This cheesy sausage pasta bake is ooey gooey deliciousness for when you’re craving a low-effort comfort recipe. This cheesy baked pasta with sausage will be your new favorite mid-week meal recipe!
A comforting cheesy sausage pasta bake is a recipe that barely needs an introduction because all the goodness is right there in the name. It has cheese, it has sausage, it has pasta. What else can I possibly tell you about this?
I can tell you that I absolutely love this for a comfort meal pick-me-up. She’s not winning any awards in the healthiness department, but sometimes it feels good to melt away into a big bowl of cheesy comfort.
Here’s what you need to make it:
- Sausage: Use loose Italian sausage, spicy or mild, depending on your heat tolerance. If you can only find the links, simply remove the casing and crumble the sausage.
- Aromatics and seasoning: I kept it simple with just garlic and onion. I also hit it with a tiny bit of Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.
- Tomatoes: This recipe uses both tomato paste and a can of diced tomatoes.
- Pasta: A tubular pasta like rigatoni, penne, or ziti is perfect for pasta bake recipes!
- Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano is grated and mixed into the sauce, and mozzarella is scattered on top.
- Extra oomph: I used white wine to deglaze the pot and a bit of heavy cream to finish the sauce. Fresh basil is a great way to finish the baked pasta!
How to make this cheesy sausage pasta bake:
Making this recipe is as easy as anything. Here are the basic steps:
- Start with the sauce. This is a quick-cooking sauce, so you can prepare the pasta and other ingredients as it simmers. The sauce is just a few steps, starting with a quick sauté of sausage, onion, and garlic. Throw in a little butter, herbs, and tomato paste, and deglaze with white wine. Add the tomatoes and simmer. Finish it with heavy cream and another 10 minutes over low heat. That’s it.
- Cook the pasta: While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta about 2 minutes shy of al dente.
- Assemble the casserole: Add a layer of sauce to a baking dish and pile the pasta on top. Add the remaining sauce, and the parm, and toss to coat. Finish with a layer of mozzarella. I give it a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to get some crispy brown bubbles on top.
- Bake it: Toss the whole thing in the oven for 15–20 minutes. Remove and scatter fresh basil on top.
That’s the gist of the recipe. Trust me; you’ll love how easy it is to throw this together.
Cheesy Sausage Pasta Bake
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, loose
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine
- 14.5- ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- Fresh basil, for serving
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the sausage:
- Crumble sausage into a cold skillet. Turn heat to medium-high. Cook, occasionally turning and breaking up the sausage with your spoon, for 12-15 minutes until cooked through. Drain off excess fat if needed, leaving sausage in the skillet.
Cook the aromatics:
- Add the onion to the sausage and cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Melt the butter into the skillet and add Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant. (I forgot to record this part, whoops.)
Sizzle the tomato paste:
- Add tomato paste and toss to coat everything in the paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the paste deepens in color and begins to stick to the skillet.
Simmer the sauce:
- Pour in white wine and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and boil for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes as you cook the pasta. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar (optional).
- Taste the sauce and season. Stir in heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1–2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain.
Assemble and bake the casserole:
- Spoon half of the sauce into a 9×12 baking dish. Add the cooked pasta, the rest of the sauce, and the grated Parmesan and toss to coat.
- Arrange the mozzarella on top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Finish with a few cracks of black pepper. Transfer to the oven for 15–20 minutes. Broil for 2–3 minutes until cheese is browned is bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with a few basil leaves. Serve and enjoy!