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This Italian Sausage Pasta Bake is an easy dinner recipe that works well as a freezer meal, or as a cozy casserole to share with friends and family! Layers of fresh mozzarella, ground sausage, vegetables, and pasta in tomato sauce create a delicious combination that bakes in one dish!
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Make this for your kids for dinner tonight, bring this to your friend who just had a baby, or share it with your congregation at the church potluck. I promise they will all be eternally grateful!
Ingredients for Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make a delicious and easy Italian sausage pasta bake. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Dry Pasta: I use rigatoni pasta but any long tubular pasta would work well, like penne, tortiglioni, or ziti.
- Marinara Sauce: use your favorite store-bought jarred brand or make your own homemade marinara sauce.
- Fresh Mozzarella: for a cheesy topping. You could also use shredded mozzarella cheese as well.
- Grated Parmesan: mixes into the tomato sauce to add flavor.
- Italian Sausage: adds sweet and herbaceous flavors. You can use ground Italian, Italian turkey sausage, or Italian sausage links with the casings removed.
- Half and Half: adds creaminess to the marinara sauce.
- Bell Pepper: adds color and sweetness. I prefer red bell peppers, but green or yellow also work.
- Mushrooms: adds a savory flavor when cooked with the marinara sauce.
What is the best sausage for pasta?
I use turkey Italian sausage for a leaner option, but any variety will work. You can also try sweet Italian sausage or spicy Italian sausage!
How do you cook sausages for pasta?
To cook the sausage in a skillet, you will need to remove the meat from the casings. It’s a simple step that only takes a few seconds, but if you prefer, you can often find bulk ground Italian sausage in the meat department.
How to Make Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
The simple ingredients come together in a magical way, making this Italian sausage casserole one of my go-to recipes for entertaining and sharing with loved ones! It also happens to be one of Keith’s favorite dinners.
- Sauté the Italian sausage with the diced bell pepper and sliced mushrooms in a skillet, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain off the fat.
- Boil your rigatoni pasta in a separate pot. Drain the water off of the pasta.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sausage mixture, and add the marinara sauce, half-and-half, and grated Parmesan.
- Transfer half of the pasta mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with half of the sliced fresh mozzarella.
- Finish with the remaining pasta and a final layer of mozzarella on top. With this simple assembly, your Italian Sausage Pasta Bake is ready for the oven!
How long do you cook Italian sausage pasta bake?
The casserole bakes at 375 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley, if desired, for an added bright burst of flavor and color!
Should you cover Italian sausage pasta bake when cooking?
While covering a pasta bake typically does help retain moisture in the casserole, it is not necessary to cover this Italian sausage pasta bake! The mozzarella cheese slices provide enough coverage to keep the pasta moist and flavorful.
What type of pasta is best for a pasta bake?
Any tube pasta will hold up well in the oven, and hold perfect pockets of sauce for flavor in every bite! Rigatoni is a large tube pasta that’s wider. Penne is smaller and more narrow than rigatoni, and elbow macaroni would work if you want a smaller pasta shape (but you would need more pasta than if you were using a larger noodle).
With its layers of gooey melted cheese and chunks of flavorful Italian sausage, this hearty and creamy pasta bake is a crowd-pleasing option that everyone at your table will love!
Cook’s Tips & Recipe Variations
- Prepare a Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta by using a hot Italian sausage in place of the sweet turkey Italian sausage shown here.
- For a Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta recipe, substitute 32 ounces of Alfredo sauce for the marinara sauce shown here. You seriously can’t go wrong when you serve Pasta with Italian Sausage and Cream Sauce!
- My Italian Sausage Pasta with tomato sauce calls for a jar of store-bought marinara sauce, but you can certainly substitute it with homemade tomato sauce if you prefer. Here’s a great recipe for a 20-Minute Garlic and Herb Tomato Sauce that would work well in this dish.
- Make it a Freezer Meal: assemble this Italian Sausage Pasta recipe in advance, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze before baking. It will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Cooking for a Smaller Family? This recipe makes one large dish of pasta to serve about 8, or you can divide the ingredients equally between two smaller 8-inch square baking dishes. Eat one now and freeze the other for later.
How to Store Leftover Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
To Store Leftovers: cover the pasta bake with a casserole dish lid or store in an air-tight container. Italian sausage pasta bake will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat Pasta Bake: for best results, reheat the pasta bake in the oven at 350℉ for 15 to 20 minutes. You could also microwave a single serving of Italian sausage pasta bake at 30-second intervals until heated through.
What to Serve with Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
- Serve with garlic bread, focaccia bread, or fresh-baked French baguette.
- Side salads like Green salad with red wine vinaigrette, greens with Dijon vinaigrette, or Caesar salad
- Roasted vegetables like roasted broccoli, roasted asparagus, roasted root vegetables, or roasted cauliflower.
- Sauteed spinach and garlic or creamy spinach.
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
- 1 lb. dry rigatoni pasta
- 3.5 cups (32 ounce jar) marinara sauce
- 2 Tablespoons half-and-half
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 – 1.25 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed I used Italian turkey sausage, but any variety will work
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- Cook the pasta just until al dente (where it still has some bite). The pasta will continue to bake in the oven later, so you don't want it to be too soft.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet sauté sausage, bell pepper, and mushrooms until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Drain.
- Combine sausage mixture with cooked pasta, marinara sauce, half-and-half, and Parmesan.
- Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Layer half of the mozzarella slices on top.
- Add another layer of pasta and a final layer of mozzarella.
- Bake at 375 degrees F, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes (or until warmed through and cheese is melted).
This recipe was originally published in April, 2013. It was updated in December, 2018.