This penne pasta bake is a quick easy dinner made with a flavorful and delicious marinara meat sauce and lots of mozzarella cheese. Comfort food at its finest!
Quick Easy Dinner
Creamy sauce and lots of cheese, this pasta bake is an easy dinner to make any night of the week. If you love pasta and you’re looking for an easy dinner idea, look no further. This penne pasta bake is about to become one of your favorites. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a big bowl of pasta. Al dente pasta covered in a saucy marinara sauce topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. It just doesn’t get tastier than that. Pop it in the oven to bake and in about 30 minutes, you’ll have yourself an amazing dinner.
Ingredients You’ll Need
There’s only 6 ingredients needed to make this pasta bake recipe.
- Ground Beef – choose a higher fat ground beef like 85%. It provides more taste and moisture.
- Penne Pasta – you can use any type of pasta you like, but penne is my favorite for this recipe. I recommend using Barilla Pasta.
- Marinara Sauce – use store bought or make your own, like my homemade marinara sauce.
- Green Bell Pepper – a key ingredient. If you’ve never added a green bell pepper to a pasta sauce, you’re missing out. It provides a delicate fresh spice taste.
- Mozzarella Cheese – a soft and creamy texture, mozzarella cheese brings home the flavor.
- Eggs – used as a binding agent in this baked pasta dish.
How To Make This Penne Pasta Bake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Finely chop the green bell pepper.
- Add the green pepper to a large skillet along with 1lb of ground beef.
- Brown the meat until no longer pink.
- While the meat is browning, cook the pasta according to the package directions. You’ll want to cook the pasta to al dente so that it’s a little undercooked.
- Once the meat is done, drain the fat and pour into a large white bowl.
- Add the cooked penne pasta, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, eggs and marinara sauce to the white bowl.
- Mix well until all the ingredients are combined.
- Pour the mixture into a 9×13 pyrex dish and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle on top the remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.
Look at that cheese pull. Nothing beats a good cheese pull. Oven baked pasta is the best and you’re going to love every single bite of this family favorite recipe!
Tips For Making The Best Pasta Bake
- Meat Variety – I’ve made this pasta bake recipe with both ground turkey and Italian style ground beef. The Italian ground beef adds a ton of flavor.
- Pasta Sauce – When I’m in a hurry, I buy a jar of my favorite pasta sauce. You can also make your own homemade sauce. Pizza sauce is also quite tasty with this dish.
- Pasta– I like using penne pasta with this dish, but I’ve made it with rotini noodles and it’s amazing. You can use any medium size pasta you want, but I don’t recommend using elbow or small shell noodles. They tend to get lost in the sauce and cheese in this dish. Also – when cooking the pasta on the stove top, cook the pasta to al dente. You want the pasta just a little undercooked so that when it bakes in the oven, the pasta doesn’t get mushy.
- Can Pasta Bake be frozen? – Yes! Follow the steps and instead of putting it in a glass pyrex dish, add it to an aluminum or other freezer safe container. Cover with aluminum foil and store in your freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to cook it, let it thaw in the refrigerator for 6-7 hours and then cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until done all the way through.
- Can Pasta Bake be made in advance? – Yes! You can make this 1 day before serving. Just store the dish in the refrigerator covered and bake it within 24 hours. Because you are using a medium size noodle, the sauce does not get absorbed into the noodle.
What Goes With Pasta Bake?
Try these salad and bread pairings:
- Romaine Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
- Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans
- Green Leaf, Pear, and Goat Cheese Salad
- Quick Peppery Cheese Bread
- Cheese Garlic Cauliflower Breadsticks
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!
- Italian Marinara with Meatballs
- Garlic Basil Chicken Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
- Chicken Florentine with Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Mushroom and Chicken Penne with Walnut Pesto
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Easy Penne Pasta Bake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook your pasta according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms over medium high heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain.
- Once the pasta is done, drain noodles and place in a large bowl.
- Stir in the beef mixture, spaghetti sauce, eggs, and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Transfer mixture to a greased 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the pasta and sauce mixture.
- Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.
- If you don't want to use a jar of spaghetti sauce, try my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce!
- If you are Gluten Free, Barilla makes a great Gluten Free Penne Pasta.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in April 2012, but was re-published with updated step-by-step instructions, pictures, and tips in October 2019.