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Easy Baked Rigatoni with Ground Beef

This Easy Baked Rigatoni with ground beef combines pantry staples into a simple, comforting meal. Rigatoni noodles are coated in a meaty sauce and topped with gooey cheese for the ultimate comfort food. With minimal effort, you can enjoy a hearty and satisfying dish perfect for any day of the week.

Cheesy baked rigatoni with a spoon, a delicious and comforting dish perfect for pasta lovers.

Easy Rigatoni Pasta Bake

Putting together this meal is a breeze, which is one of the reasons it has become a go-to in my kitchen. The fact that I usually have all the ingredients in my pantry makes it an easy choice for busy days. I also love the flexibility this pasta casserole offers; feel free to switch up the protein or opt for a different pasta shape. Plus, the convenience extends to preparation. Assemble it in the morning or the night before, and then pop it in the oven when you get home for a stress-free, quick, and super easy dinner option the whole family will love. 

If you love easy cheesy beefy pasta recipes as much as I do, check out this one-pan beef enchilada pasta dish.

Baked rigatoni dish with layers of meat and cheese, served golden brown and bubbling with deliciousness.

Ingredients for the Baked Rigatoni Pasta with Ground Beef

  • Rigatoni – The star of the dish. This sturdy, ridged pasta holds up well in the baking process.
  • Lean Ground Beef – Adds savory richness and protein, making the dish hearty and filling. I used 90/10 beef.
  • Italian Seasoning – Infuses a blend of herbs that elevates the overall flavor profile.
  • Garlic Powder – Subtle garlic flavor without the hassle of fresh garlic.
  • Onion Powder – Contributes a mild onion flavor, complementing the overall savory character of the dish.
  • Salt and Pepper – A classic seasoning combo for savory dishes.
  • Marina Pasta Sauce – Brings a robust tomato base with herbs, adding depth and complexity to the flavorful meat sauce.
  • Tomato Sauce – Enhances the tomato flavor, providing a smooth base for the dish.
  • Mozzarella Cheese – Melts into gooey perfection, creating a creamy and cheesy topping that crowns the baked rigatoni.
Ingredients for baked beef rigatoni in bowls: ground beef, pasta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, herbs, and spices.

Making the Cheesy Baked Rigatoni

  1. Preparation – Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the rigatoni – Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente, following package instructions. Drain without rinsing and set aside.
  3. Brown the meat – Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 7-8 minutes until fully cooked.
  4. Season – Stir in Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
  5. Add the sauces – Add the marinara and tomato sauce, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.
Collage showing four steps to make the meat sauce.
  1. Combine pasta and sauce – Mix the cooked pasta with the meat sauce, ensuring an even coating.
  2. Transfer to the casserole dish – Place the pasta mixture into a 9×13 inch casserole dish and top it with shredded mozzarella.
  3. Bake and serve – Cover the baking dish with aluminum  foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve warm with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if desired. 
Collage showing four steps to assemble the casserole.

Variations and substitutions

Pasta variation – Instead of rigatoni, try using penne, fusilli, or any other short pasta shape you prefer.

Protein switch – Switch the beef for a different protein like Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground chicken.

Fresh onion and garlic – Opt for fresh minced onion and garlic instead of the powdered versions for a more robust taste. Use 1/2 a large, diced yellow onion and three minced garlic cloves. 

Tomato sauce substitution – Replace the tomato sauce with a can of crushed tomatoes to give the dish a more robust texture.

Parmesan addition – Enhance the cheesy goodness by sprinkling 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top along with the mozzarella before baking. This adds a delightful nuttiness to the dish.

Cheesy beef pasta bake in a white casserole dish, garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Tips for success

  • Al dente pasta – Ensure the pasta is cooked to al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy during baking.
  • Don’t rinse the pasta – After draining, avoid rinsing the pasta. This helps the sauce adhere better to the noodles.
  • Simmer for flavor – Let the sauce simmer after adding marinara and tomato sauce. This allows the flavors to meld and intensify.
  • Even coating – Ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce to distribute the flavors throughout the dish.
  • Cheese melt – Covering the casserole with foil during the initial baking prevents the cheese from over-browning. Remove the foil in the last few minutes to achieve that perfectly melted and bubbly cheese.
Baked rigatoni dish with layers of beef and cheese, served golden brown and bubbling with delicious flavors.

How to store the baked pasta dish

Store any leftover Easy Baked Rigatoni with Ground Beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure to let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Properly stored, it can last for up to 3-4 days. If you have significant leftovers, consider dividing them into smaller portions for easier reheating. To reheat, microwave until the dish reaches the desired temperature. 

I do not recommend freezing, as the pasta’s texture may change upon thawing.

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Cheesy baked rigatoni with a spoon, a delicious and comforting dish perfect for pasta lovers.

Easy Baked Rigatoni with Ground Beef

Simplify your dinner routine with this Easy Baked Rigatoni with Ground Beef – a straightforward pasta bake featuring al dente rigatoni, a savory meat sauce, and a melty mozzarella topping. A versatile and comforting dish ideal for busy days, offering endless variations to suit your taste.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 Servings
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 pound ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marina Pasta Sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato Sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside. Do not rinse.
  • While the pasta cooks, preheat the meat sauce. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the Italian seagoing, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and cook for another minute or until fragrant.
  • Add the marinara and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 5 minutes to left the flavors meld.
  • Add the pasta to the pasta and stir until well combined and evenly coated.
  • Pour the pasta mixture into a 9×13 inch casserole dish and top with the shredded mozzarella.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Notes

  • Store any leftover Easy Baked Rigatoni with Ground Beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure to let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Properly stored, it can last for up to 3-4 days. 
  • I do not recommended to freeze, as the texture of the pasta may change upon thawing.
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