A creamy mushroom pasta bake is the best answer to "what's for dinner" when you're craving warm, comforting, and creamy pasta. Loaded with flavor from fontina cheese, roasted mushrooms, spinach, thyme, ricotta, and just a hint of nutmeg, this baked pasta is both decadent and simple.
During the winter months, there are few things I like more than baked pasta dishes.
There is something so comforting about diving into a bowl of warm, baked pasta after a long day.
This creamy baked mushroom pasta with spinach is absolutely perfect and is adored by the entire family.
And because it can be made ahead and popped in the oven when ready to eat, it's perfect for busy weeknights.
How to make the best creamy mushroom pasta bake
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 450f and set one rack to the second-lowest level and the other to the middle level. Quarter 1 ½ pounds of mushrooms (Use an assortment of mushrooms or whatever you like) and toss in a bowl with a ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme). Spread the mushrooms out on 1-2 baking sheets and roast on the lower rack until well browned. The mushrooms should take about 20 minutes to get brown. Note: Don't overcrowd the mushrooms. Use 2 baking sheets if necessary.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) and boil rigatoni to 2 minutes less than al dente. Also, shred a ½ pound block of Fontina cheese, and grate a ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Boil 8 ounces of baby spinach until soft (about 15-30 seconds) then drain. Once you can handle it, squeeze the water out with a clean kitchen towel or press it through a fine-mesh strainer. You want to remove as much water as possible.
- Chop the spinach.
- After 20 minutes of roasting, the mushrooms will be nice and golden.
- In a large bowl mix together the mushrooms, spinach, Fontina cheese, ¼ cup Parmigiano, ¾ pound ricotta, ¾ cup heavy cream, 2 cloves of garlic turned into paste, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Add the pasta to the bowl and mix it all together once more. Now is the time to taste test and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the contents of the bowl into a 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
- To prevent sticking, first place a sheet of parchment paper, then add a piece of foil on top of that. Bake for 15 minutes covered, then 5 more uncovered to brown the top.
- For added color, you can broil the last 1-2 minutes but watch very carefully! After the pasta is finished it is very important to let it sit for at least 15 minutes before digging in. Any baked pasta should be left to sit for at least 15 minutes so that any liquid in the pan can reabsorb into the pasta and settle the dish.
Baked pasta with mushrooms and spinach is pretty simple to make, but here are a few tips and tricks to help you achieve the best results possible.
- The mushrooms. For the pictures, I used a combination of shitake and white button mushrooms. In the recipe card, I indicate baby Bella mushrooms as those are widely available. Feel free to experiment with mushroom varieties here especially if you'd like to add additional layers of flavor and texture.
- Undercook the pasta. As with any baked pasta, be sure to undercook the pasta when boiling it as it will continue to cook when it's placed in the oven. This will help ensure that the pasta is not mushy.
- The greens. I used spinach in this recipe, however, feel free to experiment with other greens such as kale or swiss chard. Either would be great here.
- The cheese. Fontina cheese is used for its incredible flavor and its ability to melt well. If you're not able to find fontina, mozzarella, or a melting provolone or swiss cheese would be great in this creamy pasta bake.
More creamy baked pastas you'll love
When it comes to creamy pasta bakes, what's not to love?! Here are some of our favorites.
- Baked butternut squash pasta - Roasted butternut squash and sage tossed with penne, mozzarella, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Spinach lasagna rolls with white sauce - Creamy ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach with a bechamel sauce.
- Creamy baked macaroni and cheese - The comfort food classic with a tasty breadcrumb topping.
- Stuffed shells with ricotta and spinach - Ricotta and spinach nestled into shells and baked in a red sauce.
- Italian-American lasagna - Layers of pasta, herbed ricotta, and hearty meat ragu.
- Four cheese baked manicotti - Creamy ricotta, melty mozzarella, salty Pecorino, and nutty Parmigiano Reggiano form the ultimate 4 cheese filling.
- Meatless baked ziti - Ziti pasta, sweet marinara, mozzarella, and ricotta are baked until bubbly and just a bit crisp.
- Rigatoni al forno - Hearty meat sauce, melty mozzarella, and rigatoni baked to perfection.
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For the roasted mushrooms
- 1 ½ pounds Baby Bella mushrooms quartered
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 pound rigatoni
- ¾ pound ricotta
- ½ pound fontina cheese shredded
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces baby spinach steamed, drained
- 2 cloves garlic paste
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano divided
- 1 pinch nutmeg optional
- Preheat oven to 450f and set one rack to the second-lowest position and the other to the middle of the oven. Toss mushrooms with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread out mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast on the lower rack for 15-20 minutes or until well browned. Don't overcrowd the mushrooms. Use two sheets if necessary.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil and cook the rigatoni until very al dente. About 2 minutes less than package instructions.
- Cook spinach for 30 seconds in boiling water and drain. Once able to handle, squeeze the water out then chop. In a large bowl mix together the spinach, nutmeg, heavy cream, ricotta, Fontina cheese, ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, and the roasted mushrooms.
- Add the pasta to the bowl and mix once more. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Place contents of the bowl in a 9 by 13 baking dish. Top with the remaining Parmigiano and bake for 15 minutes covered. Covering with parchment paper then foil will prevent sticking.
- After 15 minutes remove covering and bake for 5 minutes more until golden. For even more color broil for the last 1-2 minutes but watch very carefully.
- Wait 15 minutes before serving so that the cheese settles. Enjoy!
- The recipe makes 4 very large or 6 normal size servings.
- Undercook the pasta by about 2-3 minutes, since it will cook longer in the oven.
- Mozzarella, soft provolone, or swiss can all be substituted for Fontina cheese.
- Make sure to drain the spinach by squeezing the water out. This will prevent the baked pasta from becoming too liquidy.
- Placing parchment paper then foil over the pasta will ensure no sticking.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.