mantecare rigatoni with meatballs
Main Dish

Rigatoni with Meatballs

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This quick and easy pasta recipe for rigatoni with meatballs is one of my go-to weeknight dinners. Especially when I want a meal that provides leftovers for later in the week. This recipe is fast and simple enough to make even on a slightly busy weeknight. And then I can plan for the leftovers to be enjoyed on an even busier weeknight a couple days later. I usually make this dish on a Monday or Tuesday night and then plan on having the leftovers for dinner Wednesday or Thursday night.

And of course, this recipe is made so much better with the mantecare treatment. Just like Ravioli with Meat Sauce, the pasta water is put to use along with some butter and olive oil to elevate and evenly sauce this simple dish. It’s a built-in finishing touch.

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Getting Started

Getting this recipe started is very quick and easy. First, empty the jar of sauce into a small to medium saucepan. Place the frozen meatballs in the sauce. Cover the pot and set on a medium-low heat. Meanwhile, start the pasta water. Come back and check on the sauce and meatballs. If bubbling or boiling, turn down the heat.

Ingredient Recommendations

Pasta & Sauce

Our recipe uses store brand dried pasta and pasta sauce. For the pasta sauce, I simply use “traditional.” There are usually other flavors to choose from such as basil, garlic and cheese, too, if you’d like.


We use store brand, frozen, pre-cooked meatballs. Our store brand offers mini or regular-sized meatballs. Either can be used.

Ingredient Alternatives


For those looking to cut back on red meat, frozen, pre-cooked turkey or chicken meatballs are a great option. Although not always easy to find, especially at smaller stores, larger grocers often have a bigger selection. 

If your meatballs are not pre-cooked or are fresh or thawed and raw, the recipe can still be followed as-is however the cook time may need extended in order for the appropriate meat temperature to be reached. Use a meat thermometer to determine when the desired temperature has been reached.

In place of meatballs, ground meat (beef or turkey) can be used although prep is different. For ground meat prep, see our Ravioli with Meat Sauce recipe.


Simply omit the meatballs to make this dish vegetarian.

Finishing Touches

The ultimate finishing touch to this recipe is the mantecare technique. This easy four step process is already built-in to the recipe instructions.

When ready, serve in a warmed pasta dish. Top with cheese. I recommend shredded or grated parmesan or a shredded mozzarella or Italian blend.


This quick and easy rigatoni with meatballs recipe is great to make any night of the week. It comes together quickly so it pairs well with busy evenings. If you do have the time, pair with a side salad and garlic bread. Heating up a couple of slices of frozen, store brand garlic cheese bread in the air fryer is my new go-to rather than using the oven.


This recipe yields 2-3 leftover servings after serving 2 people.

Use leftovers within a few days. The leftovers are great for lunch or another busy night. Simply reheat in the microwave or if you have the time, reheat in the oven. When reheating in the oven, toss in a slice or two of frozen cheesy garlic bread. Then, just before taking it out to serve, top the pasta with some shredded cheese!

Rigatoni with Meatballs

Course: Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 4


  • 1 box rigatoni pasta
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 bag frozen, pre-cooked meatballs
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • butter


  • Heat a pot of salted water to boiling. Add rigatoni and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, pour the pasta sauce into a medium sauce pan. Add desired amount of frozen meatballs to sauce. Cook over medium to low heat for 7-10 minutes until heated through.
  • When rigatoni is ready, use a slotted spoon to add rigatoni to sauce and meatballs. Then, add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pasta water and stir. Finally, add a drizzle of olive oil and 1-2 tbsp of unsalted butter and stir until combined.

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