Sausage pasta bake is an easy freezer-friendly meal that is packed with flavor in every bite. Serve it tonight or serve it later, and it’s sure to be an instant family favorite.
Why Cheesy Pasta Bake Works
- You can use leftover cooked pasta. If you have ½ pound of leftover cooked pasta from dinner, turn it into a new meal like this cheesy pasta bake. This saves you from wasting any pasta that would have normally been tossed out, and it’s so much better than reheated microwave pasta.
- We use simple ingredients. We have a few types of cheeses like ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella, but we also have very simple seasonings like dried basil and oregano. All of the ingredients for this recipe should be easily locatable in your local grocery store or in your pantry/fridge.
- Easy prep work. While this recipe does take a little time to throw together and a bit of patience to bake, the steps for making it are all very simple and basic. Things like boiling water for pasta, stirring sauce ingredients together in a pot, and browning the Italian sausage. It shouldn’t be too much more work than your typical spaghetti night dinner.
Ingredients for Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
- Whole milk ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese grated fine
- Mozzarella cheese shredded
- Heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- Short pasta
- Ground Italian sausage
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Dried oregano
- Dried parsley
- Dried basil
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Granulated sugar
For the exact amounts needed, please see the recipe card below.
How to Make Sausage Pasta Bake
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Boil water in a large pot for your pasta.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, ¾ cup of parmesan cheese, ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese, heavy cream, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Boil your pasta in the water until the noodles are just shy of al dente. There should still be a bit of a bite to it when tasted, but the noodles should not be crunchy.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat your oil in a medium saucepan until shimmering.
- Cook your sausage in the pan until it is fully browned and cooked through. Remove all but 2 teaspoons of grease from the pan.
- Add in the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in the dried herbs and cook for another minute.
- Add in your canned tomato products and sugar. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
- When the pasta is ready, add it to the ricotta mixture. Add in one cup of the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
- Pour the pasta and ricotta mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
- Pour your remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top of the dish.
- Sprinkle on the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
- Bake uncovered with foil for 25 minutes, and then remove the foil and cook for an additional 25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
Recipe Tips for Ricotta Pasta Bake
- The biggest trick to a good pasta bake is not overcooking the pasta. You pre-boil the pasta before adding it to the baking ingredients, and if it is perfectly done, it will be overdone by the time it comes out of the oven. I cook the pasta just shy of al dente.
- In Italian, “al dente” literally means “to the tooth,” and that term is used in cooking to mean that pasta (or whatever you’re cooking) has a bit of a bite still left to it. It isn’t mushy.
- If you love freezer meals, don’t miss my epic post on Make Ahead Freezer Meals – it’s packed with ideas, supplies, and so many great freezer recipes.
- You can substitute the ricotta cheese for cottage cheese if you’d like; it doesn’t make a huge difference. Or do half and half. Whatever you have in your fridge is fine.
- As always, feel free to substitute the dried herbs with fresh ones; just remember to double the measurements when using fresh herbs.
- If you have leftover sauce (like my Homemade Marinara) or would just like to use a jarred sauce, feel free to substitute that in place of making the quick sauce in the recipe. Use about 45 ounces total, or about 5 1/4 cups.
Sausage Pasta Bake Make-Ahead Instructions
- You can assemble this ricotta pasta bake and freeze it before baking. I usually make this whole recipe and divide it into two disposable 8×8 baking pans for our family.
- You could also make smaller portions in disposable bread pans, usually four of them, and freeze those for having single or double-serving quick meals.
- You’d want to thaw them and bake them according to the instructions in the recipe (lowering the cooking time for smaller portions)
- Or you can put a frozen pasta bake in a cold oven, preheat the oven, and bake at 325ºF for the first 10 minutes, then up the temperature to 350ºF for the rest of the time. You may need to extend the cooking time by as much as 15 minutes.
- If you made the whole pasta bake but have leftovers, I cut them up into whatever size portions I want after it’s totally cooled, place them on a sheet of foil with the edges turned up, and then in a zip-top freezer bag.
- When you want to bake it, take the pasta bake and foil out, put it in an appropriately sized pan, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of water, cover with foil, and bake at 350ºF until warmed through.
Using Leftover Pasta for a Cheesy Pasta Bake
If you have a lot of pasta leftover from a meal, you can easily turn that into a bake.
- If you had 1/2 a pound of leftover pasta, you could mix it with one egg, 1 cup of ricotta, some parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.
- Pour it into an 8×8 baking dish, top it with a couple of cups of tomato sauce, sprinkle the top with mozzarella, and you have yourself a bake.
For this pasta bake, any short pasta will work well. A few of my favorites are medium shells, penne, rigatoni, and ziti. All of these are going to bake up nicely and be easy to serve.
I use ground Italian sausage for this pasta bake. You could also use sausage links and just split the casings open. If you wanted more defined pieces of sausage, you could use sliced, smoked sausage. I usually use half hot Italian sausage and half mild Italian sausage for the best flavor.
You can substitute the ricotta cheese for cottage cheese if you’d like; it doesn’t make a huge difference. Or do half and half.
Looking for more easy pasta recipes?
This is my classic Italian sausage pasta bake recipe, and I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s one of our favorite freezer meals, and we love to serve it up with a side of garlic bread and cooked green beans.
Sausage Pasta Bake (Freezer Friendly!)
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese grated fine
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound pasta any short pasta will work
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes 1 large can
- 15 ounces tomato sauce 1 can
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 350Fº.
- Start pasta water boiling.
- Combine ricotta, eggs, 3/4 cup of the parmesan, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella, cream, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Boil pasta until just shy of al dente, it should have a bit of a bite to it when tasted. It shouldn’t be crunchy.
- While the pasta cooks, heat oil in a medium saucepan until just shimmering.
- Cook sausage until browned and cooked through. Remove all but 2 teaspoons grease if necessary.
- Add garlic cloves and cook briefly, about 1 minute.
- Add the dried herbs cook another minute.
- Add the canned tomato products and sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- When pasta is ready, add it to the ricotta mixture. Add about 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
- Pour pasta/ricotta mixture into a 9×13 baking dish.
- Pour remaining sauce evenly over the top.
- Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes, remove foil and cook uncovered about 25 more minutes until bubbly and cheese is just starting to brown.