Baked Ziti tastes like you’ve been cooking all day but is surprisingly quick to make!
Italian sausage gives the zesty sauce lots of flavor with little effort. Add in a creamy ricotta layer and a generous sprinkling of cheese and bake until bubbly.
An amazing meal in about an hour!
Why We Love This Recipe
It rivals any dish I’ve had in a restaurant at a fraction of the cost with heaps of flavor!
Adding Italian sausage in this recipe (or any pasta sauce) makes a quick sauce taste like it’s been cooking for hours!
This ziti dish is perfect to make ahead and it reheats and freezes well. Cook once and enjoy for meals to come!
Baked ziti is versatile!
- Italian sausage adds a ton of flavor in this recipe but of you can use ground beef (or turkey).
- If you swap out the sausage, add extra seasonings or spices (and some chili flakes for heat).
- Since this is a baked ziti casserole, I use ziti as the base but any medium pasta will work.
- Swap out with penne or rigatoni to make a baked rigatoni pasta.
- Cook the pasta it al dente (a little undercooked) as it will continue to cook as it bakes.
- Ricotta adds a creamy texture. You can swap it out by blending cottage cheese with an egg until smooth.
- Mozzarella is the perfect topper and I always garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese for great flavor.
- Italian Seasoning contains all of the spices you’ll need in this recipe.
- Add more ‘heat’ by adding a dash of red pepper flakes…just a little spicy. Molto buono Italiano!
How to Make Baked Ziti
- Brown the sausage and onion. Add sauce ingredients and simmer.
- In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parsley, mozzarella and parmesan.
- Layer sauce, ziti and the ricotta mixture in a casserole dish in order:
- a little sauce on the bottom
- half of the cooked ziti
- all of the ricotta
- remaining ziti and sauce
- Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
How Long to Cook Baked Ziti: Baked Ziti is basically cooked so the baking is to blend the flavors, heat everything through and of course melt the cheese. Cook it uncovered until the top looks bubbly and browned!
Bake Ziti at
- 350°F for 30-35 minutes
- 375°F for 25-30 minutes
- 400°F for 20-25 minutes
More Italian Favorites
- Easy Chicken Parmesan – 5 Star Recipe!
- Caprese Salad – Simple Perfection
- Easy Lasagna (One Pan/Skillet) – Quick and delicious without a sink full of dishes!
- Sausage and Peppers – Perfect with pasta or in Italian rolls.
- Chicken Piccata – Restaurant quality at home
You can make Baked Ziti Ahead of Time! Simply prepare as directed and refrigerate up to 24 hours. You may need to add an extra 5-10 minutes bake time if your recipe is chilly from the fridge.
To Reheat Baked Ziti use either the microwave or pop back in the oven on a low, slow heat. Reheating baked ziti doesn’t change the texture or the flavor, but adding an extra layer of shredded mozzarella to the top freshens it up just a bit!
Did you enjoy this Baked Ziti? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Brown ground sausage and onion breaking up until the sausage is fairly fine. Drain any fat.
- Add in Italian seasoning, water, tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
- Meanwhile, boil ziti in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse.
- In a small bowl,mix ricotta, egg, parsley, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.
- Add a thin layer (about 1 cup) of sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Layer half of the ziti in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Top with all of the ricotta and half of the sauce.
- Add remaining ziti, remaining sauce and top with cheese.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
To Freeze Baked Ziti
Like most casseroles, baked ziti can be frozen successfully. If you are freezing the entire casserole in one piece, be sure to line the dish with aluminum foil before assembling and baking, then, once it is chilled, freeze in the pan and then remove the casserole and wrap in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, label and place in the fridge.
Or, portion into smaller pieces and put in freezer bags, label and freeze! Easy peasy lunch for school or work!