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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.
More Italian Sausage Recipes
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.
I made this pasta for dinner tonight and both my husband and I really enjoyed it. However, I had to make some changes… some rather major changes. 1) My husband doesn’t like green peppers or mushrooms, so (sadly) I had to leave them out. I did, however, use some seasoning that had dried bits of bell pepper in it. I also snuck in some dried minced onion. (he doesn’t like vegetables. Period. So, I have to do a lot of sneaking!) 2) I don’t use Half-and-Half very often and didn’t want to buy it just for this, so I used a little plain almond milk instead. I’m not really sure what the half-&-half was for anyway, besides thinning it a bit… ? 3) Sadly, this was the one and only time I did not have mozzarella cheese on-hand… I had to use colby-jack instead. Mozzarella would’ve been much better, but what I used tasted fine. 4) My jar of sauce wasn’t as big as the recipe called for, so ours was not as saucy as I like. However, the sauce was quite tasty. 5) I used lean Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage, Wolfgang Puck Tomato Basil pasta sauce (because it had one of the highest NuVal scores of all the pasta sauces), and Meijer Naturals Whole Wheat penne pasta (again, the highest NuVal score). I made two small casserole dishes and put one in the freezer. I think the one in the freezer had more of the “sauce”, so hopefully it’s even better than this one was! I’ll definitely make this one again. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
Hi Kelly! That’s great! I’m glad that you liked it, and that you modified it for your family. I’m always changing recipes (even my own) based on what I have on hand or what I think we’ll prefer. Thanks for the note — you made my day! 🙂
I made a little change to this…my middle later consisted of a clove of finely minced garlic, cream cheese, with parmesan, romano and mozzarella. I then made it into a spread I could coat the first layer with. Absolutely incredible.
That sounds amazing! Thanks for the tip! 🙂
My family will love this! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Karly! It’s such a hit with the kids!
Looks as yummy as always. But more impiortant: A big and jolly Merry Christmas all the way from Sweden. I hope you have a blessed day without so many hours online!
Thank you, Tabitha! Merry Christmas to you, too! 🙂
This was really great. A super easy meal for a family with lots of evening to-do activites. I baked it, left it on the counter, and we all ate when we could. And everyone loved it.
Thanks so much, Jenn!
You make me crave in your post. How I wish I can eat it now. Thanks to your recipe I can cook my own dish tomorrow. I will add a lot of cheese on the top to make it tastier.
Made this tonight for the whole family who was over made NO substitutions (i never do eith your recipes!!) And it was such a hit! This should come with a warning that its addictive haha. I had to use just regular sausage slices instead cause i already had pre cooked sausage (the plan was the italian sausage rice dump and bake but want es d to change it up) and it worked out fab!
Yay! Thank you, Alyssia! I’m so happy to hear that, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave a note. 🙂
Made this tonight. Absolutely loved it. Will definitely make again
Wonderful! Thanks, Caroline!
What a delicious surprise!!! I made this yesterday as written for the first time. I had most of the necessary ingredients, but didn’t expect much. No seasonings? So, I sent my 74 year old husband to the nearby Italian grocery store in search of Shady Brook Italian Turkey Sausage. I baked it in 2 9×9 pans and sent one to my daughter and son-in-law. We all loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing. I served it with roasted asparagus and garlic bread. Preparation – simple, Cost – economical, Clean-up – easy, and Flavor – Excellent.
Yay! I’m so glad to know that it was a hit, Sandra. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful note. I agree — it’s simple, but still flavorful and delicious!