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A 9x12 baking dish of cheesy baked pasta with fresh basil on top ready to serve.

Easy Cheesy Baked Pasta

This comforting, vegetarian Cheesy Baked Pasta tastes like lasagna but is much easier to make. Penne pasta, marinara, and fresh herbs meet a creamy blend of ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses. It’s a budget-friendly recipe for feeding a group or large family. You can also divide it in half and freeze one batch for later.

Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 30 minutesTotal: 50 minutes


  • 16 ounces (1 pound) whole wheat penne pasta
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 3 1/24 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and/or basil (I used 2 tablespoons of each), plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed in hand (sub: dried oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for salting the pasta water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce*

*buy two 24-ounce jars at the store so you have enough

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Make It Now:

  1. Boil Pasta: Cook pasta in salted water until it’s al dente, according to directions on the box and drain.
  2. Prep: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease one 9×13 inch casserole dish (or two 8×8 inch dishes) with cooking spray.
  3. Make Filling: In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese (reserve the rest), Parmesan cheese, eggs, fresh herbs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in 2 1/2 cups marinara (reserve the rest) and drained pasta and gently stir everything together.
  4. Finish Casserole: Add the pasta mixture to the greased casserole dish(es). Spread the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2-2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over that.
  5. Bake & Serve: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and hot in the middle. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and garnish with lots of fresh chopped herbs.

Freeze For Later: Complete recipe through Step 4, but do not bake. Wrap casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap and a layer of foil (or use an air-tight lid). Freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Bake as directed. Or, to bake from frozen, cover with foil. Place in cold oven and preheat to 375°. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 25-30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and heated through.


  • Fresh herbs–parsley and/or basil–really make this dish, so do your best to find those.
  • I used whole wheat penne because it’s more nutritious, hearty, and flavorful than white pasta, in my opinion.
  • Want to add meat? Brown, crumble, and drain Italian sausage and stir it into the pasta and cheese mixture. Or try our Hearty Baked Penne Pasta recipe instead.
  • I haven’t tested this with gluten-free pasta. If you try it, I’d suggest using Banza brand because it tends to not fall apart as easily and be sure to cook until barely al dente.
  • This recipe make a LARGE batch that will serve 10-12 people. However, feel free to divide the recipe into two pans that serve 5-6 instead and freeze one for later using our instructions.
© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: Italian Method: Baked