Pizza Pasta Bake
This Pizza Pasta Bake is easy to make, loaded with pepperoni, pancetta, veggies, and three types of cheese! It’s perfect for busy weeknights, customizable with your favorite pizza toppings, and the ultimate easy pasta dinner that the whole family will love!
It’s a pizza. No, it’s a pasta. Wait for it…IT’S BOTH!!! 🤩
Friends, please meet my new favorite and easy weeknight pasta dinner! This Pizza Pasta Bake combines my love for pizza and pasta in one showstopping, super easy to make, and QUICK pasta bake that everyone in the family will love!
All you need is some pasta, your favorite meat and veggie pizza toppings, a jar of store-bought tomato pasta sauce, and LOTS (or little if you prefer) of melty, chewy, and delicious cheeses to make this delicious and fuss-free dinner.
Why This Recipe Works
- Simple to make on any given weeknight. It’s quick and easy thanks to using a store-bought jar of tomato pasta sauce, and everything comes together in under just 40 minutes.
- Flexible and customizable. You can customize it with any of your favorite meat or veggie pizza toppings.
- Adjustable for various diets. You can make it gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan if needed.
- Can be made ahead and is freezer-friendly. This makes it perfect for meal prep too.
- Parents and kids will LOVE it! If your family loves pizza and pasta dinners, they’re going to love having the best of both worlds in this fun and tasty pizza pasta bake!
- Pasta: I used Galletti n°44, which is a curved and hollow pasta shape and like macaroni, but it has a ridged back. It’s super fun to eat! But any type of short-cut pasta such as penne, cavatappi, ziti, gemelli, small shells, etc. will work.
- Meat: I went with pepperoni slices and pancetta cubes for this pizza pasta bake. But you can use any type of meat that you like on your pizzas! (See the ‘Variations’ section below for other meat options.)
- Veggies: I used red onion, sliced bell peppers, and olives. But you could also add any other of your favorite pizza veggies. (See below for more veggie ideas.)
- Toppings: You’ll need some to go in the bake and also for the top of the casserole before baking. I reserved a small handful of the pepperoni slices and uncooked veggies for topping the pasta bake with before baking. If you’re using other meat such as Italian sausage or ground meat, you’ll need to fully cook it first before adding it to (and on top if desired) the casserole. Veggie toppings can be cooked first if desired, or left raw to get semi-cooked in the oven so that they still have some crunch.
- Tomato Pasta Sauce: I used my favorite store-bought jarred tomato pasta sauce – Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce without any sugar added. You can use a store-bought jarred or homemade tomato pasta sauce or marinara sauce for this dish.
- Spices & Seasonings: I always like to doctor up store-bought tomato sauces by adding some extra seasonings and spices to up the flavor. I added some garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, salt, ground cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano and Italian seasoning. However, you may not need all of the seasonings depending on the tomato pasta sauce you’re using. Feel free to omit or reduce the quantity of any of these spices and seasonings to suit your taste.
- Cheeses: I used three types of cheese and LOTS of each!! We have freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for nutty/salty flavors, pull-y and chewy mozzarella, and melty Muenster cheese slices which I cut up into smaller pieces. You can use less or more types of cheeses, and the amount you use can be adjusted based on how cheesy you’d like this pizza pasta bake to be.
- Fresh Italian Basil Leave: LOTS of it! Use as much as you like for garnish because in my opinion, the more the merrier!
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Pizza Pasta Bake
1. Cook the pasta. Cook 2-3 minutes shy of al-dente in a large pot (or the same large deep sauté pan you’ll use to make the pasta dish) of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.
2. Cook the pancetta. Sauté for a few minutes until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Remove all but 1.5 tablespoons of pancetta grease from the pan and set it back on the stovetop.
3. Make the sauce. Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add and sauté the red onion, bell peppers, garlic, and red chilies until softened and fragrant. Then add most of the pepperoni slices and sliced black olives (reserve a few slices of each for topping) and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato pasta sauce, and all of the seasonings and spices until combined well. Add the cooked pasta and pancetta and toss for a minute until everything is coated in the sauce. Switch off the heat and stir in fresh Italian basil leaves.
4. Assemble the casserole and bake: Spread half of the pasta mixture in an even layer in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and half of the mozzarella cheese on top, and top with half of the muenster cheese pieces. Repeat the layers with the remainder pasta mixture and cheeses. Top with the reserved pepperoni slices and olives, as well as any of your favorite pizza toppings. Then bake uncovered in a preheated oven until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbly. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for a few minutes.
5. Serve! Garnish with more fresh basil, and serve with dried oregano flakes and crushed red pepper chili flakes on the side if desired. Then enjoy!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Make ahead and freezing. Cook and assemble the casserole fully with the cheeses. Once cooled, cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight (it’ll only partially thaw, but that’s okay) and set on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking. You’ll need to bake for 5-10 minutes longer than directed, or until piping hot throughout.
- Use any type of pasta sauce you love. You can even use Alfredo sauce or white lasagna sauce if you’d prefer to make a creamy white sauce pizza pasta bake.
- Undercook the pasta. Since the pasta will continue cooking in the oven, boil 2-3 minutes short of the cook time indicated on the package for al-dente pasta. (Example: Cook for 5-6 minutes if the cook time on the package says 8 minutes for al-dente pasta.) This will prevent the pasta from getting hard in the pasta bake.
Absolutely! You can use store-bought jarred or homemade marinara sauce for this pizza pasta bake.
Leftovers will keep in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout.
- Use different meat. Sautéed ground Italian sausage or ground meat (chicken, beef, pork, turkey sausage or ground meat, etc.), cooked sliced bacon, sliced salami, lardons, ham, chicken, turkey pepperoni slices, etc.
- Use different veggies/vegetarian pizza toppings. Sautéed mushrooms, pepperoncini, jalapeños, cherry tomatoes, artichoke, baby spinach, yellow squash, sweet corn kernels, or even pineapple if that’s your jam!
- Make it vegetarian. Leave out the meat and load up with all your favorite vegetarian pizza toppings!
- Make if gluten-free. Use gluten-free pasta, and make sure that the tomato pasta sauce (or marinara sauce) and cheeses you’re using are GF certified. Most cheeses are gluten-free, but it’s best to double check.
- Use different cheeses. Monterey Jack, Asiago, cheddar, Gouda, Gruyère, Havarti, colby, fontina, etc.
- Make it dairy-free. Use vegan cheeses.
More Delicious Pasta Dinners
- Buffalo Chicken Ravioli Lasagna
- Smoky Harissa Mac and Cheese
- Spicy Vodka Pasta
- Spicy Chicken Penne Pasta
- Creamy Rosé Pasta with Prawns
- Cream Sauce Seafood Pasta
- Or browse the entire Pasta recipes collection.
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Pizza Pasta Bake
Loaded with pepperoni, pancetta, veggies, and three types of cheese, this pizza pasta bake is an easy and customizable dinner the whole family will love!
- Prep Time: 12
- Cook Time: 28
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian-American
- 12 ounces / 340 grams uncooked Short-cut Pasta (I used Galletti n°44, but any short-cut pasta such as penne, cavatappi, ziti, gemelli, small shells, etc. will work)
- 5 ounces /140 grams Pancetta Cubes
- 1 TBLS Olive Oil (plus ½ TSP for greasing the baking dish – see notes*)
- ½ medium Red Onion – thinly sliced
- 1 medium Bell Pepper (any color) – thinly sliced, then sliced in half (I used ½ a red bell pepper, and ¼ each of a yellow and green bell pepper)
- 6 Garlic Cloves – finely minced
- 6 Red Chilies (optional), to taste – finely chopped (I used Bird’s Eye, but any hot red chili will work)
- 1 (25.5 ounce / 722 grams) jar Tomato Pasta Sauce (I used Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with no sugar added, but you can use your favorite kind)
- 1 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
- 1.5 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
- 2 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
- 2 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Chili Flakes, to taste
- ½ TSP Garlic Powder
- ½ TSP Onion Powder
- ½ TSP Dried Oregano Flakes
- ½ TSP Italian Seasoning
- 14 Pitted Black Olives – sliced (reserve a few slices for topping)
- 6 ounces / 170 grams Pepperoni Slices (reserve 1/3 for topping)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) Cheese
- 7 ounces / 200 grams (about 2 cups) freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese
- 3.5 ounces / 100 grams (4 slices) Muenster Cheese – cut into small rectangle pieces
- Optional toppings: Reserved pepperoni slices, reserved sliced olives, more sliced red onion, sliced bell pepper (any color, or use a combination of assorted colored bell peppers), sliced banana peppers (see notes)*
- To Serve/Garnish: Chopped/sliced fresh Italian Basil Leaves (use as much as you like!), dried oregano flakes, crushed red pepper chili flakes, to taste
- Prepare the fresh ingredients: Chop/slice the red onion, bell peppers, garlic, red chilies, olives, fresh Italian basil, and any of the optional toppings you’re using according to the ‘Ingredients’ section. Grate the Parmigiano Reggiano and mozzarella cheeses, and cut the muenster cheese slices into small rectangle pieces.
For the Pizza Pasta Bake:
- Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta 2-3 minutes shy of al-dente according to package instructions in a large pot (or the same large deep sauté pan you’ll use to make the pasta dish) of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside. (I like to run water cold water over the pasts to prevent it from sticking and cooking further.)
- Prep: Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. Lightly brush ½ TSP of olive oil in a 9×13-inch baking dish (or spray with cooking spray). (See notes)*
- Cook the pancetta: Cook the pancetta in a large deep sauté pan over medium heat, sautéing occasionally until browned and crisp – about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Remove all but 1.5 tablespoons of pancetta grease from the pan and place it back on the stovetop.
- Make the sauce: Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sliced red onion and bell peppers. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and red chilies and sauté to combine for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 2/3 of the pepperoni slices and most of the sliced black olives (reserve a few slices for topping), and stir to combine. Pour in the tomato pasta sauce, and add the kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, ground cayenne, crushed red pepper chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and dried oregano flakes. Stir until combined well. Add the pasta, cooked pancetta cubes and toss for 1-2 minutes until evenly combined. Switch off the heat and stir in half of the sliced basil leaves.
- Assemble the casserole: Spread half of the pasta mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and half of the mozzarella cheese on top, and top with half of the muenster cheese pieces. Then repeat and add the remainder pasta mixture in an even layer, followed by the remainder Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese, and muenster cheese pieces. Top with the reserved pepperoni slices and olives, as well as any of your desired pizza toppings such as sliced red onion, bell peppers, banana peppers, etc.
- Bake: Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbly. Transfer the dish to a wire cooling rack and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- To Serve: Garnish with more fresh Italian basil, and serve immediately with dried oregano flakes and crushed red pepper chili flakes on the side if desired. Then enjoy!
- Tomato pasta sauce: I’ve doctored up the tomato basil pasta sauce and amped up the flavors with some sautéed fresh garlic and seasonings. Depending on the brand of sauce you use and your taste preference, you can adjust the amount of garlic and seasonings you add to taste.
- Heat level: Omit (or reduce the quantity of) the red chilies, ground cayenne, and crushed red pepper flakes based on your heat level preference or if you’re dining with kids. You can add more of these ingredients if you’d like this to be a spicier dish.
- Toppings: I recommend using about ½ cup (a small handful) of toppings to top the casserole with before baking. You can of course, use as much or as few and any kind of meat and veggie pizza toppings you like.
- Greasing the baking dish: If using meat that’s quite fatty such as pepperoni and pancetta, you most likely won’t need to grease the baking dish (I didn’t and the pasta bake did not stick to the baking dish). If using just veggies or other meat with less fat, you may need to lightly grease the baking dish with 1/2 TSP of oil. Use your own discretion based on the meat you choose to use.
- Make ahead and freezing: Cook and assemble the casserole fully with the cheeses. Once fully cooled, cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight (it’ll only partially thaw, but that’s okay) and set on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking. You’ll need to increase the bake time to 25-30 minutes. If the cheese starts to brown too much before the 25-minute mark, cover with a sheet of foil and continue baking until piping hot throughout.
- See ‘Variations’ section in post for more ideas on how to customize your pizza pasta bake.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 796
- Sugar: 10.2g
- Sodium: 1949.1mg
- Fat: 44.2g
- Saturated Fat: 17.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 14.9g
- Trans Fat: 0.8g
- Carbohydrates: 64.2g
- Fiber: 5.9g
- Protein: 36g
- Cholesterol: 75.9mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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