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Baked Mostaccioli

Baked Mostaccioli is a wholesome, simple dinner idea! Homemade sauce with Italian sausage and beef is the perfect partner for the tender pasta and lots of cheese.

Scooping out a spoonful of baked mostaccioli from a large baking dish.

Comforting Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce and Cheese

When my family needs a nourishing, comforting meal after a long day, I almost always reach for a pasta bake. The combination of tender pasta, meaty sauce, and lots of cheese is cozy perfection. Throw together a salad and some breadsticks, and you’ve got a dinner the whole family will adore.

This baked mostaccioli is a simple pasta bake that you can make in about one hour. The homemade sauce brings a ton of flavor to the dish, but if you’re short on time, feel free to substitute store-bought pasta sauce instead – so easy!

A fork digging into a plate of baked mostaccioli.

What Is Mostaccioli Made With?

So what ingredients will you need to make this comfy dish? The sauce is made with ground beef and Italian sausage, and the dish comes together with three cheeses, as well.

  • Pasta: You’ll need a one-pound (16-ounce) box of mostaccioli or penne pasta. 
  • Salt 
  • Olive Oil: You can use extra-virgin olive oil for a bolder taste, or substitute another olive oil. Avocado oil is also a good option.
  • Onion: Dice up one medium onion. Yellow, white, and sweet onions are all good choices.
  • Ground Meat: I use one pound of ground beef and one pound of ground Italian sausage. Ground turkey or chicken can be substituted if you prefer. For the sausage, make sure to remove the casings if you buy links.
  • Garlic: Minced, fresh garlic gives the best flavor. 
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes are my go-to for this recipe. 
  • Cheese: You’ll need ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. 
  • Chopped Parsley: Chopped parsley makes the perfect garnish.
Ingredients for baked mostaccioli arranged in dishes on a table.

What’s the Difference Between Penne and Mostaccioli?

If you’ve never cooked mostaccioli, they are actually very similar to penne pasta. The shape is identical: tube-shaped pasta that’s medium in size, with angled ends. The difference is that mostaccioli has smooth sides, while penne pasta has ridges on the outside. If you can’t find mostaccioli, penne makes a perfect substitute.

overhead shot Scooping out a spoonful of baked mostaccioli from a large baking dish.

How to Make Baked Mostaccioli

Making this dish is easy – especially compared to more labor-intensive dishes like homemade lasagna. For this recipe, we’ll boil the pasta, make a quick meat sauce, and then layer in plenty of cheese.

  • Prep the Oven, Baking Dish, and Pasta. First off, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 400°F. Next, grease a 9×13 baking dish and set it aside. Finally, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to just al dente (about 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the package instructions).
  • Cook the Onion. While the pasta cooks, start heating your olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion to the hot oil, and cook it for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. (Don’t forget to drain your pasta and set it aside when it’s done cooking.)
  • Cook the Meat. To the soft onions in the skillet, add your sausage and ground beef. If the sausage comes in casings, remove those. Brown the meat, breaking it up into small pieces as you go. 
  • Add the Remaining Sauce Ingredients. Once the meat is browned, add the garlic, Italian seasoning, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes to release the fragrances, and then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Combine the Sauce, Pasta, and Ricotta. In a large mixing bowl, combine your cooked pasta, meat sauce, and ricotta cheese. Mix well.
  • Layer the Casserole Ingredients. Place half of the pasta mixture in a prepared baking dish, and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella, and half of the parmesan. Repeat these layers with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bake! Bake the casserole for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly at the edges. 
  • Enjoy! Take the casserole out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 15 minutes before serving.
Baked mostaccioli garnished with herbs.

Tips for Success

So there you have it: a comforting, hearty meal that hits all the right notes. But before you start cooking, be sure to check out these helpful tips. They’ll make this easy recipe even easier.

  • Al Dente Pasta: Since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, it’s important to only boil it until it is al dente (fully cooked, but still slightly firm to the bite). I suggest boiling for 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the package.
  • Cheese Options: If you want, you can substitute cottage cheese for the ricotta, and provolone for the mozzarella. I suggest an un-smoked provolone for a creamy, mozzarella-like result.
  • Sauce Shortcut: This recipe has you create your own meat sauce, but you can take a shortcut by using your favorite pasta sauce in a jar. Marinara, garlic and olive oil, and veggie sauces are all great options.
A fork digging into a plate of baked mostaccioli.

Side Dish Inspiration

To make this dish into a meal, add an easy vegetable side dish or two. These are some of our favorites:

  • Roasted Vegetables: You can’t go wrong with roasted veggies! These Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Radishes are healthy, flavorful, and pretty.
  • Caprese Salad: Go with a classic Caprese salad, or make this cute Caprese Stuffed Avocado version. So good for you, and so delicious.
  • Garlic Knots: These fluffy, buttery Garlic Knots are so simple to make, you’ll want to serve them at every meal! Refrigerated dough makes them a breeze to pull together.
Scooping out a spoonful of baked mostaccioli from a large baking dish.

Refrigerating and Reheating

Storing and reheating this classic pasta bake is a breeze! These guidelines will help you keep it fresh and flavorful.

  • You can refrigerate leftover baked mostaccioli for 3 to 5 days, tightly covered. 
  • Reheat individual portions in the microwave, or bake the whole casserole again at 350F until warmed through.
  • Make it ahead by assembling the casserole, and then refrigerating it for up to three days, tightly covered with foil or plastic wrap. Bake on the day of, and enjoy!

Freezing Instructions

  • If you want to freeze mostaccioli, that’s great, too! You can freeze it baked or unbaked. Just wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap or foil, and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Scooping out a spoonful of baked mostaccioli from a large baking dish.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Baked Mostaccioli

Baked Mostaccioli is a wholesome pasta dinner prepared with a homemade tomato sauce including Italian sausage, ground beef, and lots of cheese!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Bake Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: baked mostaccioli, baked pasta, pasta recipes
Servings: 8
Calories: 703kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt, for the water
  • 16 ounces mostaccioli, or penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook to just al dente, about 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add in the diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the Italian sausage and ground beef, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula into smaller pieces.
  • Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef and sausage are browned and cooked through. Continue stirring from time to time, breaking up the meat into pieces.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional minute.
  • Add crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl. Pour the meat sauce over the pasta and add in the ricotta; mix until well combined.
  • Place half of the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with half the shredded mozzarella and half the parmesan cheese. Repeat with a second layer of pasta mixture, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly at the edges. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.

Notes

  • Pasta: If you can’t find mostaccioli, use any tube-shaped pasta like penne or rigatoni.
  • Ground Meat: I use a mixture of ground beef and Italian Pork Sausage, but if you prefer to use ground chicken or any other ground meat, go right ahead. 
  • Storing Leftover Mostaccioli: Cover tightly and refrigerate the leftovers for up to 5 days. 
  • Freezing Baked Mostaccioli: You can freeze this baked or unbaked. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and foil and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 703kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1708mg | Potassium: 819mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 606IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 337mg | Iron: 4mg

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6 Comments

  • Beth
    Dec 28, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    5 stars
    Just looking at this is making me hungry. You cannot beat a pasta bake loaded with sauce and cheese like this.

    Reply
  • Catalina
    Dec 29, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    5 stars
    This is the type of dinner that my family goes crazy! A must make!

    Reply
  • Allyson Zea
    Dec 30, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Such a delicious dinner recipe!

    Reply

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