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This Baked Rigatoni Casserole is hearty, comforting and cheesy! A tasty tomato based meat sauce, rigatoni pasta, and three types of cheese completes this delicious casserole that will soon be your most requested dinner item!
Bake Rigatoni Casserole is going to be your new go to ground beef and pasta casserole. It's simple, super flavorful and a huge crowd pleaser. A great dinner to share with company, at potlucks or any day of the week you are craving pasta!
Now, are you a meal planner? Do you like to stock your freezer with prepared meals that you can use on the fly? Answer yes to both of those questions? Perfect! You are in for an amazing dinner staple! Baked Rigatoni Casserole is a perfect dish for planning and prepping ahead. This casserole can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen until your taste buds are craving it! When I make this casserole, I almost always make two. I make one to enjoy for dinner and one to have in the freezer.
This post was originally posted on 01/30/2020 and updated on 06/15/2021.
Baked Rigatoni Casserole Ingredients
- Rigatoni Pasta
- Ground Beef
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Basil
- Dried Parsley
- Cream Cheese
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Black Pepper
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Rigatoni: I prefer Rigatoni because it is my all time favorite pasta, but you can substitute any tube pasta like penne, mostaccioli, cavatappi, or ziti.
- Ground Beef: ground turkey or ground Italian sausage are great substitutes for the ground beef.
- Cream Cheese: Cream cheese really is the best in this simple dish, but if needed Ricotta can be substituted.
- Shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella: Feel free to use your favorite cheeses. Asiago, Pecorino, or Provolone are good options with delicious results.
How to Make Baked Rigatoni Casserole
- First, cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Do not over cook the pasta or it will result in a mushy casserole.
- In a large sauce pan, cook beef and onion until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent.
- Next, add garlic and spices. Cook 1-2 minutes until garlic is really fragrant.
- Cube the cream cheese into 1 in cubes and add to the meat mix. Cook until the cheese is melted and smooth, helping to smooth out with the back of a large spoon.
- Next, slowly add the crushed tomatoes and water. I add the water to the empty can of tomatoes and give it a rinse to not waste any tomato goodness.
- Then season with the salt and black pepper.
- Stir the pasta into the meat sauce and then pour into a greased 9x13 deep casserole dish.
- Evenly top the casserole with shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella.
- Finally, bake the casserole uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
Can you Make Baked Rigatoni Ahead of Time?
Yes, prepare the casserole per recipe directions but don't bake it. Then cover the casserole with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until ready to use-up to 3 days. Before baking, let casserole stand at room temp for 10-15 minutes. If you don't let it stand at room temp, increase baking time to 45 minutes.
How to Freeze this Baked Rigatoni Casserole?
Prepare casserole, but don't bake it. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and foil. Label with date and freeze. When ready to make, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Remove plastic wrap, but keep the foil. Place foil back on casserole. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until bubbly.
FAQs About Baked Rigatoni Casserole
Follow the package directions for cooking to al dente and not any longer. To be safe, I like to cook my pasta 1 minute less than al dente directions. The pasta will continue to cook once it is added to the hot sauce and then baked, so it is important to not over cook it beforehand.
Rigatoni is a larger tube pasta that almost always has ridges down the pasta making it perfect for any sauce to cling too. Ziti is a medium sized tube pasta, smaller than rigatoni, and is commonly smooth.
This recipe is baked uncovered. However, if you are baking a chilled casserole it is best to bake it covered for the first half of the baking time and uncovered for the remaining bake time.
If you love casseroles like my family does, try these other casserole recipes:
- Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Tator Tot Hotdish
- Chicken and Noodles
- Mexican Lasagna
- Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry
Baked Rigatoni Casserole
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta, cooked to al dente
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Grease a 9x13 deep baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.
- Prepare pasta to al dente following package directions.
- In a large sauce pan, brown beef and onions together until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent.
- Add garlic, oregano, basil and parsley then sauté another minute until garlic is fragrant.
- Add the cubed cream cheese and cook on low until cheese is melted and smooth. Help smooth cheese with the back of large spoon.
- Add crushed tomatoes and water, stir until combined well. See Note***
- Stir in pasta and pour into prepared baking dish.
- Evenly top casserole with shredded Parmesan and mozzarella.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.