Baked Rigatoni Bolognese
Cozy comfort food that’s a cinch to make! This easy Baked Rigatoni Bolognese is super cheesy, meaty and wonderfully delicious. A great homemade casserole recipe that’s sure to please. Make ahead and freezer friendly!
Pasta lovers rejoice! Do I have an easy baked pasta casserole you’re going to love. We are BIG TIME fans of easy pasta recipes and I’m an even bigger fan if that pasta recipe is a one pot meal. This SUPER EASY Rigatoni recipe is all of that combined into one cozy baking dish.
Most of the time, we make a big pasta bake recipe for a Sunday dinner but whenever I make a big batch of Bolognese sauce I like to make a little extra to save for this Baked Rigatoni Bolognese. It just makes the whole recipe come together so easily.
It’s totally one of our favorite comfort food recipes because of the cheesiness and the vibrant flavor of the bolognese sauce. AND the big rigatoni pasta noodles snuggle up with the chunks of sausage and beef in the sauce perfectly making each bite more flavorful than the first.
This Rigatoni Bolognese is one of the best potluck dishes because you can make it in advance or even freeze it making mealtime a breeze.
BAKED RIGATONI BOLOGNESE
Tossed in a meaty sauce and handfuls of shredded cheese, Rigatoni Bolognese is sure to be a crowd pleaser to whomever you serve it too.
Rigatoni, if you’re not familiar with it, is a type of cut pasta that’s shaped like a tube which allows the sauce to get caught up in. It’s a little larger than penne or ziti and often has a slight curve to it, although, not as curved as elbow macaroni.
Rigatoni pasta is actually perfect for chunky sauces because the ridges help hold onto all those big pieces of veggies or meat.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED RIGATONI BOLOGNESE
If you’ve never made baked pasta before, there are a few ways you can do it. I’m often asked if you have to cook the pasta before baking it and I’ve found for best results you do have to cook it slightly before blending with the other ingredients.
So, you’ll need to cook your rigatoni to just under al dente. Which in Italy means “to the tooth”, or to cook your pasta until it’s firm to the bite. For this recipe, you want to cook it Molto al dente which is slightly undercooked. This allows the rigatoni to finish cooking in the oven allowing your pasta to soak up all the wonderful flavors of the sauce.
HOW TO KEEP BAKED PASTA FROM DRYING OUT
To ensure your Baked Rigatoni doesn’t dry out during baking, it’s best to cover your baking dish with foil until just about the end of cooking. You’ll save the remaining cheese for the end of baking, as well, so it doesn’t stick to the foil.
The foil will help keep moisture from evaporating before the rigatoni has a chance to finish cooking soaking up the moisture from the sauce. Once your Baked Rigatoni reaches the last 10 minutes of cooking time, remove the foil and top with the last of the cheese. Finish baking uncovered so your cheese gets bubbly and golden brown.
Rigatoni Bolognese is very similar to our favorite Baked Ziti recipe but it’s much less fussy. I skipped the layering I used for the ziti and just tossed everything together in a big bowl.
If you’re not a meat eater, you can make this same Baked Rigatoni without meat by replacing the bolognese sauce with your favorite spaghetti sauce. It’s also pretty amazing with this easy Vodka Sauce and a spoonful of ricotta cheese mixed in.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED PASTA
If you’re looking for more veggie heavy side dishes, we love it with a pile of these easy sauteed green beans or this leafy broccoli rabe! It’s the perfect way to round out your meal without making the meal heavier than necessary.
When I’m serving a large crowd, I’ll serve my baked pasta with a bowl of freshly baked rolls and sometimes a simple chicken dish like this Chicken Scallopini. It’s like a big Olive Garden dinner at home. These Cauliflower Breadsticks go well with everything so you could, also, add those to keep things a little lighter.
FOR MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN RECIPES:
We’re loving this Bolognese in the Instant Pot! The same great flavor but quick and simple for a busy weeknight. Or you can easily make this Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore, it’s bursting with fresh flavor and super simple to whip up.
Or if you’re looking for something less fussy, this easy Meat Sauce is one of our favorite classic Italian sauces. The flavor can’t be beat and it only takes about 30 minutes to make it!
Baked Rigatoni Bolognese Recipe
Super simple Baked Rigatoni Bolognese Recipe comes together with just a few simple ingredients. This pantry classic is a weeknight dinner home run.
- 1 lb rigatoni or other cut shaped pasta will work
- 24 ounces Bolognese Sauce Homemade or your favorite brand
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup shredded provolone
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta for 5-6 minutes until still firm but beginning to soften. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Do not rinse!
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Transfer the pasta to a bowl. Add the sauce, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 3/4 cup provolone cheese and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine.
Pour the pasta mixture into a 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray and spread into an even layer. Cover the baking dish with foil and transfer to the oven.
Bake the rigatoni for 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake the rigatoni for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Remove the baked rigatoni from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve the rigatoni with extra parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and crushed red pepper, if desired.
Baked Rigatoni can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored tightly in the refrigerator.
To freeze your Baked Rigatoni, assemble according to the recipe and cover tightly with plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. Do not top with the remaining cheese. To bake your frozen, bake from frozen by uncovering and removing the plastic wrap. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until bubbling and hot. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 10 additional minutes.