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.
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.
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.
- 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)!
How to Make Baked Mostaccioli
- Brown beef, onion, and garlic. (Per the recipe below)
- Stir in the sauce ingredients and simmer.
- While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta al dente.
- 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!
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
- Cheesy Ham Casserole – home-cooked comfort
- Easy Tuna Casserole – a reader favorite
- Easy Homemade Lasagna – classic
- Chicken Alfredo Bake – creamy delicious
- Mac and Cheese Casserole – my favorite
- Cheesy Chicken Casserole – easy prep
Did your family love this Baked Mostaccioli? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Easy Baked Mostaccioli
- 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
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Somewhat confusing, Cook time 45 min. at top, and at the bottom bake time is 25-30 min.
The cook time at the top includes cooking the meat and simmering the sauce. The baking time at the bottom is for baking only.
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!!
So glad you loved it! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding Ellise!
This Mostaccioli recipe is delicious! Thank you for sharing it. My family & I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m so glad that you enjoyed this recipe Courtney!
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.
I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy this recipe as much as we do Steve. Thank you for trying it.
I made this per the recipe but substituted mild Italian sausage. It was fabulous. I intend to make the sauce for Pizza.
I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe Garrett!
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!!
That sounds delicious Karen! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe.
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!
So happy to hear that, Kyle! Glad you enjoyed it.
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!
So happy you enjoyed it, Susan!
Yum can’t wait to make it again.
This is awesome! I omitted the onions because well, I hate onions haha! Thank you for all your recipes!!
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.