This pasta bake is done in one pan and doesn’t require you to even boil the pasta first. Yes, that means the pasta is cooked in the oven! It’s amazing how delicious it is when you literally only need to spend 5 minutes prepping it. This one is going to save your weeknights for sure!
I honestly hate the phrase “dump dinners” or “dump-and-go dinners” where you dump everything into a cooking vessel and that’s all you have to do. I dislike the phrase, for sure. But, I love the concept!
You are watching: How To Cook Pasta In The Oven
Truly my favorite way to cook is to put everything on a sheet pan or in a casserole dish, put it in the oven, and then walk away.
I was never sure if you could cook pasta in the oven like that though. Until I started working on this recipe. Then I learned that the answer is yes, you can absolutely cook pasta in the oven. You just need the right amount of liquid, and a delicious recipe.
You’re going to be amazed by this recipe. You literally just put everything into a baking dish, cover it, put it in the oven, and walk away.
Here’s A Video For How To Do A Pasta Bake:
How To Cook Pasta In The Oven
The details about the no-bake pasta bake are below. But I often get asked if you can cook pasta in the oven for other purposes. That’s what I’m explaining here first:
I haven’t had great success cooking pasta in water in the oven. The best way to do it is to preheat your oven to 400°F. Then put your pasta in a casserole dish or oven-safe pot. If it’s long pasta, like spaghetti, you need to break it up into small pieces (2 inches). The reason is that all of the pasta will need to be submerged in liquid the entire time it’s in the oven and long strands are more likely to jut out.
Then add boiling water to the casserole dish. Use a kettle to boil the water, or boil it on the stove. Although, if you have a functioning stove, I suggest you cook your pasta on there since it turns out better. This is more for when you don’t have a stove. (The reason it turns out better is that the water is able to simmer continuously on the stove. In the oven, it doesn’t seem to stay up at that temperature and the pasta ends up a little bit gummier. It’s perfectly edible and good. Just a bit gummier.)
Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the very hot water. Add salt, about a tablespoon for 16 ounces of pasta, and stir.
Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil. You really want it to have a tight seal. A double layer of foil does this well.
Then put it into the oven for 5 minutes more than what is stated on the pasta box instructions. Test the pasta to see if it is to your liking, and then drain off the water.
How To Make A No-Boil Pasta Bake
While I don’t really like pasta that has been simmered in the oven in water, I do seriously love this dish where you cook the pasta in the oven but it’s cooking in a sauce. I think the reason is that the pasta is soaking up all of that delicious flavor, and the soaked up flavors more than make up for any subtle gumminess. Or maybe the cheese in the dish hides that gumminess? Anyhow, here’s what you do…
Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a casserole dish. Then add uncooked pasta shells, fully-cooked sliced sausage (I buy this roasted pepper and Asiago chicken sausage that is sold fully-cooked in either the organic lunch meat area or with the wieners, depending on your store), some canned diced tomato (with juice – you need the liquid here), seasonings, and shredded mozzarella. Stir.
Top that with whole milk (a commenter to this recipe tried it with chicken broth and says it worked great, so you can try that instead, if you’d like).
Cover very tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for an hour.
At that point the pasta will be cooked, but I like to add some shredded cheese to the top and put it back into the oven, uncovered, to melt the cheese. Then the pasta bake NEEDS TO REST for 15 minutes before serving.
Why Does The Pasta Bake Need To Rest?
The pasta bake is going to come out seeming liquidy. That’s because all of the liquid in the casserole has been really simmering and moving all around due to the intense heat.
What you want is for that liquid to simmer down (lol). But seriously, you want it to stop simmering and settle down. As it settles, it will evaporate a bit, soak into the pasta a bit more, and thicken up.
So absolutely, let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes uncovered before serving. It will still be nice and hot for eating, it just won’t be so wet.
And there you have it: Delicious baked pasta all done in one pan with virtually zero work. Brilliant, right?
This recipe was first published on this site in September 2016 and was revised and republished in July 2021.