This easy Cheesy Baked Rigatoni recipe made with tender pasta, ground beef, beef sausage, “homemade” marinara, and lots of cheese, is a great dish to make any day of the week — it can even be a main attraction during the holidays and when you need to feed a large crowd.
Here are a few more pasta recipes you might enjoy: Truffle Chicken Meatball Pasta, Creamy Cajun Alfredo Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Creamy Chicken Roasted Poblano Pasta, and Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.
Anything with cheese will always have a special spot on my dinner table. And with this baked rigatoni recipe, there are two kinds of cheese! The infamous cheese pull is important, and this cheese pull delivers. 🙂
While the cheese is one of the stars, the awesome meat sauce is a strong contender. Starting with fired-roasted tomatoes as the foundation, the flavor just goes uphill from there. With two meats, fresh rosemary, fresh basil, garlic, and a host of complementary seasonings, you can disregard that store-bought pasta sauce. With my meat sauce, it’s all about building layers of flavor.
This cheesy beef rigatoni is meaty, cheesy, and saucy, and the flavor will have you in line for seconds!
Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:
- For the pasta, you’ll need rigatoni.
- I am bringing all the beef with both beef sausage and ground beef.
- For the “homemade” marinara, you’ll need fired roasted diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, white onion, minced garlic, sugar (cuts the acidity and provide balance), fresh rosemary, fresh basil, sea salt, black pepper, dried thyme, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. The resulting marinara sauce is bursting with flavor!
- For the cheese, I combine shredded mozzarella cheese and a four-cheese pizzeria that blends mozzarella, cheddar, and provolone.
How to make baked rigatoni with beef:
Prep ingredients. Finely chop the fresh basil leaves, fresh rosemary, and onion, and cut the beef sausage into slices.
Cook the onions and meat. Pour the olive oil into a large cooking pan at medium heat and cook the onions until they are translucent. Add the sliced sausage and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, minced garlic, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes, then cook until the ground beef is browned.
Make the meat sauce. You will then add the canned diced tomatoes, canned tomato sauce, sugar, chopped basil, chopped rosemary, remaining dried thyme, and remaining black pepper. Stir together and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
Boil the pasta. While the meat sauce is cooking, cook the rigatoni pasta according to the instructions. Drain and add to a large bowl.
Mix. Pour meat sauce over the rigatoni pasta and fold the ingredients together. Once mixed, pour evenly into a large casserole dish .
Add cheese and bake. Top off the pasta with all the cheeses evenly. Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes to brown the cheese.
Tips & Tricks
- Adding sugar to the sauce helps to cut the acidity and results in a well-balanced sauce. It will not make your meat sauce sweet as it has a minimal amount of sugar (only 1.5 tablespoons).
- Skip the expensive marinara, tomato, or pasta sauce. The recipe calls for basic cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Covering the casserole mid-through baking helps to cheese melt without overbrowning or becoming too crispy on the edges.
- Here are some ideas on baked rigatoni variations:
- substitute ground chicken or turkey for the ground beef or chicken or turkey sausage for the beef sausage
- add vegetables into the sauce, like spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers
- my mother-in-law likes a spicier version, so add some cayenne pepper to the mix
- try different kinds of melty cheese like gouda, provolone, or fontina
Can I make this recipe in advance?
Yes, you can assemble the dish in advance. If you are planning to bake it at a later time, you can store the assembled casserole in the refrigerator until you’re ready. Note: You may need to increase the baking time to compensate for the cold pasta.
How long can I store baked rigatoni leftovers?
Baked rigatoni stay fresh in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
This is an easy recipe to pull together, and your family will think you were in the kitchen all day preparing this meal! Perfect for larger crowds, it’s easy to make, family-friendly and can be customized to create different variations.
If you are a pasta lover, then this baked rigatoni with sausage will most definitely not disappoint. Just remember to give the chef a high-five when you clean your plate to show your appreciation!Print