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Pasta al Forno or Baked Pasta

Pasta al forno, my take on a baked pasta with a beef & pork sauce topped with a creamy bechamel sauce, fresh mozzarella & parmesan cheese.

This dish takes around 90 minutes to make, but it can be prepared in advance and baked later. It makes two hearty portions and a little leftover for lunch the following day.

Cheesy baked pasta al forno with a beef, pork and tomato sauce being served from a baking dish.

Baked Rigatoni al Forno

Pasta bakes are incredibly popular, yet for some reason, they are a relative rarity in my kitchen.

Of course, I have a fairly classic lasagna bolognese recipe on my website, which is joined by a meatball pasta bake and a wonderful crispy chicken and chorizo pasta bake.

I have no idea why, I love them and my latest recipe is a delicious baked rigatoni pasta al forno.

Al forno translates as “to the oven”, it’s a pretty classic Italian staple and it’s proper comfort food!

My version combines beef and pork mince in a simple tomato sauce. It is mixed with short pasta before being topped with a classic white (bechamel) sauce, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Then it is chucked in the oven and baked until the top begins to colour up and it is all gooey, comforting and delicious!

It’s wonderfully easy to make, if a little time-consuming. The biggest challenge is leaving it to rest for 5-10 minutes before you serve it up!

Overhead cheesy baked pasta al forno with a beef, pork and tomato sauce garnished with fresh basil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use a mix of pork and beef mince?

Yes, a combination of both meats is generally used because the bring a different texture and flaovur to the meat sauce.

However, if you want to use just one then feel free to do so.

What fat content of meat should I use?

Generally speaking, I avoid lean minced beef, I like a bit of fat because it brings both flavour and texture to a recipe. I usually am for something around 15-20%.

Can I use store-bought bechamel/white sauce?

Yes, if you wish, but this recipe only uses a little bit of it and as a result, you will likely have a lot left.

This is not a problem if you have another use for it, but otherwise, you are better off making your own bechamel sauce.

What pasta should I use?

I’ve used mezze rigatoni in the photos for this recipe and regular rigatoni in the video for this recipe. But penne pasta would work equally well.

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, this is a wonderful dish for making ahead of time. In fact, I always make this a little larger than needed and my self and my wife share the final for lunch on day 2.

You can either make the dish to completion, cool and cover it then reheat it in the oven later or make the pasta and meat sauce, combine them, set them aside then top the dish and bake it later. I prefer the second option.

It will sit in the fridge for 2-3 days or will freeze for up to 3 months, if you are freezing the dish defrost it before reheating it.

Close-up cheesy baked pasta al forno with a beef, pork and tomato sauce.

Serving Suggestions

This rigatoni pasta al forno recipe is a hearty old munch, so much so that I usually serve a third each on day one and share the final third for lunch on day two.

This leaves room for a bit of garlic bread or cheesy garlic bread on the side.

I’ll also usually serve this with some dressed salad leaves or a simple green salad. This helps contrast the richness of the recipe really well.

Cheesy baked pasta al forno with a beef, pork and tomato sauce garnished with fresh basil.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Hob/stovetop.
  • Oven.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • 15cm or 6″ saucepan.
  • 20cm (8″) X 15cm (6″) baking dish.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Grater.
  • Colander.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • A combination of weighing scales, measuring jug, measuring cups and spoons.
Pasta al forno, cheese topped meaty baked pasta being served from a baking dish.
Yield: 2 Servings (with Leftovers)

Pasta al Forno Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Pasta al forno translates as "pasta to the oven" and it's an Italian dish, my version rocks pasta tubes in a meaty tomato sauce and is topped with bechamel sauce, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese and thrown in the oven until golden brown.


  • 1 Small (100g or ⅔ Cup) Onion
  • 1 Medium (75g or ½ Cup) Carrot
  • 1 Stick (50g or ⅓ Cup) Celery
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 175g (6oz) Minced Beef
  • 175g (6oz) Minced Pork
  • ½ Tsp Salt (Plus extra to boil the pasta and season the Bechamel sauce)
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 200g (¾-1 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Water
  • ½ Tsp Dried Oregano
  • ½ Tsp Dried Basil
  • 175g (6oz) Short Tube Style Pasta
  • 150g (¾-1 Cup) Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 35g (⅓ Cup) Parmesan Cheese

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 15g (2 Tbsp) Flour
  • 15g (1 Tbsp) Butter
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Milk
  • Pinch of White Pepper


  1. Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into a 3-4mm (⅛") dice.
  2. Chop the carrot into a dice the same size as the onion.
  3. Cut the celery into a dice the same size as the onion and carrot.
  4. Heat a 30cm or 12" pan over a low-medium heat, add the olive oil and sweat the diced veggies down for 10 minutes without adding any colour.
  5. Push the veggies to the side of the pan and crank the heat up as high as it will go.
  6. When the pan is smoking hot add the minced beef and pork and allow it to sear, you want to get some nice colour on the meat, then stir it to get some colour all over.
  7. Season the meat with the salt and pepper, then stir it in with the veggies and reduce the heat to medium.
  8. Add the tomato puree to the pan and cook it for 1 minute (stirring constantly) in the fat from the meat.
  9. Bring everything together, pour in the tomato puree, water and sprinkle over the basil and oregano, when everything is bubbling have a taste add more salt if required, then add a lid, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Bring a 20cm or 8" saucepan of well-salted (I use 1-1½ tsp in a pan this size) to a boil and cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than indicated on the packet. You want the pasta really quite al dente, it will continue to cook when the dish is in the oven.
  11. Whilst the pasta is cooking heat a 15cm or 6" saucepan over a medium heat and melt the butter.
  12. When the butter has melted add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
  13. Pour in the milk little-by-little until a creamy white sauce has formed, add the white pepper and salt to taste.
  14. Drain the pasta and add it to the meat sauce and stir to combine, then transfer it to a 20cm (8") X 15cm (6") baking dish.
  15. Drizzle over the white sauce, then dice the mozzarella and sprinkle it over the dish and finally sprinkle over the freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  16. Bake at 200°C or 390°F for 25-30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1462Total Fat: 89gSaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 44gCholesterol: 250mgSodium: 2129mgCarbohydrates: 100gFiber: 14gSugar: 12gProtein: 67g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

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