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Baked Mostaccioli: An Italian Classic Revisited

Dive into the comforting world of Italian cuisine with our easy and delicious Baked Mostaccioli recipe. Bring the Italian restaurant experience right to your home kitchen.

August 3, 2023
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Homemade Baked MostaccioliPhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 8 people
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 25 mins
Total 45 mins



  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F (190 °C) and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the mostaccioli according to package directions until al dente, then drain and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until the onion is soft and translucent.
  4. Add the Italian sausage to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook until the sausage is browned and no longer pink inside.
  5. Stir in the marinara sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
  6. Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce mixture, ensuring the pasta is well coated. Transfer half of the pasta to the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the top.
  7. Add the remaining pasta to the dish, and top with the remaining cheeses.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and slightly golden.
  9. Let the dish cool for a few minutes, then garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving. Enjoy your homemade Baked Mostaccioli hot from the oven!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Homemade Baked Mostaccioli
Serves 8
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21 g26.9%
Protein 25 g50%
Protein 25 g50%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • Choose the right pasta. Mostaccioli is traditionally made with tube-shaped pasta, similar to penne, but slightly larger. Opt for high-quality dried pasta that holds its shape well after baking. For more, check out our ‘Types of Pasta’ article.
  • Use a rich and flavorful tomato sauce for the best results. You can either use a store-bought marinara sauce or make your own from scratch with fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices.
  • You can add some vegetables like bell peppers or spinach to make the dish more nutritious.
  • Feel free to substitute Italian sausage with ground beef or turkey for a different flavor.
  • For an extra creamy Baked Mostaccioli, consider adding a layer of ricotta cheese along with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • When layering the ingredients in the baking dish, start with a thin layer of sauce at the bottom, followed by a layer of cooked pasta, and then a layer of sauce again. Repeat until the dish is filled, ending with a layer of sauce on top.
  • For a vegetarian version, simply omit the meat or substitute with a plant-based alternative.
  • Always cook pasta al dente for baked dishes, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Let it rest. Allow the Baked Mostaccioli to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. This helps the flavors meld together and makes it easier to serve.
  • The dish can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat.
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Looking for a comforting and crowd-pleasing dish that encapsulates the hearty, delicious nature of Italian cuisine? Look no further than Baked Mostaccioli. A close cousin to lasagna and baked ziti, Baked Mostaccioli is a classic pasta bake that combines tube-shaped mostaccioli pasta with robust tomato sauce, creamy cheeses, and flavorful herbs. It's the perfect meal for a cozy family dinner or a large gathering.

What Is The Difference Between Mostaccioli And Baked Mostaccioli?

Mostaccioli refers to a type of pasta similar to penne, but with smooth sides rather than ridged ones. The word "Mostaccioli" is derived from the Italian "mostacciolo," which means "little mustache."

On the other hand, Baked Mostaccioli is a dish made using mostaccioli pasta. The pasta is usually cooked with a tomato-based sauce and some kind of meat (often ground beef or Italian sausage), and then layered with cheese and baked in an oven. It's similar to lasagna or baked ziti in its preparation.

So, in essence, the difference lies in that one (Mostaccioli) is the type of pasta, while the other (Baked Mostaccioli) is a pasta dish that uses mostaccioli as a key ingredient.

Do You Bake Pasta Covered Or Uncovered?

Whether you bake pasta covered or uncovered depends on the specific recipe and the texture you're aiming for.

Covering the baking dish with foil for a portion of the cooking time can help to prevent the top from burning or drying out too quickly. The trapped steam helps the pasta cook evenly and the sauce to thicken.

On the other hand, baking uncovered can give the pasta a crispier top layer, as the heat has direct contact with the exposed pasta and cheese.

For dishes like baked mostaccioli, a common practice is to bake the pasta covered for about two-thirds of the cooking time, then remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Always follow the specific instructions in your recipe, as the cooking method can vary based on the ingredients used.

What Pasta Is Most Like Mostaccioli?

The pasta that is most like mostaccioli is penne. Both mostaccioli and penne are tubular and cut diagonally at the ends, and are typically about the same size. The main difference is that most mostaccioli noodles have smooth sides, while penne noodles often have ridges. However, there is also a ridged version of mostaccioli, called mostaccioli rigati, which is very similar to penne.

Another similar pasta is ziti, which is also a medium-sized tubular pasta. Ziti is typically larger and has straight cut ends. It's also usually smooth, like mostaccioli, and is often used in baked pasta dishes as well.

Despite their small differences, these pastas can often be used interchangeably in recipes, depending on what's available. The ridges in penne can be beneficial for holding onto thicker sauces, while the smooth sides of mostaccioli and ziti might be preferable for lighter sauces or baked dishes with a lot of cheese.

What Is The Best Pasta Shape For Pasta Bake?

The best pasta shapes for pasta bake are typically ones that have lots of nooks and crannies to hold onto the sauce and any cheese or other ingredients in the dish. Tubular shapes like penne, rigatoni, mostaccioli, or ziti work well because their hollow centers fill with sauce. These shapes are sturdy enough to stand up to baking without becoming too soft or falling apart.

Other good options include shapes with ridges or other surface textures, like farfalle (bow ties), fusilli (corkscrews), or shells. These types of pasta catch and hold onto sauce well, which means every bite will be flavorful.

However, keep in mind that the best pasta shape can also depend on the specific recipe and the sauce you're using. For instance, if you're making a baked pasta with a chunky vegetable sauce, you might prefer a pasta shape that can catch and hold onto the chunks, like shells or rigatoni.

In the end, the best pasta for a pasta bake is largely a matter of personal preference. Don't be afraid to experiment with different shapes to find what you like best!

For more, check out our ‘Types of Pasta’ article.

What To Serve with Baked Mostaccioli?

Baked Mostaccioli is a hearty and flavorful pasta dish that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal. Here are some delicious options to serve with Baked Mostaccioli:

Garlic Bread: A classic choice to serve with pasta dishes, garlic bread complements the flavors of Baked Mostaccioli perfectly. The combination of warm, buttery, and garlicky bread alongside the pasta is simply irresistible.

Caprese Salad: A simple Caprese salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze adds a burst of freshness and complements the Italian flavors of the Baked Mostaccioli.

Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, or broccoli add a delightful contrast to the pasta dish. The caramelized flavors of the vegetables complement the savory sauce of the Baked Mostaccioli.

Caesar Salad: A Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, Parmesan cheese, and tangy Caesar dressing is a fantastic accompaniment to the pasta. The flavors of the salad complement the richness of the Baked Mostaccioli.

Italian Antipasto Platter: Create an Italian-inspired antipasto platter with cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables, cheeses, and breadsticks. This offers a variety of flavors and textures that pair well with the pasta dish.

History of Baked Mostaccioli

"Baked Mostaccioli," or "Mostaccioli al Forno" as it's known in Italy, traces its roots back to the rich culinary history of Italy, particularly in the southern regions. This hearty pasta dish represents rustic, family-style Italian cuisine, symbolizing warmth, comfort, and satisfaction. It's perfect for family gatherings, potlucks, or when you need a meal that can be made ahead of time and feeds a crowd, hence the name 'easy baked mostaccioli'.

The dish is characteristically made with mostaccioli pasta, a type of smooth or ridged tubular pasta much like penne, but typically larger. It's then combined with savory tomato sauce, generous amounts of cheese, and often includes ground meat or sausage. But the unique aspect of this dish is the incorporation of ricotta cheese. The 'baked mostaccioli with ricotta' version adds a layer of creamy richness to the dish that beautifully contrasts the tangy tomato sauce, taking the comfort food aspect to the next level.

Over time, the dish has been adapted and evolved with numerous variations worldwide. One such adaptation is the 'baked mostaccioli pasta', where different types of pasta such as penne or ziti can be used instead of mostaccioli. It allows for flexibility depending on the pasta available in your pantry, without compromising on the traditional flavors. Regardless of the pasta shape, it's the heartwarming combination of baked pasta, tangy tomato sauce, creamy ricotta, and melted cheese that makes this dish an irresistible comfort food favorite.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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