This Healthy Rotini Pasta Bake is the easiest meal prep or weeknight dinner option! Made with rotini pasta, hearty meat sauce, and lots of melty cheese, this pasta bake is seriously the best type of lightened up comfort food!
Get ready for a new favorite dinner recipe you guys! This pasta bake is packed with protein, fresh Italian flavor and cheesy goodness. It’s a 5 star dinner recipe the whole family can get on board with!
Not only is this pasta bake great for easy dinners, but it’s also a great option to meal prep for the week. Do all the work at the beginning of the week and enjoy the pasta bake for lunches or dinners all week long! It’s a great choice for meal prep because it holds up in the fridge and reheats well. You can even freeze it!
This baked pasta is also a great “casserole type” meal to give to a neighbor or friend since it does reheat so well. Not to mention that everyone loves pasta so you know you’re picking a winner!
Feel free to get creative with this recipe too! There are some many fun additions to try! Try adding fresh spinach, fresh mushrooms, or bell peppers to the meat sauce. Or adding a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes, fresh basil, and yummy parmesan cheese!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE
- Cheesy beefy pasta. Warm pasta, hearty beef, rich tomato sauce, and melty cheese. What’s not to love?!
- Macro-friendly pasta! Packed with 35 grams of protein!!!
- Great weeknight meal option. Comes together in just 45 minutes!
- Easy, short list of ingredients. Just 8 ingredients not including the salt and pepper.
- Great meal prep recipe – also a great casserole dish to give to a friend or neighbor.
- A faster, healthier, and easier comfort food!
- Family family – everyone will LOVE this one!!
- Pasta- I used whole wheat rotini pasta. Any short of pasta shape would work here! Rigatoni, spiral, penne, elbow macaroni.
- Ground beef– I used 96/4 lean ground beef. You could also use ground chicken or ground turkey. Shredded chicken or diced chicken would also work.
- Garlic- I used garlic cloves but you can also use minced garlic or sub with garlic powder.
- Marinara sauce- Any marinara pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce of your choice works here! Use your favorite! I love Rao’s brand.
- Cottage cheese- I used 2% cottage cheese. You could also use ricotta cheese!
- Egg – omit if vegan.
- Mozzarella cheese
- Seasonings: Grab some Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper!
HOW TO MAKE THIS ROTINI PASTA BAKE
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 7×11-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and generously salt. Cook according to package directions or until al dente and rinse/ drain pasta when done.
- While pasta is cooking, add the ground beef to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, breaking into pieces as you go, until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat if needed. Then stir in the minced garlic, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the egg and briefly whisk. Then add the beef, cooked rotini noodles 2 cups of the marinara sauce, cottage cheese, and half of the shredded cheese. Mix to combine, then add to prepared casserole dish. Top with the remaining one cup of marinara sauce and the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese melts and is bubbly.
HOW TO STORE
Store leftover Rotini Pasta Bake in an airtight container or with plastic wrap or aluminum foil in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To freeze: Store in a freezer safe Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 4 months.
HOW TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE AND VEGAN
This delicious pasta bake is super easy to make gluten free and vegan!
To make this recipe gluten free, just be sure to use gluten-free pasta. The recipe is gluten free as written!
To make vegan, you could substitute meatless crumbles for the ground beef or use your favorite protein source. You could also omit the meat completely and replace with veggies, such as mushrooms or eggplant. Omit the egg and swap out the cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese for non-dairy versions.
MAKING PASTA BAKE AHEAD OF TIME
This Rotini Pasta Bake can also made ahead of time. You can prepare it a day or two ahead of time and place in the fridge until ready to bake.
Keep it mind you may need to bake it a few minutes longer since the the casserole dish will be cold. If I am doing this, typically I will take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.
You can even make this a freezer meal! Simply store in a freezer safe Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 4 months.
PASTA BAKE VARIATIONS
- Alfredo sauce – switch out the marinara sauce for Alfredo sauce for a tasty Alfredo bake.
- Switch the noodles – instead of rotini, try rigatoni, elbow, penne, spiral, or any other short pasta!
- Chicken pasta bake – use shredded or diced chicken in place of the beef. You could even use rotisserie chicken.
- Add veggies – grilled onions, mushrooms or green peppers would be yummy additions and would boost the fiber.
- Switch the cheese – instead of mozzarella, try a Mexican or Colby jack blend.
ROTINI PASTA BAKE: FAQ
Yes, you can! Just be sure to use gluten-free pasta and the recipe is gluten free as written!
Most definitely. You could use ground turkey or chicken for lower fat. For even more flavor, you can substitute your ground beef for sweet or spicy Italian sausage. You can really use any meat you choose in this!
Yes! Any kind of red sauce will work! My favorite sauce is Rao’s brand. Use your favorite red sauce of choice!
Yes, you can! You can prepare this pasta recipe a day or two ahead of time and place in the fridge until ready to bake. Keep it mind you may need to bake it a few minutes longer since the the casserole dish will be cold. You can even make this a freezer meal! Store in a freezer safe Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 4 months
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ROTINI PASTA BAKE
- SIMPLE SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CRANBERRIES
- SAUTEED FRENCH GREEN BEANS WITH PARMESAN AND PINE NUTS
- AIR FRYER BROCCOLI
- Garlic bread
- Any kind of green salad or veggies!
WANT TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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You can also tag me on Instagram or TikTok, @LaurenFitFoodie. It makes my day seeing your yummy recreations!