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cover photo pasta al forno

Classic Pasta Al Forno Recipe

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5 from 3 reviews

This classic dish is a delightful blend of pasta, savory meat sauce, and gooey melted cheese—a perfect comfort food.

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 pound rigatoni or ziti pasta (plus reserved pasta water)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lbs ground pork sausage
  • 6 oz , or 2 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 3 cups (1 24oz jar or can) tomato puree or passata
  • 3 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste), plus extra for salting pasta cooking water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, freshly grated from a block of cheese
  • 1 cup parmigiano cheese, freshly grated


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and cook until softened. Add ground pork and Italian sausage (casing removed), breaking it up with a spoon. Cook until browned.
  3. Pour in tomato puree (passata). Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the basil during last 5 minutes of cooking.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions until 3 minutes before al dente (it will keep cooking in the oven). Drain pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. 
  6. Assemble Pasta al Forno: Combine the cooked rigatoni and reserved pasta water in the pan with the meat sauce (if the pan isn’t large enough, mix in a large bowl). Stir well to combine. It will be saucy with the extra pasta water. 
  7. Add 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the parmigiano cheese and stir to combine.
  8. Add the pasta mixture into the prepared pan and finish with the remaining mozzarella and parmigiano cheese.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the top is golden brown.
  10. Serve: Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.

Serve and enjoy your authentic Italian Pasta al Forno!

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian