Care to join me as we dive into this CHEESY Baked Rigatoni with Beef?! It’s SO easy and loaded with flavor! And it’s the perfect recipe to whip up when you’re having company, because it seriously serves a crowd!!!
Winter is in full force here in the Hudson Valley! Yesterday we had heavy snow, insane wind, and a low of 9 degrees! So you can bet your bottom dollar we’re staying in doors and enjoying lots of comfort food!
And by comfort food, I most definitely mean this warm and saucy tray of baked pasta with meat sauce! Topped with gooey bubbling cheese and plenty of ground beef… it warms the belly and the soul!
Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success:
- Don’t over cook your rigatoni! You want to cook it for about 8 minutes, or until it’s al dente! You want the cooked pasta to still be a little hard, because it will continue to cook in the oven.
- Speaking of the oven, be sure to preheat your oven to 350 degrees BEFORE you begin making this recipe. Since most ovens take 25 to 30 minutes to come to temperature.
- This recipe calls for ground beef, but an equal amount of ground Italian sausage would make a great substitute. And if you’re a house of vegetarians, feel free to omit it completely or use a plant-based substitute. This recipe is delightfully adaptable like that.
- For best results cook the beef in nonstick skillet. This helps the meat not stick. Or simply add a little oil to the skillet and cook. You’ll want to cook the meat over medium high heat until browned thoroughly. Then you’ll want to use a slotted spoon of remove the meat from the pan.
- To save on dishes, you can use the same skillet to make the sauce! Just drain any grease before you begin.
- The marinara sauce comes together in about 15 minutes and is made with olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper, tomato paste, tomato sauce and 1 cup chicken broth. This makes a ton of pasta sauce! Be sure to use is ALL. This excess sauce is what helps the noodles stay tender while baking. Anyone else HATE dry noodle bakes?! They’re such a drag.
- Assembling this recipe is a breeze! Simply drain the pasta and then toss it with the sauce. Pour the pasta in your casserole dish, then top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Bake and devour!!!
- Final tip! Instead of grating your mozzarella cheese, cut it into cubes! This helps the cheese melt into gooey puddles. And who doesn’t want gooey puddles of cheese?! Trust me here!
Can I freeze Baked Rigatoni?
Absolutely! Baked rigatoni with beef is such a great meal to make ahead of time and reheat on a hectic night you don’t have time to cook! Or when unexpected company shows up right around dinnertime! If you intend on freezing this recipe, simply bake it in a freezer-safe casserole dish, cool completely, then cover and freeze for up to 2 months.
How to Reheat Baked Rigatoni with Beef
- Thaw frozen rigatoni in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before reheating.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees (F).
- Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is gooey.
I find freezing this recipe does dry it out a bit, so be sure to serve with some extra sauce on the side. You can always use jarred sauce if you’re in a pinch!
If you try this recipe for Baked Rigatoni with Beef, let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #bakerbynature on instagram! Seeing your kitchen creations makes my day.
More Pasta Recipes:
- Rigatoni with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
- Penne Arrabbiata
- Roasted Garlic and Lemon Rigatoni with Brown Butter and Gruyere
- Simple Spaghetti Fra Diavolo
- One Pan Tomato Basil Pasta
- The Best Homemade Lasagna Recipe
Baked Rigatoni with Beef
- 1 pound (16 ounces) uncooked rigatoni pasta
- 1 pound (16 ounces) ground beef
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup (2.6 ounces) yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- (1) 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1 cup (8 ounces) chicken broth
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Handful fresh basil, chopped
- 1 pound (16 ounces) part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into 1" cubes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Warm a 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add in the ground beef and season lightly with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, break it into small pieces. Cook until brown and no pink color remains, about 5 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef from the pan and transfer it to a large plate. Set aside until needed.
- Drain any excess grease from the pan, then return it to the stovetop. Reduce heat to medium, and add in the remaining oil. Add in the yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Add in the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, stir in the cooked ground beef.
- In the meantime, add the rigatoni into the boiling water and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, or until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Immediately add the meat sauce and stir well to combine.
- Pour pasta into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with cubed mozzarella.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh basil, if desired.
- Serve warm!