Deliciously creamy, cheesy, and filling, this Baked Mostaccioli Pasta dish is the perfect comfort food to keep the cold days at bay!
This amazing dish is ready in less than an hour and is perfect for weeknight dinners for the whole family.
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During the cold months here in Manitoba, we have our own ways of staying warm. Life doesn’t slow down much here, even through piles of snow!
Life carries on, so comforting foods like pasta bakes and one-pot meals are essential, and this Mostaccioli Pasta Bake is one of my favorites.
Casserole pasta bake recipes like this make family dinners much easier.
Baked Mostaccioli is easy to prepare fresh, but what’s even better is that it can be made days or months ahead of time and still taste delicious!
Don’t forget about my Healthier Mac and Cheese too for my lightened-up version of the classic dish that will satisfy even the pickiest eater!
For the Sauce
- Sausage: I love using Italian sausage in this recipe because it’s packed with flavor! Use a mild Italian sausage if you prefer a bit less heat.
- Onion & Garlic: the classic combination of onion and fresh garlic will add a depth of savory flavor and also a slight sweetness as they caramelize.
- Italian Seasoning & Red Pepper Flakes: An Italian seasoning blend gives a great savory herbal flavor to this dish, while the red pepper flakes (optional) will give it a spicy kick!
- Garlic: Freshly minced garlic gives the brightest flavor, but you could substitute garlic powder as well.
- Salt and Pepper: Kosher salt and ground black pepper will enhance the flavors.
- Pasta Sauce: use your favorite tomato sauce as the base for your bake.
- Spinach: fresh spinach leaves add freshness and a pop of color to this dish.
- Pasta: I used Mostaccioli pasta (penne lisce), but you can use regular penne pasta or almost any short pasta you have on hand.
- Cheese: use a combination of mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan for a truly cheesy flavor and creamy texture.
- Egg: this binds and sets up the pasta when mixed with the cheeses and baked.
How to Make Baked Mostaccioli Pasta
This mostaccioli pasta recipe is super easy to make, and it tastes delicious! Full instructions are included in the recipe card below.
- Cook sausage: Cook the sausage and onion, then add the garlic, salt, and Italian seasoning.
- Add sauce: Stir in marinara sauce and simmer. Stir in spinach and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Make cheese mix: Combine mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and egg. Set aside.
- Layer sauce and pasta: Spread sauce on the bottom of the dish, then top with some pasta and the ricotta cheese.
- Add remaining sauce: Add the remaining sauce to the dish.
- Finish layers and bake: Add the remaining pasta, then the remaining sauce and cheese, and bake.
Baked Mostaccioli FAQs
Mostaccioli is a type of pasta that originates in the Campania region of southern Italy. Mostaccioli means “little mustaches” in Italian. It’s a tubular-shaped pasta, and it’s so delicious!
Mostaccioli pasta is known as “Penne Lisce” in Italy. Similar to regular penne, it is a tubular pasta, but instead of ridges on the outside, it has a smooth texture.
The two dishes are very similar. The main difference in these dishes is the type of pasta used. My version of Baked Ziti uses a delicious Italian Turkey Sausage.
Your pasta may be drying out if it is not fully submerged in the red sauce while baking it. Check the dish halfway through baking it, and push any pieces of pasta down that are sticking out. You can add a little bit of water to it if you need to. You can cover the dish with aluminum foil if you wish, as this will keep the moisture in. To do this, cover it for the first half of the cooking time then remove the foil for the last half so the cheese browns nicely.
This Mostaccioli recipe will last for 3 days in the refrigerator before baking, so it’s a great dish to prepare at the weekend for a quick weeknight meal during the week! You can even bake it straight from the fridge! You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time when baking it from chilled.
Store Baked Mostaccioli in an airtight container, or covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Allow it to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave, or in the oven.
Keep in mind that it will absorb moisture as it sits, so you may want to add a splash of water before reheating.
Of course! You can freeze this pasta bake either before or after cooking it. Freezing it before the cooking stage will give you the freshest flavor once baked, but your frozen leftovers will still be delicious the second time around!
Tips and Notes
- Salted water. For the best flavor, cook your mostaccioli pasta in a large pot of salted water as this will season it as it cooks. Check the package directions before you start.
- Go fresh. Use fresh cheese and fresh vegetables where you can. Pre-shredded cheeses (like mozzarella) will usually be coated in a floury substance to keep them from sticking together.
Baked Mostaccioli Variations
- Veggies. Add some veggies to this bake for more nutrients. Mushrooms, zucchini, or red and green peppers would go well in this dish.
- Sausage: I love using Italian sausage as it is so flavorful, but you can use ground beef or ground turkey if you have it to hand instead. You can even use leftover Crockpot Shredded Chicken or cooked Ham.
- Spice it up. You can add some red pepper flakes or chili powder to the bake for some added heat.
Baked Mostaccioli is a hearty dish, but you can make it go further by adding some sides. I love having bread with pasta, especially some freshly baked Garlic Bread, Garlic & Herb Dinner Rolls, or these Homemade Breadsticks.
More Easy Dinner Recipes To Try
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Baked Mostaccioli pasta
- 1 lb Italian sausage mild or spicy
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 cups marinara sauce tomato pasta sauce
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- red pepper flakes optional
- 410 grams Mostaccioli pasta or penne lisce about 1 lb
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese divided
- 2 cups ricotta cheese about 450 grams
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese divided
- 1 large egg
Make the sauce
- Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, and cook the sausage and onion until browned.
- Add garlic, salt, and Italian seasoning and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the marinara tomato sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes so that the flavors come together. Stir in spinach and adjust seasonings to taste, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for spice if desired.
- In a large pot of boiling water with salt, cook the mostaccioli pasta just until al dente. Drain.
- Meanwhile, combine 2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, ¼ cup Parmesan, and egg. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish (if baking later, you can leave the oven off until ready to bake).
- Spread ½ cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan, then top with half of the pasta.
- Spread the ricotta cheese on top, then add half of the remaining sauce.
- Top with remaining pasta, then remaining sauce. Finish with 2 cups mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is light golden on top, and bubbly. Serve.
- Make Ahead: This dish will last for 3 days in the refrigerator before baking, so it’s a great dish to prepare at the weekend for a quick weeknight meal during the week! You can even bake it straight from the fridge! You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time when baking it from chilled.
- Store: Store in an airtight container, or covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Allow it to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven.
- Freeze: Freeze this pasta bake either before or after cooking it. Freezing it before the cooking stage will give you the freshest flavor once baked, but your frozen leftovers will still be delicious the second time around!
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