Let go of the ordinary with the distinctive flavor of our delicious freezer-friendly Penne Pasta Bake! Traditional red sauce is replaced with a creamy combination of brown gravy, spaghetti sauce, and half & half and flavored with garlic, herbs, and cheese.
⏲️ Time needed
Prep time is reduced by simmering the sauce for the casserole while the penne pasta cooks, both of which take about 10 minutes. If you aren’t using our system of keeping cooked ground beef in the freezer, you’ll need to add about 10 minutes to brown your beef.
After the pasta bake is assembled, it takes 25 minutes in the oven, so the dish is ready from start to finish in about 40 minutes if your beef is cooked, or 50 minutes if it needs browning.
Although it looks like a lot of ingredients, there is very little prep to this dish. The garlic, pasta, and beef need to be cooked (and if you keep cooked ground beef in the freezer, you can eliminate that), but everything else is mixed together and simmered before baking.
- olive oil
- cooked ground beef
- minced garlic
- spaghetti sauce
- brown gravy
- half and half
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- penne pasta
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°F so it will be hot when the penne pasta bake is ready to go in the oven.
Start by cooking the pasta according to package directions, and while the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
Sauté the minced garlic in oil over low heat for 1-2 minutes in a large fry pan or pot. Do not let it overcook – you don’t want it to get brown.
Add the cooked beef, spaghetti sauce, brown gravy, half & half, herbs, and salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
When the pasta is done and the ground beef mixture has simmered for 10 minutes, gently stir the cooked pasta into the ground beef mixture.
Pour the mixture into a prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese…
… and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
❄️ Freezer instructions
This pasta dish freezes well so you may want to double the ingredients on your shopping list and make an extra pan for the freezer.
Prepare the recipe as instructed, but do not bake. Wrap with foil or freezer paper and label with “Penne Pasta Bake: Thaw and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.”
Freezer-Friendly Penne Pasta Bake
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef, browned
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup spaghetti sauce
- ¾ cup brown gravy
- ½ cup half and half
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz. penne pasta
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- non-stick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic in oil over low heat for 1-2 minutes in a large fry pan.
- Add all remaining ingredients except mozzarella cheese and pasta and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add pasta and mix gently. Pour mixture into a prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
🥗 Side dishes
Simple sides are the best for this dish so you don’t have too many competing flavors. I like to serve this with Caesar salad or a green vegetable. If you don’t mind the extra carbs, garlic bread is delicious on the side.