This Baked Penne with Italian Sausage is cheesy, it’s saucy and totally made from scratch! Freezer friendly and an easy dreamy weeknight dinner!
Italian pasta dishes are the best and most classic comfort foods. This baked penne with Italian sausage is sure to get everyone to the table as soon as it comes out of the oven. If it were up to me I’d eat pasta every day for lunch and dinner. However, since hubs is not such a fan, I compromise to every once in a while.
This baked penne is everything a cheesy pasta casserole should be: cheesy, comforting, filling and super saucy! It also feeds a crowd, so feel free to share with your friends and family.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED PENNE WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE
Start by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions, then drain it and set it aside.
Make the sauce by cooking the sausage until no longer pink inside then start adding the rest of the ingredients to it. You’ll want to simmer this for 20 to 30 minutes, to give time for the sauce to do its thing. The longer you simmer it the better it will taste. Trust me!
Once the sauce is done, toss it with the penne or pasta of your choice and half of the mozzarella cheese. Transfer it to a casserole dish and top it with the remaining cheese.
Bake this in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 F degrees until it’s bubbly and the cheese has melted.
WHAT KIND OF PASTA CAN I USE?
The great thing about casseroles like this is their versatility. Pretty much any type of pasta can work. Penne, ziti, shells, rigatoni, fusilli, rotini, whatever you have in your pantry.
If you wanted to, you could even turn this into a spaghetti bake and use spaghetti.
OTHER VEGGIES YOU CAN ADD TO BAKED PENNE
I love hiding veggies in casseroles like this. In this casserole I added lots of peas, because I love the sweetness they add to the dish.
Other things you could add are mushrooms, spinach, zucchini or even cauliflower florets.
OTHER SAUSAGE OR MEAT TO USE
You can of course use any ground meat such as beef, pork or for a healthier option ground chicken or turkey. If you want to stick to sausage, spice things up a bit by using a spicy Italian sausage.
For a bit of a Mexican flare, try a chorizo sausage or Andouille sausage.
TIPS FOR MAKING THIS BAKED PENNE
Save time by making this ahead of time. Prepare everything up to step 8, cover it up with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until next day when you’re ready to bake it.
You can also divide this into two smaller baking dishes, especially if you have a smaller family. Freeze one for later and bake the other!
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, as mentioned above. This dish is very versatile. Use your favorite sausage, throw in your favorite veggies and try different cheeses. You won’t be disappointed.
HOW TO STORE OR FREEZE BAKED PENNE
As with any pasta dish, if stored properly in an airtight container, baked pasta can last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze this in an airtight container and it will last longer, 1 to 2 months.
LOOKING FOR MORE CASSEROLES? TRY THESE:
Baked Penne with Italian Sausage
- 1 lb Italian sausage mild, casings removed (about 5 links)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz diced tomatoes canned
- 1 cup chicken broth low sodium
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 1 tsp basil dried
- 1/2 tsp thyme dried
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 10 oz green peas frozen
- 12 oz penne dry (or ziti)
- 2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Cook Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Make Sauce: Crumble the sausage meat into a large skillet over medium heat and brown, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until it's no longer pink.
- Add the onion, pepper and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, or until the onion and pepper have softened and the onion is translucent.
- Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring often as needed.
- Stir in the peas. Remove the sauce from heat.
Toss penne with sauce: Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir. Stir in about 1 cup of cheese.
- Assemble: Transfer the pasta to a large casserole dish. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake: Transfer the casserole dish to the preheated oven and bake until the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbling, for about 20 minutes.
- Serve: Garnish with parsley or basil if desired and serve warm.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days or in the freezer for 1 to 2 months.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.