This easy No-Boil Pasta Bake is the perfect weeknight dinner! Simply mix oven-ready pasta, tomato sauce, Italian sausage, and spinach together. Then bake for a cozy, comforting dinner!

no boil pasta bake with sausage and spinach

This recipe is…

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 it’s 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.

If you’re looking for more family-friendly pasta goodness, try our Cheesy Ham and Noodle Casserole, Classic Stuffed Pasta Shells, or No-Boil Chicken Alfredo Bake.

Why You’ll Love This No-Boil Pasta Bake Recipe

  • No boiling! No browning! No chopping!
  • Just 10 minutes of prep
  • Super crowd-pleasing and family-friendly
  • Freezes beautifully

Pasta with Sausage and Spinach Recipe 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. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.

Ingredients for easy no boil pasta bake are laid out in a variety of small plates and bowls on a light grey colored surface.
  • 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 red 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 – So you can skip the step of cooking the protein separately, 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. Just make sure you squeeze the moisture out REALLY well!
  • 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.

A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Recipe Variations and Modifications

While we love the classic combination of ingredients used in this easy no-boil pasta recipe, don’t be afraid to mix things up:

  • Sausage – swap the chicken sausage for any other kind of pre-cooked sausage. Or, of course, you could use raw sausage and brown it before adding it to the pasta mix if you don’t mind the extra step. 
  • Pasta shapes – while we call for penne pasta here, you can use any other shapes of regular or gluten-free pasta. We do recommend using a short, tubular or other hollow pasta variety, though (like rigatoni, paccheri, lumache, and cavatappi), since this yields “forkable” bites that soak up the sauce best.  
  • Greens – thawed frozen spinach works really well in this recipe since you can squeeze out all the water without having to saute it. But you could swap in fresh spinach or kale instead.
  • Cheese – we call for a shredded Italian cheese mix here, which usually includes a blend of cheeses like mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, asiago, and/or pecorino-romano. But if you’ve already got one of these cheeses on hand, feel free to swap it in instead. Or, you could use a creamier Italian cheese like ricotta. 

How to Make No-Boil 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.

Sliced chicken sausage is tossed over marinara sauce and penne pasta in a baking dish on a light grey colored surface.
No bake pasta bake ingredients are stirred together in a baking dish on a light grey colored surface.

Step 1: Add all of the ingredients except the spinach and cheese (so, noodles, sausage, broth, pasta sauce, seasonings, and heavy cream) to a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Step 2: Mix everything together in the dish until the sauce is fully combined, then spread into an even layer.

Aluminium foil is pulled off no boil pasta bake in a baking dish on a light grey colored surface.
Grated cheese sits on top of a no boil pasta bake on a light grey colored surface.

Step 3: 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.)

Once the pasta is tightly covered, bake it at 400 F for 40 minutes.

Step 4: After 40 minutes, 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.

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.

Pasta with Sausage and Spinach Recipe Tip

Freezing leftovers and make-ahead meals – whether you want to store leftovers or prep meals ahead, this pasta bake freezes well. 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 an 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.

How to Serve Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

Let the pasta bake cool just slightly until it’s cool enough to handle. Then, slice it and serve. We like to serve it alongside a fresh salad like our Arugula Salad with Lemon & Sea Salt.

How to Store and Reheat

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 months (see instructions above.)

spoonful of cheesy no boil pasta bake hovering over a glass baking dish filled with cheesy pasta
Can I cook pasta without boiling it?

Absolutely! Around here, we love timesaving no-boil pastas for how much time and effort they save. The keys to no-boil pasta success are using the right oven-ready noodles, the right amount of liquid or sauce, and the proper amount of time in the oven. With those elements in place, you can just add the pasta and other ingredients to a baking dish, let the oven work its magic, and be totally hands-off until it bakes to browned and bubbling perfection.

What is no-boil pasta anyway?

Time-saving no-boil (AKA “oven-ready”) pasta varieties have become super popular in recent years. And since they allow home cooks to skip the steps of waiting for a big pot of water to come to a boil, cooking the noodles for the recommended time, draining, and cooling their noodles before adding them to the oven to bake with other ingredients, it’s no wonder! These pasta varieties are par-boiled in the factory, then mechanically dehydrated, so they can cook up in the oven instead of boiling water.

What can I serve with this pasta bake?

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!
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.

Video

If you tried this recipe for No-Boil Pasta Bake, or any other recipe on the Fed & Fit website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let us know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Pasta Bake with Spinach & Sausage (No Boil!)

4.64 — Votes 46 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This pasta bake requires no pre-cooking or boiling, and makes for a delicious and comforting dinner!

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 793kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 2726mg | Potassium: 988mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 8978IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 253mg | Iron: 5mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 793
Keyword: gluten free, no boil, one pot, pasta

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84 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! Made it with canned coconut milk to be dairy-free. Will definitely make it again!

    1. That sounds delicious, Jennifer! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us! ~Melissa

    1. Hi Wendy! This should also work in the crockpot. I would recommend cooking on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours. ~Melissa

  2. How much should I adjust the liquid ratio if I use 16oz gf pasta instead of 12oz? Should I also adjust the cook time?

    1. We haven’t tried it with 16 ounces of pasta, Christine, so it’s hard to give exact instructions! I’d start by adding a 1/4 cup more broth. As far as cooking time goes, go ahead and try the time listed in the recipe, check it once the first 40 minutes is up, and if your noodles still need more time, try an additional 10-15 minutes. I hope that helps!

    1. Hi Gretchen! The spinach instructions are in step #4!

  3. 2 stars
    For some reason this came out extremely salty and I like well seasoned food. I ended having to dump the whole pan. I used Al Fresco brand sausage, (it actually has less sodium than the recommended brand), regular chicken broth, and Rao’s tomato sauce. If I make this again i think I will just omit the added salt and season as needed once its done cooking.

    1. Hmm, that’s so odd, Jennifer! So sorry that you experienced that!

  4. 5 stars
    I’m obsessed with this recipe because it is just sooo easy! I have your cook book and am wondering how to take the “no cook pasta” concept to the all the recipes – liked chicken tetrazzini or chicken marsala casserole. Any ideas?

    1. It takes a lot of experimenting, Marisa (not just a one size fits all method/solution). We’ll keep this concept in mind when recipe developing in the future, though!

  5. 5 stars
    Ok. I need to comment on this recipe. I love a good one pot dish and this exceeded my expectations! It was easy and amazing, a win win! I followed the recipe exactly for two modifications – I used regular rotini because I needed to use it up and I used a fitted lid instead of foil. It came out PERFECT. Adding this to recipe rotation 🙂 thanks!

    1. Awesome! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Emily. Thank you for the comment!

  6. 5 stars
    Quick, one pan, and delicious, what more can you ask for in a recipe? Pasta was cooked perfectly and the flavors are amazing! My husband requested seconds and even my toddlers enjoyed it!

    1. Score! That’s so awesome, Kassandra…thank you for sharing this with us!

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious, so easy to make and a HIT with my kids! Used a disposable foil pan for even easier busy weeknight cleanup. Definitely going into our regular meal rotation.

  8. Could you freeze this dish if assembled but not baked? Trying to plan freezer meals for a friend and this looks great! Thank you!!

    1. Hmmm…I’m not sure how the raw pasta would freeze. I’d bake it first and then freeze it!

    1. Nope! The fresh spinach may release a little bit of water (since we squeeze the water out of the frozen spinach), but it should still be fine! Enjoy, Gwen!

  9. 5 stars
    So easy and tasty! Made this twice already for my family and once for a new mom. Big hit all around! (Once I made it with ground beef and it was just as good!)

    1. Agreed! It’s one of my very favorite recipes, Natalie…SUPER easy + tasty! We’re so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. 5 stars
    This is such a hearty, easy meal! Husband approved and I really appreciate how quickly it goes together at 8 months pregnant!

    1. Wahoo!!! So glad you loved it, Hillary! It’s definitely one of my very favorite recipes. Sending you and your soon-to-be little one well wishes!