My gluten-free version of TikTok's viral feta tomato pasta bake is so easy you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself! This baked feta pasta recipe has an amazing creamy tomato sauce flavoured with garlic and basil. Add extra spinach and mushrooms if you'd like!
What's all the hype about this viral Feta Pasta Bake recipe?
This baked feta and cherry tomato pasta recipe went viral on TikTok and the hype continues! Is it really that good?
Yes. And it's SO easy! Bake a block of feta cheese with cherry tomatoes and garlic, add fresh herbs, then stir cooked pasta into the resulting jammy tomato sauce! Boom! That's it.
Dinner is done!
The TikTok versions of this recipe were spin-offs of the original post, published in April 2019 on Liemassa, a Finnish food blog. It caused such a sensation in Finland at the time that local stores ran out of feta!
I don't often publish trendy recipes, like last winter's Dalgona coffee craze, but TikTok's viral feta tomato pasta bake sounded so good, I just had to try it.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
Everyone loves pasta with cheese.
Since the TikTok versions were published, copycat recipes have been circulating in the blogging world and all over Pinterest. Pasta with cheese is highly popular comfort food all over the world, so it's not surprising this recipe has become a favourite.
It's easier than mac 'n cheese!
A traditional pasta and cheese dish, like good old mac 'n cheese, usually starts with a roux made with butter, flour and milk stirred on the stovetop before adding cheese. This baked feta pasta, however, eliminates the need for that extra step by replacing the roux with a block of melted feta. So simple, so good!
You can make it gluten-free and add veggies.
This Gluten-Free Feta Tomato Pasta Bake is my take on the original. I started by using gluten-free pasta then added extra tomatoes, a healthy amount of spinach, some earthy sautéed mushrooms and extra herbs to bump up the flavour and add more nutrition.
Ready to try it? You won't be disappointed!
- feta cheese: feta cheese is commonly made from either sheep's milk or cow's milk. Cow's milk feta has a milder flavour. There are three types of feta cheese: French, Bulgarian and Greek. Greek feta is the type you'll find most commonly in North America. The feta that is packed in brine has much more flavour and a creamier texture than the block type that is vacuum-sealed.
- tomatoes: this feta pasta bake is traditionally made with cherry tomatoes. I used 1 ½ pounds of mini San Marzano tomatoes, as I love their flavour. I haven't tried this recipe with regular tomatoes, but I've read that they will work just fine. Choose the sweetest tomatoes you can find!
- garlic: fresh cloves
- dried chili flakes: These are a quick and easy way to add a little heat and extra flavour.
- black pepper: just a few grinds for the top of the feta, plus more for the finished dish
- olive oil: extra virgin
- basil leaves: for that fresh Italian flavour!
- spinach: two big handfuls of baby spinach leaves added just before serving.
- mushrooms: optional, but I love the earthy flavour they bring to this feta pasta bake. Sauté them separately in a skillet while the feta, tomatoes and garlic are roasting.
- pasta: your favourite gluten-free variety. Pasta shapes with lots of edges or curves work well in this dish, as the sauce clings to them.
This gluten-free baked feta pasta recipe is so easy to make, you'll wonder why you hadn't thought of it yourself! Here's a quick overview of what you'll do to make this delicious pasta dish. You'll find complete instructions in the recipe card below.
- Drizzle a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil in the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (or equivalent.)
- Add mini or cherry tomatoes and very thinly sliced or chopped garlic to the dish and toss so that the tomatoes are well coated in oil.
- Place a block of feta cheese in the middle of the dish, sprinkle with dried chili flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, and drizzle with a little more oil.
- Bake at 400°F. for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have burst and the cheese has melted and is creamy.
- Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms in a teaspoon or two of oil in a skillet until nicely browned, and boil 8 oz. of pasta in plenty of salted water until it has almost reached the al dente stage.
- Remove the baking dish with the cheese and tomatoes from the oven. Add a handful of chopped basil leaves and a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves and stir to combine the cheese with the tomato liquid and the greens. Add the sautéed mushrooms, if you're using them.
- And finally, stir in the al dente pasta, add a few more fresh basil leaves, maybe a little more pepper if you'd like, and dig in!
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
Slice the garlic cloves
I found whole cloves of garlic did not soften enough in the 30 minutes it took to roast the tomatoes and melt the feta. Slice them thinly, or chop or mince the cloves before adding to the tomatoes so they'll be soft enough to stir into the sauce.
Use 7 ounces (200 gm.) of feta cheese
Seven ounces of feta cheese is the right amount. I've tested this recipe using more cheese, and it was just too much.
Don't overcook the pasta
It's best to slightly undercook the pasta as it will continue to cook in the warm feta-tomato sauce. Cook it to a point just before the al dente stage. Some brands of gluten-free pasta tend to fall apart when overcooked, so keep this in mind.
Save some pasta water to thicken the sauce
Save half a cup or so of the pasta water to pull the sauce together as you add the pasta. The starch in the pasta water not only adds flavour but it helps to thicken the sauce.
🔁 Possible Variations
The original TikTok feta tomato pasta bake used more pasta, fewer tomatoes, and a sprinkling of basil. I wanted to make this "elevated mac 'n' cheese" a healthier meal by adding extra veggies. I chose spinach and mushrooms and served this pasta dish with a side salad, as well.
I've also made this recipe with artichokes packed in water, but they didn't really add anything interesting. It might be good with marinated artichoke hearts, however.
You could also add tender baby kale leaves or even tiny broccoli florets.
If you don't like feta cheese, use a block of soft goat cheese instead. Cheeses like mozzarella will not blend as well to make a creamy sauce.
🥶Storage and Reheating Instructions
Leftover feta tomato pasta bake will keep in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. Reheat covered in a baking dish in the oven, or in the microwave.
🍽 Serving suggestions
This feta tomato pasta bake with spinach is delicious on its own, or served with a side salad!
This post has been updated with information to make it more useful. The recipe remains the same.
📖 Recipe Card
Gluten-Free Feta Tomato Pasta Bake
- 7 oz. feta cheese block, in brine
- 1 ½ lbs. mini San Marzano tomatoes, or other cherry tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, or finely chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil, extra virgin, plus a little more for sautéeing mushrooms
- 2 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- ⅓ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 8 oz. gluten-free pasta
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil (about ¼ cup) in the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (or equivalent.)
- Add mini San Marzano tomatoes or cherry tomatoes and very thinly sliced or chopped garlic to the dish and toss so that the tomatoes and garlic are well coated in oil.
- Place a 7 oz. block of feta cheese in the middle of the tomatoes in the dish, sprinkle the top of it with dried chili flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, and drizzle it with a little more olive oil.
- Bake the feta, tomatoes and garlic at 400°F. for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have burst and the cheese has melted and is creamy. It should be soft enough so that you can easily spread it with the back of a spoon.
- Meanwhile, as the feta is baking, slice and sauté a cup of mushrooms in a small amount of oil in a skillet.
- Remove the dish from the oven and add a handful of chopped basil leaves and a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Stir to combine the melted feta cheese with the tomatoes, their juice and the greens. Add the sautéed mushrooms.
- Boil 8 oz. of gluten-free pasta in salted water until it has almost reached the al dente stage. Remove half a cup of the pasta water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
- Add the cooked pasta to the feta cheese dish and stir to combine. You may need to add a little of the pasta water to help the sauce thicken.
- Garnish with more fresh basil and/ or dried oregano, a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper, and serve while hot.