One-pot meals (especially one-pot pasta!) are some of my favorite recipes! And any pasta dish where the pasta cooks right in the sauce is amazing! This Quick and Easy One Pot Rigatoni is an easy weeknight dinner that you’ll find yourself making over and over again! And hello easy cleanup! Yes! sign me up! Plus, we are talking under 45 total minutes of cooking time here!
Rigatoni is a classic comfort food that I adore! As a busy mom, I’m not crazy about having to dirty all the pots and pans to make dinner. So when I saw that people were using one pot to make a rigatoni dish, I knew I had to see if it worked with one of my favorite recipes (and a favorite pasta sauce), my bolognese sauce. And it so totally does. This dinner is so yummy and easy that you’ll stick this right into your dinner dish rotation! It’s simple enough for weeknight dinners or you can totally make this for special occasions, too. It’s a family favorite at our house and a perfect pasta all around.
Before we get to the ingredients, let’s talk about different types of pasta shapes and pasta types. Specifically, cylindrical pasta like rigatoni versus penne pasta and rigatoni versus ziti pasta. These are all relatively similar in that they are all tubular pasta with a hollow center in the middle. All three of these are some of the most common types of pasta. And truly, any of these would work if you already have them on hand. HOWEVER, watch your cooking times so that the pasta does not get overdone and mushy.
There are smooth penne, which obviously have a smooth surface all around them. You can get penne pasta with ridges, but I find they aren’t the perfect deep ridges like Rigatoni has. I think the wide rigatoni with its square-cut ends is just the best pasta for good chunky sauces.
Any tube-shaped pasta will work, but I really prefer rigatoni vs. penne when I have a choice, especially with chunkier sauces.
The main difference (and most obvious difference) between ziti pasta and rigatoni pasta is that ziti is smaller and thinner, and it can’t get nearly as much sauce inside the noodles. I think Ziti is much better for thin sauces and creamy sauces personally. The thicker sauces and heartier sauces simply do better than a thicker pasta!
Rigatoni is a much heartier, thicker, and sturdier pasta than ziti or penne rigate pasta. Ziti and penne will cook more quickly in your sauce, so do keep an eye out for that. We want tender pasta. Not mushy pasta! That’ll ruin it!
The reason I love the rigatoni exclusively for this recipe is that the rigatoni has little ridges on the outside of it and a wider opening in the middle. So the sauce just sticks to the outside of the pasta with the ridges, and the opening in the pasta is wide enough that the sauce gets inside the noodles as well. And it’s just magic! Plus, I like the bite of heavier and more sturdy pasta. Go explore that pasta aisle at the grocery store and see what looks good for you! For me, the rigatoni is my personal preference!
Why I Love This Recipe
I’ll give you the main reason I love this recipe in just two words. One. Pot. That’s right ONE POT and it’s done! Such easy cleanup! Plus this sauce is just amazing! And clean up is so easy!
Plus, I’m a total sucker for any kind of pasta with meat sauce.
This recipe has very simple and basic ingredients! I love that for feeding my family!
- Ground beef
- Beef broth
- Crushed tomatoes (The crushed San Marzano tomatoes are next-level delicious!!)
- Garlic powder (You are welcome to use fresh garlic cloves if you’d like – I’d suggest 1-2 fresh garlic cloves)
- Italian seasoning
- Tomato paste
- Rigatoni pasta (uncooked dry pasta)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, if desired
- Salt and Black Pepper, to taste (I season at the very end, there’s a lot going on in this dish!)
Chop carrot, onion, and celery into small pieces.
In a large pot, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat. When the beef is about halfway cooked, add in the chopped veggies. Cook until the beef is done and the veggies are soft.
Drain all the grease from the beef and veggie mixture and return to the pot.
Add in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning, and bring to a boil.
Add in the beef broth and stir the mixture together.
Add in crushed tomatoes and stir the sauce together.
Once the sauce mixture has come up to a boil, add in the uncooked pasta and turn the heat down to a low simmer (just under medium heat). I like to put a lid on the pot. If it gets to be too bubbly, simply lower the heat a little more.
Stir occasionally, every few minutes.
Let simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.
Remove from heat and serve immediately!
Alternative Cooking Variations:
Instant Pot Method
You can totally convert this into an instant pot rigatoni recipe! I don’t make this recipe in the instant pot usually. I just don’t see that there is a lot of time saved here. But you absolutely can make it in an electric pressure cooker! Italian cuisine will work with almost any cooking method!
To make this an instant pot meal, you’d use the sauté function on the instant pot to brown the beef and cook the veggies, scraping to make sure the bottom is totally cleaned off and there is nothing sticking to it so you don’t get a burn notice on your Instant Pot. Drain the grease if necessary. Add back in the beef and veggie mixture, pour in the uncooked pasta, then add in the additional sauce ingredients (beef broth, crushed tomatoes, etc.) on top of the pasta and do NOT stir.
Cook on high pressure for 5-6 minutes and then do a quick release of pressure with a quick pressure release (be careful, it’s HOT!). Don’t let it do a natural release, the pasta will turn into mush. You have to be careful with instant pot recipes that involve pasta, we want al dente pasta!
Give everything a good stir and serve immediately. Add some grated parmesan cheese on top if desired.
Slow Cooker Method
Again, I don’t generally make this as a slow cooker recipe, but you can! Brown the ground beef and vegetables until totally cooked through. Drain the grease. Put the beef and veggie mixture into the slow cooker with all other sauce ingredients except the pasta and parmesan cheese. This will look like a VERY watery sauce, but no worries.
Let the sauce cook and mix together on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. 30-45 minutes before the cooking time is up, add in the dry pasta and cook on high for another 30-45 minutes (until your pasta is al dente!). Serve and sprinkle on parmesan cheese, if desired.
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- Instant Pot – This is the Instant Pot that I have and use all the time. I’ve had several versions of the Instant Pot and this is by far, FAR, my favorite.
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- Oven Mitts – This is a heavy and hot dish! Make sure you have good oven mitts to protect your hands!
- Table Serving Trivet – This dish is HOT and will stay hot. Make sure you put it on top of something to protect your countertop or table!
I love to serve this dish with yummy garlic bread and salad. I think that’s the best way! But you could also serve this pasta with green beans, asparagus, broccoli rabe, etc. I just like to get a green veggie in somewhere for dinner if I can!
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze the leftovers for this dish! I like to freeze them in an aluminum pan and then I bake it in the oven with cheese on top like a pasta bake when we have the dish again.
To freeze, I usually get a large aluminum loaf pan or the small square aluminum cake pans that are 8×8. I put the pasta in and cover it with aluminum foil, then I put the entire pan into a large freezer bag to keep it protected from freezer burn.
Substitutions and Additions
This is such a simple recipe, there is a lot of wiggle room to add more ingredients or change the flavor profile of this dish! A few ways you can play around with this dish are:
Add in some veggies like spinach or mushrooms (or both!). Or how about some bell pepper? Delicious!
Do you like your food more spicy? You can achieve a spicy rigatoni by adding some red pepper flakes or even cayenne pepper to the sauce!
Sweet Italian sausage would also be a great addition or substitution to this meal! Whole wheat pasta in place of regular pasta is wonderful, too!
Do you want to go super indulgent? Well, think about adding some heavy cream to the sauce at the very end of cooking! Or in place of heavy cream, add in some cream cheese! It makes it creamy and so very decadent!
For an extra pop of flavor, try adding some fresh herbs to the top of the recipe! Try fresh parsley or fresh basil, chopped finely and sprinkled over the top of the dish!
Frequently Asked Questions:
You can! Use any type of pasta you have on hand! Smaller pasta will need less cooking time, so just keep an eye out and make sure to stop cooking when you get to an “al dente” texture on your pasta. The dish will be so hot that the pasta will keep cooking a little, so I pull it off the heat sooner rather than later. No one wants mushy pasta.
There are a few types of pasta I would probably not recommend for this dish, including smaller pasta shapes like elbow macaroni, spiral-shaped pasta, flat noodles, or angel hair pasta. Pastas with a smooth texture won’t hold the hearty sauces nearly as well as the tubular shape pasta does. The thicker noodles just work better here!
Absolutely! You can omit the meat altogether if you are vegetarian. It’s a simple veggie marinara sauce at that point. You can also omit the veggies if you want a simple tomato sauce, but they are awfully good!
If you still want the mouth feel of the beef, you can always get the veggie crumbles to add to your sauce. If you do eat meat and want to just have a lighter meal, this dish is just as good with ground chicken and ground turkey. The sauce takes over the flavor, so truly, any ground meat is great in this recipe.
Wrap Up – Quick and Easy One Pot Rigatoni
I adore a one-pot meal, and I adore Italian food. Put those together for a one-pot pasta recipe and I’m absolutely in love. This rigatoni bolognese meal is SO delicious and satisfying. The end result is one dirty pot and fewer dishes to clean up. And I love that! Quick and easy one pot rigatoni is sure to be a hit with the whole family for busy weeknights! Or any day of the week really! I can’t wait to hear what you think! Let me know in the comments section when you make it and tell me what you think! Until then… Just Keep Shuffling!
Do you love these one-pot meals? Here’s some more to take a look at!
- One-Pot Tuscan Chicken Gnocchi Bake
- Easy One-Pot Cheesy Meat Bake
- Creamy Cheddar and Chicken Biscuit Casserole Recipe
- Simple Ground Beef Puff Pastry Recipe