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5 from 3 votes
Dump-and-Bake Wagon Wheel Pasta Casserole
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins

With just 3 ingredients and about 5 minutes of prep, this Dump-and-Bake Wagon Wheel Pasta Casserole is an easy and healthy vegetarian dinner that's perfect for busy weeknights!

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: healthy pasta casserole, Pasta casserole recipe, vegetarian pasta casserole
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 317 kcal
Author: Blair
  • 16 ounces (about 5 cups dry) uncooked mini wheels pasta (can substitute with elbow pasta or other small pasta with a cook time of about 7-8 mins)
  • 3 cups (about 25.5 ounces) marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Optional garnish: grated Parmesan cheese; chopped fresh parsley or basil
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (or two 8-inch square baking dishes) with cooking spray.

  2. In the prepared dish (or in a separate bowl), stir together dry (uncooked) pasta, marinara sauce, water, salt and basil (if using). Cover tightly with foil.

  3. Bake (covered) for 25 minutes.

  4. Remove dish from oven, take off cover, and give the pasta a stir. At this point it should be almost done, but still a bit firm ("al dente").

  5. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese over the top of the casserole. Return the dish to the oven (uncovered) for an additional 5-10 minutes -- or just until the cheese is melted and the pasta is tender.

  6. Garnish with optional grated Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, if desired.

Recipe Notes


  • This vegetarian pasta casserole obviously has no meat. Feel free, however, to add your favorite protein to the dish. Nice options include 1 lb. of cooked ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken; 3-4 cups of cooked, diced chicken breast; or 1-2 cans of beans (drained and rinsed).
  • Stir in some veggies! If your kids like peas, zucchini, or frozen broccoli, stir that into the dish as well! If you're using a larger vegetable with a longer cooking time (like broccoli), you may want to steam the vegetables first before adding to the dish. For something small like frozen peas, you can just add them (still frozen) straight to the baking dish towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? I like to cut the ingredients in half and prepare the casserole in an 8-inch square pan. You can also use the full amount of ingredients, but divide the mixture evenly between two 8-inch pans. Bake one now, and freeze the other casserole for a later date!
  • Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or chopped, fresh herbs, if desired.

Can you freeze this pasta casserole?

Yes, you can! It's not my first choice; however, because I worry that the texture of the pasta gets a bit compromised as it sits in the liquid. If you do choose to prep ahead and freeze the casserole, just know that the pasta might be a bit softer when it's done baking.

I recommend freezing this dump-and-bake casserole before baking.

How to Bake a Frozen Pasta Casserole:

Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight, bring to room temperature on the counter for about 20 minutes, and then bake according to the recipe instructions.

To bake a frozen casserole straight from the freezer, you will need to increase the baking time significantly. Start with baking the dish (covered) for 1 hour at 425 degrees F, but stir the casserole occasionally and check pasta for tenderness as it cooks. The final cooking time will vary slightly, depending on the type of dish that you are using.

Nutrition Facts
Dump-and-Bake Wagon Wheel Pasta Casserole
Amount Per Serving (1 /8 of the casserole)
Calories 317 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 15mg5%
Sodium 964mg42%
Potassium 457mg13%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 570IU11%
Vitamin C 6.4mg8%
Calcium 233mg23%
Iron 1.7mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.