I’m up for pizza in any guise and this Pizza Casserole is a great option. Opting for pasta as a substitute for the base, rather than traditional pizza dough, offers a speedy solution—quicker than DIY or probably even waiting for a delivery. With just a handful of ingredients, pizza night gets a unique twist without sacrificing the deliciousness.
When my kids were little, pizza casserole was always at the top of their list when it came to favorite dinners. It’s pure comfort food baked in a pan.
I’ve always made this pizza pasta bake in the spirit of a meat lover’s pizza, but if you’re a “pepperoni only” purist, feel free to stick with that.
Related: Gooey Pizza Dip
Why I Love This Easy Pizza Casserole Recipe
- It’s a kid-approved classic.
- This casserole tastes like a big hug in a pan.
- It’s so customizable with whatever you have on hand. Add extra cheese, throw in some veggies, or experiment with different sauces. The recipe is your canvas!
- Minimal fuss dinner and makes great leftovers.
Fresh and Pantry Ingredients
- penne pasta: The hearty base that soaks up all the flavors.
- olive oil: For sautéing onions and mushrooms.
- onion: Brings a sweet and aromatic flavor to the mix.
- mushrooms: Adds a earthy and savory element to the casserole.
- pizza sauce: The saucy essence that ties everything together. Feel free to make my homemade pizza sauce.
- Italian flavored diced tomatoes: Add texture and flavor.
- salami : Adds a hearty, meaty flavor.
- mini pepperoni slices: Adds classic flavor.
- sliced olives: Brings a salty and briny kick.
- Parmesan cheese: The cheesy goodness that makes everything better.
- dried parsley: for garnish
Here are some possible ingredient swaps for this pizza casserole.
Penne Pasta: Any pasta variety you prefer can work—try rigatoni, fusilli, or even ziti. When I’m looking for a healthier option, I’ll use a whole wheat or protein enriched variety.
Olive Oil: Can be substituted with avocado oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil or melted butter.
Diced Onion: Swap with shallots.
Sliced Mushrooms: If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you can skip them or replace them with diced bell peppers or zucchini.
Pizza Sauce: Marinara sauce or homemade tomato sauce are good alternatives, but I find it tastes less like pizza with this swap.
Italian Flavored Diced Tomatoes: Regular diced tomatoes or fire-roasted diced tomatoes work well too.
Diced Salami: Substitute with other cured meats like ham, or cooked sausage.
Mini Pepperoni Slices: Regular-sized pepperoni or any preferred deli meat can be used.
Parmesan Cheese: Pecorino Romano or a blend of Italian cheeses can be used instead.
Dried Parsley: Use dried or fresh basil if you prefer.
How to Make This Pizza Casserole Recipe – see the recipe card below for full details
Step 1: Preheat oven. Grease a baking dish with cooking spray.
Step 2: Cook pasta as directed on the package and set aside. Sauté onions and mushrooms.
Step 3. Combine ingredients for the sauce layer and spread it on bottom of pan with some of the pasta.
Step 4. Sprinkle some of the salami, pepperoni, and olives, topping with cheese and repeat.
Step 5: Bake and rest before serving and garnishing with parsley.
How to Make Pizza Casserole Without Pasta
If pasta is not your thing, replace it with thick sliced eggplant or or portabella mushroom caps.
Cook the pasta slightly underdone before baking, as it will continue to cook in the oven. This ensures your pasta has that satisfying bite after baking. If you overcook the pasta, the pasta will become mushy and fall apart in the sauce.
If you have fresh herbs on hand, like basil or oregano, use them! Sprinkle on top just before serving for a burst of fresh flavor.
I like to throw in some diced bell peppers, artichoke hearts, or even a handful of spinach to add extra layers of flavor and nutrition when I’m in the mood.
Prep the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate. You can simply pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat.
If you want more of a crispy top layer, use a wider baking dish (9 x 13) to spread out the pasta. A smaller dish will result in a thicker, more moist casserole.
Turn up the heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the sauce for a spicy kick.
Make this Dinner a Full Feast of Flavors
What to Serve with this Pizza Casserole
- Start with a Roasted Garlic Bruschetta, the flavors are wildly delicious. Or even better, Hot Italian Dip or Italian Stuffed Mushrooms.
- A green or Cesare salad is necessary.
- I have two favorite for bread, both are amazing. Either this cheesy garlic bread situation or this garlicky, cheesy parsley bread.
- For dessert, I would serve Italian Cookies or Italian Love Cake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I make this pizza casserole ahead of time? Definitely! Prepare the casserole, cover it, and refrigerate. When ready to bake, just pop it in the oven. Baking time will increase with the it being cold.
Can I use different meats or make it vegetarian? Absolutely. Customize with your favorite meats or go meatless with extra veggies or vegan sausage crumbles. It’s a versatile recipe.
What if I don’t have a specific ingredient? No worries. Substitute with similar items or omit. The recipe is forgiving and flexible. Check my substitutions section above for possible swap outs.
How do I store leftovers? Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
What’s the best way to reheat pizza casserole leftovers? Reheat in the oven for a crispy top, or use the microwave for a quicker option.
Can I freeze leftovers? Yes, pizza casserole freezes well. I like to divide it into single serve portions, wrap it tightly, and freeze. Just reheat in the oven or microwave when needed.
More Recipes with a Pizza-Inspired Twist
- White Pizza Sauce
- Dill Pickle Pastrami Pizza
- Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese
- Pizza Pancakes
- Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
- Pepperoni Pizza Sticks
- No-Fail Pizza Dough
- Pizza Potatoes
- Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Pizza Casserole Ingredients:
- cooking spray
- 2 heaping cups dry penne pasta
- 2 tbsps. olive oil
- 1-1/4 cups diced yellow onion
- 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups pizza sauce store-bought or homemade
- 1 (15 oz.) can Italian flavored diced tomatoes
- 8 oz. diced salami
- 1 cup mini pepperoni or regular-sized cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup sliced olives divided
- 2-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- dried parsley (optional garnish)
How to Make Pizza Casserole:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart (8 x8) baking dish with cooking spray.cooking spray
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. In a nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and mushrooms until softened and browned, about 10 minutes.2 heaping cups dry penne pasta, 2 tbsps. olive oil, 1-1/4 cups diced yellow onion, 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- In a medium sized bowl, combine pizza sauce, tomatoes and onion-mushroom mixture. Spread a thin layer of this sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half the cooked penne pasta. Sprinkle half the salami, pepperoni and olives. Top with half the sauce and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta, salami, pepperoni, olives, sauce and finally cheese. Your pasta will be piled high in the baking dish and it will cook down.2 cups pizza sauce, 1 (15 oz.) can Italian flavored diced tomatoes, 8 oz. diced salami, 1 cup mini pepperoni or regular-sized cut into quarters, 1/2 cup sliced olives, 2-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Wait 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with flecks of parsley.dried parsley
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.