This baked rigatoni with ground turkey is the ideal comfort meal! This casserole is brimming with beef and mushrooms, covered with a melty layer of cheese, and done in under 45 minutes!
Serve with garlic bread or cheddar biscuits on the side.
I give you the cheesy, meaty, nom-alicious baked ground turkey rigatoni.
The great thing about baked rigatoni is that it’s simple to create and adapt.
You don’t like meat? Replace it with a meat substitute or just leave it entirely. You don’t like mushrooms? Get rid of them! Do you want it extra tomatoey? Toss in some sliced tomatoes!
Ingredients for baked rigatoni
- Rigatoni: Rigatoni is the ideal pasta for this dish because it’s thick, hearty, and has ridges on the outside that help the sauce adhere to the noodles. It holds up well to thick, chunky, meaty sauces. If you don’t have rigatoni, you can use penne, fusilli or rotini.
- Unsalted butter: You’ll use this to coat your cooked pasta while it’s still warm. You can also use olive oil instead of butter.
- Ground turkey: Don’t want to use ground turkey? Swap it for your favorite meat, or leave it out! Italian sausage or ground beef are great as well.
- Onion and garlic: Because… flavor!
- Mushrooms: You can use canned mushroom stems and pieces, or you can use fresh mushrooms. I call for canned in this recipe because it’s an easy thing to keep on hand in your pantry, and my goal is for this to be easy!
- Spaghetti sauce: If you keep jars of spaghetti sauce in the pantry, grab your favorite. If you’d prefer to spend some time making your own, try a recipe like this one.
- Sweet basil: I love the flavor fresh basil leaves add to a baked pasta dish. You could also use Italian basil, which has slightly larger leaves and can be more aromatic than sweet basil if you want a little oomph.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese: Because we’re making this a hearty, cheesy dish! You could also add parmesan cheese and asiago cheese for a nice cheese blend.
How to make baked rigatoni
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the box until al dente, and drain. Coat in 1 tablespoon butter while it’s still hot, and set aside.
Step 3: Heat a dab of oil in a big pan while the pasta is cooking. Cook until the ground turkey is no longer pink in the pan over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes after adding the onion and garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes after adding the mushrooms.
Step 4: Reduce the heat to low. Cover and whisk in the sauce and basil. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. If the sauce begins to bubble, stir it periodically; otherwise, keep it covered.
Step 5: In a 913 glass baking dish (lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray), layer half of the spaghetti, then the remaining sauce and meat mixture. Stir to combine, then add the remaining spaghetti and toss again.
Step 6: After everything is well blended, top with the cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes on the top shelf. Cover and broil (on low, if you have one) for the final 5 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
Substitutions and variations
- If you have the time and patience, shred the cheese yourself. It melts easier than the bagged, pre-shredded stuff.
- Want more veggies? Go for it! I love adding spinach, kale, artichoke hearts, or zucchini. If you’re leaving out the meat, adding more veggies is a great way to beef it up (pun totally intended).
- Want to add some spice? Add some red pepper flakes to the sauce for a little heat.
- You can assemble the dish ahead of time. If you want to prep ahead of time so all you have to do is pop it in the oven for dinner, you totally can. Prep everything in the baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and keep it stored in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.
- Broil for a few minutes! At the end of the baking time, uncover the dish and let the broiler brown the cheese and get it all hot and bubbly.
- Add fresh parsley. It does add a little flavor, but topping the baked rigatoni just before serving is really more about presentation and adding a dash of color!
Can you freeze baked rigatoni?
You certainly can! Wrap the unbaked dish with foil and plastic wrap (tightly cover it) and place it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake, you have the option of allowing it to come to room temperature or baking from frozen. If baking from frozen, increase the cooking time by up to 30 minutes.
What to serve with baked rigatoni
- Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Rosemary Sea Salt Dinner Rolls
- Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Avocado and Steak
Cooking ground turkey in a pot or skillet over medium high heat normally takes around 8 minutes.
Since rigatoni is a thicker noodle, it should take 12 minutes to cook to al dente.
Ziti and rigatoni are almost same! Ziti, like rigatoni, is straight sliced but smooth on the exterior, while rigatoni has ridges. I like rigatoni for this recipe since the sauce and cheese adhere better to it.
Some people swear by not cooking their pasta before baking, but I find the results unpredictable, so I cook mine to al dente before baking to assure the greatest results.
You certainly can! Wrap the unbaked dish with foil and plastic wrap (tightly cover it) and place it in the freezer. When you’re ready to bake, you have the option of allowing it to come to room temperature or baking from frozen. If baking from frozen, increase the cooking time by up to 30 minutes.
Ground Turkey Baked Rigatoni
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9″x13″ baking dish
- 1Tablespoonunsalted butter
- 1poundground turkey, can substitute ground beef or Italian sausage
- ½cuponion, chopped (add more, if you prefer)
- 1Tablespoongarlic, minced
- 4-ouncecan mushroom stems and pieces, can substitute fresh sliced mushrooms
- 1-24ouncejar of your favorite spaghetti sauce, or your favorite homemade sauce recipe
- 2Tablespoonssweet or Italian basil, chopped
- 8ouncesmozzarella, shredded and divided
- Fresh parsley, optional, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cook pasta according to the directions on the box until al dente, and drain. Coat in 1 tablespoon butter while it’s still hot, and set aside.1 pound rigatoni, 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
While the pasta is cooking, heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan. Crumble the ground turkey into the pan and cook on medium heat until it’s no longer pink. Salt and pepper to taste.1 pound ground turkey
Add onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes.1/2 cup onion, 1 Tablespoon garlic
Add mushrooms, cook for another 3 minutes.4- ounce can mushroom stems and pieces
Turn heat down to low. Add the sauce and basil, stir, and cover. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally if you see the sauce start to bubble, otherwise keep it covered.1-24 ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce, 2 Tablespoons sweet or Italian basil
In a 9″×13″ glass baking dish (sprayed generously with cooking spray), pour in half the pasta, then all of your sauce and meat mix. Stir to mix, and then add the rest of the pasta and stir some more.
Once you feel like it’s all adequately combined, top with the cheese, cover with foil, and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes on the top rack. For the last 5 minutes, uncover and broil (on low, if you have a setting for it) to brown the cheese on top.8 ounces mozzarella
Remove carefully, top with parsley (if desired), grab a serving spoon and dish it out. Enjoy!Fresh parsley