Cheesy Baked Rigatoni

A favorite favorite Italian cheesy baked rigatoni. All of the secrets and tips to create a rich and creamy pasta dish at home.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Melissa Stadler, Modern Honey


  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil divided
  • 2 Garlic Cloves finely diced
  • 1- 2 teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper Flakes depending on spice preference
  • 1 - 28 ounce can Whole Peeled Tomatoes crushed with hands
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 lb. Rigatoni or Ziti Pasta
  • 2 cups Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, with their juices, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to simmer and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add a good amount of salt to the boiling water. Add the rigatoni or ziti and cook according to package instructions, minus 2 minutes. You don't want it to fully cook or it will overcook when you bake it in the oven. Drain the pasta.
  6. Melt butter in medium sauce over medium heat. Stir in flour and mix until a paste forms and it begins to show some color. Whisk in whole milk. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat and add nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
  7. Add the bechamel sauce and tomato sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Stir in mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of parmesan cheese, reserving the remaining 1 cup of parmesan cheese for the topping.
  8. Transfer pasta to 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with remaining parmesan cheese.
  9. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and garlic salt.
  10. Top pasta with olive oil bread crumbs and a touch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  11. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until pasta starts to bubble and the bread crumbs become golden.
  12. Let pasta sit for 5 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to set up.