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An over the top shot of baked rigatoni in a casserole dish.
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5 from 39 votes

Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

Rigatoni pasta is layered with a rich, homemade meat sauce, béchamel, and two kinds of cheese and baked until bubbling and golden brown. This classic Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce is family-friendly comfort food at its best!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 529kcal


  • 16 ounces rigatoni

For the Meat Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound 85% to 90% lean ground beef
  • 28 ounces crushed Italian style tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • cup red wine
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

For the Béchamel Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk slightly warmed
  • dash ground nutmeg

For the Layers

  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or more, as desired
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pasta pot, 2 minutes shy of the package directions.

Prepare the Meat Sauce

  • Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and place over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add the ground beef. Cook, stirring to break up the beef, until cooked through. Drain off the grease. Return the pot to the heat and add remaining sauce ingredients. Allow the sauce to simmer over LOW heat while preparing the béchamel.

Prepare the Béchamel Sauce

  • In a small saucepan melt the butter over MEDIUM-LOW heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk and nutmeg. Turn heat up to MEDIUM and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, thick and creamy. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

  • Pour the meat sauce over the well drained pasta in the warm pasta pot and mix thoroughly. Spray a large casserole dish or lasagna pan with nonstick cooking spray and layer ½ of the pasta/sauce mixture, drizzle with half the béchamel and sprinkle with half the cheeses. Repeat the layers.


  • Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. At the end of the baking time, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes until light golden brown and bubbly.



Make Ahead Instructions
Assemble the rigatoni but do not bake. Cover with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. Add 15 minutes to the baking time if it's cold when going in the oven.
Make it a Freezer Meal
For the best result, freeze Rigatoni with Meat Sauce after it is assembled but before it is baked. This ensures the best possible texture for the baked pasta.
  • Assemble the recipe as directed in a freezer-safe baking dish.
  • Allow the casserole to cool completely then cover the entire dish with a layer of plastic wrap and again with a layer of heavy duty foil.
  • Label the foil with a permanent marker with the contents and date and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.
Thaw the frozen pasta in the refrigerator overnight before baking as directed in the recipe. If the casserole is not fully-thawed, it will take longer to heat through so plan accordingly.


Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 968mg | Potassium: 851mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 756IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 287mg | Iron: 4mg