How can I thicken my pasta bake? (3 options)

In this article, we will answer the following question: How can I thicken my pasta bake? We will give you 3 tips to thicken your pasta bake, and give you a classic pasta gratin recipe. 

How can I thicken my pasta bake?

Thickening your pasta bake is easy. One option is to add some breadcrumbs or a piece of bread to the dish, as these foods have the ability to absorb excess liquid left from the pasta bake.

Also, a great idea to thicken your pasta bake is to add other ingredients to your sauce so that they bake in the oven. For example, the shredded chicken goes very well with pumpkin seeds. Or diced carrots and cauliflower if you prefer a vegetarian recipe. Sausage with cream. Mushrooms with spinach. Don’t forget the nuts and aromatic herbs.

Adding wheat flour, refined corn sand, or potato starch is another option. In the case of the first two, to avoid lumps from forming when they are added to the sauce of the pasta bake, it is necessary to dilute them in a little cold water. In the case of potato starch, it is not necessary to dilute it in water before incorporating it. Plus, it binds the sauce and the polish quickly.

For a successful pasta bake, you have to choose hollow or embossed pasta such as macaroni, shells, penne, fusil, li or farfalle. On the other hand, avoid spaghetti or tagliatelle which will result in a too compact pasta bake.

One of the most important elements: the sauce for your pasta bake

A baked pasta needs a good sauce to accompany it and, for this, we propose several basic sauces that combine very well with the recipe. Even so, all of them must be previously cooked based on their recipe or, failing that, they can be bought ready-made.

Here are some ideas based on their ingredients and textures:

Creamy: You can create a delicious sauce by mashing roasted pumpkin and cream. Or a sauce of cream, onion, mascarpone cheese, and ham is perfect.

Fresh: The traditional pesto sauce is an explosion of flavors and very simple to cook. There are also those who stir the pasta with spinach, cheese, and cream.

Red and spicy: Baked pasta goes great with traditional Bolognese sauce, marinara or puttanesca.

I like it with a quick aubergine sauce, which I make quite successfully. You just have to poach an onion in a pan, when it starts to brown add an aubergine cut into small cubes and let it change color. When it is soft, add minced beef and cook for three minutes. Add a splash of wine and then a homemade tomato sauce. Cook over low heat for 40 minutes and add, if you want, a little bit of spice. Mix with the hydrated pasta, cheese, and baked.

The classic pasta gratin recipe

In a large volume of boiling salted water, cook your pasta al dente for the time indicated on the package. Do not overcook your pasta which will “re-bake” in the oven that you have preheated beforehand.

Once cooked, drain the pasta then place it in a gratin dish, drizzling lightly with a drizzle of olive oil so that it does not stick.

You can then pour your preparation over the pasta.

The most traditional recipe is to make a béchamel sauce and cover the pasta. The gratin will be richer and especially more tender. You can also mix two eggs in 20 cl of cream which will cover the pasta. Or, simply add cream and then add diced mozzarella or even gorgonzola inside the dish for a very smooth side. Season with salt and pepper and add a little nutmeg then stir well to soak the pasta with sauce or béchamel sauce.

Finish with a good layer of grated cheese on top of the dish, either Gruyere or Comté, but it’s even better with Parmesan.

Some variations for more gourmet recipes

To make your gratin a unique dish, you can incorporate ham, small bacon, diced salmon, or chicken cutlets cut into pieces. Whatever your choice, it is necessary to brown the chosen ingredients in a pan before adding them to the gratin.

Likewise, vegetables go very well with the pasta gratin for 100% vegetarian and complete recipes. A few button mushrooms, zucchini cut into matchsticks and sautéed in a drizzle of oil with minced garlic, shallot, and onion will look great on your dish. Tomatoes also easily find their place in a pasta gratin.

Final thoughts

Whether you’ve got some pasta leftover from your meal the night before or you’re craving a little indulgence, pasta gratin is the perfect dish. Easy and quick to make, delicious, and appreciated by the whole family, it can be declined in multiple recipes that will satisfy everyone. 

Pasta is a very versatile product, and although many will not agree with us, we believe that baked pasta is one of the tastiest dishes out there!

If you have any suggestions or questions on the content, please let us know!


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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