Gooey, cheesy, and filling, this Vegan Pasta Bake is the perfect recipe for a yummy vegan dinner idea! Fitting in a 9x13 pan, this pasta bake is a great way to feed your whole family or do some meal planning.
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Hey Internet, what’s your favorite food? At the ZardyPlants house, our favorite food is PASTA (though pizza is a close second).
It’s so versatile, from refreshing and light pasta, such as our Vegan Pasta Primavera, to spicy and flavorful, like our Vegan Cajun Pasta, to special and romantic, like our Vegan Lemon Tahini Broccolini Pasta or Vegan Sun-dried Tomato Pasta, to super cozy and filling like this Vegan Sausage Pasta and this Vegan Creamy Pasta. All this, and the recipes usually come together in about 20 to 30 minutes?! It’s all just chef’s kiss prefect.
We’ve gone for a cozy pasta with this vegan pasta bake recipe we’ve got for you today. Packed with vegan cheese and flavorful pasta sauce, it’s gooey and delicious. Paired with a side like our Air Fryer Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, or Vegan Italian Salad, and you’ll have a super hearty meal for your family. It also makes for a great meal prep; Paul made it for himself one time and had meals for nearly the whole week!
If you need an easy way to be full after a meal, you’ve found the right recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Pasta Bake
- One Pot and One Baking Dish: With a large, non-stick pot you just cook your pasta, strain it, add it back into the pot, and then add your sauce and some of your shredded vegan cheese. Then you add your mixture to a 9x13 baking dish, add your leftover cheese to the top, and pop it into your oven. It’s really that easy!
- Flavorful and Satisfying: All the hungry people in your life will love this vegan pasta bake! It’s super satisfying and loaded with protein. But more importantly (to me anyway) is that it is so flavorful and delicious that you’ll definitely want seconds.
- Loaded With Melted Vegan Cheese: We used VioLife mozzarella shreds to get a really nice and melty top to our vegan cheese. However, Follow your Heart also has some great vegan shreds that melt well. We’ve always found that the smaller the vegan cheese shreds, the better they melt. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to find Follow your Heart’s finely shredded vegan mozzarella cheese. I haven’t seen it near us recently, but it’s always melted super good for our recipes! Of course you could buy a vegan brick cheese and shred it as finely as you want with a grater. You could even make one of our vegan cheese recipes and shred away, like our vegan nut-free cheddar cheese. We also have a five-minute melty vegan mozzarella recipe that would work great with this recipe; we often use it in our vegan baked ziti.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- 1 lb (453 grams) of Ziti or Penne Pasta: We’re typically team Ziti noodles over here, but penne works great as well. De Cecco makes a pretty good noodle for not too bad of a price. As always, you can substitute gluten-free pasta if you need to avoid gluten.
- 14-16 oz Impossible or Beyond ground meat: It’s important to get a neutral vegan ground beef. We accidentally got a breakfast ground for one of our tests and it had… interesting results. We’re going to season this ground with some of the next ingredients coming up. If you need to make a vegan ground beef, you can try using my TVP-based meatless grounds! Vegan ground sausage is also pretty nice (just make sure it’s not breakfast-style!).
- 1 Medium Onion: I would use either a yellow or sweet onion for this dish. They pair well with the savory elements of this dish. You can go without the onions, but they are so good baked!
- 3 cloves of garlic or 1 tablespoon jarred: WE LOVE GARLIC! It’s super good from a clove freshly pressed in our garlic press but jarred is good. If you need to skip it, the recipe will work without it.
- 1.5-2 jars of tomato sauce: If you’re feeling extra special, Rao’s has a number of great sauces that are vegan. We used their Marinara Tomato Sauce which comes in a two pack if you buy it from Costco. For a cheaper but still flavorful sauce, I would recommend something like Classico Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce.
- ½ teaspoon salt: If you are looking to lower your sodium intake, just reduce the amount of salt in this recipe..
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning: Feel free to use other herbs, but we love a good Italian blend.
- 1.5 to 2 bags shredded vegan mozzarella cheese, finely shredded: We’ve always found that VioLife mozzarella melts really well for this recipe. Another great brand is Follow your Heart mozzarella, that also melts well. You can also use our vegan mozzarella recipe for a healthier alternative.
How to Make This Vegan Pasta Bake
- Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
- Boil the water: Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta. You’ll want to add the pasta just before you start browning the vegan ground meat. If the water comes to a boil before you are ready, slightly lower the heat until you are ready.
- Chop onion: Meanwhile,dice your medium onion.
- Brown vegan meat and cook onions: Add the vegan ground meat and diced onions to a pan on medium high heat. Cook until the meat is browned and the onions have turned translucent.
- Add the spices: When the meat is part-way browned, add your garlic, salt, and Italian seasoning to the mixture and mix it in.
- Drain pasta: Strain the pasta and add it back to the empty pot.
- Add vegan meat and sauce: Add the vegan meat mixture to the pasta along with your pasta sauce. You may not need all of the sauce. Add as much as you like, but keep in mind that the saucier it is, the less it will hold together. If you don’t care, add as much sauce as your heart desires. Combine them well.
- Assemble the vegan pasta bake: In a 9x13 baking tray, add a third of the pasta mixture and lay it evenly on the tray. Then sprinkle some of your vegan mozzarella cheese over the layer. Add another third and then add another layer of cheese on top. Finally, add the final third of pasta.
- Bake: Cover the tray with aluminum foil and then bake for 10 minutes.
- Melt vegan cheese on top: Remove tray and discard aluminum foil cover. Add a third layer of vegan mozzarella cheese to the tray. To supercharge the melting process, use a spray oil such as avocado oil spray to get a super gooey topping. Increase the temperature to 425 F (220 C) and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the top layer of cheese is nicely melted.
- Serve: Plate and enjoy! Wait 10 to 15 minutes if you want a cleaner, less messy cut with your spatula, though waiting can be pretty hard!
- Add the Sauce SLOWLY: Paul was moving too quickly one time and we had more of a pasta soup (you may not need all of the sauce). Add it a little bit at a time to get it to the right sauciness.
- Make this Recipe Gluten Free: It’s super easy to do with the right pasta replacement. There’s this Rummo Gluten-Free Penne Rigate that should work great for this.
- Play with Different Pasta Shapes: While I find a nice ziti or penne noodle great for getting big forkfuls of pasta, there’s nothing stopping you from trying a different pasta shape. If you prefer a spoon for your pasta, I could definitely see elbows or small shells working great for this recipe.
- Great for Meal Planning: We were able to get 8 good squares of pasta out of one 9x13 baking tray. Unless you are feeding a huge vegan family or a party, you’re definitely going to have your lunches figured out for the rest of the week! Be sure to finish up your leftovers within 3 to 5 days to make sure it’s fresh and safe to eat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Let it cool first and then divide the bake into separate slices. Then wrap each piece in plastic wrap or freezer paper and then wrap in aluminum foil before placing in a freezer-safe container. This should help keep each piece from getting freezer burned.
The best type of pasta to use in a pasta bake is short to medium sized. Pasta types such as ziti, penne, medium shells, and elbow will all work well.