Pesto Pasta Bake

83 comments

5 from 42 votes
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This pesto pasta bake is a match made in heaven. Made with just 4 ingredients, you add cheese, bake, and you will get the most irresistible dish ever. 

pesto pasta bake.

We love quick and easy pasta dishes, especially if they involve minimal prep.

Some of our favorites include protein pasta, low calorie pasta, and shrimp pesto pasta. Our favorite, though, is a pesto pasta bake.  

Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works 
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make a pesto pasta bake
  4. Tips to make the best recipe
  5. Variations 
  6. Storage instructions 
  7. What goes with pesto pasta bake
  8. Frequently asked questions 
  9. Pesto Pasta Bake | 4 Ingredients (Recipe Card)

Why this recipe works 

A set-and-forget dinner that requires barely any prep? No wonder this was a family favorite meal. Along with seafood pasta, this was a dish mom would make weekly and us kids would inhale it!

  • A delicious way to use leftover pasta. Pasta bakes are one of the most delicious and easy ways to use leftover pasta.
  • Just 4 ingredients. Pesto, pasta, cheese, and peas. 
  • An easy freezer meal. Like Boursin pasta, If you are busy on weeknights, assemble this pesto pasta bake in advance and freeze it. Bake it whenever you need a quick meal. 

What I love about this recipe is just how fast it is to make. It can be made in advance or the night of- it’s the ultimate dump-and-bake dinner. 

Ingredients needed

This pesto pasta bake comes together in just a few minutes. You need only four simple ingredients to make it. 

  • Pasta. I use ziti pasta for this recipe which is a tube-shaped pasta variety. Feel free to use other types of pasta, including fusilli, penne, rotini, and longer types of pasta, such as tagliatelle, bucatini, and fettuccine. 
  • Pesto sauce. The key ingredient of this baked pasta dish. I prefer using traditional basil pesto sauce but any pesto works.
  • Cheese. Use grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese for a rich cheesy flavor. 
  • Green peas. Cooked green peas add extra flavor and texture to this pesto pasta bake. 

How to make a pesto pasta bake

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drain the pasta, add in the pesto, and cooked green peas.

pesto pasta with green peas.

Mix well and transfer the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish. 

pesto pasta in baking dish.

Top the pasta with shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

cheese on pasta bake.

Bake until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown. 

baked pasta with pesto and cheese.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Use freshly made homemade pesto. While using store-bought pesto makes the preparation of this dish a lot easier, I do recommend you use homemade pesto whenever possible.  
  • Add heavy cream. Using heavy cream in your pesto pasta bake will make it extra creamy and cheesy. I like to also stir it through some lamb ragu or linguine with clams for that gorgeous creamy factor.
  • Use freshly grated cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts better and yields creamier results. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with additives to prevent it from clumping. But these additives don’t let the cheese melt smoothly. 

Variations 

The beauty of this baked pasta recipe is just how easy it is to customize with a plethora of mix-ins or flavors. Here are some ideas:

  • Add tomatoes. Use fresh cherry tomatoes to make this pasta bake more flavorful. Sun-died tomatoes will work too. They will add an intense sweet-tart flavor to this pasta dish. 
  • Use spinach pesto. Spinach pesto tastes just as great in this recipe. The flavor of spinach pesto is quite close to the flavor of traditional basil pesto. It’s bright and herby. 
  • Top with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the pasta with breadcrumbs before baking it. The crispy breadcrumb topping will contrast nicely with the creamy pasta.  
  • Make it spicy with chili flakes. If you enjoy your food with a little spicy kick, use chili flakes. 
  • Add protein. Chicken pairs with pesto pasta, as does salmon and tuna.

Storage instructions 

To store: Refrigerate this pesto pasta as soon as it cools. Put the leftover cheese-baked pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. 

To freeze: This pesto pasta bake freezes quite well. Once you have baked it, let it cool, and then cover the baking dish with food wrap. You can also freeze this pasta bake in portions using airtight plastic containers. This will keep for up to two months. 

To reheat: Microwave portions of the pasta for 30-45 seconds until hot, or in a preheated oven. 

pesto baked pasta.

What goes with pesto pasta bake

Because the baked pasta is rich and flavorful, pair it with simply cooked vegetables. We like these air fried options:

Frequently asked questions 

Do you add pesto to hot or cold pasta?

Mixing pesto with hot pasta is not recommended as the heat causes the sauce to change its color. On the other hand, cold pasta doesn’t soak up the flavors of the sauce well. Thus, your best bet would be to mix pesto with warm pasta.

Is this gluten free?

When made with gluten free pasta, this dish is suitable for celiacs.

pesto pasta bake recipe.

Pesto Pasta Bake | 4 Ingredients

5 from 42 votes
This pesto pasta bake is a match made in heaven. Made with just 4 ingredients, you add cheese, bake, and you will get the most irresistible dish ever.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes

Ingredients  

  • 1 lb ziti pasta uncooked
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a large baking dish.
  • Cook the pasta as instructed. Once cooked, drain and add back into the pan. Stir through the pesto, then the green peas.
  • Transfer the pasta to the baking dish and top with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake the pasta for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
  • Remove the pasta from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, before serving.

Notes

TO STORE: Refrigerate this pesto pasta as soon as it cools. Put the leftover cheese-baked pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
TO FREEZE: This pesto pasta bake freezes quite well. Once you have baked it, let it cool, and then cover the baking dish with food wrap. You can also freeze this pasta bake in portions using airtight plastic containers. This will keep for up to two months. 
TO REHEAT: Microwave portions of the pasta for 30-45 seconds until hot, or in a preheated oven. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 19gFat: 12gSodium: 504mgPotassium: 201mgFiber: 4gVitamin A: 899IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 338mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 35g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really love this Armen Thankyou 🥰 soooo delicious and so quick to prep.beautiful dish .😋😋😋😋😋😋xx

  2. Awww, we both did PEAS!!! And can I just say you whore out my pesto better than any pimp I’ve ever seen on the street…you know, if I hung with that kinda crowd! 😉

    Easy dish with a fancy vibe? Quiche! Thank you Meg for that!
    Pesto and eggs!
    Peas and bananas? Hahaha!

    1. Hahahaha your pesto recipe is my go to…so much better than store bought. I apologise for all the pingbacks…and all the future ones.

      Pesto and bananas? I’ve had pesto and apples but that….will have to be tried out 😉

  3. ^^Regarding your comment above: now that song is gonna be stuck in my head! 🙂

    Cheese + pesto = perfecto!

    1. YES. Seriously. Do you like spaghetti squash? I get lazy and microwave it with cheese and pesto. So effing good.

  4. 1. Melty cheese is pornographic. Screw your PG-13!
    2. I love the way you spell “flavored.”
    3. Peas and carrots, Jenny.

  5. I put peas into my pasta just for a change and I was surprised on how much I loved the flavor. I guess it was just a change in texture or my love for peas. I am a big time pasta lover.. with loads of cheese. Oh my!

  6. Oh child you are putting together some of my favorite things: veggies, pasta, pesto and cheese. I could take this without the peas, but my Hubby would face plant into this bake as is. He is a man who likes his peas.
    Pesto with everything.
    Peas with nothing.

    1. Please do me a favour and make the hubs a meal featuring a side of mashed potatoes and peas. If he mixes them together….I may come to america to visit him instead 😉

  7. Looking forward to reading this week’s Spill It!

    The pasta recipe sounds marvelous.

    Peas and carrots (that was always a side at school. Totally gross. They did not taste like peas and carrots at all.)

    Pasta and alfredo sauce is the best!

    1. ALFREDO CRAVING. Well that and carbonara.

      Thanks Madison- peas and carrots were childhood hates when they tasted like nothing. Except when doused with gravy!

  8. OOO I am so tuning in for Sunday’s SPILL IT 😉 I shall SPILL IT ALL in my comment!! ha ha ha ah! You know me, the Protein Queen!

    PS: I loved the selfie from you today!!!!!!!

  9. Mmm yes to pasta + pesto + cheese! Love it!

    Pesto is definitely one of my favourite pasta mix ins, but chicken sausage is also amazing.

    And I don’t really like peas. 😛

    1. Dude, I had a look for decent chicken sausage here in australia…get this. The best of the bunch only had like 65% chicken in it. FAIL.

  10. This isn’t tandoori.

    unless it’s tandoori, my brain doesn’t register this as a “recipe”.

    TRY HARDER TO PLEASE ME

    1. How about Tandoori covered Lex?

      Hm…..let me do some thinking, I might have something in the works.

      PS totally ordered a random piece of chicken tikka from a fast food foodcourt because I was still hungry after lunch.

  11. i want to face plant this now! I can’t wait for st. paddy’s day. #wholeCotter approved… add corn and it’d be #CORNYCOTTER approved. bahahaha

    1. My mum totally made it corny cotter way when I was growing up- peas, corn, tuna, cream and pasta. #wholeMum.

  12. I love you for this. I know it sounds weird, but frozen peas are seriously one of my favorite foods 😉

    1. FROZEN peas? Really! I’ll need to venture out and try that. I’ve had frozen peas….on my black eye before 😉

  13. Mmmm…seeing as I’m at work at the moment and don’t have access to my kitchen, perhaps you can send this over to me for lunch!?! 😉 Ha! It looks amazing, Arman! Pesto makes anything taste so, so good! I can’t wait to make it!

    1. Thanks, Holly- you can even make it with spaghetti squash if you like that!

      Unfortunately, I might go to jail if trying to send it!

  14. Cheese seems to take food porn to an X-rated level always!
    I am not a hooge fan of pasta – but my daughter loves that stuff – her fav mix in is – you guessed it – CHEESE!

  15. I loveeeee peas & pasta. Pasta carbonara = love.Pesto + anything. Peas + anything. You know what’s creepy… on a can of peas in the US it says “not a low calorie food”. Like peas are a vegetable/legume how can you try and trick people into thinking they aren’t healthy?

    1. Dude you have craving carbonara now…extra bacon. extra cheese. extra cream.

      …..Are you serious? They actually have that tagline on food products?!

  16. Hahahahaha I love that you just compared peas to ugly diamonds. That is the best part of this entire post 😉

    1. Fail. The recipe is the best part of the post :p

      Guess who’s eaten potatoes 3 times a day for 4 days in a row…3 to go!

  17. Yay real pasta! I love pasta bakes…so hearty. Favourite pasta mix-in: tomato sauce. Which is crazy because I absolutely hated it as a kid. And I think i’ve only had pesto a handful of times…so I couldn’t tell you my favourite way to eat it. Maybe I need to experiment more?
    Peas and: carrots. Is there anything else?

    1. Zomg Sam…real pasta as opposed to fake pasta? If you’re referring to those slim noodles or shirigross…ew.

      Get on the pesto train, stat.

  18. Love pasta, peas and pesto so maybe this should be the ERINRECIPE. Maybe? Ummm peas and…..pasta? Pesto and…..pasta? ……I’m so creative. Hey, it’s early.

    1. How about coconut flour and pasta? I think you promised to get a package of it like…last year :p

      ERINRECIPE indeed.

  19. I am seriously drooling. Peas are my fav veggie, and cheese is my fav… life companion? I don’t know, I love it too much to process properly. Sub in some gluten free pasta so it’s easy on my tummy and I would eat this whole platter!

  20. Connnnnnnnfession: I don’t like pesto. At least… I don’t think I do. I only remember having it a couple of times and it didn’t do anything for me. Actually, maybe it did. I have no idea. Please excuse these rambles — I am sleep deprived.

    Favourite pasta mix in is cheese, always and forever. In fact… scrap the pasta and just give me noodles with cheese 😀 And peas ‘n’ carrots — duh.

    1. well, i do and i don’t. I love pesto, i dont love the taste after i eat it. proceed with caution

    2. Spoonshine, I hope you have been blessed by the slumber Gods. Pesto is like the almond butter of the savoury world. GET. ON. IT.

      Noodles mixed with cheese was standard childhood fare. Time to bring it back.

  21. “Cheesy”, “pasta”, and “baked” are winning words in all of my old favorite foods. I especially love alfredo or macaroni and cheese bakes! Since going healthier — “healthy” being relative to each person of course — all my favorite foods now include an awesome fat instead of carbs. I’d still sneak a helping of this recipe though 🙂

    1. Thanks, Camille- I’ve actually been craving Alfredo sauce like crazy after someone posted a fancy schmancy dish on instagram!

  22. Oh my goooooood I’m chocolate obsessed! So sweet of you to make some chocolate covered rice!

    Awkward time for me to tell you I don’t like peas…well actually I’m not sure if I don’t like peas. My last memory of eating them was when I was 6 and my brother and I used to shove them under the kitchen table when my Mom wasn’t looking…Thank god we got a new kitchen table otherwise shit would staaaaaaank.

    Pasta (and not of the fake spaghetti squash variety that makes me a farty twat) + pesto + cheeeeeeeeese – peas = #wholedavida. I have fine math skills. Let’s not talk about how I tried to bribe my high school calculus teacher into not failing me so I could get into university #wholeprincess

    1. Chocolate covered rice is where it’s at! Thanks so much for hosting the Chinese New Year link up! #Asianpride

      Haha me and my sister used to that with broccoli. Well me broccoli and she did it with beef.

      ….I need to hear this #wholeprincess story.

  23. Oh this is such a cool way to prepare pasta!! Thanks for being creative for me my sweet Latte Machiato. My mind is still blurred from too much booze and it will be filled up with more by this afternoon.
    I love to cook leftover pasta in eggs (what else) and some ham. And then let it burn a little on the side for extra crunch. Haha.
    Happy Weekend from drunk Elizabeth (if you need clarification on that, check today’s post).

    1. Hahahahaha Lucie. I hope you managed to sleep this weekend.

      Ohhh you’ve sparked a carbonara pasta craving!

  24. I don’t know if I can just call them peas after this… but diamonds or not anything with pesto and cheese sounds delicious right about now (it may or may not be past my dinner time and I may or may not be out of food)

      1. The problem is when I’ve eaten all the emergency food… I’m really bad about grocery shopping haha

  25. My Mum was cooking something similar when we were kids. It always was my sister’s favorite 🙂
    I love green pesto. Especially with tomatos and mozzarella on focaccia! Heaven!
    Don’t judge me but I can’t stand cooked peas. But I love them raw 🙂

    1. LOL. I had to think for a moment just then that peas can be eaten raw…they are in snap peas! Green Pesto is so good. Red pesto is fail whale status.

  26. Anything with the words “cheesy”, “pasta”, and “pesto” scream my name. Like I can hear the dish calling to me. Send me some asap. Kcool thanx 😉

    1. Geeze, Christine, EVERYTHING screams your name…just like that overpriced avocado I saw today 😉

      Of course. It may be mouldy thanks to fedex.

  27. I dunno, I think peas are far more valuable than diamonds–at least you can actually eat them, so they serve some practical purpose, while diamonds are just pretty, shiny, and are essentially useless in my opinion. Sure, they are expensive, but other than that, what’s the big deal? Maybe I am just biased, though, since I never wear jewelry and cannot understand the appeal of a diamond ring, or why those women on jewelry commercials are so excited when they receive a diamond ring from their boyfriends or husbands. Why not give her something she can actually use?? Like peas!! Well, not peas, but I would honestly prefer peas to diamond rings. No joke. Anyway, this recipe looks delicious, even though I prefer not to eat dairy products. I could probably make it vegan, though, if I felt motivated enough to do so. All I’d need is some Daiya cheese, unsweetened almond milk, and pesto without regular cheese–no problem. I hope you have a great day!

    1. Thanks Kendra- One of my friends is looking for a ring for his fiance so I’m going to recommend some peas. I’ll let you know how it fares!

      I have a Vegan pasta bake recipe actually- a sauce made of tofu, nutritional yeast, coconut milk and pesto- I can email it to you if you like!

      1. Haha, do let me know how it goes 😉 That would be great if you could email me the recipe–it sounds delicious!

  28. Pesto is my jam! And peas. I was THAT freak kid that loved peas. You just won over my inner fat kid heart with this one. I will sponsor your green card if you move here and cook for me!! DO IT!

    1. YES..I will be your ultimate chef with ethic flair if you get me a damn green card. AND my mum’s wooden spoon!

      But actually, you may need to consider going back to your job. Green card sponsorship ain’t cheap.

  29. I agree, baked pasta really does seen fancier for some reason. I love, love frozen peas and pesto is always a great choice! I think I might try to make this with spag squash instead of pasta this weekend. I have an extra spag squash that needs used to this week.

  30. Love it! peas and pesto actually go really well together. I bet my fam would love this too. Perhaps I will make it for them when I get home! I will tell them my Australian friend recommended it. Pesto and … salmon (made this once and it was fabulous). Peas and … mashed potatoes. If I eat mashies on thanksgiving, I always mix my peas into it.

    1. Perhaps? Fail. More like DEFINITELY.

      YES YES YES! You were the only one to mention my preferred pea method- mixed with mashed potatoes. This is why we’re friends.

  31. Add some tuna and you have something very reminiscent of the tuna noodle casserole my mom use to make!!

    peas and carrots!! steamed to perfection…
    pesto and spoon… or crusty bread
    pasta and… broth. I love noodle-y soups.

    1. YES! My mum used to make that all throughout my childhood and teen years- canned tuna, peas, corn, cream and parmesan cheese- a standard dinner in our household!