Baked Rigatoni

August 31, 2021

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Easiest Baked Rigatoni! Al dente rigatoni pasta is tossed with a beefy pasta sauce, blanketed atop with plenty of rich cheese then it’s baked until melty and delicious!

Rigatoni pasta with marinara sauce, beef and cheeses shown served in a pasta bowl.

An Easy Rigatoni Recipe!

A quick dinner perfect for busy days! This Italian inspired baked rigatoni is the ultimate comfort food after a long day.

It’s cheesy, beefy, generously coated in a vibrant tomato-y sauce, and full of tempting pasta carb-y goodness. Checks all the boxes for a simple yet incredibly tasty dinner.

Serve up a mostly homemade dish (we cheat with a jar of pasta sauce) that everyone can agree on. And honestly it’s so easy that it’s almost more of a guide than a recipe.

You’ll love that you get most of those crave-able lasagna flavors here without near the the amount hassle.

Serve it with a side salad or some steamed veggies to complete the simple dinner, and maybe garlic bread if you are in an extra comfort food mood.

What Is Rigatoni and What Is a Good Substitute?

Rigatoni is a medium tube shape pasta that originated from Italy, and it’s traditionally semolina flour based. It holds up well to thicker sauces and baking. It comes in a range of various widths and diameters but is larger than ziti or penne.

Ziti or penne do however make good substitutes with their similar shape if you can’t find rigatoni or don’t have it on hand.

Ingredients used to make baked rigatoni.

Baked Rigatoni Recipe Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 (24 oz) jar tomato basil pasta sauce 
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Printable recipe below.

How to Make This Baked Rigatoni Pasta Recipe

  1. Heat oven, prepare baking dish: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 by 8-inch or 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Boil rigatoni pasta: Cook pasta in lightly salted water about 1 minute shy of al dente according to directions listed on package. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, drain pasta.
  3. Brown beef with garlic: Meanwhile heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add beef and cook and crumble until browned. Drain excess fat, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
  4. Add sauce ingredients: Stir in 1/4 cup pasta water, tomato basil sauce, diced tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.
  5. Mix in a portion of cheeses and the pasta: In empty pot, toss together sauce, drained pasta, 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Season just lightly with salt as needed and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread into baking dish: Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Work to ensure pasta is covered with some of the sauce so it doesn’t dry up during baking.
  7. Finish with cheese, cover: Sprinkle top with remaining 1 1/4 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Cover with foil (tent foil as needed to prevent cheese from sticking to foil).
  8. Bake, garnish: Bake in preheated oven 25 – 30 minutes. Serve warm garnished with basil or parsley leaves.

 

Collage of eight photos showing steps of making rigatoni. Includes boiling pasta, cooking beef, mixing pasta cheese and sauce, spreading into a baking dish and baking.

Helpful Tips for This Recipe

  • Use a good quality jar of pasta sauce. I like Rao’s tomato basil or for a cheaper alternative try Classico Four Cheese.
  • I recommend using 85 to 90% lean ground beef, and don’t skip draining the fat from the beef after browning, so sauce isn’t greasy.
  • Only toss beef occasionally as it cooks so it has a chance to brown on bottom which will add lots of flavor.
  • For extra herby flavor, add 2 Tbsp chopped basil along with the pasta sauce, rather than just using it as a garnish.
  • Undercook the pasta during boiling step. This is because it will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want it to end up mushy.
  • Time saving tip: Pre-shredded cheeses can be used here to save time if you are in a hurry.

Baked rigatoni shown in a white rectangular ceramic baking dish from above.

Possible Variations

  • Add 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
  • Try adding a splash of red wine to the sauce for more flavor. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook off some of the strong alcohol flavor.
  • Italian sausage can be substituted for ground beef.
  • Substitute other cheeses. Romano is a good alternative to parmesan and fresh mozzarella would be good in place of aged.
  • Use 1 tsp dried basil and 1/2 tsp dried oregano in place of Italian seasoning.
  • Optionally, you can broil at the end for a browned cheese on top. You can’t go wrong with some extra color.

Overhead photo of a serving of baked rigatoni shown in a pasta bowl with a fork.

More Easy Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!

Rigatoni pasta with marinara sauce, beef and cheeses shown served in a pasta bowl.
5 from 2 votes

Baked Rigatoni

Easiest Baked Rigatoni! Al dente rigatoni pasta is tossed with a beefy pasta sauce, blanketed with plenty of rich cheese atop, then it's baked until melty and delicious!
Servings: 6
Prep20 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 (24 oz) jar tomato basil pasta sauce (recommend Rao's)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 by 8-inch or 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta in lightly salted water about 1 minute shy of al dente according to directions listed on package. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, drain pasta.
  • Meanwhile heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add beef and cook and crumble until browned. Drain excess fat, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup pasta water, tomato basil sauce, diced tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.
  • In empty pot, toss together sauce, drained pasta, 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Season just lightly with salt as needed and pepper to taste.
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Try to cover all of the pasta with some of the sauce so it doesn't dry up during baking.
  • Sprinkle top with remaining 1 1/4 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Cover with foil (curve foil over to prevent cheese from sticking to foil).
  • Bake in preheated oven 25 - 30 minutes. Serve warm garnished with basil or parsley leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Baked Rigatoni
Amount Per Serving
Calories 624 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 15g94%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 1338mg58%
Potassium 1003mg29%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 44g88%
Vitamin A 1232IU25%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 545mg55%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.