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Easy Baked Penne Recipe: A Crowd-Pleasing Dish for Busy Foodies

Busy schedules can turn meal times into quick dashes, balancing convenience and quality. In the rush, there’s always a longing for a dish that hits the spot effortlessly.

Let’s talk about baked penne – a timeless fave that nails that perfect balance with its pasta, tomato sauce, melted cheese, and herbs. It’s a classic dish that takes your taste buds on a comforting journey, all while being easy to make.

So why not take a break from your fast-paced life and indulge in this crowd-pleasing dish? With just a few ingredients and simple steps, you can create a satisfying meal that will leave everyone wanting more.

🙋‍♀️ The Splash of Italian Comfort in Busy Lives

Enter the baked penne— a dish that embodies comfort and homely indulgence without demanding hours in the kitchen. Its simple construction belies a rich, flavorful core that appeals to foodies, busy parents, and home cooks alike.

But what sets this Italian favorite apart is its versatility; it seamlessly adapts to various palates and dietary needs.

If your quest is for a dish that can weather the storm of busy schedules while still being a showstopper at the family table, then baked penne might just be your holy grail.

It stays true to the health-focused approach, incorporating balanced ingredients that not only provide nourishment but also deepen the taste experience.

🍳 Variations and Customizations

The beauty of baked penne is that it can be easily adapted to various dietary needs and flavor preferences. Here are a few ideas for customizing this dish:

  • Vegetarian Twist: For a meat-free option, try using a mix of sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms as a substitute for meat.
  • Spice It Up: If you enjoy a bit of heat, add a dash of red pepper flakes into the meat sauce or experiment with spicy tomato sauces.
  • Herbal Infusion: Enhance the dish with fresh herbs like basil or oregano for a burst of fragrant freshness.
  • Cheese Lovers Delight: For the fromage enthusiasts, consider adding ricotta or a sharp cheddar to the cheese blend for extra creaminess and flavor.

👨‍🍳 Penne Pasta Bake Secret Ingredients & Tips

Unveiling the secrets to an exceptionally delightful baked penne:

  • Proper Saucing: Ensure your pasta is not overdressed. A light coating of sauce will prevent the dish from becoming too dry or too wet.
  • Mozzarella Maneuvers: Using a combination of fresh and part-skim mozzarella can yield a luscious texture and more complex flavor.
  • The Perfect Bake: Avoid overcooking the pasta before the bake, as it will have additional cooking time in the oven. Al-dente ensures a perfect finish.

🥗 Serve and Enjoy

Your penne pasta bake is a delightful one-dish wonder that pairs well with a simple side salad.

To elevate the experience, serve with a slice of warm, crusty bread and a glass of your favorite wine or a refreshing sparkling water with a slice of lemon. Gather your loved ones around and enjoy the simple pleasures of a homemade meal.


There’s a whisper of satisfaction that echoes through every bite of baked penne, and it resonates not only with your taste buds but with the spirit of home and hearth.

This dish isn’t just for the exhausted or the clock-watching; it’s a testament to the harmonious unity of nutrition, ease, and flavor.

We encourage you to take a breather from the chaos, even if it’s just for dinner, and indulge in the culinary joy that is baked penne.


Quick and Easy Baked Penne

A simplified version of the classic baked penne recipe that can be whipped up in no time for a delicious, crowd-pleasing meal.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people
Calories 620 kcal


  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 pound of ground beef turkey, or a vegetarian substitute
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: Fresh parsley for garnish


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Cook the penne pasta according to package directions, aiming for an al-dente texture.
  • In a separate pan, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add the choice of meat or vegetarian substitute, cooking until browned.
  • Stir in the pasta sauce, then season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom.
  • Layer half of the cooked penne over the sauce, then sprinkle half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top of the pasta.
  • Repeat the layering process with the remaining penne and cheeses.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese becomes golden and bubbly.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.


  • For a vegetarian option, use a mix of sautéed vegetables instead of meat.
  • To add more flavor, incorporate fresh herbs like basil or oregano into the sauce.
  • Serve with a side salad and warm bread for a complete meal.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 620kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 34gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 436mgPotassium: 417mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 325IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 292mgIron: 3mg
Keyword easy baked penne
Did you make this recipe?Mention @CooksCrafter or tag #CooksCrafter!
5 from 6 votes (5 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Monday 18th of March 2024

Wow, this baked penne recipe looks like a lifesaver for busy weeknights! Can't wait to try it out. Do you think adding some veggies like spinach or mushrooms would make it even better?

Andrew Gray

Monday 18th of March 2024

Adding veggies like spinach or mushrooms to the baked penne would definitely elevate the dish! They'll add a nice flavor and extra nutrients to the meal. Give it a try!