Oven Baked Ziti (with meat sauce & cheese)

Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly.

Serve this easy pasta recipe with a loaf of crusty bread and an Easy Italian Salad for a meal everyone will love!

Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese on a plate

Our Favorite Baked Ziti Recipe

You don’t need to be Italian to serve this easy baked ziti! Nor do you need to have an authentic Italian grandmother because this is the best baked ziti recipe you’ll ever see!

What is Baked Ziti? Baked ziti with ricotta is a versatile twist on a standard lasagna. Instead of sheets of long lasagna noodles, we use ziti pasta but the layering the cheese and sauce is the same process. This pasta is round tubes about an inch long (penne is a good substitution if you can’t find ziti).

Baked ziti is versatile!

  • Meat Sauce: Sausage packs a ton of flavor in this recipe but of you can use ground beef (or turkey). If you swap out the sausage, you may want to add extra seasonings or spices.
  • Pasta: Since this is a baked ziti casserole, of course I use ziti as the base. If you don’t have ziti on hand you can use any medium shape in this recipe (or swap out rigatoni to make a baked rigatoni pasta). Be sure to cook it al dente (a little undercooked) as it will continue to cook as it bakes.
  • Cheese: Ricotta adds a creamy texture. You can swap it out by blending cottage cheese with an egg until smooth. Mozzarella is the perfect topper and I always garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese for great flavor.
  • Seasonings: Italian Seasoning contains all of the spices you’ll need in this recipe. Add more ‘heat’ by adding a dash of red pepper flakes…just a little spicy. Molto buono Italiano!

Ingredients prepared to make baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce.

How to Make Baked Ziti

  1. Brown the sausage and onion. Add in Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and marinara sauce and simmer while you cook the pasta.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parsley, mozzarella and parmesan.
  3. Layer sauce, ziti and the ricotta mixture in a casserole dish in order:
    • a little sauce on the bottom
    • half of the cooked ziti
    • all of the ricotta
    • remaining ziti and sauce
  4. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and bake minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

A casserole dish preparing baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce.

How Long to Cook Baked Ziti: Baked Ziti is basically cooked so the baking is to blend the flavors, heat everything through and of course melt the cheese. Cook it uncovered until the top looks bubbly and browned and you’ll be good to go!

  • Bake Ziti at
    • 350°F for 30-35 minutes
    • 375°F for 25-30 minutes
    • 400°F for 20-25 minutes

More Italian Favorites

You can make Baked Ziti Ahead of Time! Simply prepare as directed and refrigerate up to 24 hours. You may need to add an extra 5-10 minutes bake time if your recipe is chilly from the fridge.

To Reheat Baked Ziti use either the microwave or pop back in the oven on a low, slow heat. Reheating baked ziti doesn’t change the texture or the flavor, but adding an extra layer of shredded mozzarella to the top freshens it up just a bit!

A close up photo of baked ziti in a casserole dish topped with parmesan cheese and parsley.

Can You Freeze Baked Ziti?

Like most casseroles, baked ziti can be frozen successfully. If you are freezing the entire casserole in one piece, be sure to line the dish with aluminum foil before assembling and baking, then, once it is chilled, freeze in the pan and then remove the casserole and wrap in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, label and place in the fridge.

Or, portion into smaller pieces and put in freezer bags, label and freeze! Easy peasy lunch for school or work!

Baked Ziti

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 28 oz pasta sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 16 oz ziti
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Brown ground sausage and onion breaking up until the sausage is fairly fine. Drain any fat.
  3. Add in Italian seasoning, water, tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, boil ziti in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse.
  5. In a small bowl,mix ricotta, parsley, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.
  6. Add a thin layer (about 1 cup) of sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Layer half of the ziti in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Top with all of the ricotta and half of the sauce.
  7. Add remaining ziti, remaining sauce and top with cheese.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole
Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole

Tomato Tortellini Soup (in about 15 minutes)

Tomato Tortellini Soup recipe only needs about 15 minutes to cook, making it a delicious, family friendly meal that saves both time and money! We love making homemade tomato soup on busy weeknights. Just create the tomato soup, add the tortellini, and top it with cheese and basil. It’s that easy!

Our weeknights are usually pretty busy so I’m always looking for meals that quick and easy. A comforting bowl of tortellini soup with a fresh salad is the perfect meal!

A bowl of tomato tortellini soup garnished with parmesan cheese and basil.

I have partnered with Progresso™ to bring you this easy belly warming recipe.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Tomato soup is my daughter’s absolute favorite meal and I mean, what’s not to love?  It’s delicious and the perfect lunch or dinner…  and ready in just minutes! We love adding things like fresh croutons, a dash of cream, bacon, or of course, tortellini! It’s great served with grilled cheese roll ups or a fresh caesar salad.

Tortellini soup is super versatile add in your favorite proteins,  to create a sausage tortellini soup or chicken tortellini soup! Stir in handful of spinach before serving. Feel free to add whatever you have on hand – from peppers, to macaroni noodles, mushrooms, or onions!

A pot of tomato soup with tortellini and tomatoes

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How To Make Tomato Tortellini Soup

To make this easy tortellini soup recipe:

  1. Combine all of the tomato soup ingredients in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil,  reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the tortellini.
  3. Blend the soup mixture using a hand blender.
  4. Stir in the cream, and simmer for another 5 minutes adding tortellini in the last minute.

A bowl of homemade tomato tortellini soup

How To Store This Soup

The tortellini in this soup can get soggy if you have leftovers so we leave it on the side and always combine just before serving.

If you’d like to freeze this soup, add the cream once heated and defrosted (and freeze the tortellini separately). Serve this easy recipe with 30 Minute Dinner Rolls or crusty bread for dipping and a big fresh Easy Italian Salad.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

This Tomato Tortellini Soup takes just 15 minutes making it the perfect weeknight meal! Quick, easy and totally cheesy, my whole family loves this soup!

  • 2 cups fresh tortellini ((meat or cheese filled))
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach ((uncooked) optional)
  • Fresh Basil for garnish

Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (canned with juice)
  • 2 cups Progresso™ Chicken Broth
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream

OR

  • 2 cans Progresso™ Vegetable Classics Tomato Basil Soup
  1. Combine all soup ingredients in a saucepan except cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions. Add chopped spinach to the boiling water 30 seconds before the tortellini is finished. Drain well.

  3. Blend soup mixture with a hand blender. Add in heavy cream and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in tortellini and spinach if using.

  5. Place in serving bowls and top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

Tomato tortellini soup is an easy 15 minute recipe that is perfect for busy weeknights. This easy creamy tomato soup recipe is made with canned tomatoes for a quick meal! #spendwithpennies #tortellini #tomatotortellinisoup #soup #tomatosoup #tortellinisoup
Tomato tortellini soup is an easy 15 minute recipe that is perfect for busy weeknights. This easy creamy tomato soup recipe is made with canned tomatoes for a quick meal! #spendwithpennies #tortellini #tomatotortellinisoup #soup #tomatosoup #tortellinisoup

Comforting, Quick Italian Wedding Soup!

Spoonful of italian wedding soup

Italian Wedding soup is a hearty, classic soup made on the stovetop! This recipe comes together quickly for the perfect weeknight meal! 

Add some 30 Minute Dinner Rolls or a big piece of crusty bread and a fresh salad to round out the meal!

Ladle of Italian Wedding soup overtop of a white pot

This time of year, soup is a go-to meal for us.  On a bone-chilling cold night, there’s nothing better than wrapping both hands around a warm, steaming bowl of soup!  Normally we go for a hearty minestrone or loaded potato soup, but lately I’ve been getting requests for a classic Italian Wedding soup.

For dessert, we love to add Tapioca Pudding or Creamy Rice Pudding, both also perfect to warm you up from the inside out.

Why is it Called Italian Wedding Soup?

Ever wonder how it gets its name? I always thought maybe it was a traditional meal served at Italian weddings, but in actuality, it has nothing to do with a real wedding.  The name actually comes from the way the flavors combine, like a happy marriage!

What Pasta is Used in Italian Wedding Soup?

Traditionally, acini di pepe pasta is used, which looks like little pearls.  If you can’t find that pasta, ditalini or orzo pasta could be used.

My local grocery store had the acini di pepe pasta right in the dried pasta aisle.

Overhead of white bowl filled with Italian wedding soup

How Do You Make Italian Wedding Soup?

Italian wedding soup is such a simple soup to make. The part that takes the most time is making the meatballs.  You can use any combination of ground meat you like.  My favorite combination is either pork and beef or all chicken.  I like to brown the meatballs in the soup pot, to add tons of extra flavor!

  1. Prep meatballs and brown.
  2. Soften onions, carrots & celery. Add herbs and seasonings.
  3. Stir in broth and pasta and cook until pasta is tender.
  4. Add spinach and serve.

Can You Use Frozen Meatballs?

Sure can! I like to make double the meatball recipe and freeze the other half, but when I don’t have any pre-made meatballs, I reach for my favorite bag of frozen meatballs!  Just make sure you’re using the small meatballs.

Closeup of apoonful of Italian wedding soup with a bowl of soup in the background

Can You Freeze Italian Wedding Soup?

Absolutely!  For the best results, I like to freeze the soup before adding the pasta.  Then when you’re reheating the soup, go ahead and add the pasta.

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Italian Wedding Soup

Hearty and classic, this easy stovetop Italian Wedding soup comes together quickly and is perfect for any weeknight meal!

Meatballs

  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Soup

  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (minced)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 9 – 10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried acini di pepe pasta
  • 5 ounces chopped baby spinach
  • shredded Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  1. Add all meatball ingredients except olive oil to a large mixing bowl.  Gently mix until fully combined.  Shape into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.

  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add about half the meatballs and cook about 3 minutes per side, turning to brown all over.  Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

  3. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to the same dutch oven and reduce heat to medium low.  Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Season with salt, pepper, and dill.

  4. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

  5. Add pasta and meatballs to the pot and cook 8-10 minutes, until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through.  During the last minute of cooking, add spinach and let it wilt.

  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.

We just love with this hearty Italian Wedding Soup made easily on the stovetop! It's the perfect weeknight meal. #spendwithpennies #soup #easyrecipe #italianwedding #stovetop #easylunch #easydinner
We just love with this hearty Italian Wedding Soup made easily on the stovetop! It's the perfect weeknight meal. #spendwithpennies #soup #easyrecipe #italianwedding #stovetop #easylunch #easydinner

Chicken Parmesan Casserole – a perfect weeknight meal!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole takes all of the flavors we love in our favorite Chicken Parmesan recipe and turns them into a belly warming casserole!

Tender chunks of chicken and pasta in a rich tomato sauce. This chicken casserole is topped with mozzarella cheese and a garlic buttery topping for the perfect bite!

Add in a side salad and some crusty bread and you’ll have dinner on the table in a flash.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole is baked in a round casserole dish.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole starts with tender chunks of cooked chicken. I normally use either Oven Baked Chicken Breasts or leftover Roast Chicken. If you don’t have leftovers, you can also use rotisserie chicken or make a super quick Poached Chicken.

If you use rotisserie chicken, remember to put the leftover bones and bits in the freezer for another day to turn them into a savory chicken soup.

How to Make Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The great thing about baked chicken parmesan casserole is how easy it is to prepare on busy weeknights. I usually make it even easier on myself with leftover chicken.

To make chicken parmesan casserole into a filling meal the whole family will love:

  1. Boil the pasta al dente and drain (it will finish cooking in the oven)
  2. In the same pot, mix the pasta, shredded chicken, sauce and diced tomatoes, and place into a casserole dish.
  3. Top with shredded mozzarella.
  4. Spread the Panko topping over the cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole prepared and waiting to go into the oven.

Pasta for Chicken Parm Casserole

The pasta you use can be just about any shape you like – or with pasta you already have on hand, other than spaghetti. I recommend either penne or rotini here, either would be the perfect choice for casseroles. They’re dense and delightfully chewy. This means it holds up well to baking, freezing, or if you expect there to be leftovers.

Rotini is my personal favorite, and kids seem to like it too. Those little spirals catch and hold the sauce, making for a more tender and juicy dish. Be sure not to overcook them so they don’t fall apart and turn into mush if you plan on freezing of refrigerating and reheating leftovers.

Easy Casserole Topping

I always think a good topping gives any casserole dish extra pizazz but it’s especially important in this recipe. Since this recipe mimics the flavors in our favorite chicken parm recipe, the crumbs replicate that delicious crunch and breading we love so much. Panko, garlic, butter and parmesan add the perfect crisp topping.

Of course, you can substitute whatever breadcrumbs are in your cupboard. The fat in the melted butter will still make them bake up nice and crumbly but Panko does give the best crispy crunch.

A serving of Chicken Parmesan Casserole on a white dish

What to Serve with Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a simple Italian inspired dish. And what goes better with basic Italian than crusty garlic bread, and a fresh green salad?

You can pop a foil-wrapped garlic loaf in the oven at the same time the casserole is cooking. For the salad, just whisk up a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The acidity of the vinegar will make a welcome contrast to the buttery and cheesy richness of this casserole. Your family is going to love it!

A baking dish full of chicken parmesan casserole with a serving taken out of it.

How to Reheat Chicken Parmesan Casserole

If you have leftovers, you can refresh with a new topping layer and reheat in the oven. Freezing the leftovers is also an option. Either way, the flavors will still be awesome.

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Chicken Parmesan Casserole has chicken, pasta, tomato sauce and a crisp panko crumb topping to make a delicious Italian inspired dish you will love!

  • 8 oz rotini (or penne)
  • 24 oz marinara sauce (or pasta sauce, divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (canned, well drained (optional))
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh)

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. Mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.

  3. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Toss with 2 cups pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, chicken, diced tomatoes and parsley. 

  4. Place in a 9×9 dish or 2QT casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle topping over cheese.

  5. Baked 23-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly and topping is browned.

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We just love this Chicken Parmesan Casserole! Tender chunks of chicken and pasta are covered in a rich tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella cheese and a crispy panko topping! #spendwithpennies #chickenparmesan #casserole #chickencasserole #pastacasserole #easyrecipe #maincourse #weekdaymeal #chicken #pasta
We just love this Chicken Parmesan Casserole! Tender chunks of chicken and pasta are covered in a rich tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella cheese and a crispy panko topping! #spendwithpennies #chickenparmesan #casserole #chickencasserole #pastacasserole #easyrecipe #maincourse #weekdaymeal #chicken #pasta

Lazy Lasagna in the Slow Cooker

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make! A delicious meat sauce layered with cheese and spinach filled ravioli and loads of gooey cheese and cooks up perfectly in the slow cooker. A meal that everyone will agree on. Did I mention how easy this lasagna is to make?

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna With Cheese And Sauce On Plate

Easy Easy Easy

This Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite!  It seems we’re always off at some activity or event and some nights it seems like everyone is going through a revolving door.  This is perfect because it’s quick to make and we can have it ready for when we get home from soccer practice.

We love lasagna and although there are a lot of steps involved in making a lasagna from scratch, the results are always worth it!  This Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna uses a few shortcuts to make a lasagna dish that takes just about 15 minutes of prep and then cooks in the slow cooker but has the same great flavor.

Easy Lasagna in Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Saucy Lasagna In Your Slow Cooker

The key to making this taste amazing is to use a high quality pasta sauce, the better the sauce, the better the dish!

Cheese and spinach filled ravioli (or you can use just cheese ravioli) replace the traditional layers of pasta and ricotta cheese making it super simple to put together and no boiling required. Adding the cheese on top right at the beginning of the the cooking allows it to get that yummy crusty edge that I love!

This recipe makes a large batch and I would suggest a 6 quart slow cooker or larger.

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna made with ravioli on a plate.

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Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna

Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion (, diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (, minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large jar ((45 oz) high quality pasta sauce)
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large package ((25-30 oz) cheese & spinach filled ravioli (uncooked))
  1. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  2. Stir in Italian seasoning and pasta sauce. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Spray the inside of a 6-7 qt crock pot with cooking spray. Layer sauce, ravioli and cheese.
  4. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours.

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Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and so quick and easy to make! A delicious meat sauce is layered with cheese and spinach filled ravioli and loads of gooey cheese and cooks up perfectly in the slow cooker. This is one meal that everyone will agree on.

The BEST Chicken Lasagna Recipe

This chicken lasagna recipe is one of our favorite comfort foods. Tender chicken is layered with veggies, cheese, and lasagna noodles in a rich creamy alfredo inspired sauce. Serve it alongside a caesar salad and garlic bread for a comfort meal that’s perfect for any time of the year!

Having simple dinner recipes that I can make during the week and that reheat well to make a few meals is a complete game changer. Cue, this chicken alfredo lasagna recipe!

A slice of cheesy chicken lasagna on a white plate topped with fresh parsley.

Chicken Lasagna Alfredo

I love using leftover roast chicken for this recipe, but poached chicken, grilled chicken breasts, or even store bought rotisserie chicken work great in a pinch. If you have leftover frozen turkey, that is a great substitution too!

Making the sauce homemade alfredo style sauce adds so much flavor to this white lasagna recipe. It makes it so creamy, dreamy, and delicious!

Chicken lasagna being layered with chicken and veggies in a baking dish.

How To Make Chicken Lasagna

Lasagna has a few steps but this dish is worth every second! To make this chicken lasagna recipe:

  • Make the cheesy cream sauce
  • Combine cottage cheese, parsley, eggs, and spinach for the cheese layer
  • Layer noodles, sauce, cheese, vegetables, and chicken, end with a noodles and sauce layer
  • Bake for 40 minutes covered
  • Uncovered, top with cheese, and bake for an additional 20 minutes

When you layer lasagna, the trick is to keep things as even as possible throughout the dish to ensure even baking. The lasagna noodles should be cooked al dente as they’ll cook a little bit longer in the oven.

A slice of white chicken lasagna on a white plate ready to eat.

What Temp To Bake Lasagna

I bake this chicken lasagna at 350°F for about 60 minutes in total. Adding the cheese towards the end of baking ensure it doesn’t fall into the rest of the dish or overcook and crisps up nicely.

If you notice the cheese isn’t as browned and bubbly as you’d like, turn the oven to broil right before you remove the chicken lasagna from the oven.

Alternatively if the topping is done to your liking and you still have some cooking time left, cover the lasagna with foil to prevent further browning while it finishes off.

A cheesy white lasagna fresh from the oven in a casserole dish.

As with all Lasagna recipes, make sure you let this casserole sit at least 10-15 minutes before cutting. This gives it a chance to set up.

Serve this lasagna alongside a fresh kale salad for the perfect meal!

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Chicken Lasagna

A delicious chicken lasagna with a creamy cheese sauce is a family favorite!

  • 12 lasagna noodles (cooked and cooled)
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 3 cups vegetables (cooked and cooled)
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 4 cups mozzarella (divided)
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano

Sauce

  1. To make the sauce, melt butter, onion and garlic over medium low heat. Cook until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  2. Reduce heat to low. Combine milk and broth. Add a small amount at a time whisking to thicken. The mixture will become very thick, continue adding a little bit of liquid at a time whisking until smooth.

    Once all of the liquid has been added, stir in cream cheese until melted.

  3. Remove from heat and add in 1/3 cup parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Assembly

  1. Combine cottage cheese, eggs, parsley and spinach. Set aside.

  2. In a 9×13 pan, layer 4 noodles, sauce, cooked vegetables and half of the chicken. Sprinkle with 1/2 mozza, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/3 of the sauce.

  3. Add another layer of noodles, chicken, cottage cheese mixture, sauce.  Top with noodles and sauce. Cover and bake 40 minutes.

  4. Uncover, top with cheese and bake 20-30 minutes more.

For cooked vegetables I use steamed broccoli and carrots. Any combination of veggies works in this recipe, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers or zucchini are great choices.

 

The Best Mac & Cheese You’ve Ever Had!

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Homemade Mac and Cheese is a rich, creamy casserole that is truly a show stopper!

Not only is this creamy macaroni and cheese recipe easy to make it, has a special ingredient making it extra delicious!

This dish has so much velvety cheese in a quick homemade sauce that, once you try it, this is going to be the only baked macaroni & cheese dish you’ll ever need!

Scooping mac and cheese out of a white casserole dish

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Hello, my name is Holly and I am addicted to Macaroni and Cheese.  It is literally my favorite thing to eat on the whole planet! It doesn’t even have to be fancy, I love crock pot mac & cheese, stove top mac and cheese or even out of a little blue box.

Of all of the mac and cheese recipes, *this* little gem right here is like striking mac and cheese gold. It is definitely the best mac and cheese recipe ever and always gets rave reviews! Take it from me, I definitely should know!

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

Making homemade macaroni and cheese (including this 5-star recipe) is surprisingly easy and quick!

This mac and cheese casserole starts with tender macaroni noodles that are slightly undercooked so they don’t get mushy when it’s baked.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese on Plate next to serving dish

About This Mac and Cheese Sauce

The sauce for this easy homemade mac and cheese is a classic roux based cheese sauce.  Roux sounds very fancy but truthfully once you make a roux, you’ll realize how easy it is! It’s just butter and flour cooked and then milk added so don’t let it scare you away!

The results of creating a roux based sauce means your macaroni and cheese is going luscious and velvety smooth every single time. This allows the cheeses to melt in evenly and perfectly for this casserole.

To add to the creaminess of this dish, I combine a little bit of milk and a little bit of light cream (I use a cream that is about 10-12%MF or half and half).

Homemade mac and cheese in serving dish with scoop taken out

What Cheese Is Best For Mac and Cheese?

Now, this recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy…  AND it is optional.

The addition of cheddar soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something.

Mac and cheese with Velveeta, I personally prefer to make it without!  The addition of the cheddar cheese soup to this recipe is something you definitely should try!  (You can find it at your local grocery store with the other condensed soups or online here).

If you don’t happen to have cheese soup on hand (or if you just don’t want to use it), this baked mac and cheese recipe is still ridiculously great without.

You might be wondering what cheese is best for mac and cheese, and it’s one with lots of flavor!

I generally use a sharp cheddar in this recipe as I love the flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses in this recipe too. Sometimes I mix up the cheeses and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepperjack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade mac and cheese sauce.

I would suggest buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself as pre-shredded cheeses don’t melt the same way as they have additives to keep them from clumping/sticking.

Making Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is not difficult but below are a few simple tips to make sure it turns out absolutely perfectly every single time!

A serving spoon of gooey macaroni and cheese with on the table

Tips to Make Creamy Mac and Cheese

  • Cook your pasta al dente (firm) as the noodles cook extra in the sauce and you don’t want them mushy.
  • Don’t forget to salt your pasta water.
  • While not everyone agrees with rinsing the pasta after cooking, in this particular recipe it stops the noodles from cooking and the sauce is created with a texture that pairs perfectly with the rinsed noodles.
  • A sharper cheddar cheese will add a stronger cheese flavor.
  • Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affects the way it melts.  The sauce is best if you shred your own cheeses.
  • Allowing the baked macaroni and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce.
  • Most importantly of all… Do not over bake this recipe.

When cooking your macaroni noodles, cook them according to the package directions but you want them to be still firm.  If your package says 6-8 minutes, just cook them 6…  you get the idea. I choose not to top this baked macaroni casserole with a bread crumb mixture but if you really like bread crumbs on your macaroni and cheese, by all means, add some!

How to Make a Bread Crumb Topping for Mac & Cheese

Combine the following and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (Panko Bread Crumbs are best)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (optional)

This recipe makes an extra saucy creamy macaroni.  Do not over-bake this recipe.  You want it creamy and rich, over-baking will cause it to dry out.

I find that 20 minutes was perfect in my oven…  note that the recipe will thicken slightly while standing.

More Macaroni Recipes You’ll Love

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

This homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole is the best you’ve ever had. Tender noodles in a velvety sauce for the perfectly irresistible dish!!

  • 12 oz dry macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream (about 10-12% MF)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cream of cheddar soup (optional 10.75oz)
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar (divided)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, mustard powder and onion powder. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese & 3 cups cheddar cheese until melted. Add soup if using.
  5. Toss cheese sauce & macaroni noodles together. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 18-24 minutes or until bubbly. Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Creamy Mac and Cheese Casserole

This Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is a show stopper! It's easy to make with tons of rich cheese sauce and a specail ingredient making it extra delicious!

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Swedish Meatball Pasta

Swedish Meatball Pasta combines flavorful homemade pork and beef Swedish meatballs with a heavenly cream sauce and perfectly cooked pasta.

Our family loves Swedish meatballs!  You can also try the original Best Swedish Meatballs or try making this Slow Cooker Swedish Meatball version!

Swedish meatballs are typically enjoyed over egg noodles or rice. This classic meatball and cream sauce recipe makes enough sauce that it made sense to add pasta right in with the sauce and officially name it Swedish Meatball Pasta.

Now, if you want to take this meal from really good to over-the-top amazingly delicious, then you’ll want to knock your own socks off and make some homemade pasta. You can easily use fresh pasta for this Swedish Meatball Pasta recipe much like you would a dried pasta you buy at the store. The fresh pasta will just take less time to cook.

How to make Swedish Meatball Pasta:

  • The best recipe for Swedish Meatballs is just a click away. I only made one modification and used equal parts ground pork and ground beef instead of just ground beef. I think the combination just makes a better meatball.
  • Simply combine all of the meatball ingredients and form about 20 small meatballs. Fry them until brown and crispy and set aside.
  • Next you’ll make the sauce. This is a rich and heavenly combination of beef broth and heavy cream that gets mixed into a roux. I went a little above and beyond, in addition to making this recipe with my homemade pasta, by using my own homemade beef broth. You can absolutely use beef broth from a can or a box though. No judgement!
  • Finally, while the meatballs are simmering in the sauce, cook your pasta. There’s enough sauce to fully coat all of the pasta.

What to serve with Swedish Meatball pasta:

You have two options here: serve something alongside this recipe or incorporate more ingredients. This meal, on it’s own, is quite rich and decadent. I certainly feel that some vegetables are required to help balance things out.

If you’re looking for an easy side dish, a simple green salad or steamed veggies would compliment this pasta recipe quite well.

You can also toss in some vegetables to make it a complete one-bowl meal. I happened to have some leftover caramelized onions from a different recipe. I mixed those in along with a couple handfuls of fresh baby arugula. Talk about YUM!

No matter what, this is a meal that your entire family will enjoy and it’s really simple to make. The meatballs and the sauce have so much flavor and who doesn’t love pasta?

Swedish Meatball Pasta
 
Swedish Meatball Pasta combines flavorful homemade pork and beef Swedish meatballs with a heavenly cream sauce and perfectly cooked pasta.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 ounces pasta
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine ground pork, ground beef, panko, parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion, garlic powder, pepper, salt and egg. Mix until combined.
  2. Roll into 20 small meatballs. In a large skillet heat olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Add the meatballs and cook turning continuously until brown on each side and cooked throughout. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Add 4 Tablespoons butter and flour to skillet and whisk until it turns brown. Slowly stir in beef broth and heavy cream. Add worchestershire sauce and dijon mustard and bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and continue to simmer over low heat.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, boil a pot of salted water. Cook pasta to preferred doneness and drain. Add to the meatballs and sauce and toss to coat.
  6. Serve hot with additional parsley as garnish.

 

Baked Rigatoni Pasta

This easy baked Rigatoni Pasta is made with a homemade tomato-based meat sauce and tons of mozzarella cheese!

This easy rigatoni recipe is great to prepare ahead for busy nights throughout the week – simply refrigerate this Rigatoni Pasta bake until you’re ready to cook and serve! Serve it with a Classic Wedge Salad and some 30 Minute Dinner Rolls with Homemade Garlic Butter and you’re all set for dinner!

baked rigatoni pasta in a white casserole dish overhead

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love pasta.

It’s easy to prepare, it’s hearty, it’s comforting and it can even be relatively healthy! When the cooler weather hits, this is my favorite of the Rigatoni Pasta recipes that warm me back up from the inside out.

There is just nothing that brings people together more than cheesy pasta! I know I definitely don’t have a hard time getting everyone to the table when the best rigatoni recipe is on it ;)

If your family is the same, you might also enjoy this Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, this Beef Taco Pasta Skillet, this Hamburger Helper, or this Chicken Spaghetti – they’re all super cheesy and comforting!

baked rigatoni pasta scoop with the baked rigatoni in a white dish in the background

I wanted to keep this baked rigatoni recipe as simple as possible, but if you’d like to round out the meal, feel free to add in some extra veggies to the sauce: mushrooms, peppers, and zucchini would work perfectly!

What is Rigatoni Pasta?

Rigatoni noodles are short, tubular pasta that is widely available. It’s larger than penne pasta, and not cut on a diagonal.

The shape and large size of rigatoni noodles make them the perfect vehicle for a chunky, meaty sauce like this one! It holds so much flavor in every bite.

Tips for making this Rigatoni Pasta:

  • Don’t have Rigatoni pasta? Totally fine! Any type of pasta will work in this recipe, but I recommend something on the larger end, and something that will be able to grab that thick and hearty sauce.
  • Want to spice it up? Swap out Italian sausage for the ground beef to turn this into a sausage rigatoni recipe, or add in some crushed red chili peppers while you’re cooking the sauce for a blast of heat.
  • To freeze this baked Rigatoni Pasta, cover first in plastic wrap, then in tin foil and label with the name and date. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bake, simply place in the oven at 350 degrees F, covered only with foil, and bake until heated through (this can take 60 to 90 minutes, but you will need to keep an eye on it to be sure). If your baking dish is not freezer-to-oven safe, leave the dish out on the counter for at least 1-2 hours before placing in the oven.
  • To make ahead: you can simply cover in plastic wrap or foil, then refrigerate up to 3 days before baking and serving. It’s perfect for your weekend meal prep, meaning you can make Tuesdays (or Wednesdays or Saturdays) dinner when you have time. (*Tip: if making ahead, pour 1/2 cup water over the pasta, then cover and bake. As it sits, the pasta soaks up the moisture and this prevents it from becoming drier in the oven.)

rigatoni pasta with meat sauce on a white plate with a casserole of rigatoni pasta in the background

More Baked Pasta Dishes You’ll Love

Rigatoni Pasta

This easy baked Rigatoni Pasta is made with a homemade tomato-based meat sauce and tons of mozzarella cheese!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups tomato pasta sauce (about 2 jars)
  • 1 lb Rigatoni pasta (about 500 g)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. In a large saucepan, crumble and cook ground beef and onion over medium heat until browned and onions have softened. Drain any juices.
  2. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the pasta sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add rigatoni, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook just until al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven).
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain. Stir pasta water into meat sauce.
  6. Combine pasta and pasta sauce in saucepan. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13″ or similar baking dish.
  7. Cover with a lightly greased piece of foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Optionally, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through, about 30-40 minutes.
  9. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes, until cheese has started to brown.

REPIN this Delicious Pasta Recipe

Baked Rigatoni Pasta in a white baking dish

This easy baked Rigatoni Pasta is made with a homemade tomato-based meat sauce and tons of mozzarella cheese! #spendwithpennies #easyrecipe #pastadinner #easydinner #pastarecipe #withbeef #casserole #easycasserole #pasta

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my childhood favorites! A rich, flavorful broth and tender chunks of chicken are mixed with loads of fresh vegetables and finished off with egg noodles. 

This easy favorite comes together in just minutes for the perfect fresh and healthy weeknight meal. This classic soup is one of Grandma’s home remedies for good reason! 

A pot of homemade chicken noodle soup with vegtables

How To Make Chicken Noodle Soup

Tender chicken, fresh vegetables and egg noodles; this the best chicken noodle soup recipe, not only is it full of flavor, it’s ready in just minutes!

While I love making chicken noodle soup in the slow cooker, I also love being able to create a quick and healthy soup in just about 20 minutes.

  1. For this recipe, you’re going to soften onions, celery and carrots in a pot.
  2. Add broth and poultry seasoning. The addition of poultry seasoning adds the perfect savory flavor to the broth making it taste like its been simmering all day long!
  3. Add chicken and noodles and cook until tender.  Homemade chicken noodle soup is that easy!

Poultry seasoning is a wonderful combination of flavors that really takes  any chicken or turkey recipe to the next level!  If you’ve never used it before, it’s perfect to add to soups, stuffings or casseroles!   If you don’t have poultry seasoning on hand you can quickly make Homemade Poultry Seasoning and it will last in your cupboard for months!

A bowl of chicken noodle soup with crackers and parsley

How Do You Make Chicken Noodle Soup from Scratch?

The base of any good soup is broth, I always try to uses homemade if I can! Whenever I make a whole roasted chicken, I always freeze the carcass to create an amazing homemade chicken stock! If I don’t have chicken carcasses, I simply make Boiled Chicken giving me a rich flavorful broth as well as tender and juicy meat to add to the soup. The flavor of a homemade chicken broth tastes best in this recipe but store bought works if it’s all you have on hand!

I always start with onion/carrot/celery but you can really use any vegetables in this recipe. If you’re using frozen veggies, just cook them for a minute or so longer so they have the chance to cook properly.

When making homemade chicken noodle soup, I most often use leftover chicken (or turkey) that I already have on hand but you can use rotisserie chicken or even quick poached chicken!

A ladle of homemade chicken noodle soup

What to Serve With Chicken Noodle Soup

This Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup recipe is almost a complete meal on its own. Loaded with fresh vegetables, Egg Noodles and of course juicy chicken. 

We love to this soup with Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits and a nice fresh salad. Other great options are 30 Minute Dinner Rolls and a Coleslaw.

I like making this soup on busy weeknights because so fast to whip up (and it doesn’t come from a can or takeout box)! It’s also loaded with vegetables and lean protein making it a healthy choice. The goodness of this easy Homemade Chicken noodle soup warms you from the inside out! 

Close up photo of chicken noodle soup filled with fresh vegetables.

Chicken noodle soup can be kept in the fridge for a few days. For those of you asking, yes, you can freeze chicken noodle soup. If you are freezing some of it, just leave out the egg noodles and add them when you reheat your soup!

More Chicken Soup Recipes You’ll Love

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

A hearty chicken noodle soup recipe. Juicy chicken, tender egg noodles and fresh vegetables all simmered in a flavorful chicken broth.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 large carrots (diced)
  • 2 large celery ribs (sliced)
  • 1 red pepper (finely diced)
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 6 cups chicken broth (I prefer homemade)
  • 6 oz . egg noodles
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium high heat.
  2. Chop the onion and add to the pot. Continue adding veggies to the pot in order as you chop them except broccoli.
  3. Cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in seasoning, broth and chicken. Bring to a boil, add noodles reduce heat to medium-high and cook until noodles are tender. Add in broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  5. Stir in parsley and remove bay leaf before serving.

If you prefer more broth you can add 8 cups.

Is Chicken Noodle Soup Good For You?

The short answer: Yes, there’s a reason a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup is a go to when you’re feeling under the weather!!

  • The steam from a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup is a great decongestant
  • The sodium found in the soup will help your body retain water while you rehydrate
  • Eating chicken noodle soup will help increase your micronutrient intake.
  • Chicken noodle soup contains Selenium, which helps to fight common cold symptoms!

Turns out grandma wasn’t wrong!

Homemade Chicken Noodle soup takes about 20 minutes to make! This hearty soup has juicy chicken, tender egg noodles and fresh vegetables all simmered in a flavorful chicken broth. #spendwithpennies #chickennoodlesoup #easyrecipe
Homemade Chicken Noodle soup takes about 20 minutes to make! This hearty soup has juicy chicken, tender egg noodles and fresh vegetables all simmered in a flavorful chicken broth. #spendwithpennies #chickennoodlesoup #easyrecipe