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Cheesy Baked Rigatoni Pasta with ricotta, mozzarella, and Italian sausage is the kind of dinner your family will crave.

You can even prepare this dinner casserole ahead of time and then heat it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. Pair it with a nice green salad and you will have a hearty meal.

scoop of cheesy pasta with sausage
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Baked rigatoni pasta is one of those feel good meals. It’s pure comfort food. I love it because it reminds me of my childhood.

My husband loves it because what man doesn’t love stuffing his stomach with spicy Italian sausage, cheese, and pasta? The kids love it because it simply tastes good.

I live in a pasta loving household. From pasta dishes packed with veggies pasta primavera to homemade ravioli, my family never turns down dinner if it’s main ingredient is pasta.

What can I say? We love our carbs. Baked rigatoni with ricotta and an Italian sausage meat sauce happens to be one of our favorites.

process photos for rigatoni with cheese and sausage

Recipe steps:

  1. You’ll want to cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Since it will continue cooking in the oven, be sure to cut the cooking time short and leave the rigatoni with a pretty good al dente “bite”.
  2. While the pasta boils, cook the ground pork with the seasonings and onion until it gets crumbly and browned. Transfer that mixture to a paper towel lined plate so that any excess grease can drain off.
  3. Next step is to mix the sausage, pasta, sauce, ricotta, and more seasonings together in a big bowl. This gets transferred to a casserole dish and everything gets topped with more sauce and some mozzarella.
  4. The casserole is then baked until everything is super hot and the cheese is fully melted.
Baked Rigatoni with ricotta and Italian sausage recipe

What is the difference between rigatoni, ziti, and penne pasta?

You’ve probably seen all sorts of delicious recipes that call for one of those three different kinds of pasta. If you’re like me, you’ve wondered what is the difference? Also, can one be substituted for the other?

I use all three interchangeably, however some people might argue you can’t.

Rigatoni, ziti, and penne are all tubular pastas.

Rigatoni is a large and slightly curved tube, approximately 1 ½ inches in length and ½ inch in diameter. They are larger than penne and ziti. The literal meaning of rigatoni is large lined ones.

Penne are medium length tubes with ridges, cut diagonally at both edges, that resemble a quill pen.

Ziti are narrow hose-like tubes sized smaller than rigatoni, slightly less than ¼ inch in diameter.

Baked Rigatoni with meat sauce recipe

Cheesy Baked Rigatoni Pasta

Prep20 minutes
Cook40 minutes
Total1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Cheesy Baked Rigatoni Pasta with ricotta, mozzarella, and Italian sausage is the kind of dinner your family will crave.



  • 16 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese whole milk recommended
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 1/2 cups pasta sauce
  • 8 ounces fresh whole milk mozzarella sliced or grated


  • In a large pot of salted water, cook the rigatoni al dente. You still want it to have a bit of a bite to it since it will continue cooking in the oven. If the package recommends 13 minutes boil time, only cook it about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cook the meat and seasonings in a large skillet over medium high heat. Combine ground pork, paprika, salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion. Stir frequently while cooking and cook until sausage is browned and crumbly, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Discard grease.
  • In a large sized bowl, combine ricotta, egg, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Add 3 cups pasta sauce, reserving remaining 1 1/2 cups. Add cooked sausage and al dente pasta to bowl. Stir to combine. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  • Cover pasta mixture with remaining pasta sauce and top with mozzarella. Cover with oven safe lid or aluminum foil.
  • At this point you can either refrigerate until ready to bake or you can immediately transfer to oven.
  • Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes covered (longer bake time required if previously refrigerated). Remove cover and bake additional 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.


Bulk spicy Italian sausage can be used in place of ground pork, paprika, salt, fennel seed, red pepper flake, garlic mixture.


Calories: 788kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 150mg, Sodium: 1715mg, Potassium: 1151mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 2100IU, Vitamin C: 13.9mg, Calcium: 418mg, Iron: 4.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

Hi! I’m Krissy.

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  1. The recipe calls for ground pork but the directions say to cook the Italian sausagein a skillet but the next sentence says to combine the ground pork with fennel, etc. Are you supposed to add those ingredients with the ground pork if you DON’T have Italian sausage? Or, are you supposed to add the ground beef and the paprika, salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion to the Italian sausage?

    1. I’m so sorry that was confusing. I said Italian sausage because that’s essentially what you’re making with the pork and seasonings. I changed the wording to “meat and seasonings” to avoid confusion. Thanks for highlighting that!

  2. This is a very confusing recipe. I don’t understand when to add the noodles or if the ricotta mixture is added to the entire batch of sauce! If I had read completely through I wouldn’t have made this.

    1. Hi Melody, I’m sorry you found the recipe confusing. I just re-read it and it makes sense to me (but I did write it). Basically, you combine everything (cooked sausage, pasta, ricotta, etc) except for some extra sauce in a big bowl. Add it to the casserole dish and then top with remaining sauce. Let me know if it still doesn’t make sense. Thanks, Krissy