A favorite Egyptian comfort food recipe, Baked Penne Pasta with Bechamel Sauce is made with simple ingredients and ready in under an hour. A crowd-pleasing dish, it’ll have your guests begging for seconds!
What Is Macarona Bechamel?
Baked penne pasta, also referred to as Macrona Bechamel ( مكرونة بشاميل) is a classic Egyptian recipe that many kids grow up eating. There are many different variations, but it always contains spiced beef, pasta noodles, and creamy bechamel sauce. Similar to American macaroni and cheese or lasagna, it’s often served as a weeknight comfort food and is always a crowd-pleaser. This baked pasta version is closest to what we grew up eating, but we’ve also made macarona bechamel in one pot, too!
Ingredients You’ll Need for Baked Penne Pasta
- Unsalted Butter
- All-Purpose Flour
- Whole Milk
- Spices and Seasonings
- Ground Beef
- Penne Pasta
How to Make the Best Macarona Bechamel
- Start by cooking the penne pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles, and set them aside.
- Cook the beef with spices until it is no longer pink.
- Next, make your bechamel sauce. To do so, melt the butter in a saucepan, and whisk in the flour. Then, add in part of the warmed milk, and continue to whisk constantly until the ingredients are thick in creamy. Mix in the seasonings, and stir again. Remove the sauce from the heat, and let it sit and thicken for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Add the cooked penne to a large bowl along with part of the bechael sauce and more warm milk. Stir until the noodles are well coated.
- Layer half of the noodle mixture in a casserole dish. Sprinkle the ground beef on top, and pour the bechamel sauce over it all.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is golden and browned on top.
- Let cool, and enjoy!
Should My Casserole Dish Be Covered or Uncovered?
Leave the baked pasta uncovered while in the oven! This will help create the beautiful golden topping. However, you’ll want to make sure to keep an eye on your baked penne pasta to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Can I Use Lasagna Sheets Instead of Penne?
Traditional Macarona Bechamel is defined by the penne noodles. However, if you want to swap them out for lasagna sheets, you absolutely can! Just be sure to cook them thoroughly, and spread the bechamel sauce evenly on top before layering the beef.
Baked penne pasta is a perfect recipe for
Or, keep it in the freezer either cooked or uncooked for 4-6 months! If freezing this recipe before cooking it in the oven, layer all of the ingredients first. Then, let it thaw in the fridge overnight or bake it from frozen as the instructions state. If baking from frozen, you may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure the dish is warmed thoroughly and browned on top.
More Baked Pasta Recipes
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- This Greek Pasta Bake is bursting with so much color and flavor, it’ll make you feel like you’re on the shores of the Mediterranean in the summer.
- Addictively delicious, Crack Chicken Pasta Bake comes together with minimal time and dishes so you can get in and out of the kitchen in no time!
- Creamy and decadent, Truffle Mac and Cheese is fancy enough for holidays but easy enough for a Monday.
Egyptian Macarona Bechamel
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups whole milk (+ 1/4 cup warmed until hot)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 lb cooked ground beef (seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh garlic, cardamom, and a dash of cinnamon)
- 3/4 lb cooked penne pasta (cooked al dente)
To make the béchamel sauce:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the 6 cups of the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the seasonings. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl add the cooked penne pasta. Add 3 cups of the béchamel and 1/4 cup milk. Stir until the sauce coats all the pasta. Add half the penne to a buttered baking dish. Add the cooked ground beef. Top with the remaining béchamel. Bake in a 13 x 9 baking pan for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown (you want to keep an eye on it the last 10 minutes so the top doesn't burn). Let cool slightly.