Casserole/Gratin

Our 10 Most Popular Baked Pasta Recipes for the Warmest, Bubbliest Dinners

Gooey, cheesy crowd-pleasers.

February  4, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Of course, we love any kind of pasta all year round. But these bitter cold winter days have us craving casserole dishes filled with warm, cheesy goodness. The kind of cozy comfort food that cranks up the heat, like space heaters, in our bellies. That’s right, folks—it’s baked pasta season.

From saucy lasagna and golden mac and cheese to bubbly manicotti, there are so many pasta-bilities. Which is why we wanted to help you find the best of the best, the recipes our millions of community members turn to time and time again.

To do so, we've combed through Food52's near-decade-old recipe box for the most cooked, most favorited baked pasta recipes ever. (And we gotta say, y’all really like mac and cheese!) Check them out below, and make sure to share your favorites in the comments.


Our Best Baked Pasta Recipes Ever

Martha Stewart’s perfectly creamy, Genius baked macaroni and cheese is No. 1 on our list (and in our hearts). We first highlighted Stewart’s masterpiece back in 2011, staking the claim that this was the macaroni recipe the world was searching for. Her secret? Psst—it's in the sauce.

Lasagna is the dinner everyone wants, but no one thinks they have time to make. That is, until now. This smart recipe guarantees a phenomenally comforting bowlful of lasagna in just 45 minutes.

After an 11/10 meal at Al Forno in Providence, RI, Food52 co-founder (and baked pasta superfan!) Merrill Stubbs went home and reverse-engineered this treasure. It’s baked (al forno) with a creamy sauce of super-comforting pumpkin and finished up with crispy prosciutto and two kinds of cheese.

Inspired by Merrill’s rendition (above), Genius Leader Kristen Miglore went straight to the source: “The recipe as written is genius, but even more genius is the fact that the technique can be reapplied in countless ways. Al Forno is always cycling in seasonal variations: thinly sliced asparagus and lemon zest, radicchio and shiitake, pumpkin and pancetta.”

Okay, last one! We swear! This riff comes from weeknight dinner whisperer Alexandra Stafford, and calls for making a butternut squash-sage sauce.

“This is shepherd's pie meets moussaka—a lamb ragout spiced with cinnamon, oregano, sumac, and mint is blended with penne and feta and then topped with a cayenne-scented béchamel,” wrote Amanda and Merrill back in 2010. “After baking in the oven—we turned up the heat to 450°F for the final 10 minutes—it emerges crisp on the perimeter with a thick, toasted béchamel cap.” Be still, my heart.

All of the things things we want—green vegetables, pasta, and ample amounts of cheese—are here, together, in the most comforting casserole imaginable. Layer everything as a lasagna, or mix it all together for a speedy weeknight dinner.

Deeply colored with bolognese, creamy béchamel, and a little mozzarella, this recipe is so good, Merrill decided to make it for her daughter Clara’s first birthday.

Miso is savory, rich, and packed with deep umami flavor. Why didn’t we think to mix it with mac and cheese sooner?

This freezer-friendly casserole is perfect for gifting to a friend or to your future self. “If you're not going to bake off the finished dish right away, boil the pasta for even less time than the instructions call for (like 2 to 3 minutes),” writes Merrill. “As the pasta lies cradled in delicious sauce in the fridge it will continue to soften, and you don't want it to turn to mush.”

What's your favorite baked pasta dish? Tell, tell in the comments below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

4 Comments

Laura H. February 11, 2019
I adore pasta! But I'm trying to lose holiday weight, so I'm cutting it out for now. Does anyone have any specific suggestions for pasta-substitution that I could use for any of these recipes?
 
ulla February 13, 2019
I stumbled across this some time last week and gave it a whirl. Maybe switch the sauce for something less caloric, but rutabaga noodles have a definite edge on any other veggie noodles: they work!
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/kitchen-notes/what-rutabaga-does-better-than-anyone-else
 
Donna S. February 10, 2019
Manicotti - prepare light crepes rather than heavy pasta shells, fill with a flavorful mixture of Polly-O whole milk ricotta, Polly-O whole milk mozzarella, Locatelli, some Parsley, seasonings and combine with egg. Top with homemade sauce and a light sprinkle of mozzarella. Since homemade sauce takes time, prepare that first. Then the crepes. The cheesy filling made last, could also include diced prosciutto. Sometimes it is nice to serve along with a Cannelloni Crepe with spinach and seasoned ground meats.
 
food52fan February 10, 2019
The absolutely best mac & cheese I've ever had is Amanda Hesser's Baking Sheet Macaroni & Cheese, found right here on Food52! Amanda combined elements of three different methods of baking mac & cheese, giving credit to each recipe author. The result was an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe with the perfect amount of crunch! There are never any leftovers because everyone wants just one more bite. I highly recommend the spiral macaroni that has a little texture, as it will grab every bit of the cheese sauce. Everything about this comfort food recipe is perfection!