This easy baked penne recipe has plenty of Italian sausage baked with marinara sauce and lots of parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Great for busy weeknights when you're craving something warm and comforting!
This penne bake is similar to baked ziti, but we're using penne, and it's slightly less involved. Basically you just sauté the sausage and onions, add some marinara sauce, and then put it all in a baking dish with the cooked pasta. Top it with cheese, bake, and dinner is done. My kinda easy meal. It makes 6 reasonably sized portions, so it's great if you've got a hungry bunch of people to feed.
Baked penne pasta is perfect for when the temperatures drop and you actually want to use your oven. 🙂 And there's something about that extra step of baking it that just makes dinner so much more special!
Recipe notes & tips:
- This recipe is pretty flexible. A bit more/less meat will work fine, or swap the sausage for ground beef or even ground turkey if needed.
- You can swap the mozzarella for cheddar or use a mix of the two.
- I love to grate my own parmesan cheese (I use this grater).
- The red pepper flakes don't make it particularly spicy. You can either omit them or add more if you wish. Or try hot Italian sausage for some kick.
- Be careful not to overcook the penne when you're boiling it because it'll cook more in the oven.
- You could make this penne bake ahead of time by assembling it all to the point just before baking it and then freezing it (up to 3 months) or refrigerating it for a day or two. I would then bake it covered with foil for 30-40 minutes (or until it's hot all the way through) at 350F and broil it for the last few minutes.
More tasty recipes with sausage:
- Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Baked Rigatoni
- Italian Sausage White Bean Soup
- Easy Sausage Rigatoni
- Simple Breakfast Casserole
I hope you'll try this penne pasta bake! Questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
Baked Penne with Sausage
- 1 pound uncooked penne pasta
- 17.6 oz/500g Italian sausages crumbled
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups (24 oz.) marinara sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it for 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. Once it's done, drain it and set it aside.
- Crumble the sausage meat directly into a skillet, and add the onion in too. There should be enough fat released by the sausage to cook the onion, but if it's particularly lean, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has browned (about 10 minutes). If there's a lot of excess fat, spoon most of it out.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute.
- Add in the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and cook for a couple more minutes until it's warmed through.
- Add the drained pasta to a 9x13 baking dish and then pour the sausage mixture over top. I add in some salt & pepper as well. Toss until everything is coated. Smooth it out into an even layer.
- Top with the cheeses and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese (watch it carefully). Serve immediately.
- I used a 5-pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages for this recipe. Anything similar weight-wise will work. Or use ground sausage meat to skip the step of taking it out of the casings.
- 3 cups marinara sauce = one 24 oz. jar. There is quite a bit of sauce in this recipe, so you can use a bit less than a full jar if you don't want lots of sauce (try 2-2.5 cups). Try my homemade marinara sauce if you prefer from-scratch.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.