Easy Baked Penne

This simple 3-ingredient baked penne recipe is classic, comforting, and full of gooey cheese.
Jump to Recipe

This week, we wanted to share one of our easiest recipes with you – seriously, it’s only three ingredients! As many of you probably know, juggling the demands of daily life and working a full-time job can be exhausting. So whenever a recipe like this comes around, we like to take full advantage of it. It’s super simple, relatively hands-off, and so delicious. Oh, and it’ll make about 6 servings, which means plenty of leftovers for dinner the next night.

A casserole dish of easy baked penne pasta with mozzarella cheese

Alex’s mom would often make baked ziti when he was growing up, and it’s been a staple of ours since he introduced me to her recipe. It’s gotten us through plenty of busy times, whether we make it for a few nights’ worth of dinners or prepare a whole batch to portion out into lunches for the work week. It’s literally the easiest and most delicious large-batch meal we make, and it only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on cooking time since it bakes in the oven!

We call our version “baked penne” because we’ve never actually made it with ziti. Both of us prefer penne, so it’s our go-to for this recipe. If you like a different kind of noodle, go ahead and switch it out – you just want to choose a short, tubular pasta.

Like we said, making this recipe is super simple and straightforward:

  1. Cook your pasta in boiling water for about 10 minutes (you want it a little underdone since it’ll cook more in the oven),
  2. Stir in some jarred pasta sauce and shredded mozzarella with the cooked pasta,
  3. Transfer to a baking dish, top with shredded cheese, cover, and bake!
A pot of pasta with pasta sauceA pot of pasta with pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese

It’s also a lifesaver on Sunday nights when we need to spend time meal-prepping for the week and cook dinner at the same time.

Easy baked penne pasta in a casserole dish

We like to use Classico pasta sauce for our baked penne. Their Tomato & Basil is a classic option that goes great in this dish, but sometimes we try out different varieties (their Roasted Garlic is another delicious one!). Again, if you prefer a certain kind of pasta sauce, go ahead and use it. As for the cheese, shredded mozzarella is our typical choice since it gives you that classic Italian flavor, but sometimes we’ll opt for a pizza blend if we want to shake things up. Since this recipe uses three basic ingredients, there’s a lot of room to customize it for your tastes.

This baked penne is so cheesy, so warm, and so comforting – definitely one of those dishes that reminds you of your mom’s home cooking. Try it out and let us know what you think in the comments below!

No ratings yet

Easy Baked Penne

This simple 3-ingredient baked penne recipe is classic, comforting, and full of gooey cheese.
Servings 6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes



  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 24 oz jarred pasta sauce*
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese divided


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot to a boil and cook pasta for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and return pasta to the empty pot, removing it from the heat.
  • Add pasta sauce to the pot and stir to coat the pasta well. Then add about 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese to the pot and stir well to combine.
  • Lightly grease a large baking dish. Transfer the contents of the pot to the baking dish, spreading out the pasta evenly. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Pasta sauce: Choose your favorite kind of jarred pasta sauce, or use a homemade one if you prefer!
Serving suggestion: We recommend serving this dish with garlic bread and a side salad for a well-rounded Italian meal.
Storing & meal prep: Baked penne is the perfect meal to prep for the week – it’ll last up to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. Some weeks we like to make a batch on Sunday night, then portion it out for easy grab-n-go lunches.
Want more?Sign up for our newsletter here and never miss a new recipe!
Did you make this recipe?Mention @candidcooksblog or tag #thecandidcooks on Instagram!
Follow us on Pinterest!Visit our profile @thecandidcooks and don’t forget to pin this recipe!
Author: Nicole
Calories: 421kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: meal prep, mozzarella, pasta sauce, penne


Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 836mg | Potassium: 573mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 747IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 2mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

Join our email list and never miss a new recipe!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Looking for kitchen inspiration? Head over to our shop to see what we cook with every day, plus recommendations for foodie gifts and eco-friendly products.


Join our email list to get new recipes delivered straight to your inbox every week. Plus, we'll send you a free copy of our weekly meal planner as a thank you!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

The Candid Cooks © Copyright 2021