Sheet Pan Pasta Gratin with Kale

slice of sheet pan pasta gratin with kale

Can we agree that there never is enough crispy topping on the baked pasta gratin? Didn’t we just discuss this? Yes. I’ll keep this brief. Without a bread crumb topping, this sheet pan pasta gratin comes together even faster than the mac n’ cheese, and the addition of chopped raw kale not only provides some tasty roughage but also bolsters the crispness effect — think: kale chip meets gratin edge.

Like the mac n’ cheese, the elements in this gratin include a light béchamel made with equal parts milk and water, two cheeses, and parboiled pasta, something like penne or campanelle, whose fluted, petal-like edges brown up so beautifully.

The rest is up to you. In the spirit of Meatless Mondays, I refrained from adding hot Italian sausage, but sausage or crisped pancetta or bacon would be nice here. Greens like kale and chard don’t need to be cooked — just chop them up and toss them with the pasta and béchamel. Peppers, onions, mushrooms benefit from a quick sauté, and vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower should be blanched beforehand. Throw in whatever you have on hand. Just remember: the world is your sheet pan. Or something like that.

One last thing: About a month ago I entered a Food52goop dark leafy greens recipe contest. The recipe I entered, slow-cooked Tuscan kale with pancetta, bread crumbs and poached egg, happens to be one of the finalists, and I would so appreciate your vote if you have a moment. Thank you so much!

sheet pan pasta gratin



chopped kale

grated cheese

pasta and bechamel

mixing it all together

ready for the oven

topping with fontina

sheet pan

Sheet Pan Pasta Gratin with Kale

As noted in the post, this recipe can be adapted to your liking. Shapes like penne are more traditional but campanelle, which means "bellflowers" in Italian, has fluted, petal-like edges which crisp up nicely in the oven and look pretty. Any shape, however, will work just fine.

You can use Pecorino or Grana Padano in place of the Parmigiano Reggiano. For the second cheese, I love to use mozzarella or Fontina, but something like Gruyère or Comte would work well, too.

And as for fillings, add what you like. I love the simplicity of raw greens and maybe a little browned sausage, but use what you have on hand.


  • 3/4 pound pasta, penne or campanelle or anything you like
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • about 8 oz kale or Swiss chard, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • a scant cup (6 oz) fontina or fresh mozzarella, diced into small cubes


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Boil pasta for 2 minutes less than the box's suggested al dente time. (For example, my campanelle box said 'al dente perfection' in 10 to 11 minutes. I boiled mine for 8.) Drain. Do not rinse. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add flour, whisking constantly for about a minute. Add milk and water, whisking to remove any of the flour-butter mixture from bottom of pan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. Note: the mixture will not get super thick, but it will coat the back of a spoon, and if you run your finger through the coating, the trail should stay — see photo. Remove from the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the kale or chard into small pieces. In a large mixing bowl, toss pasta with bechamel and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Fold in chopped kale.
  5. Line a jelly roll pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Spread macaroni mixture over top. Distribute mozzarella or fontina cubes over top.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking after 10 minutes or so. (Note: If it looks too brown after 10-15 minutes, reduce oven to 400ºF for the remainder of the cooking time.) The gratin should be bubbling and golden at the edges. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

slice of sheet pan pasta gratin with kale


  1. says

    Signed, sealed, delivered… (the vote, that is… :-)

    Loved everything about this recipe, the way you suggested many variations, although for me your published version is as close to perfection as perfection gets

    good luck with the Food52 contest!

    • says

      Oh, thanks, Sally! There is something nice about really being able to taste the kale, but it definitely can be a clean-out-the-fridge dish, too. So appreciate the vote :)

  2. Sarah says

    Looks SO good, Ali! You have my vote, of course. This looks so simple. I’m not even a baked pasta kind of girl, but this makes me want to be one :)

  3. Ginger says

    Yummmmmm. I’ve been eyeing that mac n cheese, but this looks even easier. Going to vote right now. I rarely comment, but I love your blog.

  4. Laura (Sonoma) says

    Ali, Ali, Ali…. what would we do with you. This for dinner tonight or your other winning (voted) Kale recipe. Hmmm

    btw, I did the duck again for Valentines, perfection. And the rolled eggplant last night. That filling is fantastic.

    • says

      Laura, hi, and thank you for voting! If you’re still undecided, perhaps I can offer some guidance? :) The slow-cooked Tuscan kale is so good, and the method is so different than anything I have ever tried, but it doesn’t feed a lot of people (2 at the max.) This will give you at least a day of leftovers and is easier to prepare in some ways. I hope you try both at some point! So happy to hear about the duck, of course, but also the involtini. I love that filling, too. Always great to hear from you!

  5. Lenora says

    I voted too. Good luck. When you win and become famous and you become personal chef for Gwyneth Paltrow … remember us!

    Trying the kale recipe tonight.

    • says

      Yessss. Good call! I have impulsively decided to host Easter dinner this year. I am going to need dishes that feed lots of people. I should start making them now and sticking them in the freezer. Adding this to the list!

  6. says

    I love the sound of this! Making a big batch to enjoy for dinner and some leftovers for lunches. Is it weird to eat cold leftover pasta? I am so down with it. I love the pasta shape you chose and the crispy kale edges! Yum!

    It’s about time Gweneth called on you for a wholesome and oh-so-delicious dish! I voted, I’m so excited for you! The poached eggs over slow-cooked kale, I think I could happily eat for three meals a day :) :)

    • says

      Thanks so much, Sophie! And no re cold pasta. I cut this sheet pan gratin into squares, threw the leftovers in a ziplock bag, and helped myself to cold, square leftovers as I pleased…so good!

  7. says

    delicious looking and congratulations on your Food 52/Goop finalist recipe!!! I always use Suzanne Goin’s recipe for long cooked cavalo nero . . . it never lasts a second in our house.

  8. CarebearNJ says

    I just made this tonight. It was awesome. The pasta cooked up perfectly crunchy brown and the kale was crunchy but not burned. I will say my bechamel took FOREVER to come together for some reason and my arms almost fell off grating 4oz of parm, but the results were great. Definitely a keeper!

    • says

      I know, it’s a weird bechamel in that it is made with equal parts water and milk and so definitely takes longer to thicken up, but as long as it coats the back of a spoon, it is good to go. It definitely can be made with all milk, which would speed up the bechamel-making step, but I kind of like knowing that bechamel can be made with half water both because it’s lighter and less expensive. And I know, grating can be a serious arm workout. So glad you liked this! Sorry the bechamel was a little more troublesome than anticipated.

  9. says

    This looks amazing! I should not have clicked so close to dinner time 😉 I always hesitate to use my big sheet pans for applications like this. I have a tiny sink that makes washing the pan such a pain. Now I’m imagining hunting down some smaller, toaster oven sized sheets, and just baking up a few smaller batches.

  10. Linda Hoffman says

    Have made this twice…this is the best way to make pasta dishes. I don’t think I will every do anything else. I have shared this with all of my friends. I like it best with fontina cheese. I served this with a a simple salad made with grape tomatoes, cut in half mixed with a chiffonade of fresh basil and a red wine vinaigrette dressing. Perfect!!

  11. Miranda says

    I made this with whole wheat penne pasta, gruyere, and parmigiano reggiano. I also made the bechamel using all milk to speed things up. It was amazing! Definitely a new favorite recipe – I would be making this every night if the cheese wouldn’t get so expensive!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Nice call — I should make a note of that in the recipe, because the bechamel does come together much faster with all milk. SO glad you liked this! And I know, cheese! It is killer. Thanks for writing in!

  12. Laura in Sonoma says

    Took us awhile to get to this, but made last night…. Wow, was it great! The kale adds such a wonderful flavor. Made it with the Fontina and used 4 cups of nonfat milk (all we drink) instead of whole and water. Plus about a tbsp of 1/2 & 1/2 to add a bit of fat.

    Ali, another winner!

    (DH asked: is this from your new friend?) Yes, yes it is

    • says

      Oh Friend, this makes me so happy! I do hope we can meet one day. SO happy to hear you liked this. Nice call on using all nonfat milk — “light light” as my grandmother would say — and I love using Fontina, too. Hope your week is off to a good start!

  13. Laura in Sonoma says

    I’ll be sending you pics of our guest room 😉

    It’s been in the high 70’s this week, we moved all the outdoor furniture out. Supposed to be a glorious weekend.

    • says

      Oh my, what would you do if I just showed up at your doorstep? It was 50 here on tuesday, and it was glorious. 70 sounds absolutely amazing. So fun to think about spring not being too far around the corner. I’ll start looking at flights :)

  14. angel says

    I’ve made this twice now, with a happy family both times. The first time, I accidentally doubled the kale, and it was still a big hit. I used the white whole wheat pasta. I doubled the recipe for the pasta and bechamel and froze half of it in a ziplock bag, and later, when I needed a quick meal, I tossed it in the microwave to thaw. I did your clean out the fridge version – yellow and orange peppers, green onions, diced chicken, and a LOT of sliced mushrooms. (I sauteed all the veggies first to reduce the moisture a bit.) I added some curry powder and used mozzarella for the cheese, since I was out of fontina and parmesan. It was still a huge hit. Thanks for such a flexible and tasty recipe!

    • says

      Wonderful to hear this, Angel! Love all of your ideas, especially all of the cleaning out the fridge items — is there a better feeling than using up all of those odds and ends? So happy this worked out for you. Thanks for writing in!

  15. Sana says

    Hi Alexandra,
    I made this tonight in a cake pan as I don’t have a sheet pan. Also put two containers of unbaked pasta gratin in the freezer for future use.
    I ma so glad I tried this. Such a fun and delectable way to eat greens.

  16. Karen says

    Love this recipe! I have made it a couple of times and it has been a hit with the family. However, I tried to make it again tonight but the recipe is gone! Do you mind posting it again? Thank you!!

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