An easy Sausage Pasta Bake made with Italian sausages in a creamy tomato sauce. Ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes, it's perfect for weeknights. Topped with bubbling, melted mozzarella cheese it's the ultimate comfort food meal!
There aren't many things more comforting in life than a big dish of bubbling baked pasta (pasta al forno). This version is made with Italian sausages to amp up the flavour and a creamy and slightly spicy tomato sauce.
It's all topped with fresh mozzarella cheese making it utterly comforting, cozy and delicious!
I've been making this sausage pasta bake for as long as I can remember and it never fails to hit the spot. Better yet it's super easy to whip up on a busy weeknight and is budget-friendly too. You can even make it meat-free (see the tips section below).
Ingredients - what you need
- Rigatoni pasta - or another short pasta shape, I recommend De Cecco rigatoni pasta.
- Sausages - I use Italian sausages because they are so full of flavour often made with red wine and herbs.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic cloves are a must, don't use garlic powder of any kind.
- Mascarpone - I love adding a touch of mascarpone for a beautiful creamy sauce. You can also add a splash of heavy cream or even ricotta instead.
- Passata - passata is smooth pureed tomatoes (not concentrated). It's commonly referred to as pureed tomatoes or crushed strained tomatoes in the US. I recommend Cirio Passata Classica, remember when it comes to tomatoes of any kind the quality makes a huge difference.
- Mozzarella - fresh mozzarella is sprinkled on top of the pasta ready to be baked into bubbling, melted baked pasta deliciousness.
- Dried herbs and spices - I use dried oregano and red pepper flakes for extra flavour and a subtle spicy kick!
- Basil - beautiful, fresh and fragrant, I add this in at the end.
How to make Sausage Pasta Bake - step by step
Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta roughly 3 minutes under-cooked (it will then be cooked in the oven). Important: reserve ½ cup of pasta water for the sauce.
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skin and brown it in a pan (no need for added olive oil). Once browned add the chopped garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano (photos 1-3).
Fry the garlic and spices for 1 minute then add the pureed tomatoes (passata) along with the reserved pasta water. Simmer the sauce for around 5 minutes then turn off the heat and add the mascarpone. Stir it into the tomato sauce (photos 4-6).
Add the drained pasta into the sauce and mix it until completely coated. Transfer it to an ovenproof baking dish, top with mozzarella and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden (photos 8-9).
Complete the meal by serving this with crusty bread or a homemade rosemary focaccia. For a side salad, you can simply opt for arugula with shavings of parmesan, olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon.
Top tips and recipe FAQs
- Vegetarian option - Try replacing the sausages with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes or eggplant (aubergine) for a veggie version.
- Make it lighter - To make this sausage pasta bake lighter you can leave out the mascarpone and add an extra ½ cup (125ml) of reserved pasta water.
- Don't want it creamy? Try replacing the mascarpone with a splash of red wine.
For this recipe I always use Italian sausages but you can use any kind you like just make sure they are good quality, 95% pork or higher.
I use rigatoni (ridged pasta tubes) but you can use any short pasta shape such as penne or fusilli.
Leftover baked pasta will keep well for about 2 days covered in the fridge. You can re-heat it in the oven or eat it cold.
Yes, simply store your cooled pasta bake in a freezer-proof container and freeze. Thaw completely before reheating (ideally overnight in the fridge).
More Italian pasta recipes you might like
- Pasta with pancetta, ricotta and tomato
- Sun dried tomato pasta with roasted red pepper
- Pasta with butter and parmesan
- Creamy butternut squash pasta
- Bucatini with roasted red pepper cream sauce
If you've tried this Sausage Pasta Bake or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I'm getting up to.
This recipe was first published on February 1st 2018 but has since been updated.
Spicy Sausage Pasta Bake
- 4 cups rigatoni pasta or another short pasta shape (14 oz/400g)
- 7 oz Italian sausages (200g)
- 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
- ½ cup mascarpone (100g)
- 2 ½ cups passata/crushed strained tomatoes (700g)
- ½ cup reserved pasta water (125ml)
- 8 oz mozzarella (125g)
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes (chilli flakes)
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper
- 1 small bunch basil for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta around 3 minutes less than advised on the packet instructions. Reserve ½ cup (125ml) of pasta water.
- Squeeze the sausages out of their skins and brown in the pan on a medium heat. Add the finely chopped garlic, chili flakes, and oregano. Stir into the sausages and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the passata (crushed strained tomatoes) along with the reserved pasta water and a good pinch of salt and pepper, simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and add the mascarpone, stir the sauce until the mascarpone is mixed in thoroughly.
- Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, mix until it's completely coated. Transfer the pasta to an ovenproof baking dish and top with mozzarella. Bake in the oven for around 7-8 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and bubbling. Serve with torn basil (optional).
- Try replacing the sausages with zucchini or eggplant (aubergine) for a veggie version.
- To make this pasta bake lighter you can leave out the mascarpone and add an extra ½ cup (125ml) of reserved pasta water.
- Try replacing the mascarpone with a splash of red wine.
- Fresh red chilli and fennel seeds are great additions.
- I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
- When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
- All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
- All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
- Find out more about how nutrition is calculated.
- Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples.
- You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking.