Baked Rigatoni Recipe

5 from 2 votes
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This cheesy baked rigatoni recipe is layered with rigatoni, ricotta cheese, ground sweet Italian sausage, and beef, and finished with fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. It’s dense, incredibly delicious, cheesy, and easy to pull together with only 7 basic ingredients in under an hour!

Golden baked rigatoni in a white casserole dish after it has been removed from the oven.

Baked rigatoni is assembled just like my skillet lasagna recipe. Layers of meat and ricotta are separated by a layer of saucy rigatoni. I got the recipe inspiration from Michael Strahan’s Instagram—the guy was really on to something. If you want to take this recipe to the next level, make it with Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you should also try my rigatoni bolognese or no-boil baked ziti! I love to make sausage stuffed shells for another comforting meal.

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Easy and delicious: this recipe tastes very similar to lasagna but is even easier to put together and slightly less tedious than dealing with lasagna noodles.
  • Can be made ahead: this recipe can be prepared 24-48 hours in advance and baked when ready to serve!

Ingredients

  • Rigatoni or ziti: any tubular pasta will work.
  • Ground sweet Italian sausage: you can also use spicy sausage for a spicy kick
  • 85% lean ground beef: 85% lean beef offers the best balance of fat and flavor.
  • Marinara or tomato sauce: I make my own and use Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. It’s easy to make and delicious. For jarred alternatives, I love Rao’s.
  • Ricotta cheese: transfer to a bowl and stir to soften for the easiest spreading.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese: I always prefer fresh mozzarella balls or pearls but you can also you low moisture pre-shredded if you prefer.
  • Shredded parmesan cheese: I always opt for a block and grate it myself. It’s much fresher this way and melts better.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make Baked Rigatoni

Step 1.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Step 2.

Bring a large pot of water with a big pinch of salt to a boil. Cook pasta al dente, strain, and transfer to a bowl or back into the boiling pot once it’s cooled. Stir in 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce. Mix and set aside.

Step 3.

Meanwhile, bring oil in a large pan or skillet to medium heat. Cook sausage and beef until browned and fully cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Use the tip of your spatula to break the sausage and beef into small chunks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and set aside.

Step 4.

Take half of the pasta and layer filling the entire bottom of a 13X9 casserole or baking dish. Layer with half of the beef and sausage mix, and then half of the ricotta cheese. Spread the ricotta with a rubber spatula, doing your best to spread it thinly and evenly.

Quick Tip

The ricotta will tend to stick. It’s best to work in small dollops and spread as best you can. It does not need to be perfect!

Step 5.

Repeat step 4 with the remaining ingredients. Pasta, sausage/beef, and ricotta.

Step 6.

Layer top with 1 cup of marinara. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.

Step 7.

Remove from the oven, top with a layer of 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and all the fresh mozzarella. Bake for 20-25 additional minutes or until cheese is fully melted and starting to turn golden. Let cool for 10 minutes, top with basil, and serve cut in squares.

Quick Tip

Finish baking with a 2-minute high broil at the very end will help deliver a perfect golden finish to the cheese.

Golden baked rigatoni in a white casserole dish after a square slice has been removed.

Expert Tips

  • Ground sweet Italian sausage is one of my favorite additions to any pasta dish. This recipe calls for 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 a pound of ground beef. You can make the same recipe with up to 2 pounds of meat if you want a little more protein. A 50-50 split, all beef, or all sausage works and is totally up to preference.
  • The dish is baked for about 35 minutes to heat everything and melt the cheesy topping. I usually opt for baking 15 minutes without the cheese topping and then 20-25 minutes with the final cheese topping. This prevents too much charring and burning of the cheese.
  • If you don’t have rigatoni, any straight tubular pasta will work for this recipe. Rigatoni is my favorite but ziti, penne, mezzi rigatoni, or similar will all work too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe ahead?

Yes, prepare as directed, cover with foil/plastic wrap, and place in the fridge until ready to bake. Can be made 24-48 hours in advance.

How is this recipe different from lasagna?

The only major difference between baked rigatoni/ziti and lasagna is the use of tubular versus flat lasagna noodles. My recipe is constructed similarly to lasagna, however the rigatoni is tossed in tomato sauce unlike lasagna noodles.

How is this different than baked ziti?

This is the same recipe made with rigatoni instead of ziti. You can use any tubular pasta for this recipe with great results.

More Baked Pasta Recipes

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 2 votes

Baked Rigatoni Recipe

Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
This cheesy baked rigatoni is layered with rigatoni, ricotta cheese, ground sweet Italian sausage and beef, fresh mozzarella, and topped with fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound of rigatoni or ziti
  • 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 24 ounces marinara or tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 6-7 basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Bring a large pot of water with a big pinch of salt to a boil. Cook pasta al dente, strain, and transfer to a bowl or back into the boiling pot once it’s cooled. Stir in 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce. Mix and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring oil in a large pan or skillet to medium heat. Cook sausage and beef until browned and fully cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Use the tip of your spatula to break the sausage and beef into small chunks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and set aside.
  • Take half of the pasta and layer filling the entire bottom of a 13X9 casserole or baking dish. Layer with half of the beef and sausage mix, and then half of the ricotta cheese. Spread the ricotta with a rubber spatula, doing your best to spread it thinly and evenly. It will tend to stick. It's best to work in small dollops and spread as best you can. It does not need to be perfect!
  • Repeat step 4 with the remaining ingredients. Pasta, sausage/beef, and ricotta.
  • Layer top with 1 cup of marinara. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove from the oven, top with a layer of 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and all the fresh mozzarella. Bake for 20-25 additional minutes or until cheese is fully melted and starting to turn golden. Sometimes a 2-minute broil at the very end will help deliver a perfect golden singe. Let cool for 10 minutes, top with basil, and serve cut in squares.

Notes

Ground sweet Italian sausage is one of my favorite additions to any pasta dish. This recipe calls for 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 a pound of ground beef. You can make the same recipe with up to 2 pounds of meat if you want a little more protein. A 50-50 split, all beef, or all sausage works and is totally up to preference.
The dish is baked for about 35 minutes to heat everything and melt the cheesy topping. I usually opt for baking 15 minutes without the cheese topping and then 20-25 minutes with the final cheese topping. This prevents too much charring and burning of the cheese.
If you don’t have rigatoni, any straight tubular pasta will work for this recipe. Rigatoni is my favorite but ziti, penne, mezzi rigatoni, or similar will all work too.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 720kcalCarbohydrates: 58.4gProtein: 40.1gFat: 36.2gSaturated Fat: 15.4gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 1203mgFiber: 4.3gSugar: 12g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This has turned into a staple in our house! It is also requested any time we go out of town with friends and family for the weekend. I just put it all together ahead of time and throw it in the oven when we get there. I like to throw veggies in, it’s one of the best ways to get my picky toddler to eat them.

  2. I made this last night and it was a huge hit! Instead of the two-layer method, I used two smaller baking dishes and adjusted the temperature from 425 to 400. I also added some onions and garlic when cooking the meats on the skillet, and added chopped tomatoes and mushrooms to the sauce. The leftovers taste sooooo good!

  3. 5 stars
    so so amazing recipe. A good(+easy+tasty) recipe + family time = What else we need in this tough time to cheer up! 🙂
    I have been following your blog for a year now and loving it 🙂

    stay safe! have a great day ahead