Baked Mostaccioli is made with a delicious combination of hearty tomato sauce, Italian sausage, spices, and cheese. Make-ahead or freeze for later, this classic mostaccioli is the perfect Italian pasta recipe perfect for busy weeknight dinners.
I will happily eat cheesy baked pasta every day of the week, especially if it’s my baked mostaccioli (pronounced mos-tac-ci-oli) recipe. Similar to baked ziti, mostaccioli is family approved and so good every time!
This cheesy baked mostaccioli is loaded with ground sweet Italian sausage, onions, garlic, and mixed with an easy homemade marinara sauce. It is then topped with ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Baked until bubbly, mostaccioli can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to be baked, or frozen for enjoyment on a later date!
Mostaccioli vs. Penne
Mostaccioli is nearly identical to tube-shaped, angle cut, penne. However, unlike penne, mostaccioli has a smooth outside, whereas penne pasta is rigid and textured.
How to Make Mostaccioli
Start by cooking the mostaccioli according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Brown the sausage in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once cooked, remove the meat to a clean plate and return the pan back to the stovetop set over medium heat. Soften the onions with some garlic, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and dried herbs.
Pulse the canned and stewed tomatoes in a large blender until blended, then set aside a half cup of the tomato sauce and combine with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Return the sausage to the pan with the onions and add all of the tomato sauce. Mix and bring to a simmer.
Assemble the baked casserole pasta in a large baking dish. First spread a layer of meat sauce over the bottom of your casserole dish and top with the cooked mostaccioli noodles. Top with the remaining meat sauce mixture followed by the ricotta mixture and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Slow Cooker Mostaccioli
Once the pasta has been cooked and drained and the meat sauce has been made, add everything to a large Crockpot and mix to combine. To prevent the pasta from drying out, reserve 1-2 cups of salted pasta cooking water – add only if needed. Top with the ricotta mixture and cheeses and cook on low until ready to serve.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- Don’t skip the sausage: For best results, purchase pre-ground sweet Italian sausage rather than links. Of course, yes, you can swap the sausage with ground beef or ground turkey, but I don’t really recommend it.
- Can I use a different type of sauce? Yes, but then it wouldn’t really be classic mostaccioli. That said, most Italian pasta sauces will work including simple marinara sauce, spicy arrabbiata sauce, homemade pesto sauce, or alfredo sauce.
- Cook the pasta to al dente: The pasta will continue to cook after it’s mixed with pasta sauce, topped with cheese, and baked. You don’t want to over cook it.
- Grate your own cheese: Cheese melts better when you grate your own fresh from the block.
- Any type of tube-shaped pasta will work: Here in the states, Mostaccioli can be hard to find, substitute with penne or ziti for the same familiar shape. You can also switch things up and try using whole wheat or gluten-free pasta. Always remember to follow the package directions, as cooking times may vary.
- What veggies will taste good in this recipe? Try adding kale, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, or bell peppers.
Can Baked Mostaccioli Be Frozen?
You can both make ahead and freeze mostaccioli. Simply follow the recipe up until it’s time to be baked, then, instead of baking, cover the entire baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and transfer to the refrigerator or freeze until ready to bake.
When baking from frozen, the cooking time will be higher. I recommend tenting your casserole dish with foil for the first 30-40 minutes, uncovering, and baking for an additional 20 minutes or so.
Try these other yummy, simple, delicious pasta recipes!
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Chicken
- Creamy Buffalo Chicken Pasta Recipe
- 30 Minute Creamy Ham and Pea Pasta
- Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe
- Penne Arrabbiata Recipe
- Easy Bacon Broccoli Pasta Recipe
- Ground Turkey Pasta Recipe
Have you tried making this Mostaccioli Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - divided
- 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage - (purchase ground sausage if you can find it, otherwise remove from sausage casing and breaking into small pieces as you cook)
- 1 large onion - diced
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - optional
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano - or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 lb box mostaccioli - or penne if you can find it
- 1 large egg
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese - shredded
- fresh minced parsley - for serving
- Preheat oven to 425°F and spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the ground Italian sausage and use a large spoon or spatula to break apart into small pieces until cooked and golden, approximately 6-8 minutes. Remove the sausage to a clean plate and set aside.
- Leave approximately 1 tablespoon of sausage grease in the skillet – discard the rest.
- Return your skillet to medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often for 6-8 minutes, or until softened. Add the minced garlic, red chili flakes (if using), oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to combine and continue to cook for approximately 1 minute, stirring continuously.
- Return the sausage back to the skillet and combine with the onions.
- Meanwhile, add the canned tomatoes to a large blender and pulse until blended – but not pureed. Transfer all but half a cup of your processed tomatoes to the skillet with the sausage and onions. Transfer the half cup of remaining tomatoes to a small bowl and mix with one tablespoon of tomato paste. Add to your sauce. Bring everything to a low simmer, then reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta until al dente, approximately 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain into a colander and set aside.
- As your pasta cooks, lightly beat your egg in a medium-size bowl. Add the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Mix well to combine.
- To assemble, remove the meat sauce from heat and spread a thin layer over the bottom of your pan. Arrange the cooked pasta in an even layer. Top with your remaining meat sauce mixture, ricotta mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
- Use premade store-bought marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce (you will need approximately 2 jars)
- Purchase pre-shredded cheese (I prefer to shred my own, but sometimes it’s nice to have it ready to go)
- Purchase pre-ground Italian sausage rather than links of Italian sausage that need to be removed from their casing
- Prepare ahead of time- before baking cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate until approximately 30 minutes before serving
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
Anna C Coe says
Just made this last night with gluten free penne. I was SOOOOOO good.
Jessica Randhawa says
Thank you, Anna, for the good feedback and rating 🙂
This was hands down one of the best things I’ve made! The hubs, two-year-old, and four-year-old devoured it. I used half the amount of onion (sensitive tummy’s here) and added a splash of balsamic vinegar to the meat sauce to help with the acidity. Will be making this one over and over again!
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the kind feedback Emily, I am elated to hear that your family devoured it 🙂
Tried this last night. We loved it! I used mini sausage meatballs for the protein. Very good.
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the kind feedback Nancee 🙂
I can’t wait to try this!