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This easy baked rigatoni recipe has Italian sausage, marinara sauce, loads of cheese, and it feeds a crowd. It’s simple to make and super comforting on busy weeknights!

Craving more baked pasta recipes? Try my classic Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells or Lasagna Roll Ups after this one.

close-up of the best baked rigatoni in a casserole dish (portion is being lifted out with a spatula)

Why it’s so good

If you’re a fan of Baked Ziti, it’s likely that you will also enjoy this rigatoni pasta bake with sausage. There’s something just so special about baked pasta. It warms you right up, and it’s easier to make than a Classic Lasagna but with similar flavors. Along with the layer of cheese on top, I also included ricotta and parmesan inside, so this meal is a cheese lover’s delight!

This baked rigatoni is also an affordable recipe and has a fewer ingredients than others I’ve seen out there but without sacrificing taste. It’s made mostly from scratch apart from the marinara sauce, so you can feel good about serving this in your home. It’ll feed the whole family, and it makes fantastic leftovers too.

What goes into it

  • Rigatoni – it’s a wide tube-shaped pasta holds up well to the hearty meat sauce in this pasta bake
  • Italian sausage – use ground sausage meat or buy sausages and take the meat out of the casings. Try hot Italian sausages for more kick!
  • Onion and garlic – I like to use sweet (Vidalia) onions, and this garlic press makes it simple to mince the cloves. No peeling necessary.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – there’s not enough here to make this spicy but just gives it a gentle warmth
  • Marinara sauce – grab a jar of your favorite brand
  • Ricotta and parmesan – for the irresistible inner layer of cheese. I prefer whole milk ricotta, and I freshly grate my parmesan from a block with my Microplane for better taste and texture.
  • Mozzarella and cheddar – they’re two good melting cheeses for that ooey, gooey, and golden topping

Make ahead tips

  • For the fridge: assemble up to a day ahead of time, refrigerate, and then bake according to recipe below. You may need to add a few more minutes onto the bake time to ensure the middle is nice and hot. 
  • For the freezer: assemble it in the casserole dish and then cover it tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. You may want to add a little more sauce if you’re planning on freezing it. Thaw for 24 hours in the fridge, then bake it as directed. If you need to bake it from frozen, it’ll take a bit longer, so bake it (covered with foil) until the middle is hot, and then broil the cheese at the end.
  • Don’t put a freezing cold ceramic casserole dish straight in the oven, though, as there’s a chance it’ll crack. I’d let it warm up a bit on the counter first.

How to make baked rigatoni

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

cooking sausage in a skillet and adding marinara sauce

Preheat the oven, and boil the pasta for two minutes less than the package indicates. Drain it and set aside. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté the sausage meat along with the onion. Once cooked, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, followed by the marinara sauce.

assembling the first layer of baked rigatoni in a casserole dish

To the pot with the drained rigatoni, stir in about half of the sausage and marinara mixture. Transfer it to a fairly deep 9×13 casserole or lasagna dish, spreading it in an even layer. Spoon on the ricotta. It doesn’t need to be perfect!

assembling the final layer of baked rigatoni in a casserole dish

Add the freshly grated parmesan on top of the ricotta, and on top of that spoon on the other half of the meat sauce mixture. Lastly, top with the cheddar and mozzarella for the final layer. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, then broil until bubbly and hot.

Substitutions and variations

  • Try swapping the Italian sausage for ground beef if you want to change it up a little.
  • You can use another tomato-based pasta sauce instead of marinara.
  • Skip the ricotta cheese if it’s not your thing. In that case, I’d just mix all the pasta with all the sauce in step 6.
  • Don’t have rigatoni? You can swap for another kind of pasta that’s fairly similar in size and shape. Try penne.

What to serve with this pasta bake

Leftovers and storage

  • Any leftovers of this baked rigatoni will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave until warmed through or in a covered saucepan over a fairly low heat. You can always add in a little more marinara sauce if it’s looking a touch dry.
  • I wouldn’t recommend freezing leftovers as cooked pasta doesn’t always keep the right texture once thawed.
rigatoni bake in a bowl

Did you make this rigatoni bake? Any questions? Talk to me in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. As always, you can find me on Instagram to show me your creations.

close-up of the best baked rigatoni in a casserole dish (portion is being lifted out with a spatula)
5 from 5 votes

Four Cheese Baked Rigatoni

This easy baked rigatoni recipe has Italian sausage, marinara sauce, loads of cheese, and it feeds a crowd. It's simple to make and super comforting on busy weeknights!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 pound uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 16 ounces Italian sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 3 cups (24 oz.) marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
  • Boil a large, salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it 2 minutes less than package directions indicate. Once it's done, drain it and add it back to the pot it was cooked in and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the sausage meat, along with the onion, to a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook it for about 10 minutes, breaking it up with your spoon as you go along and stirring occasionally, until it's cooked.
  • To the skillet, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, then continue cooking it for another minute or so.
  • To the skillet, stir in the marinara sauce and warm it through for a few minutes.
  • To the pot with the pasta, add in about half of the skillet sausage/sauce mixture and give it a stir. Transfer it to a 9×13 baking/casserole dish and spread it in an even layer.
  • Add the ricotta to the baking dish (you don't need to be too neat… I just use a spoon to put dollops here and there) and then sprinkle the parmesan evenly over top.
  • Spoon the rest of the sausage/sauce mixture evenly on top of the parmesan/ricotta layer.
  • Sprinkle on the mozza/cheddar for the final cheesy topping.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, and then broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese (watch it carefully). Let sit for about 5 minutes prior to serving, then enjoy!


  • Serves 6-8 depending on how much people eat/if you serve it with a side.
  • For the sausage, you can use anything in the ballpark of 16 oz/1 lb. Here in Canada I get a 500g pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages and take the meat out of the casings.
  • I used 2 cups of a shredded mozza/cheddar blend to save time, but feel free to grate your own cheeses.
  • See blog post for process photos.
  • 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.


Calories: 636kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 1279mg, Potassium: 636mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 906IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 379mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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  1. My husband and I made this recently and it was so yummy! We used ground beef, skipped the cheddar, and added some fresh Parmesan. Super yummy! Hubby said, “We need to add this to the dinner rotation!”. Will definitely make again!

  2. This is a wonderful recipe I’ve made several times so thank you! I’m wondering if cottage cheese can be used in place of the ricotta. I happen to have some on hand that I need to use up!

  3. 5 stars
    This was great I made exactly as is except no ricotta because I didn’t have any and I added fresh basil and fresh oregano. Was a real winner.

  4. 5 stars
    Easy to make and very tasty. My family loves it. Made mine according to your recipe- no changes. I even gave a pan to a neighbor after she had surgery.

    1. I’m thrilled to hear that!! And that’s so nice of you to make some for your neighbor. 🙂 Thanks for your review, Mary!

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent comfort food! I made as written except I didn’t use cheddar on top. I felt it had enough cheese without it.

    1. There’s an entire section in the blog post that describes how to make it ahead… you must’ve missed it? Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    I’m making all of these pasta recipes one by one, and each time I do, it upstages the last- my boyfriend loves the food so much he almost hoardes it 😄
    I thought there was no way this pasta could be better than the last- but it was! Its soo delicious, made it for the bf & he even served himself seconds. It’s so meaty, cheesy, delightful- and all of the ingredients were under $20. Who would’ve thought that such a ‘cheap’ dinner could be so mouthwateringly yummy?
    The only change I made was that I doubled the recipe: I added 26oz of spicy sausage, and several ounces of ground beef. I thought it would taste good to have both in there, instead of just the sausage.
    This blog is such an awesome resource! I’m lovin’ it

  7. 5 stars
    Just made this and it was quick, easy and simply delicious. I would make again for guests.
    Your recipes have never disappointed.