This rigatoni recipe is pure comfort food. Pasta baked in savory meat sauce and smothered in cheese it’s an easy and delicious casserole idea.
My family loved baked rigatoni so much the first time I served it that we ended up making it again 2 days later! It’s now on the regular rotation! Serve it up with a shaved brussels sprouts salad and garlic knots.
Click the button above to save this recipe!
Rigatoni Pasta Ingredients
- Rigatoni – Cooked to al dente, according to package directions.
- Spaghetti sauce – Your favorite, whatever’s on sale, or try on of our tomato sauces: blender spaghetti sauce or crockpot spaghetti sauce.
- Ground meat – Italian sausage or beef are our favorites. Browned and drained.
- Mozzarella cheese – Shredded. If possible, shred your own. It melts better and it’s less expensive!
- Italian seasoning – Or a combination of basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Also salt and pepper, to taste.
- Parmesan cheese – Grated (fresh is incredible in this dish, but you can use the green can too).
- Garnish – I like to top ours with fresh basil.
How do you make baked rigatoni? (Step-by-step)
⭐ First, in a large bowl, mix together cooked rigatoni, spaghetti sauce, ground meat, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese.
⭐ Then, pour mixture into a casserole dish and top with remaining mozzarella.
⭐ Next, bake until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.
⭐ Finally, if you are using a broiler safe dish, you can turn on the broiler in the last couple minutes to brown the cheese, but watch closely!
Can you make baked rigatoni ahead of time?
Yes, this can be prepared a day or two in advance and kept in the refrigerator. If you want to make it earlier, then freeze.
What other types of noodles can I use?
Any kind of Italian pasta can be used in this dish (penne, ziti, farfalle, shells, spaghetti) – my kids are especially partial to fusillini if we don’t have rigatoni pasta on hand.
Can I add ricotta cheese to rigatoni?
Absolutely! For a creamier result, stir in 1 – 2 cups of ricotta cheese before adding the noodle mix to your casserole dish. Adding ricotta will make it a lot like our baked ziti recipe!
What else can you add to rigatoni pasta?
When I want to use this as a full meal, we will add vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and diced tomato. You can also do a meat lovers version with extra meats like bacon, salami, or pepperoni.
Slow cooker rigatoni
To make this in a crockpot, add cooked rigatoni, pasta sauce, ground meat, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese to the crock. Mix well, then top with remaining mozzarella.
Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, or low for 3 hours, until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.
Leftovers and storage
How long do leftovers last?
Leftover rigatoni will keep 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to cover it tightly with a lid or foil for longevity.
Can you freeze rigatoni?
Yes, baked pasta recipes are great for freezing! For best results freeze before baking. Use a disposable baking pan or one that you don’t mind not using for a while, then cover tightly with foil in at least two layers. It will stay good in an upright freezer for up to 3 months and in a deep freeze for at least 6 months.
If freezing after baking, allow the casserole to cool completely then cover tightly with foil and then freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
How to bake from frozen?
To cook baked rigatoni from frozen, bake with foil for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake as directed in the recipe.
Tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions
What does rigatoni mean in Italian?
It is a derivative of the word rigato which means ridged (or lined). A reference to the ribbing on the outside of the pasta.
What’s the difference between rigatoni and penne and ziti?
Rigatoni is short and wide. It’s got a round hollow center and is ribbed on the outside. Ziti is also hollow, but much thinner/narrower. It is not typically ribbed. Penne is thinner, like the ziti, but is ribbed on the outside and is cut at an angle on the ends.
For a meat and sauce dish like this, rigatoni noodles are perfect because the wide opening allows the sauce, meat, and cheese to get inside!
What to eat with rigatoni pasta (serving suggestions)
More amazing casseroles to try
- Chicken spaghetti casserole
- Baked tuna casserole
- Corn casserole recipe
- Easy Frito pie
- See all our casserole dinner recipes!
Other Italian inspired dishes
- Homemade fettuccine alfredo
- Creamy tortellini salad
- Homemade meatball recipe
- Baked spaghetti
- Lasagna soup
- See all our Italian dinner recipes!
Tools we love
- Ceramic bakeware set – This baking dish set is gorgeous and has all the sizes you’ll need!
- Collapsible colanders – These colanders are perfect for space saving. I don’t know about you but I never seem to have enough room.
Get our FREE Easy Casseroles Ebook!
Follow us below!Use #mamalovesfood on Instagram!
How to Make Rigatoni
- 1 pound rigatoni cooked and drained
- 2 jars spaghetti sauce 24 ounces each
- 1 pound ground beef or sausage browned/drained
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided into 1 cup and 2 cups
- ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- optional fresh basil, 1 - 2- cups ricotta cheese, salt, and black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together cooked rigatoni, spaghetti sauce, browned ground meat, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese.
- Pour mixture into a 9x13” casserole dish and top with remaining 2 cups of mozzarella.
- Bake at 350F for 25 - 30 minutes, until warmed through and cheese is melted and bubbly. If you are using a broiler safe dish, you can turn on the broiler in the last couple minutes to brown the cheese, but watch closely!
Click the button above to save this recipe!