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Air fryer pasta bake

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I absolutely LOVE to use my air fryer. Especially if it can save me a little time! My daughters are big fans of pasta bake, and so it was only a matter of time before I made this air fryer pasta bake. It is the ultimate comfort food meal.

Typically I will make pasta bake using dried pasta, jarred sauce, and it is very very low effort. That is what this recipe is based on, however, scroll down near the end to see some tips about making your own sauce, what types of pasta work best, what cheeses I love to use and much more.

On a rare occasion I have made this using fresh pasta and homemade sauce, but mostly this is a low cost, low effort and low energy meal for our family!

One of the benefits of cooking a pasta bake in the air fryer is you can make a 1-2 person sized portion easily and you don’t have to heat up the entire oven just for one dish.

Obviously if you’re going to be making homemade garlic bread, or cooking up some vegetables to go with it, then you may find it more energy efficient to just use the oven for your whole meal.

Using the air fryer is very convenient for me, as it is just sitting up on the worktop and I don’t have to bend down to the oven – ideal for those days when my chronic health conditions are flaring up and I’m in agony.

Pasta bake is the perfect convenience meal. You can keep all of the ingredients in your store cupboard, just waiting for that night when you want a low effort or low cost meal. Also, I love to cook up a pasta bake and then divide it up into *storage boxes for a tasty and simple lunch for myself and my husband to enjoy over a couple of days.

You can enjoy pasta bake leftovers cold, or even reheat them in the microwave, which makes it a great lunch if you work on the move and don’t have access to a microwave.

A cooked air fryer pasta bake (tomato chilli covered pasta with melted grated cheese on top) in a red Le Creuset stoneware dish

Ingredients for making pasta bake in the air fryer:

200g pasta of your choice

300g pasta bake sauce of your choice – I often use this Homepride one

40g cheddar cheese

Floral background with text overlay that says air fryer tips and tricks 20+ great tips!

How to make a pasta bake in the air fryer:

Cook your pasta in boiling water until it is al dente. Aim to cook it for around 2-3 minutes less than quoted on the packet. I found 8 minutes perfect for the pasta I used (Tesco conchigle).

Add sauce to the pasta.

Mix well.

Place into an appropriate dish. I used a stoneware baking dish that is suitable for the temperatures reached during air frying.

Cook at 160C (320F approx) for 8 minutes.

Add 40g of grated cheddar cheese to the top.

Cook at 200C for 3-4 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Macaroni cheese cooked in the air fryer in a ceramic dish

Can you make this if your air fryer has a paddle?

You could, however, it is just not going to be quite as good!

The paddle will mix the cheese through the pasta. This is still nice, however, for the best results I always recommend using an air fryer without a paddle.

They seem quite old fashioned to me now, and I haven’t seen a manufacturer making one of these recently to be honest.

Can you make pasta bake without boiling pasta?

Yes. Although this IS best in the oven I find.

What I love to do, if I don’t want to parboil the pasta, is use fresh pasta. It is more expensive of course, however this is a great way to speed up the cooking time of this meal. Also, fresh pasta is superior I feel!

A plate of air fryer chicken nachos on baking paper. The nachos are dressed with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, jalapeño cheese sauce and grated cheddar

What is the best pasta for pasta bake?

I love to use any pasta that either has deep areas, for the sauce to collect, such as conchigle, or longer pasta, such as penne or rigatoni.

Rigatoni is probably my favourite for creamy or cheesy pasta bake dishes and conchigle is great for creamy tomato based pasta bake dishes.

If you’re on a budget then the supermarket value range of penne will work nice.

You CAN just use anything that you have to hand. Even if that is macaroni, farfalle, fusilli, orochiette or pappardelle. I would say that linguine, spaghetti and similar are not really best for a pasta bake BUT if that was all you had to hand then you could definitely make it work still. Just follow the method above and make sure that you fit all the pasta in the dish correctly.

What cheese works well for pasta bake?

I love to use a classic cheddar cheese. A sharp or mature cheddar cheese is my favourite, usually 4+ on the flavour profile is the one we always have on hand in the fridge.

Mozzarella is a great cheese for melting on the top of pasta dishes.

Other cheese types that I’ve used before are red Leicester, Lancashire and I have also used flavoured cheddar such as Marmite cheddar and cheese with little chilli flakes added.

two pieces of air fryer hunters chicken on parchment paper in a white enamel baking dish. In the background there are air fryer green beans and air fryer hasselback potatoes

Want to add some vegetables or protein to this recipe?

If you want to make this more of a substantial meal, protein wise, then I love to add things such as cooked chicken breast or chicken thigh fillets, pepperoni, salami, ham, gammon, bacon lardons, beef mince, turkey mince, tofu or Quorn pieces. Limitless opportunities really!

What I tend to do is cook them in advance, or keep some leftovers, I will then add to the dish when I add the pasta bake sauce and this allows the meat to be re-heated safely.

Vegetables that work great in this dish include courgettes, cherry tomatoes, red onions, white onions, red peppers, yellow peppers, peas, mushrooms, spinach, kale and really anything you want BUT these are my favourite vegetables. I love to have part cooked frozen vegetables in the freezer that work really well for dishes such as this.

You can also serve a nice salad on the side of course. This is the perfect accompaniment. We also love a nice Vegan coleslaw too.

Fancy making your own seasoning to liven up the flavour?

If you’re not looking for a bog standard pasta bake sauce then you can use something like chopped tomatoes and then add your own seasoning to liven it up.

You can just use herbs and spices, such as parsley, rosemary, chilli power, paprika and garlic. Alternatively you can use seasoning mixes such as fajita seasoning, peri peri seasoning or cajun seasoning.

A cheese and bacon quiche (quiche lorraine), whole, on a wooden serving tray

Why not try some of these delicious side dishes alongside your pasta bake:

While you’re here be sure to check out my favourite Ninja Foodi accessories:

Ninja Kebab Stand, Ninja sling, Ninja mini muffin tray

Here are some of my latest air fryer recipes:

How to cook pasta bake in your air fryer:

Air fryer pasta

How to make a delicious pasta bake in the air fryer in just 20 minutes.

Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Keyword air fryer, cheese, pasta
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 615 kcal

Ingredients

  • 200 g pasta of your choice
  • 300 ml pasta bake sauce of your choice
  • 40 g cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta in boiling water until it is al dente. Aim to cook it for around 2-3 minutes less than quoted on the packet. I found 8 minutes perfect for the pasta I used (Tesco conchigle).
  2. Add sauce to the pasta.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Place into an appropriate dish. I used a stoneware baking dish that is suitable for the temperatures reached during air frying.
  5. Cook at 160C (320F approx) for 8 minutes.
  6. Add 40g of grated cheddar cheese to the top.
  7. Cook at 200C for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Note: All calorie information is for demonstration purposes only and is based on the specific uncooked ingredients that I used when creating the recipe.

If you enjoyed this post I’d love it if you could pin it on Pinterest!

A cooked air fryer pasta bake (tomato chilli covered pasta with melted grated cheese on top) in a red Le Creuset stoneware dish
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