Casseroles/ Pasta

Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Pasta Bake

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

This pasta bake takes its flavor cues from the lasagna soup I posted last year. I loved the clumps of spicy, hot meat so much, I decided to make a pasta bake out of it. And what’s a pasta bake without some cheese? So there’s just enough cheese to have some cheese string action going but feel free to add more 😉

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

It’s pretty easy with a few simple ingredients. There’s not as much cheese as my chicken Alfredo pasta bake, but it’s still a good one to try out, especially if you love the flavors of hot Italian sausage. So let’s start cooking!

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

There’s not much prep involved besides removing the meat from the casings. I ended up cutting off all the ends of the sausages, lifting up the casing with my fingers, then using some kitchen scissors to cut through lengthwise. Once you’re done, don’t forget to retrieve the leftover meat from the ends you chopped off!

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

Then we saute the garlic and the meat. At this point, you’ll have tubes of tightly packed meat. You can either get down and dirty and break them up with your hands before cooking or break them up in the pan. I decided to do it in the pan. This was the most time consuming part for me. In the end, I had a death grip on a wooden spoon and was stabbing at the clumps. In hindsight, I could have also used a fork. I also had a thought that a potato masher might work too. Whatever works for you!

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

It’s okay to end up with a few small, manageable lumps so don’t work yourself too hard. Cook your pasta while browning the meat. I felt like spirals today so I used that but you can use other types like penne, ziti or rigatoni. Let it cook until just before al dente. This means that if instructions call for 10 minutes, do it about 8-9 minutes. You want it soft but still a little chewy. The pasta will continue cooking in the oven so we don’t want to overcook it and have a soggy mess. It’s the same reason we rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process.

After the meat has browned, we add our seasonings. I used some fire roasted tomatoes and a cup of marinara sauce. I wanted it saucy but not too saucy. Just enough to get something going there. Toss in seasonings and you should end up with something like the prep  pic above.

A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

Mix up the meat with the pasta and add in your cheeses. Two types here: mozzarella and parmesan. You could also try an Italian cheese blend. Then we transfer it to a casserole dish and top with more mozzarella. Baking time! I baked it for 30 minutes uncovered. After it’s done, broil it a little to brown the mozzarella on top.

And you’re done!

Feel free to add in any veggies you might like; zucchini will work here and so will spinach. Or add some freshly chopped basil for more Italian flavors. Happy eating!

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A cheesy hot Italian pasta bake with a spiced savory and sweet marinara sauce, hot Italian flavors and plenty of cheese.

Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Pasta Bake


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta till just before al dente
  2. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process
  3. Over medium high heat, saute garlic until fragrant
  4. Add sausage and stir to break up lumps. Cook until sausage is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat
  5. Add in marinara sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes
  6. Combine the pasta with the meat sauce, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Stir to mix
  7. Spoon pasta mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish
  8. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes
  10. Broil at 450 degrees F for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown
  11. Serve hot

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Dorothy Dunton
    July 27, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    Hi Farrah! This is a bowl of happiness! I make my own Italian sausage out of ground pork – that way I control the seasonings and I know exactly what’s in it! I usually make it on the mild side, but it can easily be spiced up more depending on what spices you add. I have an abundance of fresh basil and summer squash in the garden – I’m always looking for ways to create something tasty with the squash and now I have a new one! Thanks!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 29, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      Absolutely, Dorothy. Squash will be nice with this. Enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply
    Jyl
    October 24, 2015 at 6:43 PM

    Farah, this is sooooo yummy! I have been following your recipes and this was the first that I have actually attempted to make (although I have pinned quite a few). This was so freaking good! I love your simple recipes and your GORGEOUS pictures that make your dishes look so scrumptious! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes … they make me very happy 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 29, 2015 at 6:50 PM

      Well I’m so glad your first try was a good one! Oh and comments like this make me very happy 🙂 Have a great weekend, Jyl!

  • Reply
    Jackie
    April 27, 2016 at 5:23 PM

    Hi

    How much vegetables can I add to this recipe.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 29, 2016 at 12:17 PM

      Heya! Try half a pound so it can still fit in the casserole dish. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Lori
    September 15, 2017 at 1:05 PM

    Can I use Jimmy Dean Hot sausage? The one that comes in the big roll? Or is that different?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 20, 2017 at 5:33 PM

      I haven’t tried Jimmy Dean’s yet. Pretty sure it’s a breakfast sausage. It’s slightly different from hot Italian sausage primarily in the spices. I’ve read breakfast sausages are more sage-based while Italian are fennel-based. But if you’re in a pinch, you could try substituting it for Jimmy Dean’s if you don’t mind the difference in flavor. Try adding more Italian seasoning to compensate.

  • Reply
    Brooke
    May 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM

    This is one of my all time favorite meals!! Do you think if I tried to freeze it to have ready to pop in the oven at a later date that that would work?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      May 23, 2018 at 6:51 PM

      I wish I could give you a definite answer but I haven’t ever tried freezing casseroles and reheating them. But hey, if you ever do try, please come back and let me know so folks here have a tried and true answer?

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