Pizza Casserole is the perfect comfort meal. It’s a warm and cheesy baked pasta with marinara sauce and your favorite pepperoni pizza toppings: melty mozzarella cheese and pepperoni slices. I add bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and black olives for a boost of flavors and textures.
My favorite thing about Pizza Casserole is that it satisfies my pizza craving and pasta craving at the same time. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner: Gather the whole family together because it’s a meal everyone will love!
Easy Tips for the Best Pizza Casserole
This casserole is easy to make, but here are a few tips I’d like to share:
- Cook the pasta al dente. That means it should still have a little bit of a bite. It should not be soft or mushy. Otherwise, it will overcook in the oven.
- Drain your sausage after cooking it to get rid of excess grease you won’t want in your casserole.
- The sauce brings most of the flavor, so use a marinara sauce you love, buy a high-quality one, or make your own.
Customize Pizza Casserole based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Here are some ways you can change up the recipe:
- Sneak in some extra vegetables by adding artichoke hearts, broccoli, or spinach.
- Use another short pasta like rotini, rigatoni, and cavatappi.
- Make it a vegetarian dish by leaving out the sausage and pepperoni or use a vegetarian sausage alternative.
Add a Light Side + Wine
Pizza Casserole is a substantial dish, so it is best served with a light side, like roasted broccoli. It would pair well with a fruity Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Make it Ahead
Pizza Casserole is a great make-ahead dinner. You have two choices:
Bake it ahead: Assemble and bake the casserole and let it cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to five days. When you’re ready to serve it, remove the plastic wrap and cover it with foil. Reheat it in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, until warmed through.
Assemble now, bake later: This casserole can be assembled, refrigerated, and baked right before serving. Simply assemble the casserole, cover it with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge for up to two days or in the freezer for up to three months. Since the casserole will be cold, you will need to bake it for about 10 minutes longer. If frozen, thaw it in the fridge overnight before baking.
How to Store Leftovers
Spoon leftovers into an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days and in the freezer for up to three months.
Reheat refrigerated leftovers in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. To reheat frozen leftovers, place it in an oven-safe baking dish and cover it tightly with foil. Bake it in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until warmed through.
More Casseroles with Pasta
Salt, for pasta cooking water
Cooking spray, for greasing the casserole dish
16 ounces dry penne pasta
8 ounces Italian sausage links (raw or pre-cooked)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
24 ounces (2 1/2 cups) store-bought or homemade marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces pepperoni slices
Preheat the oven and prepare the casserole dish:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Set it aside.
Cook the pasta:
Fill a large pot with water, season the water generously with salt, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package instructions, until al dente. Strain the pasta into a colander placed in the sink and set it aside.
In the meantime, cook the sausage:
Set the sausage links on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut them in half lengthwise. Then, cut them into 1/2-inch thick half moons. If using raw sausages, they may fall apart a little and that's okay.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring them every 1 to 2 minutes, until evenly browned. You won’t need any oil since the sausages will release enough to keep them from sticking to the skillet. Turn the heat off. Tilt the skillet and use a spoon to scoop out and discard as much grease as possible.
Prepare the sauce:
In a large bowl, add the marinara sauce, Parmesan, garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano. Mix with a spoon to combine. You can also do this in the same pot used to cook the pasta!
Combine the filling:
Add the cooked pasta and sausages, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and olives. Stir to combine. I like to use two large spoons to toss the mixture together until everything is coated in the sauce.
Assemble the casserole:
Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over it and top with pepperoni slices.
Bake and serve:
Tightly cover the casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the oven to broil on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and lightly browned. Keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t burn! Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 23g||29%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||46%|
|Total Carbohydrate 33g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 38mg||189%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|