Make-Ahead Pizza Casserole Gives You That Gooey-Cheesy Flavor with Way Less Work

published Dec 26, 2021
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Pizza Casserole Recipe

Pizza in any form? Delicious. Pizza in casserole form? Irresistible.

Serves6

Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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pepperoni pizza casserole in a glass baking tray with a wooden spoon on the side.
Credit: Renae Wilson

I’ll take pizza in any form. Using pasta as a vehicle, instead of pizza dough, makes for a quick fix — faster than making your own or, most likely, ordering delivery. With just a few ingredients, pizza night can look a little different but taste just as delicious.

As for pizza toppings, I’m a purist. Classic pepperoni will always be my one true love. But you can easily customize your casserole with other toppings and add-ins.

Best Pasta for Pizza Casserole

Short pasta like penne and fusilli work best for this casserole. (It helps trap all the sauce!) For the extra-melty goodness, use low-moisture shredded mozzarella cheese. I also like to sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese to add some sharpness.

Credit: Renae Wilson

How to Make Pizza Casserole Ahead

Make this ahead of time by assembling the casserole entirely and cover with foil. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake according to instructions. To freeze, store in a freezer-safe container wrapped in plastic then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months — thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from plastic and bake covered in foil according to instructions. Additional cook time may be necessary.  

Pizza Casserole Recipe

Pizza in any form? Delicious. Pizza in casserole form? Irresistible.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 pound

    dried penne pasta

  • 8 ounces

    baby portobello or cremini mushrooms

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced pepperoni, divided

  • 8 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon

    Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (about 24-ounce) jar

    marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried penne pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than package instructions. Meanwhile, finely chop 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, 1 small shallot, and 2 garlic cloves. Finely chop 2 ounces of the pepperoni. Grate 8 ounces mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups).

  3. When the pasta is ready, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot.

  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallot, mushrooms, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms are starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes if using, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped pepperoni and cook for 1 minute more.

  5. Add the mushroom mixture to the pot. Add 1 (about 24-ounce) jar marinara sauce and reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  6. Transfer half the pasta mixture to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with the remaining pasta. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, then top with the remaining 2 ounces sliced pepperoni in a single layer.

  7. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Wrap the unbaked casserole in a freezer-safe baking dish with plastic wrap. Wrap in aluminim foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the plastic wrap and bake covered in foil according to instructions; additional baking time may be needed.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Pizza Casserole