A big pan of Baked Ziti filled with pasta, cheese, sausage, and marinara sauce just might be the best dinner ever, especially when garlic bread is served on the side. This baked pasta is a family favorite!
Baked Ziti is a staple dinner recipe at our house. Our boys LOVE this cheesy baked pasta recipe. My recipe makes a full 9×13-inch pan which makes it really good for feeding a crowd or having leftovers. Leftovers always come in handy, especially during the week and our boys are always happy to see baked ziti on the menu, even a few times in one week. It’s that good!
This baked ziti recipe is also perfect to make for someone who needs a big, comforting meal. Take it to someone welcoming a new baby, to someone who is under the weather, or to someone who just needs a delicious meal! You can’t go wrong with baked ziti! It’s a classic Italian dish that everyone loves!
Ziti is a tubed pasta like penne, but the edges are cut in a straight line instead of at a slant. Look for ziti pasta in the pasta aisle. If you can’t find ziti, penne is a great option since they are very similar. If you need the recipe to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta.
We love to use our Homemade Easy Marinara Sauce or Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce for the very best flavor. Of course, if you have a favorite store bought marinara sauce you can use that in this recipe to save some time. I always keep our homemade marinara sauce in the freezer so it is ready to go! It keeps this recipe super simple!
Sausage Baked Ziti
This baked ziti recipe is made with Italian sausage, the boys love it! You could also use ground beef or turkey, whatever you and your family like best. If you want to make a vegetarian baked ziti, you can leave out the meat and add in your favorite vegetables. This baked pasta dish is easy to adapt to your liking.
How to Make Baked Ziti
Baked ziti is easy to make, there are a few steps, but the steps are easy! Let’s get started!
- Let’s cook some pasta! Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Don’t over cook the pasta because it will keep cook more in the oven. Drain the pasta and put it in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and give it a good stir. This is going to keep everything from sticking together! Set aside.
- Now it’s time to prep the sausage. Cook it over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it’s no longer pink. This should take 5-7 minutes. Once done, drain the fat and set it aside with the pasta.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine ricotta, egg, half the mozzarella cheese, ½ cup Parmesan, and all the seasonings.
- Combine the pasta, ricotta mixture, marinara sauce, and cooked sausage. Stir gently so the pasta noodles stay intact, and then pour it into a greased 9×13-inch pan.
- More cheese, please! Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. The pasta will get a bit bubbly and the cheese will be golden brown (YUM!).
- Let it sit for 5 minutes, garnish with fresh basil, and serve warm. It’s so cheesy, so filling, and so tasty. Bon appetit!
- If you have leftovers, keep the baked ziti in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
Freezing Baked Ziti
Here’s a great way to have THE BEST dinner ready when you need it: assemble everything up until it’s time to bake in a disposable aluminum pan or freezer safe pan, then seal it well with a lid or plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Pop it in the freezer and freeze for up to 2 months. Let it defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking! Then follow, the baking instructions.
You can also freeze baked ziti. I like to freeze leftovers in individual portions. You can pull out the baked ziti when you need an easy lunch or dinner! Reheat in the microwave.
What to Serve with Baked Ziti
Baked ziti is very filling and good by itself, but if you want to serve a full meal, here are a few of our favorite side dishes to serve with baked ziti.
- Garlic Bread
- Easy Green Salad
- Roasted Broccoli
- Simple Skillet Green Beans
- Roasted Asparagus
- Caprese Salad
More Pasta Recipes
Our family loves pasta! If you are looking for more delicious pasta recipes, we have you covered! I have a feeling you will love them all!
- Rigatoni with Sausage
- Easy Skillet Vegetable Lasagna
- Pasta Primavera
- Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini
- 4-Ingredient Ravioli Lasagna
- Pasta Pomodoro
- Sheet Pan Pasta Bake with Chicken & Kale
- 16 oz ziti or penne pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling over pasta
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 32 oz marinara sauce
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
- ¾ cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Dash of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- For garnish: chopped basil, if desired
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Use a colander to drain well. Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil and stir so it doesn’t stick together. Pour the pasta into a large bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Discard the excess fat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, basil, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the ricotta mixture to the pasta. Add the marinara sauce, cooked sausage, and stir until combined, stirring gently to not break up the pasta noodles.
- Pour the pasta into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and the pasta is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired, and serve warm.
Have you tried this recipe?
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Photos by Dishing Out Health