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Cheese and Pasta in a Pot (for a Crowd)

Cheese and Pasta in a Pot is a cheesy, meaty-filled pasta bake that is best served with a crowd sitting around your table! Tangy sour cream is layered with a rich meat sauce and LOTS of cheese!

cheese and pasta in a pot

You are going to love this recipe if you’re a fan of pasta, cheese, meaty red sauce, and a crowd-pleasing dinner idea.

This recipe is one of those comfort food dishes everyone loves, and will request over and over!

Cheese and Pasta in a Pot came to us from a friend, and we’ve been making it for years and years.

How to Make Cheese and Pasta in a Pot

First, let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe.

You’ll need pasta, the recipe calls for shell macaroni, but you can also substitute in elbow macaroni, bow tie, or spiral pasta. Something that holds on to the sauce well!

baked pasta recipe with cheese

Next, you need the meaty marinara sauce.

The original recipe is quite simple, but I’ve changed it to suit my personal tastes and give it a bit more flavor.

You can also make my 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Sauce, and use that!

You’ll need some spices like fresh garlic and garlic powder, plus onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. If you like it a little spicy feel free to add in some red pepper flakes!

This meaty red sauce uses ground beef that’s been browned, however, you could use ground sausage, chicken, or turkey. I’ve made it with all of these options, and it’s delightful anyway.

Layering this Pasta Recipe

You’ll cook your pasta, and make the meat sauce. You can cook the meat sauce the day before if you want to save time!

Then, in the bottom of a very DEEP dish you’ll start your layering process.

baking pasta in a dutch oven

The dish you use is very important! I use a Dutch Oven, but my mom uses a Clay Roaster. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a deep baking dish! The usual casserole dish won’t work.

You’ll spread half your pasta of choice in the bottom of the baking dish, then cover it with half of the meat red sauce.

Spread half of the sour cream and add the sliced provolone cheese on top of the sour cream.

Add the rest of the pasta on top of this, then layer in the rest of the meaty marinara, and the sour cream, and finish with the mozzarella on top.

Baking an Easy Pasta Dish

baked pasta and cheese

You’ll cover and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes if you’re going right from hot marinara and hot pasta.

If you’re using cold sauce, you’ll need to add 15-20 minutes of baking time to the easy pasta bake recipe!

Be sure to remove the cover of your baking dish and broil the top for a golden brown finish!

Let your casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before dishing it out to your hungry people!

Serving Cheese and Pasta in a Pot

cheesy pasta bake

This meal is a one-pot-wonder! Make sure you’ve got 10-12 people around your table to eat this baked pasta dish. Or, get excited for leftovers!

You need a salad on the side, or some kind of green vegetable, and your dinner is complete.

caprese caesar salad

I love serving a giant Caprese Caesar Salad with this pasta bake!

Here’s the same Cheese and Pasta in a Pot, but the full-sized recipe.

This feeds around 10-12 people easily. 12-15 polite people.

Save this recipe to your favorite Pasta Board on Pinterest!

cheese and pasta in a pot for a crowd
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cheese and pasta in a pot for a crowd

Cheese and Pasta in a Pot (for a Crowd)

  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: oven-baked
  • Cuisine: american


  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, grated
  • 1 14-ounce jar of Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1, 16 ounces can of Stewed Tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 8-ounce Shell Macaroni (cooked according to the package)
  • 1.5 pints Sour Cream
  • 1/2 lb. Provolone Cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • Optional: 1, 3-ounce can of sliced mushrooms


  1. Cook and drain the ground beef in a large skillet.
  2. Add the onions and saute with the ground beef until soft.
  3. Grate in the garlic and mix around until fragrant.
  4. Pour in your 14-ounce jar of Spaghetti Sauce, the 16-ounce jar of Stewed Tomatoes, and the 3-ounce jar of drained mushrooms if you are using them.
  5. Simmer all of this together for 20 minutes. It’s best to make the sauce the night before, but that means a longer baking time for the casserole.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Cook the Shell Macaroni according to the package.
  8. Spray your DEEP baking dish (I used an oven-safe Dutch Oven) with cooking spray, and dump half the cooked shells in the bottom.
  9. Cover with half the tomato meat sauce.
  10. Spread 1/2 the sour cream over the meat sauce, and top with provolone.
  11. Layer the rest of the noodles, the meat sauce, and the rest of the sour cream, and finish with the mozzarella on top.
  12. Cover and cook at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes (if your sauce is hot going in!).
  13. After 35+ minutes, remove the top and brown the top either with the broiler or extra cooking time. Be sure to observe if you decide to broil.
  14. Let this casserole sit for a good 12 minutes before digging in!


If you make the sauce the night before, and you’re layering from cold, add 20-30 minutes of baking time.


This casserole freezes well! If you want to do that, freeze the entire baking dish BEFORE you bake it. Just remember how deep your dish needs to be, and how much room that takes in a freezer. 😆 I like to make the sauce and freeze just the sauce. Then, I’ll assemble everything else. You’ll want to let this completely thaw in the fridge before baking it. Takes about 2 days of thawing. Then, I’ll add it to a COLD oven, and allow the pot and contents not to get shocked by high heat.

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