Baked Pasta Bolognese is comfort food that reminds you of growing up! Hearty and satisfying this dish combines pasta, beef mince, Italian herbs and a rich tomato sauce. Perfect for the whole family this satisfying dish is Italian food in a family friendly kind of way.
Recipes like my Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese and Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti give us hearty family dinners ❤.
My Garlic Spaghetti and Spaghetti Gorgonzola takes the out of the equation and gives us meatless Monday kind of yum!
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Budget friendly: there is nothing in this recipe that will break the bank. Mince beef is cheaper than other cuts of meat and pasta is an economical ingredient any time of year.
- Comfort food: Bolognese pasta bake is one of the most satisfying meals you can devour. Not only is there pasta, there is a delicious and hearty meaty sauce which is then covered in cheese. It is almost too good to be true, right 😍🥰😘!!
- Family friendly: this is a recipe that the whole family can enjoy together. Whilst there is garlic in the dish, it is only a small amount and blends in well with the other ingredients. The Italian herbs add flavour but again, they do not overwhelm the dish, so give the kids a fork and let them dig in!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Dried pasta: I am using curly pasta as I love that a little of the bolognese sauce finds its way into the tubes making for delightful eating. You can use the same or rigatoni, macaroni or ziti.
- Beef mince: this is the same thing as ground beef. It is budget friendly, freezer friendly and extremely versatile! Lean beef mince or regular both work well for the recipe. Purchase from Walmart, Safeway, Woolies, Tesco, Aldi, Coles or your local butcher!
- Passata: this is readily available in Australian supermarkets and called 'passata'. In other countries like the USA and Canada it is called tomato puree (but it is the same thing!).
- Crushed tomatoes: try and get the ones that have no added herbs or flavours. This is because we add our own herbs and depth of flavour which will produce much better results than stuff that you really don't know is in the tin or not!!
- Tomato paste: thick and rich in flavour, this adds a depth of tomato taste that is unmistakeable in bolognese sauces. We only need a small amount, so if you don't want to purchase a whole jar you can purchase the smaller packets which are often sold with 4 x 2 tablespoon amounts which are also perfect to use as a pizza sauce.
- Italian seasoning: dried herbs that you will be able to find in the cooking aisle of almost all supermarkets.
- Red wine: this is not essential, but you have got to love a recipe that has a little wine in it, right!! Check out my substitutions and variations for alternative options.
- Garlic: you can use cloves and finely dice them or mince garlic.
- Salt and pepper: we use a little bit of each of these for seasoning. Simply add in when frying the beef mince. I also recommend using salt in the pasta water to cook that and serving the dish with a good amount of freshly cracked black pepper.
Here at the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by browning the beef in a large pan with a little oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Brown the beef in a pan with the oil, garlic, salt and pepper Photo 1)
- Cook pasta(Photo 2)
- Add sauce ingredients (Photo 3)
- Stir to combine to combine (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Baked Pasta Bolognese
To make the baked pasta bolognese start by browning the beef mince on the stove. Add olive oil to the pan, let it heat for a minute or so and then add the garlic and the beef mince. Ensure it is seasoned with salt and pepper and break up any clumps of meat as you go. At the same time you can cook the pasta on a separate element. Drain this into a colander discarding the pasta water.
- Add cooked pasta (Photo 5)
- Stir to combine (Photo 6)
- Transfer into dish, sprinkle cheese over the top (Photo 7)
- Oven bake till cheese melts (Photo 8)
If the oven is preheated (always recommended 👍😉) then it will only take 5 mins for the cheese to melt. As we have already cooked the beef and pasta, we are not really cooking the dish in the oven, so much as allowing what we have cooked to heat through and be smothered in a layer of melted cheese. (Sounds pretty great right? 😘🥰😍).
🍽 Serving Suggestions
If you want a starter, side or bread pairing try the Ciabatta Garlic Bread or Garlic Pizza Bread. They have complimentary Italian flavours and are cheesy delicious.
For a simple side salad the Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad is effortless and also Italian style.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the dish in a sealed air tight container. They can be left in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
How to Freeze
You can get to the step of sprinkling the cheese on the dish and then freezing the recipe for later.
Or you can cook the dish, let cool and freeze.
It is also a handy recipe to meal prep and then portion into containers for nights when you want delicious homemade comfort food without the effort of cooking it on the night.
How to Reheat
You can reheat leftovers of the dish in the microwave. Thawed will take around 2 minutes to heat through. Frozen portions (in glass containers) will take 6 minutes to be heated through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can use dried oregano on its own in the sauce if you have it and not Italian herbs.
- You can use either beef mince (ground beef) or pork mince (ground pork) or a combination of both to the equivalent amount in the recipe card.
- When it comes to the pasta, you can use shells, macaroni, spaghetti, twirl pasta, rigatoni or your favourite. Each will have a different cook time, so read the packet instructions as a guide.
- It is fine for the pasta to be slightly al dente (chewy) from the stove as it will cook further when it is baked in with the sauce in the oven.
- You can use beef, vegetable or chicken stock to the equivalent amount if you don't want to use the red wine. I use a Pinot Noir but a Shiraz will also work well 😉🍷.
- You can use another fresh herb to serve the dish like basil or flat leaf parsley. Fresh and finely chopped is best.
- Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes when making the tomato sauce if you want to spice it up a notch.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- Have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to go so that when you turn the stove on, you can keep the cooking process flowing without having to stop and chop up any vegetables.
- Spray the baking dish with cooking oil so that the clean up will be easier as nothing will stick to the dish.
- If you have an Instant pot and want to cook the pasta in that, be my guest! 😉👍.
- If you have preheated the oven, it will only take a quick 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt, so this is better than putting the dish into a cold oven.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Bolognese sauce and spaghetti sauce?
The main difference between Bolognese sauce and spaghetti sauce is that bolognese sauce almost always has beef or pork mince whereas spaghetti sauce can be made as a tomato based sauce with no meat involved.
What can I add to spaghetti Bolognese to make it taste better?
Add salt and pepper to the meat when cooking to season it then add dried Italian seasoning and serve the spaghetti bolognese with fresh parsley. These small steps ensure that the sauce will be full of flavour and rich in texture.
Should you put sugar in bolognese sauce?
Some people will but sugar in bolognese sauce to balance the strong tomato flavour. This comes down to personal preference. There are also many bolognese sauce recipes that do not need or include sugar as an ingredient.
😍 More Easy Pasta Recipes
If cooking pasta is your favourite thing to do in the kitchen, I hear you! I also have a feeling that these recipes will be right up your alley:
- Lamb Bolognese
- Pork Bolognese
- Carbonara Macaroni
- Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti with Jar Sauce
- Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- Pork Mince Pasta
- Pesto Pasta with Sausage
- Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
- Garlic Bacon Pasta
You can also find all of my pasta recipes in the one spot. It is time to get our pasta bake on my friend 🥰😉😘 !
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Baked Pasta Bolognese
- 1 Sauté pan to brown the beef and make the bolognese sauce
- 1 Large sauce pan to cook the pasta
- 1 Wooden spoon to cook the bolognese
- 1 Colander to drain the pasta
- 1 Large baking dish to bake the pasta bake
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 500 grams/16 oz beef mince (ground beef) Note 1
- 1 tablespoon dried onion
- 700 grams/24.5 oz passata (tomato puree) Note 2
- 400 grams/14 oz crushed tomatoes Note 3
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste Note 4
- ⅓ cup red wine Note 5
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
- ¼ teaspoon salt Note 6
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper also Note 6
- 500 grams/16 oz dried pasta Note 7
- ½ cup cheese grated
- parsley finely chopped to garnish
- cracked black pepper for serving
- Cook the beef: heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the garlic, beef mince, salt and pepper. Cook till browned and use a wooden spoon to stir and break up any clumps of meat as you go. Remove it from the pan when cooked.
- Cook the pasta: read and follow the instructions on the pasta packet to cook. Ensure water has a pinch of salt and pasta is cooked al dente. Drain using a colander and discard water.
- Make the sauce: add the passata, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, dried onion and Italian herbs to the cooked beef mince. Stir to combine and allow to simmer.
- Combine: add the cooked pasta to the Bolognese sauce. Stir to combine.
- Baking dish: transfer the pasta Bolognese into baking dish and use a wooden spoon to fill and flatten dish.
- Cheese: sprinkle the top of the bolognese with the grated cheese.
- Oven baked: place the dish into the oven on the middle shelf. Cook for 5 minutes until cheese has melted.
- Serve and enjoy: use oven mits to remove cooked dish from the oven. Place on heat proof surface. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. Provide additional cracked pepper on the table.
- Note 1 Beef mince: this is the same thing as ground beef. It is budget friendly, freezer friendly and extremely versatile! Lean beef mince or regular both work well for the recipe. Purchase from Walmart, Safeway, Woolies, Tesco, Aldi, Coles or your local butcher!
- Note 2 Passata: this is readily available in Australian supermarkets and called 'passata'. In other countries like the USA and Canada it is called tomato puree (but it is the same thing!).
- Note 3 - Crushed tomatoes: try and get the ones that have no added herbs or flavours. This is because we add our own herbs and depth of flavour which will produce much better results than stuff that you really don't know is in the tin or not!!
- Note 4 - Tomato paste: thick and rich in flavour, this adds a depth of tomato taste that is unmistakeable in bolognese sauces. We only need a small amount, so if you don't want to purchase a whole jar you can purchase the smaller packets which are often sold with 4 x 2 tablespoon amounts which are also perfect to use as a pizza sauce.
- Note 5 - Red wine: this is not essential, but you have got to love a recipe that has a little wine in it, right!! Check out my substitutions and variations for alternative options.
- Note 6 - Salt and pepper: we use a little bit of each of these for seasoning. Simply add in when frying the beef mince. I also recommend using salt in the pasta water to cook that and serving the dish with a good amount of freshly cracked black pepper.
- Note 7 - Dried pasta: I am using curly pasta as I love that a little of the bolognese sauce finds its way into the tubes making for delightful eating. You can use the same or rigatoni, macaroni or ziti.
This came up on my feed and looks so good. Making for my kids tonight.
Thanks Emma, I appreciate your thoughts. Hope you and the kids enjoy the recipe!
Rhona Douglas says
We made this for dinner on Saturday. It is delicious tasting and simple to make thank you.
Great to hear, thanks so much Rhona!!