Easy Baked Ziti


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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!

Baked ziti on a plate with Parmesan cheese and parsley

Why We Love This Recipe

Baked ziti with ricotta is an easy twist on a classic lasagna recipe.  Instead of long lasagna noodles, we use ziti pasta and toss it with the meat sauce.

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 ingredients

Ingredients/Variations

Baked ziti is versatile!

Meat Sauce:

    • 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).

Pasta:

    • 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.

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

  1. Brown the sausage and onion. Add sauce ingredients and simmer.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parsley, mozzarella and parmesan.

Layers of baked ziti in a casserole dish

  1. 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
  2. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Baked Ziti with cheese

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

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Make Ahead

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.

Baked ziti in a casserole dish garnished with parsley

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!

Baked ziti on a plate with Parmesan cheese and parsley
4.95 from 103 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 ounces pasta sauce or marinara sauce
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup water
  • 16 ounces ziti
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

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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

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!

Baked Ziti on a plate with cheese
Baked Ziti with cheese baked shown with a title

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About the author

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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