Sausage Pasta Bake – Spicy and Creamy

September 14, 2020 by Emily

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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!

A close up of sausage pasta bake in a casserole dish topped with basil

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 1/2 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).

Step by step photos showing how to prepare the sauce for a sausage pasta bake

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).

Step by step photos showing how to make a sausage pasta bake

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).

Cheeeesy goodness!

Serving suggestions

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.

Looking for dessert? To complete your Italian feast why not serve up an authentic Tiramisu, panna cotta or our super speedy No churn Stracciatella Gelato, Buon Appetito!

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 1/2 cup (125ml) of reserved pasta water.
  • Don’t want it creamy? Try replacing the mascarpone with a splash of red wine.
What are the best sausages to use?

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.

What pasta shape should I use?

I use rigatoni (ridged pasta tubes) but you can use any short pasta shape such as penne or fusilli.

How long will leftovers last?

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.

Can I freeze sausage pasta bake?

Yes, simply store your cooled pasta bake in a freezer-proof container and freeze. Thaw completely before reheating (ideally overnight in the fridge).

A close up of cheesy baked pasta

More Italian pasta recipes you might like

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.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
A close up image of a sausage pasta bake
Print Pin
5 from 13 votes

Spicy Sausage Pasta Bake

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!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 603kcal
Author Emily Kemp


  • 4 cups rigatoni pasta or another short pasta shape (14 oz/400g)
  • 7 oz Italian sausages (200g)
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone (100g)
  • 2 1/2 cups passata/crushed strained tomatoes (700g)
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water (125ml)
  • 8 oz mozzarella (125g)
  • 1/2 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 1/2 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 1/2 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.


Calories: 603kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 524mg | Potassium: 693mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1085IU | Vitamin C: 11.4mg | Calcium: 261mg | Iron: 3.2mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • 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 here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!



  • Reply
    Rhiannon H.
    April 24, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    I made this last night for my family and I was absolutely in love! They enjoyed it too 🙂 Thank you for such a great recipe <35 stars

  • Reply
    Daniel Hayes
    February 29, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    I know I’m very late to the party….but this recipe is fantastic! I was cooking for just me so I reduced the quantities. I used parmesan as that was what I had in the fridge. Absolutely delicious and very easy to make. I can’t wait to make it again! Thanks Emily!5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      March 1, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Daniel, I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe and were able to adapt it easily, thanks so much for letting me know! P.S It’s never too late ha!

  • Reply
    Sam | Ahead of Thyme
    February 4, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    I love pasta bakes! This recipe looks delicious with the sausage!5 stars

  • Reply
    Helene D'Souza
    February 4, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    YES! This is my kind of dinner meal. I am all over it right now and started to think if I shouldn’t just make sausage pasta bake for dinner. =D5 stars

  • Reply
    debi at Life Currents
    February 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    This will be a great dinner for next week. I’m starting my menu now. Yum!5 stars

  • Reply
    Lily I Benstrends
    February 2, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Good suggestion in adding red chili and fennel seeds for a different flavor. So easy to prepare, perfect for all occasions especially this Valentines 🙂5 stars

  • Reply
    February 2, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    This looks amazing! Definitely a dish to make everyone happy. 🙂5 stars

  • Reply
    Brittany Poulson
    February 2, 2018 at 1:42 am

    This looks so easy to make! I love one pan meals because they are easy to clean up, too! And yes to all the cheese and pasta!5 stars

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Love pasta and this is perfect for my weekend cheat day while watching Netflix movie marathon.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I didn’t expect to see marscapone in this recipe to add a touch of creaminess. I love a nice, comforting pasta dish!5 stars

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    February 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    What perfectly delicious comfort food – my family would love this, we love a pasta bake.5 stars

  • Reply
    Jacque Hastert
    February 1, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    I love a little spice with my dinner.5 stars

  • Reply
    September 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Brilliant recipe, very tasty!5 stars

  • Reply
    August 29, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Love a good pasta bake this looks so yummy!5 stars

  • Reply
    Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C
    September 28, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I was having trouble concentrating after I read that you moved to Italy! My mother is from Naples, and it’s my dream to own a vacation home in Italy. Anyway, I’m intrigued by the mascarpone in this recipe! I bet it adds a nice richness.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      September 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Oh wow I bet you had some amazing meals growing up!! Yes exactly it gives the pasta such a great flavour.

  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    This is lovely. My family would be excited for dinner for sure! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    Julie | Bunsen Burner Bakery
    September 28, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Such a perfect cold winter night splurge food. Gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Champagne Tastes
    September 28, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    how yummy! That pasta looks huge and delicious!

  • Reply
    Platter Talk
    September 28, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    That’s a delicious looking dish! Love Italian food. Thanks.

  • Leave a Reply

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