Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Marinara Penne Recipe

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Recipes.net Team Published October 21, 2020
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Have dinner ready in no time with this simple Copycat Five Cheese Marinara Penne Recipe. The Olive Garden marinara sauce is packed with cheesy flavor seasoned herbs and spices mixed with savory tomato sauce. Of course, we’ll teach you how to make pasta sauce for this scrumptious penne pasta recipe. The best part is you can throw in your favorite mix of veggies or meat in here as well. Add that to your list of pasta ideas!

One of our favorite easy pasta dishes to make, our Olive Garden marinara pasta can now be made in the comforts of your own home. Speaking of Olive Garden, you might want to try our Copycat Olive Garden Meatballs, a crowd favorite among our Olive Garden recipes you can throw in along with this penne pasta recipe. Now, grab your cheese, penne noodles. Bring your hungry belly and let’s make the best pasta dish!

The Five Types of Cheese Used

This penne pasta recipe isn’t named ‘five cheese’ for no reason. Yes, we’ll be using 5 types of cheese in this pasta dish, and we guarantee you’ll fall in love with its taste! Let’s start with ricotta cheese, best described as a light and fluffy cheese commonly used in lasagna and other different pasta dishes too.

The way it’s made varies, but the result is a fresh and creamy cheese that perfectly balances the flavors of your penne pasta. We suggest trying out this Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico Recipe with what’s left of your ricotta cheese. Have fun!

Another type of cheese we’ll be using is mozzarella cheese, which is mild in flavor yet soft and milky in texture. This helps create a hearty marinara sauce, giving it a thick and creamy consistency. Despite easily getting ahold of these in grocery stores, mozzarella cheese is best cooked fresh. Worry not! We’ve got you covered with our 30-Minute Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Recipe so you can stock on cheese for future pasta sauces you plan to make. 

Asiago cheese is often mistaken for parmesan cheese, but you can easily spot one by its pale yellow color, thin rind, and small irregular holes. You might picture the cartoon cheese which probably comes close to what asiago cheese really looks like. Flavor-wise, asiago is quite strong, but it carries a nutty and yeasty aroma.

You can interchange parmesan with Asiago if you don’t have one in hand. Parmesan may be sweeter, but asiago is a perfect element when making cheese bread, so why not pair this marinara pasta with our Asiago Cheese Bread Recipe

Though we mentioned parmesan harboring sweeter notes unlike asiago, it’s also rich and sharp in flavor. We might know this straw-colored cheese due to its never-ending absence in various pasta recipes. But parmesan has other uses aside from garnish. In fact, try our Carraba’s Chicken Parmesan and the flavors will surprise you. 

Lastly, fontina cheese is a literal example of the expression “bursting with flavors”. Apart from being rich and creamy, it also has sweet and strong flavors. Of course, we can’t forget the hidden notes of butter and roasted nuts. You definitely should not miss out on this cheese as fontina is the secret ingredient in making the best pasta sauce.

Five Cheese Marinara

We’ve tackled the types of cheese going into this penne pasta dish. But let’s not forget the other ingredients in what makes this recipe a mouth-watering pasta dish. The garlic and onions make this an aromatic marinara pasta. The dried oregano is made quite distinct with fresh oregano.

The latter adds color and aroma to most pasta recipes as dried oregano’s flavor is easier to control. Still, they turn a simple pasta sauce into a tasty dish. Just remember to crush them before cooking in order to release their essential flavors. 

Tomato sauce has a sweeter and more complex flavor, though you can always use the marinara sauce right away. The difference lies in how they are seasoned, as the marinara sauce is seasoned with garlic, red pepper, and basil, leaving a loose texture in its midst.

If you are looking for recipes with marinara sauce, our Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Grilled Vegetables Recipe will surely suit your liking. This easy pasta recipe is not complete without alfredo sauce. Mostly used in white sauce for pasta, alfredo is a creamy, elegant sauce that accompanies the cheese in making this a velvety marinara pasta. 

Now that we’ve had a glimpse of the flavors of our penne pasta, it’s time to make this savory pasta dish. You might want to pair this with a Rhubarb Drink to help wash it all down. So, let’s head right into making this Five Cheese Marinara Penne Pasta Dish!

How To Make Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Marinara Penne

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This penne pasta dish is oozing with cheese and savory flavors. All you’ll need to make this Olive Garden copycat is a hefty amount of tomato sauce, herbs, and tons of cheese that will excite your taste buds.

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
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  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Alfredo sauce
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Asiago cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus extra for topping
  • ¼ cup fontina cheese
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper , to taste


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then saute the onion until soft.

  2. Add in the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook until fragrant.

  3. Pour in marinara and alfredo sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. Add in all the cheeses and stir well until melted.

  5. Toss the pasta into the sauce and mix until the penne is completely coated in sauce. Adjust the taste by adding salt and pepper.

  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle parmesan on top. Serve warm and enjoy your scrumptious Five Cheese Marinara Penne!

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  • Calcium: 356mg
  • Calories: 893kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 104g
  • Cholesterol: 121mg
  • Fat: 37g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Iron: 4mg
  • Potassium: 1105mg
  • Protein: 34g
  • Saturated Fat: 18g
  • Sodium: 2460mg
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Vitamin A: 1418IU
  • Vitamin C: 18mg
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Commonly Asked Questions

What to serve with this penne pasta recipe?

It’s best to serve your pasta with a delicious slice of bread, salads, or roasted vegetables on the side. Try our classic Grilled Garlic Bread recipe for a toasty, mouth-watering side. Our Pecan Chicken Salad can also be a meaty addition to a sauce-heavy dish. And, you can never go wrong with a plate of Oven Roasted Red Potatoes and Asparagus for a smoky bite.

I’m lactose intolerant. Are there any dairy substitutes I can use?

Definitely! Being lactose intolerant shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying this amazing meal. You can use vegan cheese alternatives, especially those made from almond or cashew milk. Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy vibe to the dish as well, and there are also dairy-free cheeses available in grocery stores. However, if you’re slightly skeptical about substituting your cheese, you can try our Penne Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Chicken, easily opting out the parmesan and replacing it with chopped parsley for garnish.

Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Marinara Penne Recipe


Our Five Cheese Marinara Penne Pasta is an ideal meal if you’re looking for quick pasta dishes to make. Not only does the hearty marinara sauce melt in your mouth, it also oozes five types of cheese making it a creamy pasta dish. The tomato sauce balances out this dairy-filled marinara pasta, resulting in a savory penne pasta dish you and your family will love!

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