Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe (3-Ingredients)

Is it just me or has life been extra hectic lately? For me, being a Type A overachiever who is building a business outside of my 9to5 adds to my schedule just a wee bit. But seriously, I’ve been turning to quick and easy Trader Joe’s meals that I can put together with as little effort as possible. And I wanted to share this winner with you – Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe (3-Ingredients).

Steamy cheesy pasta with melted mozzarella

Who wouldn’t want this gorgeous bowl of pasta and melty cheese!? Keep reading to learn how to make this in 30 minutes or less.

Ingredients for a pasta bake recipe
I used red lentil pasta to make this gluten-free, but you can use any pasta you like. Most shapes will work well as a pasta bake.

Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe Ingredients

You just need three simple ingredients to make this delicious Trader Joe’s baked pasta recipe:

  1. Pasta: Use your favorite pasta (I love Trader Joe’s Red Lentil Sedanini. It’s gluten-free, and it gives a nice al dente like bite, which is hard to find in GF pasta.)
  2. Tomato Sauce: Choose your favorite TJ’s pasta sauce (I love the Organic Tomato Basil Marinara.)
  3. Fresh Mozzarella: There’s always at least one ball of fresh mozz available at Trader Joe’s

Optional Ingredients:

  • Depending on the sauce you use, you may want to add some additional spices for your preferred taste.
  • For mine, I added some salt and garlic powder. But I have a thing for salty foods, and I LOVE garlic!

You could also stir in some spinach or cooked veggies to up the nutrients. Vegetables are so good for you!

Baked pasta prepped and ready to bake
Ready to bake!

Dinner from the Pantry(ish)

One thing I really love about this recipe is how the ingredients have a long storage life:

  • The pasta and sauce will last a long time in your pantry.
  • And even the fresh mozzarella will last awhile in your fridge.

Basically, I like to keep these ingredients on hand in case I need dinner, and I haven’t been to the grocery store in awhile. It’s always nice to have back up options available when you’re hungry so you don’t waste money on takeout.

Sure takeout can be a lovely treat. But my rule to save money is to only get takeout / delivery when I really want it as a nice treat for myself. Not just because it’s convenient. If I’d be (nearly) just as happy cooking something as ordering in, then I always choose the more affordable (and most likely more healthy) option.

Cheesy baked pasta fresh out of the oven and bubbly hot
Fresh out of the oven – look at that melted cheese! 😍

A One Pot Dinner Idea

As a fellow busy person, I’m sure you can relate to the pain of cleaning. Sometimes I don’t mind cooking, but I really don’t want to have to do a HUGE clean-up afterwards.

This recipe uses one pot to cook the pasta and one casserole dish to bake the pasta.

And then you can either stir the pasta and sauce together in the pot or in the casserole dish. So yay for saving on using tons of bowls and what not.

A plate of cheesy pasta bake ready to eat

A Dinner for Just You or a Group (It Multiplies Easily!)

Since I made this recipe to eat alone, I sized it for two large portions or three smaller ones. But you can easily multiply this recipe to feed as many people as you want.

Feeding your kids and whole family? Simply increase the ingredients accordingly.

To be honest, I didn’t even measure anything when I made it. You can pretty much guess-timate the amounts for everything. It’s pretty forgiving.

But also – you can tailor the recipe to fit your unique tastebuds. Love super saucy pasta? Consider adding more sauce to your pasta bake! Love salty foods like me? Add more salt when you stir everything together.

It’s your dinner, so make it your way. That’s one of the best parts of cooking at home, right?

A close up of this cheesy pasta bake recipe

Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe Ingredient Substitutions

Speaking of modifications, you can change up the ingredients of this lazy Trader Joe’s Baked Pasta Recipe for your preferences too!

  • Pasta: try ziti (who doesn’t love baked ziti?!), penne, or even spaghetti.
  • Sauce: a tomato-based sauce is recommended – lucky for you there are SO many options at Trader Joe’s! If you do try this with an alternate sauce (maybe one of the cream ones), let me know how it goes!
  • Cheese: fresh mozzarella* melts better than shredded but do what you gotta do – if you can’t find the ball of mozz, the log would be great too.

*Tip: I once bought what I thought was a ball of fresh mozzarella at Trader Joe’s. Turns out it was some variation that had a liquid-ish center. This would *not* IMO be as good as a solid ball or log. But if it’s all you have on hand, it might get the job done! Desperate times call for desperate measures. πŸ˜‰

Baked ziti pasta with cheese on top

Baked Pasta Baking Casserole Dish

Size matters for your baking dish. But it’s not a huge deal if you don’t have the same exact size dish as me.

  • Avoid too small: Just make sure that it’s big enough to hold all your pasta and sauce without spilling over.
  • Avoid too big: If the dish is too big, your pasta and sauce will spread out, and the proportions of cheese to pasta may not be what you want. You’ll notice I have quite a lot of cheese for the pasta below it – and that’s on purpose. I LOVE cheese! Haha. Anywho, if the dish is too big, not only could the proportions be off, but the pasta could dry out if the layer becomes too thin.

Tip: Use a baking dish that food doesn’t stick to for easier clean-up. I stopped using non-stick spray years ago because I didn’t like the ingredient list. No eating propellant for me, thanks. Lol! I also don’t love metal non-stick pans because if they get scratched, the non-stick finish chemicals can leak into your food. Yikes! I found a super cool baking dish set on Amazon that I used for this recipe. I didn’t use any spray, oil, butter or anything, and everything came out easily and cleaned up nicely.

A close up of pasta with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese on top

Steps to Make This Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe

This easy Trader Joe’s dinner idea is so simple, I can make it on my lazy nights after a busy day at work.

Here are the steps to make this Easy Baked Pasta Recipe using Trader Joe’s ingredients:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain.
  3. In either the casserole dish or the same pot you used to cook the pasta stir together the pasta and enough sauce to coat the pasta. See my recipe below for more details.
  4. Spread the pasta evenly in the baking dish and top with sliced, fresh mozzarella.
  5. Bake until the cheese is melty – about 15 minutes.
  6. Cool the pasta til it’s safe to enjoy and eat!


A fork lifts and stretches mozzarella cheese over baked ziti pasta

What to Serve with This Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe

You can eat this Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe straight up for a quick, easy, and complete meal. But I like adding sides to make this a more complete meal.

Here are some ideas on foods to serve with this simple pasta bake recipe:

Personally, I aim to have a veggie with every meal, so I’d definitely recommend adding a side vegetable, time allowing.

Baked Cheesy pasta - ready to eat
Did I convert a frozen GF hamburger bun into garlic bread because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store nearby? Yes. Yes, I did.
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A close up of pasta with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese on top

Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe (3-Ingredients)

  • Author: Diana
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 1x
  • Method: Bake


Looking for simple Trader Joe’s Meal ideas for your busy nights? Try this Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe for dinner! You just need 3 ingredients and about 30 minutes or less. This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free!


  • 1/2 bag (6 ounces) Trader Joe’s red lentil sedanini (or sub pasta of choice)
  • 1/2 jar (12.5 ounces) Trader Joe’s organic basil marinara sauce (or sub sauce of choice)
  • garlic powder, optional (to taste – I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • salt, optional (to taste)
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. For the sedanini – this is 5-6 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta.
  3. In either a medium-sized rectangle casserole dish (approximately 11″ x 7″ x 2″ – see note for my exact dimensions) or same pot you used to cook the pasta, mix the cooked pasta and sauce. Stir in additional spices, if using. Add additional sauce if you want the pasta bake to be more saucy. Do you. πŸ˜‰
  4. Spread the pasta mixture flat in the baking dish, slice the mozzarella somewhat thinly, and evenly distribute the mozzarella slices on top of the pasta. I try to cover as much of the pasta as possible, but it’s okay if there are some gaps.
  5. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty.
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for a bit until it’s safe to eat. Serve and enjoy!


  • I used a non-metal, ceramic, non-stick casserole dish, so I don’t use non-stick spray, etc. If your casserole dish requires it, prep your dish as needed to prevent food from sticking.
  • My casserole dish is 12.2″L x 7.4″W x 2.3″H with a 62.8 ounce capacity. A similar size dish should work just fine. Of course, if you make the recipe larger to feed more, you’ll need to use a larger casserole dish accordingly.Β 
  • For the pasta, I used about half the bag of Trader Joe’s red lentil sedanini. It was about 2 cups of dry pasta.Β 
  • For the sauce, I used about half the jar of Trader Joe’s organic basil marinara sauce. It was about 1 1/2 cups.

Keywords: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Pasta, Trader Joe’s, Easy, 3 Ingredients, 30 Minutes or Less

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More Easy Recipes for Busy People

Raspberry Overnight Oats – this is my go-to for a quick, healthy, filling, and delicious breakfast

Cheesy Leftover Baked Potato Hash Browns Recipe – I love this for a quick and easy breakfast, brunch/lunch, or even dinner idea

Easy Tortellini Soup Recipe – Here’s an easy way to use one of the many wonderful TJ’s packaged tortellini options – turn it into soup


Thank you for stopping by and checking out my Easy Trader Joe’s Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe (3-Ingredients).

Do you have any more Simple Trader Joe’s meal idea requests? Comment below!

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