Baked Ziti


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Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly.

Serve this easy pasta recipe with a loaf of crusty bread and an Easy Italian Salad for a meal everyone will love!

Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese on a plate

Our Favorite Baked Ziti Recipe

You don’t need to be Italian to serve this easy baked ziti! Nor do you need to have an Italian grandmother because this is the best baked ziti recipe you’ll ever see!

What is Baked Ziti? Baked ziti with ricotta is a versatile twist on a standard lasagna. Instead of sheets of long lasagna noodles, we use ziti pasta but the layering the cheese and sauce is the same process. This pasta is round tubes about an inch long (penne is a good substitution if you can’t find ziti).

Baked ziti is versatile!

  • Meat Sauce: Sausage packs a ton of flavor in this recipe but of you can use ground beef (or turkey). If you swap out the sausage, you may want to add extra seasonings or spices.
  • Pasta: Since this is a baked ziti casserole, of course I use ziti as the base. If you don’t have ziti on hand you can use any medium shape in this recipe (or swap out rigatoni to make a baked rigatoni pasta). Be sure to cook it al dente (a little undercooked) as it will continue to cook as it bakes.
  • Cheese: 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.
  • Seasonings: 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!

Ingredients prepared to make baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce

How to Make Baked Ziti

  1. Brown the sausage and onion. Add in Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and marinara sauce and simmer while you cook the pasta.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parsley, mozzarella and parmesan.
  3. 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
  4. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and bake minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

A casserole dish preparing baked ziti with ricotta cheese and meat sauce.

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 and you’ll be good to go!

  • Bake Ziti at
    • 350°F for 30-35 minutes
    • 375°F for 25-30 minutes
    • 400°F for 20-25 minutes

More Italian Favorites

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!

A close up photo of baked ziti in a casserole dish topped with parmesan cheese and parsley.

Can You 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!

4.92 from 12 votes
Review Recipe

Baked Ziti

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Baked Ziti has layers of zesty meat sauce, ricotta cheese and tender ziti noodles baked until golden.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 28 oz pasta sauce or marinara sauce
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes undrained
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 16 oz ziti
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 598, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 1257mg, Potassium: 816mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1005IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 485mg, Iron: 3.6mg
Keyword baked ziti
Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole
Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight pasta dish! Tender ziti noodles, a zesty meat sauce and delicious creamy ricotta are layered in a casserole dish, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. #spendwithpennies #bakedziti #bakedpasta #pastadinner #tomatopasta #easydinner #withcheese #zitinoodles #casserole

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Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

    1. I am going to give this a whirl tonight. I have one question do you think stewed tomatoes with store bought sauce would work?

    1. Hi Carissa, you can use store-bought if you prefer. For this recipe I would just choose your favorite marinara sauce or pasta sauce.

  1. Can you list portion size with nutrient est? Importantant coupled with carb count for type 1 diabetes vigilance. Thanks, looks great, anxious to make it.

    1. Hi Gerry, our nutrition information is just an estimate and will vary based on the ingredients you use. For the most accurate information you will want to input the brand of ingredients you are using on an app like MyFitnessPal or something similar to calculate nutrition. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  2. BEST baked ziti recipe I’ve ever had! I was wanting to make something like this for a while, but lasagna and some other recipes can be expensive and time consuming to make. This was the best Italian cassarole-style dish I’ve ever had/made and it was easy AND affordable! I’m a huge fan, this is definitely going to become a regular dinner in my household! Thank you, Holly!5 stars

  3. im from Pakistan ……..
    my name is Anum
    i really fond a best cooking
    yes
    your recipes r soo delicious n easily making n hurry for cook……..
    actually
    i love to do cooking either baking or fast food
    i can easily cook every thing
    i need ur help
    how can i baking for gust coz my baking is not good
    i want to bake cake n biscuits

  4. I made this for lunch for my friends and it was delicious and they took some home for later . This is going to be on my regular baked ziti. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Brenda, we haven’t tried freezing this recipe before baking but if freezing once fully prepared you should be able to thaw it completely in the fridge and bake as usual. Let us know how it turns out.

  5. Made this for the first time and it was a hit! I put together another small pan to freeze. My question is this: Can it be frozen, uncooked, and if so, what would be the directions for baking it? Or would this change the texture too much?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Brenda, I would bake this dish first them freeze it. To reheat you could reheat individual portions in the microwave or let the entire dish defrost overnight and cook in the microwave following the recipe instructions.

  6. Making this tonight for the 4th time and my family can not get enough. I have to make double the recipe so we have plenty of leftovers. It’s on the weekly menu for now. This is Absolutely the best baked ziti recipe I have ever cooked period!5 stars

    1. Sure it will! Parm adds a salty and richer cheese flavor but it’s just a bit and will be delish without! Let us know how it goes!

  7. Made this tonight and was a big hit with my husband and son. Since it’s just 3 of us, I made 2 pans and one went in the freezer. So good!

  8. Saw this on Facebook and decided to try it. It’s pretty amazing! Just a question, is the water really needed? I debated adding it. Is it just to thin out the sauce? My modifications: I used crushed tomatoes instrad of pasta sauce ab3d added salt/pepper to taste.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! The water is added to allow the sauce to simmer and the flavors to blend. Without adding it the sauce can become too thick to get the right consistency for the casserole.

  9. You have an egg listed under ingredients for Baked Ziti but in the directions it is not mentioned. When do you use the egg? I have never used any eggs in my baked Ziti.