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Nonna’s Italian Macaroni Pie

Quick & easy recipes are my jam, even better when it’s a throwback to something from our own childhood that we can share with our kids now. Nonna’s Italian macaroni pie needs only four ingredients, and is creamy cheesy pasta heaven on a plate.

creamy Italian macaroni pie shows layers of noodles with cheesy texture on glossy brown plates

Do you remember your favorite childhood comfort foods? Is there a certain recipe your Grandmother used to make that you’ve never forgotten?

For me, it’s things like Grandma’s American goulash, or her classic Southern creamed corn pudding. Even my Mama making her version of country beef gravy gets the same reaction from me.

A single sniff of it’s heavenly scent wafting from the kitchen and I’m immediately five years old again, frantically searching for my apron and running to find my seat at the kids’ table.

Nonna's Italian macaroni pie is shown in a glass baking fish on a light blue marbled background with a spatula ready and fresh parsley in the background

My husband however, is Italian. Most of his cherished childhood favorites are very different from my Southern ones. His all came out of his Nonna’s cozy little kitchen.

We’ve shared a few with you before- such as his Nonna’s Italian spaghetti and broccoli, which his Nonna called pasta e broccoli. 

Other favorites included her Italian style chicken noodle soup, and for dessert- her tasty cannoli dip recipe. I think it’s a universal fact, whatever you’re culture or heritage- Grandmothers’ always make the best desserts.

Fast forward many years, and we’re now firmly entrenched in our own little kitchen & trying to meal plan. A new school year’s starting, schedules are filling up, and if I’m not careful chaos will reign.

One of my self-proclaimed super powers? Being able to whip up simple meals out of just a handful of ingredients. My friends are always impressed, but I have a secret.

If it weren’t for my husband teaching me the basics of his childhood favorites from his Italian granny, it wouldn’t be nearly as easy for me. I guarantee it wouldn’t taste as good at all either!

My husband’s Nonna wasn’t a truly gifted cook, but she knew her ingredients well & she sure knew what to do with them. The simpler, the better. That’s a motto I’ve adopted myself.

a square of this creamy Italian pasta casserole is head aloft with farm fresh eggs and bright green parsley in the background on top of a red and white cloth napkin

There’s nothing simpler than her recipe for Italian macaroni pie. It combines two of everyone’s favorite things. Cheese & pasta. Who doesn’t love cheese & pasta together in a delicious dish?!

My rational brain knows there are people who don’t, but it’s also reminding me they’re not in my immediate gene pool & therefor don’t affect my ability to thoroughly enjoy the combination.


The ingredients list is super short. Surprisingly so for a lot of people when they hear it’s an ‘Italian’ dish. It may be Italian-American at best, but it does highlight some of their best basic ingredients.

This recipe uses a long pasta such as fettuccine, real butter, creamy ricotta cheese, fresh eggs, and is simply seasoned with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

That’s only four ingredients, not including the super simple seasoning. And yet I kid you not, it’s baked into a magical dish that makes a classic comfort food dream come true.


The casserole as we know it is actually derives from a French word. It can refer to either food cooked in the oven, or food served in an oven safe vessel (or drum).

It really found it’s footing in America during the 1950’s & 60’s. It’s hey day basically included throwing your favorite things together and hoping to enjoy a delicious result. Even all these years later, the term is really just an American thing.

Many other countries tend to refer to things thrown in a dish & baked to perfection before serving as ‘pies’. While I’m used to associating the word with a buttery crust, that’s not a must or a necessity in other countries. This version was Americanized by my husband’s Nonna after she immigrated and made due with more modern cooking conventions and available ingredients.

However, as a very young child she remembers her parents making something called a timballo. Basically it’s a baked Italian dish with a base of pasta, rice, or potatoes, with one or more other ingredients mixed in (like cheese, meat, fish, vegetables, or fruit).

If that doesn’t check all my boxes in my modern kitchen, I’m not sure what will! It’s got the potential to be the ultimate clean out the fridge meal, a true casserole!

As my husband’s great grandparents and grandmother adapted to their new home & learned the language they stopped using the word timballo. Actually I don’t think the parents did, but by the time my husband came along- in Nonna’s kitchen it was referred to as her Italian macaroni pie.


It’s extremely simple to throw together, but unlike other easy casserole this one does require a few key steps to come together without any problems. This is largely due to working with ingredients like fresh eggs and hot pasta.

It’s easy enough, even for the newest of beginners or the busiest of parents. Just make sure you pay attention and follow each step to the letter.

The pasta is cooked until it’s a true ‘al dente’. This Italian term just means cook it until it’s cooked, but still firm when bittern. Instructions for how long to cook the pasta should be clearly written on the box. Have your ingredients ready, because you’ll need to work quickly for the best results.

Transfer the cooked pasta to a colander, and drain it off all water. Do this as soon as it’s reached the desired consistency. You can loose ‘al dente’ quickly. Pasta is a fickle thing that can go from perfect to soggy & over cooked in a matter of seconds.

Return the strained pasta to the hot pot, and stir in the butter. Continue stirring until the butter’s all melted and the pasta’s completely coated with it. Add the ricotta & stir it into the pasta until evenly combined.

Scrambled your eggs, and season them liberally with salt & freshly cracked black pepper. Begin stirring the pasta, and slowly pour in the eggs, continuing to stir until they’re also stirred in & the mixture’s smooth.

At this point you can spoon the mixture into a 9×13 pan that’s been sprayed with non stick cooking spray. You can use a smaller 7×11 inch pan if you’d prefer thicker slices. The cooking time remains the same. The creamy ricotta pasta casserole is then baked at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Whatever you call it, it remains simple & utterly delicious. It’s a real crowd pleaser, even for the pickiest of eaters. It’s also easily adaptable to your own preferences.


  • Use whole milk ricotta cheese. Yes, you can skim off a few calories with the lower moisture version but you will lose creaminess and that’s a big part of the overall uniform texture.
  • Don’t be worried about tempering your eggs before adding them. The cool ricotta stirred into the hot pasta and butter will help naturally do that for you and prevent them from scrambling.
  • This is another recipe where pasta prep is key. When you bring your pot of water to a boil, salt it heavily. Think salty like the sea. That’s the boiling water you want to cook your pasta in. It will mean less salt needed overall, and help the starches in the pasta break down.
  • Once you’ve added the pasta, use the recommended cooking time as a guide. Keep a close eye on it, stirring often. Taste as needed. ‘Al dente’ pasta should taste completely cooked (not raw), but still be firm in texture. As soon as your pasta’s reached this consistency you want to strain it immediately. This will prevent it from overcooking which can happen shockingly fast. It’s especially important because this isn’t the only cooking the pasta will go through, it still has to be baked too.
  • We call for fettuccine in this recipe, but I have it on good authority that Nonna often subbed linguine, spaghetti, and even elbow noodles if that was all that was on hand. That being said, the longer pastas yield a better texture, and part of that comes from the height of the macaroni pie when baked. If using a smaller pasta like elbow noodles, then definitely opt of the smaller 7×11″ baking fish.
  • Worried it will be too bland? My advice will always be try it as is before hand, and if you still feel that way add some dried Italian seasoning to the ricotta before stirring it in. Or add a couple teaspoons of freshly diced basil leaves to the mixture. A little goes a long way in this simple dish.

This pasta casserole is easy to store. You can cover it with tin foil, refrigerate and reheat when ready to enjoy leftovers- or you can use Nonna’s genius hack.

She would cut the leftovers into equal portions, and wrap each one individually in cling wrap. That way anyone could grab one and go. You could pop it onto a plate to heat & eat, or enjoy it cold on the run. Believe it or not, a lot of the kids actually preferred it cold. Either way, leftovers were no problem!

Whether you’ve got Italian somewhere in your ancestry, or just appreciate it’s fine cuisine- this is a cozy dish straight from our Italian Nonna’s kitchen.

From her table to yours, Nonna’s Italian macaroni pie is guaranteed to please everyone- from the one doing the cooking down to the one’s savoring each bite. Second helpings are guaranteed!


If you’ve tried NONNA’S ITALIAN MACARONI PIE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

Nonna's Italian Macaroni Pie

A classic Italian comfort food, this cheesy pasta casserole was every kids favorite when Nonna served it for a simple supper.
4.03 from 44 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Casserole, Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 457kcal


  • 1 lb fettuccine pasta
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions, until al dente.
  • Pour the cooked pasta into a colander and drain completely. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the butter, stirring until it's completely melted & coating the pasta.
  • Stir in the ricotta until it's also evenly combined.
  • In a separate, smaller mixing bowl- whisk together the eggs until scrambled. Generously add salt & pepper to the egg mixture.
  • Slowly pour the scrambled eggs into the pasta mixture while stirring until all the eggs are added and completely incorporated.
  • Prepare a 9x13 inch baking dish by spraying generously with non stick cooking spray. Add the pasta mixture to the dish, and spread it out evenly. Season again with more salt & pepper, if desired.
  • Bake the macaroni pie at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Let it rest 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.


Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 182mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 783IU | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2mg
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4.03 from 44 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks fabulous! I came over from Meal Plan Monday (thanks for linking up!) looking for features for next week. If you ever want to be featured, check out the guidelines to be eligible when you get time. Glad to have your recipes be a part! Have a great week.

  2. It came out great but my husband said his grandma made it in a round pan and it was higher
    Can it be made in a springform pan?
    If so how long do you cook it?

  3. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful, tasty recipe. I cut the recipe in half for 2 people using only 1 tbsp. of butter and 2 eggs. The ricotta came through so nicely. I will definitely make this again. Very nice recipe.

  4. My mother made this all the time and I made it for my kids, I have since lost all my recipes and am so happy I found this !!

  5. 4 stars
    I used this recipe as a base and added some Sweet Earth vegetarian chik’n, peas, and garlic & herb seasoning. It was good, but I added some extra seasoning and more butter per piece, when served. I may even add some shredded cheese next time. It was a nice change, so thank you!

  6. Hi–I just tried this recipe and was SO excited to eat it, but it came out just…bizarre? I have lots of kitchen experience and made it exactly as stated but it came out with SUPER dry noodles, weird chunks of egg, and “crumbly” ricotta. Somehow nothing was moist or incorporated/mixed. I made it exactly as stated. Any ideas what could have gone wrong? I hated throwing out so much food but it was truly inedible and the little bit I tried was also super bland. Is this a fat-content thing with the cheese and milk perhaps? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. My family has made a version of this for at least 4 generations, but I think we’ve all run into the problem you had.
      It’s most likely the pasta being too hot when adding to the cheese & egg mix causing it to curdle.
      You should also salt the cheese and egg mixture as relying on salty water doesn’t work. We also don’t use butter and add 1/4 tsp of garlic powder to the cheese mix.
      It’s baked at 350 for 1hr until the top is golden. The key is a cast iron skillet that’s been well oiled up the sides with olive oil and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

  7. 3 stars
    Our family has made a version of this for generations.
    I use perciatelli pasta instead of the fettuccine as it’s hardier and holds up better.
    I also mix together the cheese and the eggs, salt, pepper 1/4 tsp of garlic powder together in a large bowl and then add the cooked pasta and incorporate extremelywell. i use no butter. The egg & cheese mix needs to be a little on the salty side as the pasta will absorb it all and leave it flavorless.
    I pour the pasta & cheese mix into a cast iron skillet that’s been well oiled up the sides with olive oil. Drizzle olive oil on top.
    Bake 1hr at 350°f until top is golden. Allow to cool for 1 hr before removing.

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic and delicious. With just 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 eggs, I was able to make the dish serve 2 people. The ricotta really stood out. I’ll make this again without a doubt. Excellent recipe.

  9. My Italian grandma made something like this but it didn’t have butter. It also had parmesan cheese mixed in with the ricotta. She always mixed the egg and cheese mixture together and THEN added it to the pasta after it cools a bit. She also made it with elbow macaroni and never with long noodles. She was from Naples and my grandfather was from Sicily. 🙂

  10. I cant wait to try it. My mother always made this on Fat Tuesday. The only difference is that she used bucatini spaghetti and added grated cheese. My mother has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so we needed to find the recipe online. So happy I found it cannot wait to make it.

  11. 5 stars
    I am so happy to have found your recipe. I am Italian and grew up in New Jersey and my mom and grandma made this so frequently. I, too, made it for my kids growing up and it’s still one of their favorite dishes. I was always unsure of the egg to ricotta ratio and have searched endlessly trying to confirm my “recipe” , to no avail. EVERY recipe adds a ragu or other type of red sauce to the mix. THANK YOU so much for posting! Mangia!!! 🙂

  12. As follow-up to my previous comment, our family recipe does add shredded mozzarella and grated romano as well! So good!! 🙂

  13. My family makes a sweet version of this without butter. Just whole milk ricotta, pasta, eggs, a bit of sugar, raisins and vanilla extract. We also bake ours covered in a water bath so that the top and edges don’t dry out. We eat it either warm or cold as a dessert or even sometimes at breakfast. So delicious.