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This no-boil pasta bake is the perfect weeknight dinner! Simply mix uncooked pasta, sauce, Italian sausage, and spinach together, then bake for a cozy, comforting dinner.
If I told you you could have cheesy baked pasta goodness with less than 10 minutes of work, would you believe me? Let me tell you, it’s possible! For me, this is the ultimate low-effort dinner. It’s easy enough to make when you’re in a pinch (didn’t get to meal prep, had to work late, etc) but also satisfying enough to make just-because.
What makes this pasta bake so easy? It doesn’t require any pre-cooking! You don’t have to boil the pasta noodles, brown the ground beef, or chop any vegetables. Instead, the noodles will cook in the oven, we use sliced, pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage for protein, and frozen chopped spinach for an added veggie.
No-Boil Pasta Bake Ingredients
The key to making recipes with simple ingredients great is to make sure that you are using high-quality ingredients to start with. Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy pasta bake:
- Penne Pasta – We successfully made this dish with two types of gluten-free pasta – Jovial and Tinkyada. Both held up great, so you should be able to use any variety of penne (gluten-free or not) in this dish!
- Pasta Sauce – Since this is a simple dish, you’ll want to use your favorite pasta sauce here to really up the flavor. We recommend Rao’s, Primal Kitchen Foods, or pulling out any homemade sauce stashed away in your freezer!
- Chicken Broth – Most no-boil pasta bakes call for water, but we opted for broth to add a bit more flavor.
- Heavy Cream – Just 1/2 a cup of heavy cream helps add a delicious richness to the pasta. If you’re dairy-free, you can substitute full-fat coconut milk or cashew cream in its place.
- Pre-Cooked Italian Sausage – To prevent you from having to add the step of cooking the protein, we opted for pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage here, though any pre-cooked sausage will do!
- Frozen Chopped Spinach – We found that frozen, defrosted spinach worked better in this recipe than fresh because you’re able to squeeze all the water out before cooking.
- Cheese – Topping the bake with mozzarella or Italian blend cheese leaves it with a perfectly cheesy crust you won’t be able to get enough of!
How to Make This Easy Pasta Bake
Once you have all of your ingredients together, all you have to do is stir them together right in the pan – you don’t even need to dirty another dish! Here’s what to do:
- Add the ingredients to a 3-quart, 9×13 baking dish. Simply add all ingredients but the spinach and cheese (so, noodles, sausage, broth, pasta sauce, seasonings, and heavy cream) to a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Stir them together. Mix everything together in the dish until the sauce is fully combined, then spread into an even layer.
- Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. This is important! The foil needs to be on very tight to make sure that the pasta can steam. If too much steam gets out, the sauce will start to evaporate and the pasta won’t cook properly.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Once the pasta is covered, bake it at 400 F for 40 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and top with cheese. After 40 minutes, you’ll remove the pasta from the oven, take off the lid, and stir in the spinach. We opted to add the spinach in at the end so that it doesn’t wind up brown and overcooked. Then, sprinkle the cheese over top.
- Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Return the pan to the oven to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly, then remove from the oven and serve!
Easy Pasta Bake Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this pasta bake will freeze great! If you’d like to freeze a whole pasta bake, we recommend baking it in a freezable container (like this one) for 40 minutes but skipping the final baking step. Instead, after baking for 40 minutes, you’ll stir in the spinach, top with cheese, then let it sit for about an hour before covering and freezing. Once you’re ready to reheat it, bake for 40 minutes, covered, in a 350°F oven, then and additional 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
If you’d like to freeze individual portions, just bake the pasta all the way through, then spoon into freezer-safe containers. You can reheat individual portions by microwaving for 3-4 minutes, or by baking at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
Here are a few of our favorite sides that are perfect to serve with this dish!
- Roasted Veggies – put these on a tray on the bottom rack while the pasta bakes to save time.
- Arugula Salad with Lemon & Sea Salt – this simple salad is a great way to round out your meal, and only takes 5 minutes!
- The Wedding Salad – This side salad has mixed greens, bacon, goat cheese, pecans, and a pesto ranch dressing – it’ll convert salad haters into salad lovers.
- Winter Veggie Coleslaw – this coleslaw is a great spin on the traditional side salad, is packed with nutrients, and looks absolutely gorgeous!
- Roasted Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts – you can also roast these sprouts on the bottom rack while your pasta cooks, they are perfectly crisp and just a bit tangy from the balsamic vinegar.
Just for You
Want more recipes like this?
- 12 ounces penne we recommend this one for gluten-free
- 24 ounces pasta sauce
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 12 ounces pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage sliced into 1/2-inch coins (we used this one)
- 9 ounces frozen spinach defrosted and squeezed of excess water
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Add the pasta, sauce, broth, cream, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sausage to a 9×13 pan and stir the ingredients until well combined.
- Cover the dish as tightly as you can with foil. The foil must be tight in order to steam the pasta. Then, place it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, remove the foil and test the pasta for doneness, if it is still a bit tough, cover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. If the pasta is fully cooked, stir in the defrosted spinach, sprinkle the mozzarella over top and bake an additional 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned.