This baked Mostaccioli is an easy pasta dish with a rich meaty sauce topped with cheese and baked until bubbly.

This meal is great to make ahead, reheats and freezes perfectly and everyone LOVES it.

cooked Creamy Baked Mostaccioli in a dish

A traditional pasta bake recipe (in this case mostaccioli) is loaded with meat and cheese in a rich and hearty tomato sauce!

So what is mostaccioli? Mostaccioli is a pasta shape very similar to penne but it has a smooth exterior instead of ridged. This hearty pasta is a thick, heavy tube, with diagonal ends.

It holds up well to meat-based sauces and creamy cheeses (like a mac and cheese sauce)! It’s great in soups as well.

ingredients to make Creamy Baked Mostaccioli

Ingredients

PASTA Of course we use Mostaccioli but penne is the perfect substitute. You can use any medium shaped pasta in this recipe.

TOMATO SAUCE We use marinara sauce as the base with canned diced tomatoes for texture. A splash of cream softens the tang from the tomatoes and adds a bit of richness.

MEAT  Ground beef is our choice in this recipe as I almost always have it on hand. Italian sausage is a great substitute (or really any ground meat). You can even make this with meatballs if you have some!

CHEESE We top this with mozzarella and parmesan. While I don’t recommend pre-shredded cheese for sauces, they’re a great time saver for topping cheesy casseroles.

Variations

  • Turkey, beef, or pork sausage can be added.
  • For a vegetarian or meatless version, mix in a combination of diced veggies like chopped spinach, onions, diced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, and/or eggplant.
  • Add some ricotta cheese, and pop in the oven (we love ricotta in baked ziti too)!

Steps for making baked mostaccioli

How to Make Baked Mostaccioli

  1. Brown beef, onion, and garlic. (Per the recipe below)
  2. Stir in the sauce ingredients and simmer.
  3. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta al dente.
  4. Layer the pasta with sauce in a casserole dish, top with cheese and bake until bubbly.

PRO TIP: Once fully baked, put the Mostaccioli under the broiler for about 3 minutes to make it browned and bubbly!

mixed Creamy Baked Mostaccioli in a casserole dish before cooking

Make-Ahead (& Leftovers)

  • Prep and cover in the fridge. When you’re ready, bake for 45 minutes in a preheated oven. It can stay in the refrigerator for about 3 days before baking.
  • Or, prep and freeze wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil for up to 3 months (make sure the date is labeled on the outside). Let the casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.
  • No time to thaw from frozen? Simply remove all the plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes and then remove the foil and bake another 20-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly!

More Pasta Bakes

Did your family love this Baked Mostaccioli? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

cooked Creamy Baked Mostaccioli in a white casserole dish
4.94 from 95 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Baked Mostaccioli

This creamy pasta dish is budget-friendly and so easy to prepare. It's perfect to feed a crowd or for a quick weeknight meal!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
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Ingredients  

  • 12 ounces mostaccioli or penne
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounces marinara sauce
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese shredded

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water until al dente. Do not overcook.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan brown ground beef, onion, and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Stir in marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, water, Italian seasoning, and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Add half of the cooked pasta and top with half of the remaining sauce.
  • Add remaining pasta, top with remaining sauce and cheeses.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until hot and the cheese is lightly browned.

Notes

Do not overcook the pasta as it will cook more in the oven.
Substitute Italian sausage (or your favorite any ground meat for beef.
For a vegetarian or meatless version, mix in a combination of diced veggies like chopped spinach, onions, diced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, and/or eggplant.
Make Ahead: Prep and cover in the fridge. When you're ready, bake for 45 minutes in a preheated oven. It can stay in the refrigerator for about 3 days before baking.
Freeze:  Freeze wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil for up to 3 months.
Thaw: Let the casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed (you may need to add a few minutes extra cook time).
Cook From Frozen: Simply remove all the plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil and place it in the oven as you preheat the oven. Bake for 45 minutes and then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes.
4.94 from 95 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 523 | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 870mg | Potassium: 767mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1146IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 256mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Beef, Casserole, Dinner, Entree, Pasta
Cuisine American, Italian
spoon full of Creamy Baked Mostaccioli with writing
Creamy Baked Mostaccioli in a dish with writing
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Creamy Baked Mostaccioli in the dish and a spoon full with a title

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. My family loved this recipe. I did substitute the heavy cream for 1/2 and 1/2 coffee cream. It was delicious and the consistency was just right.5 stars

    1. I’m excited to try this recipe, but I have someone who doesn’t like diced tomatoes. What could I substitute?

      1. Hi Bethany, you can use more marinara in place of the diced tomatoes. Let us know how it turns out for you!

  2. Delicious,juicy,& favorable. I added xtra seasonings as mentioned by others. I used half& half because I didn’t have heavy cream. Don’t skip that step. It mellows out the sauce. This is a keeper !5 stars

  3. I’m not sure why there are comments saying there wasn’t enough sauce! Maybe the recipe has changed since they made it but I had lots of leftover sauce! Everyone loved it. I made a triple batch in three small pans. Mine came out well seasoned, but I think that could be related to the higher quality marinara that we used. Great recipe and will make again!5 stars

  4. Delicious and super easy. Added done pepper, garlic powder, more Italian seasoning. It was super delicious, husband loved it.5 stars

  5. Hi,

    I am making this for 40 people. I will times the recipe by 4. I am making it the day before. My question is how to cook it?

    1. I haven’t tried making a batch that large, but to get even cooking time I would make 4 casserole dishes.

  6. followed it to a t. not enough spice flavor or sauce. will have to tweek it. added ricotta cheese. buy more Sauce!3 stars

  7. This recipe has no salt?!? And no pepper and so little Italian? For a whole giant dish of dense pasta? Thankfully we tasted it in the pan before it hit the oven and added tablespoons of salt, pepper, Italian, and extra cheese. Remember to taste your food as you go!

    1. The cook time at the top includes cooking the meat and simmering the sauce. The baking time at the bottom is for baking only.

  8. I love your recipes and this Mostaccholi recipe is divine! I will be making it for my wedding reception in May. Of course I will be feeding a crowd at an Italian Club!!5 stars

  9. This was terrible … very dry and tasteless, needed double the sauce and way more seasoning. I added twice the amount of cheese which was the only good part.1 star

  10. I made this per the recipe but substituted mild Italian sausage. It was fabulous. I intend to make the sauce for Pizza.5 stars

  11. What a yummy, easy to make entrée! Prepared it with Italian sausage (2/3 sweet, 1/3 hot) and a mix of regular and whole wheat pasta. It was fantastic! Everyone loved it. We all over ate. Will definitely be making this again. Thanks for another great recipe!!5 stars

  12. I made this pasta dish tonight using gluten free penne and it was spectacular!! So delicious!
    My husband is Italian and he absolutely loved it!
    I am a huge fan of your recipes and rely on them regularly. Thank you for sharing such tremendous ideas!5 stars

  13. Made this for dinner last night! SO DELICIOUS! I’m usually not one to follow recipes exactly, but this one I did (with the exception of using ground venison and rigatoni noodles). It was so good and plenty of meat sauce so it wasn’t dry at all. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

    1. Hey Mark, I was curious if you substituted the onions with something else.

      If not, I’d suggest giving shallots a try for a substitute – I admit I have not tried shallots with this recipe yet, but I’ll chime in and give feedback on how it goes.

      My dad, also, hates onions so I use shallots for a substitute in dishes that suggest onions for an ingredient.