Four Cheese Rigatoni is made with tender pasta tossed with a creamy sauce that’s packed full of four different cheeses. Topped with garlic breadcrumbs then baked to crunchy, creamy perfection, this is one dinner that no one will complain about!
Four Cheese Rigatoni Recipe
Four cheese rigatoni is quite possibly my favorite pasta recipe of all time. It’s ultra creamy, super cheesy and packed with flavor. A crunchy breadcrumb topping finishes off this incredible dish. It’s a spin on my Creamy Four Cheese Spaghetti, but the breadcrumb topping just makes it extra special.
I only used half the amount of cream I’d use in a traditional cheese sauce like Alfredo and use pasta cooking water instead. Sounds a little strange, but it starchy from the pasta so it helps to really thicken up the sauce
Why we love it
It’s comfort food perfection.
Ready in 30 minutes.
Customize with your favorite protein or veggies.
How to Make Four Cheese Rigatoni
It may look like a lot of steps but I promise you this rigatoni recipe is super simple.
Start by boiling the rigatoni. Just follow the box instructions for an al dente pasta. You can even cook it about a minute under because it will cook a little more in the oven. Make sure to properly salt your water – pasta is quite bland and as it absorbs the salted water the flavor is enhanced. Drain the pasta but be sure to reserve a cup of the liquid for the sauce.
Melt some butter and olive oil in a large, deep, oven safe skillet. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Stir in the cooked rigatoni, pasta water, italian seasoning, black pepper, cream cheese and heavy cream. Keep stirring until the cream cheese is melted and bring the sauce to a simmer (bubbly but not quite a full boil).
Stir in the other three cheeses – Fontina, Mozzarella and Parmesan. Keep stirring and folding the cheese in until they are fully melted and incorporated into the sauce. Adding in two batches can make this process easier.
Spread the top of the pasta into an even layer in the pan and top with breadcrumb topping. If you prefer to bake in a casserole dish that’s an option, too. bake for about 15 minutes. The breadcrumbs should be nice and golden and the sauce bubbly. For more color on top you can flip the broiler on for a couple of minutes.
Serving Suggestions and Variations
I often use a parsley garnish because I like the contrasting color. It would definitely up the pretty factor on this four cheese rigatoni. This dish is quite rich, so adding a lean protein like baked chicken breasts can help cut the richness a bit. It’s also delicious with some Italian sausage links or Sausage Meatballs. I also will add a big green salad.
Customizing recipes is always fun, so feel free to add your favorite protein or veggies to the four cheese rigatoni before baking. Spinach is an excellent option to keep it meatless, and it doesn’t require prior cooking like broccoli or asparagus would (two other delicious options).
What to do with leftovers
If you have leftover rigatoni, store covered I the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Reheat carefully in the microwave on a lower power setting, or on the stove. Add a little milk to help keep the sauce from breaking and becoming grainy. Freezing is not recommended.
If you’d like to make this recipe a day ahead you can definitely do so. Once the pasta and cheese sauce and completely blended, let cool, cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Keep the foil on and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, then remove the oil and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes uncovered and broil for a few minutes for additional browning.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of salt and the rigatoni. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rigatoni is al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for later.
In a large, oven-safe skillet or saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir, cooking for about a minute.
Add cooked rigatoni, 1 cup of pasta water, italian seasoning, black pepper, cream cheese and heavy cream to the skillet and stir until cream cheese is melted. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add shredded cheeses. Stir constantly until cheeses are melted and pasta is completely coated; 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir until sauce is thickened and reduced; 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fresh minced parsley.
Serve hot, and garnish with more fresh parsley and some fresh grated Parmesan, if desired. Or proceed to the next step for the optional breadcrumb topping.
Turn on your oven's broiler if you are using the optional breadcrumb topping.
Mix the breadcrumb mixture together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the pasta. Place under the broiler and broil for several minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden and sauce is bubbly. Watch closely so it doesn't burn.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.