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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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!