make sure every single piece of pasta is well-coated with marinara sauce before it goes into the oven. This helps keep the pasta from drying out during baking.
  3. Watch the Pasta Cook Time: Boil your pasta just one minute shy of al dente. It’ll keep cooking in the oven, so it will get mushy if you cook it al dente.
  4. Let the Pork Brown: When cooking your ground pork, don’t stir too much. Let it sit for a few minutes at a time to really brown on the bottom. This adds a deep, savory flavor to the meat that’ll infuse the whole rigatoni casserole.

How to store & reheat Baked Rigatoni

Once it’s cooled down, cover your baked rigatoni dish with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container, and stash it in the fridge. It’s that easy to store!

Good news – baked rigatoni reheats REALLY well. For the whole dish, pop it back in the oven at 350°F until it’s heated through and the cheese gets bubbly again, about 20 minutes. For individual portions, a couple of minutes in the microwave will do the trick. Either way, it comes out just as tasty!

How long will Baked Rigatoni last in the fridge?

In the fridge, your baked rigatoni will stay good for about 3 to 5 days. Just make sure it’s well covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Can I freeze rigatoni casserole?

Yup! Actually, it freezes great. Spoon it into a freezer-safe container and it can stay frozen for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat as usual.

What to serve with Baked Rigatoni

  • Crusty Bread: Is there anything better than a piece of warm, crusty bread for scooping up that last bit of sauce? Whether it’s garlic bread or just a good baguette, having some bread on the side is a must.
  • Roasted Veggies: Pop in the oven whatever veggies you have hanging around. Zucchini, bell peppers, or asparagus get all caramelized and sweet in the oven, which makes them an amazing match for the deep, savory flavors of the pasta.
  • Fresh Salads: I often throw together a cool, crisp salad to cut through the rich rigatoni. An octopus salad when I’m feelin’ fancy, or a simple green salad with a zippy vinaigrette when I want something super light.
  • Dessert Options: After a hearty meal like this, a light dessert is just what you need! Think of an easy flourless chocolate cake, some homemade butter mints, or creamy vanilla fudge.

Make It A Meal

If you’re looking for menu inspo or an idea for a complete meal, go for Canned Green Bean Almondine, Garlic Bread and finish with an easy Strawberry Shortcake Angel Food Cake!

image collage with a menu for what to search with baked rigatoni shows green beans, garlic bread and strawberry shortcake angel food cake.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a way to make this baked rigatoni lighter?

Yes! You can use lean ground turkey or chicken instead of pork and opt for low-fat mozzarella cheese.

Are penne and rigatoni the same?

They’re not the same, but they’re pretty similar. Penne is typically smaller and has angled ends, while rigatoni is larger with straight-cut ends and a wider diameter. You can use both in this dish.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Of course! Just put it together, cover it with foil, and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to eat, simply bake it, adding an extra 5-10 minutes to the baking time since it’s starting from cold.

There you have it – Baked Rigatoni in all its glory! Super simple to make and seriously satisfying, it’s the perfect go-to for those nights when you just need a big bowl of yum. Dive in, enjoy the easy process, and let every cheesy, savory bite remind you why pasta nights are THE best nights!

More Easy Oven Dinner recipes:

I want to hear from you! If you try this easy Baked Rigatoni recipe or any other of my easy recipes for big families on Dinner in 5, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I read all the comments and respond!

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Baked Rigatoni

Baked Rigatoni is a family fav, kid-friendly meal with 5 ingredients for a cheesy baked pasta dish that can be customized in so many different ways! Add veggies, extra cheese, more or less meat. Make it yours!
No ratings yet
Author Jackie
Servings 12 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 285
Prep Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar (15 oz) marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • A handful of chopped fresh basil optional

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F and give a 13×9 baking dish a light coating of non-stick spray.
  • Warm up the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the ground pork and season with salt and pepper. Drain any excess fat.
  • Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the rigatoni until just tender, usually about 10 minutes, then drain.
  • Combine the marinara sauce with the cooked pork, then mix in the drained rigatoni until everything is well coated.
  • Transfer the pasta to the greased baking dish, evening it out. Top with a generous layer of shredded mozzarella and basil if you're adding it.
  • Let it bake until the cheese has melted and turned golden in color, which should take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Before serving, let it rest so it’s not too hot. Enjoy your meal!

Notes

  1. Shred Your Own Cheese: It’s worth the extra few minutes to shred your own cheese instead of grabbing the pre-shredded stuff. Freshly shredded cheese melts more evenly and smoothly, giving you that perfect cheesy pull.
  2. Generous Sauce Coverage: Make sure every single piece of pasta is well-coated with marinara sauce before it goes into the oven. This helps keep the pasta from drying out during baking.
  3. Watch the Pasta Cook Time: Boil your pasta just one minute shy of al dente. It’ll keep cooking in the oven, so it will get mushy if you cook it al dente.
  4. Let the Pork Brown: When cooking your ground pork, don’t stir too much. Let it sit for a few minutes at a time to really brown on the bottom. This adds a deep, savory flavor to the meat that’ll infuse the whole rigatoni casserole.

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 544mg, Potassium: 370mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 312IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American

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