Baked penne is a hearty and comforting dinner that’s perfect for entertaining or weeknight dinners. Pasta and sausage are combined with two kinds of pasta sauce for a rich and flavorful baked pasta casserole. You can also make this dish ahead for meal prep!
This easy baked penne recipe serves many purposes at our house: it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but it’s great for entertaining, too. It makes a big batch, the leftovers keep really well and it’s a perfect make-ahead dinner when we know we have a busy week.
In other words, it’s a keeper! Baked penne pasta recipes are one of our favorite dinners to make and this version is at the top of the list. If you’ve been looking for a delicious, hearty baked pasta dish you need to give this one a try.
Easy Baked Penne and Sausage
What I love about this recipe is that you don’t have to make a homemade sauce. Instead, you use two different kinds of jarred sauce as the base: a tomato-based pasta sauce and an Alfredo sauce. It’s a really great combination!
When you combine the sauce with Italian sausage, penne, and cheese you end up with a dinner that is guaranteed to make everyone very happy.
It looks a lot more complicated than it is thanks to the sauce shortcut, but no one will ever guess. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Penne pasta
- Italian sausage
- Jarred tomato pasta sauce
- Jarred Alfredo pasta sauce
- Minced garlic
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
Recipe Steps and Tips
First, boil the pasta. You will want to undercook it by one to two minutes since it will finish cooking in the oven. So, it should still be pretty chewy when you drain it.
For the sausage, you can buy sausage links and remove the casings or buy a package that doesn’t have the casings to save a little time. Brown it in a pan while the pasta is cooking and, once it’s cooked through, drain off the fat.
Transfer the cooked sausage to a large bowl. Add the cooked pasta, both sauces, garlic and some of the cheese. Give it all a good stir so everything is coated evenly in the sauce.
Pour this mixture into a 9x13” baking dish and top it with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake it for 15 minutes or until it’s hot and the cheese is melted.
Make It Ahead for Meal Prep!
This is a great recipe for meal prep because you can make it up to 24 hours in advance. Make and assemble the casserole and then cover it tightly. Pop it in the fridge and then bake it until it’s nice and hot. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time since it will be cold from the refrigerator.
How long do the leftovers keep?
The leftovers keep really well for three to four days in the refrigerator. I like to portion them out in single-serving containers for easy lunches.
What side dishes go with baked penne pasta?
- We love it with some garlic bread or crusty Italian bread
- A green salad tossed with Italian dressing is always great
- Sometimes we add a cooked vegetable on the like broccoli, green beans, or asparagus
Once you’ve tried this recipe it’s really easy to switch some of the ingredients each time you make it.
For the red sauce, any flavor will work well as long as its tomato based. There are so many options at the store so feel free to experiment.
If you like a little heat, try using hot Italian sausage or use a mix of sweet and hot.
You can also switch up the cheese – sometimes we use shredded provolone or you could do a mix of provolone with the Mozzarella. Adding some grated Parmesan would be delicious, too.
When you pull this bubbling hot baked penne pasta out of the oven, I’m pretty sure no one will be late for dinner. The aroma as it bakes is enough to get everyone around the table! Enjoy!
Other Dinners You'll Enjoy
Baked Penne and Sausage Casserole Recipe
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 pound Italian sausage bulk or casings removed
- 1 24 ounce jar pasta sauce, any flavor
- 1 15 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until just slightly al dente (undercooked by about 1-2 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, cook the Italian sausage in a frying pan over medium heat. Use a spoon to break up the sausage into bite sized pieces. Heat until cooked through and no longer pink. Drain fat.
- Add sausage to a large pot or bowl with the pasta. Add the two jars of sauce, the garlic, and 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese.
- Place pasta in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and cheese is melted on top.
- Make ahead directions: make the entire casserole, top with cheese, then cover with foil and/or plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours. Bake until hot before serving.
Baked penne pasta recipes are one of our favorite dinners to make and this version is at the top of the list. If you’ve been looking for a delicious, hearty baked pasta dish you need to give this Baked Penne and Sausage Casserole a try!