A quick creamy tomato sauce, tender noodles topped with lots of cheese; this pasta bake casseroles is a cinch to put together.
Meatless Monday just got more delicious (or you can add in some sausage or shredded chicken if you’d like)! With heaps of flavor and super simple prep, everyone loves this dish.
Easy Pasta Bake
We are absolutely loving this recipe right now because not only is it super easy to make, but the ingredients are often on hand for me!
Who doesn’t love a creamy tomatoey, cheesy pasta dish? It’s a favorite with the kids, and hearty enough to satisfy those big appetites!
No meat is needed in this dish but it is easy to adapt…. add in ground sausage, rotisserie chicken or leftover roasted vegetables.
Ingredients & Variations
The basics for this recipe are pasta, marinara, cream and loads of cheese!
PASTA I used penne in this recipe, but any medium pasta will work great.
MARINARA Store-bought or homemade will both taste amazing. Pasta sauce can be used too, whatever you have on hand!
SEASONINGS Garlic, Italian seasoning, and fresh basil are all added to this dish. Feel free to add any other spices you’d like!
CHEESE Shredded Mozzarella is added to the top of the casserole and baked until golden brown. A perfect addition!
VARIATIONS Feel free to add a layer of cooked ground beef or ground Italian sausage for a meatier version of this casserole! Or add a layer of zucchini or eggplant for some extra color, texture, and nutrition! Why not add a layer of frozen mixed veggies or some sliced mushrooms, too?
How to Make a Creamy Pasta Bake
This is a one and done deal, super easy and ready in no time!
- Cook pasta to al dente and drain.
- Saute onion with garlic and Italian seasoning. Stir in cream and marinara, simmer.
- Stir pasta and sauce in a casserole dish. Add the cheese and bake until melted and bubbly!
For a basil garnish on the top, lay basil leaves one on top of the other and roll them up from one end to the other. Slice thinly from one end to the other until the basil looks like ribbons. This is called chiffonade and is a very popular way to garnish with basil! Try it!
Tips for Success
- If using ground meat in a pasta cheese bake, pre-cook and drain it before adding to the casserole dish.
- Use finely shredded mozzarella cheese so it melts quickly and evenly.
- To brown the cheese, broil for 2-3 minutes or until bubbly.
Serve this with a tossed salad and garlic bread for the perfect meal!
Other Delicious Pasta Dishes
- Easy Homemade Lasagna – great for leftovers
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Creamy Baked Tortellini – with a cheesy white sauce
- Fusilli with Meat Sauce
- Chicken Alfredo Bake – great freezer dish
Did your family love this Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake
- 1 pound penne or rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 24 ounces marinara sauce or pasta sauce
- 14 ½ ounces petite diced tomatoes drained
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook pasta in salted water al dente according to the package directions and drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and cook until tender. Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add cream, tomatoes and marinara sauce. Simmer 2 minutes.
- Place pasta in a 9x13 pan. Add sauce and toss to combine.
- Top with shredded cheese and bake 20-25 minutes or until hot and cheese is bubbly.
- Remove from the oven, cool 5 minutes and top with fresh herbs.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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This was a great dinner. It was nice cooking something tasty but not so extravagent as I can get carried away with my cooking sometimes! So easy to throw it all together, will definitely make again when I have another lazy day.
So glad you loved this one Debbie!
So so delicious! Added in a pound of ground beef while softening the onions and doubled the Italian seasoning. Went ahead and added the 1/3 extra cup of heavy cream and glad I did. Definitely a new recipe added to the arsenal!
That is awesome, Maddie. Glad to hear this recipe worked so well for you!
Can half and half cream be used instead of heavy cream?
Half and half will work but keep in mind that the sauce won’t be as rich and creamy!
Made this recipe for supper tonight with gluten free pasta and it was soooo delicious. Definitely make sure to cook it al dente (if using gf)!
Some people mentioned Alfredo sauce. I did not see it in the list of ingredients.
This recipe has been updated to use fresh ingredients.
is there something I can substitute for the heavy cream?
Hi Grace! Depending on your reason for substituting it, you could use a dairy-free or lactose-free heavy cream. Or you can replace it with milk or a lighter cream. Just keep in mind if using milk or a lighter cream the sauce will not be as rich or creamy.
I added smoked beef sausage cut small, a little onion, some garlic powder and parsley and it was absolutely freakin fantastic.
Sounds amazing Shanice! Thank you for sharing.
Can this be made ahead of time then frozen until ready to use?
Hi Jae, we have not tried freezing this recipe but it should work. I would prep it up to step 4 then freeze. When ready to bake, let it defrost in the fridge then follow the instructions in step 4 to bake it. Be sure to cook your noodles on the al dente side so they don’t get mushy when thawing and baking.
Can Anyone tell me what size pasta an alfredo sauce they used. I would be sticking to the recipe for four people.
My alfredo sauce was 16 oz.
I added bacon to this recipe and my family loves it.
Great idea!! Bacon would be delicious in this recipe!
I had a jar of Alfredo sauce in the cupboard and some homemade pasta sauce in the fridge, so took the opportunity to try this recipe. I’m always on the lookout for simple meat free recipes and this certainly fits the bill. Definitely a keeper.
Tonight was the second time I’ve made this…YUM! I used my homemade pasta sauce both times & added cooked ground beef to the sauce both times as well. The first time I made it with my homemade alfredo sauce & this time I made with store bought alfredo sauce but both times it turned out excellent!