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!
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!
How to Make Baked Ziti
- Brown the sausage and onion. Add in Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and marinara sauce and simmer while you cook the pasta.
- 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 minutes 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 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
- 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!
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!
- 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.