This easy Baked Mostaccioli recipe is all about the art of transforming simple ingredients into something truly spectacular! Featuring tender mostaccioli pasta in a rich, beefy tomato sauce and topped with a layer of gooey cheese, get ready to say hello to a comforting meal that is all about deliciousness with minimal effort!
What Is Baked Mostaccioli
This hearty and flavorful pasta dish, rooted in Italian-American cuisine, might not be as widely recognized as classics like spaghetti or lasagna, but it’s just as delicious! At its core, baked mostaccioli centers around mostaccioli pasta – a uniquely shaped tubular pasta. It’s combined with a hearty meat sauce and then topped with a layer of cheese before being baked to bubbly perfection in the oven.
And much like its cousin, baked ziti, this baked mostaccioli recipe is remarkably easy to make and a great way to feed a crowd. With its cheesy, warm, and comforting appeal, it’s just the kind of dish that brings everyone to the table. From busy weeknight dinners to special family gatherings baked mostaccioli does not disappoint!
Why You’ll Love Baked Mostaccioli
- Effortlessly Easy! It’s hard not to fall in love with the sheer simplicity of this recipe. With just a handful of basic ingredients, you can create a mouthwatering meal in just a few easy steps.
- Italian American Classic! Baked mostaccioli truly showcases the timeless charm of Italian-American favorites. Featuring its hearty meat sauce and the irresistible allure of melted cheese, this comforting pasta dish is incredibly delicious.
- Crowd Pleaser! Whether you’re entertaining a group of friends, hosting a family reunion, or contributing to a potluck, this dish is sure to become your ultimate secret weapon. It’s simple to make, budget-friendly, and easy to transport.
Ingredients You’ll Love
- Mostaccioli Pasta – These tube-shaped wonders also known as penne lisce are a variation of penne pasta without the ridges. So feel free to use penne if you prefer or even ziti.
- Ground Beef – I usually use lean ground beef but feel free to use any variety of ground meat, such as ground turkey, ground pork, or Italian sausage with the casing removed.
- Canned Tomatoes – Both crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce form the base of the sauce and add loads of savory umami goodness.
- Olive Oil – Use extra virgin olive oil for the most authentic flavor.
- Onion and Garlic – This dynamic duo infuses the dish with layers of aromatic flavor. I highly recommend using freshly minced garlic cloves.
- Dried Herbs Basil and Oregano – A combination of dried basil and dried oregano give the sauce the herbaceous touch it needs to complement the beefiness.
- Red Pepper Flakes – Adds just a hint of heat! Feel free to omit the chili flakes.
- Seasonings – Salt and black pepper enhance the flavor of the entire dish.
- Cheeses – Together shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan provide the dish a top layer of cheesy goodness.
- Fresh Basil – Used to garnish, a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves adds a burst of color and classic Italian flavor.
How To Make Baked Mostaccioli
This baked pasta dish is the perfect example of simplicity at its best! In just a few easy steps, you can create a hearty and delicious meal in under an hour!
Preheat The Oven
Begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Then spray a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) casserole dish with a coat of nonstick cooking spray or grease it with oil.
Boil The Pasta
Next, start cooking your pasta! So bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions. Then drain it in a colander and set it aside.
Cook The Beef
Now, it’s beef time! Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then add the ground beef and cook it while breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink and is fully cooked.
Make The Sauce
After you’ve cooked the beef, toss in the chopped onion and minced garlic and let the mixture cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Next, stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Then bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring it occasionally until it has thickened up a bit.
Assemble The Dish
When your sauce is ready, add the cooked mostaccioli to the skillet and toss the pasta together with the sauce. Now, pour the pasta mixture into your prepared baking dish. Finally, sprinkle the top with the shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan.
Bake The Pasta
First, cover the baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Next, transfer it to the preheated oven and let the pasta bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and let it bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. When it’s ready, the cheese will have fully melted and turned golden brown around the edges.
Rest And Serve
After the pasta finishes baking, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving. Then garnish it with some fresh basil and serve it with a salad and some yummy garlic bread if you like!
Frequently Asked Questions
While they may look similar, they are not the same. Penne pasta has ridges and mostaccioli is smooth in texture.
Although they share similarities, they are two different dishes. To begin, the pasta shapes set them apart. Additionally, baked ziti traditionally features ricotta cheese, while baked mostaccioli relies on a tomato-based sauce and a blend of melted cheeses for its signature taste.
Absolutely! While mostaccioli is the traditional choice, penne, rigatoni, or ziti are great alternatives.
You can customize the recipe by adding ingredients like sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or mushrooms. Try using different types of cheeses like fontina or cheddar. In fact, you can even omit the beef and just use marinara sauce to make the dish vegetarian. Feel free to be as creative as you want.
- Season the pasta water well. Make sure to generously salt the water you’re using to boil the pasta. This adds flavor to the pasta itself, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Aim for pasta that is cooked to al dente, which means it should have a slight firmness when bitten. This ensures the pasta won’t become mushy during baking.
- Properly brown the beef. Take the time to fully cook and brown the beef before adding the onions and garlic. It will give the dish more depth in flavor.
- Drain the fat. If necessary, drain any excess fat from the cooked beef before making the sauce. This prevents the dish from being overly oily. If you’re using lean meat, you can skip this step.
Leftover baked mostaccioli will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To reheat, simply sprinkle it with a little water to add some moisture, then cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes on medium power. You can also reheat it in a pan over medium heat on the stovetop.
It is also possible to freeze leftovers for up to 3 months, but freezing does change the texture of the mostaccioli noodles.
Discover More Pasta Recipes
- Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
- Chicken Kiev Pasta
- Creamy Red Pepper Sausage Pasta
- Chicken Spaghetti
- Pasta Alla Norma
- Chicken and Sausage Penne Jambalaya
- Easy Moussaka Recipe
- Baked Ziti
Craving More? Follow Along:
- 1 pound mostaccioli pasta
- 1 pound ground beef
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- fresh basil for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook the mostaccioli pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up into small pieces, until it is browned and cooked through.
- Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet, and cook until the onion is softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened slightly.
- Add the cooked mostaccioli pasta to the skillet with the sauce, and stir to combine.
- Transfer the pasta and sauce mixture to the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges are golden brown.
- Let the baked mostaccioli cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Tips & Notes:
- Pasta Choice: Mostaccioli pasta works best for this recipe, but you can substitute with penne or ziti if needed.
- Meat Options: Ground beef is a classic choice, but ground turkey or sausage can also be used for a different flavor profile.
- Cheese Variations: Feel free to experiment with other cheese blends like a mix of mozzarella and fontina or even a touch of Gouda for a smoky note.
- Make-Ahead: This dish can be assembled a day ahead, refrigerated, and then baked just before serving. Extend baking time by 5-10 minutes if baking from chilled.