Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

Quick Summary

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti- baked pasta with a creamy butternut squash sauce, lots of cheese, and a crunchy panko topping. Serve with garlic bread and a simple salad for the perfect fall meal.

Butternut squash baked ziti in baking dish with a spoon serving a cheesy portion.

During the fall months, I love butternut squash everything: soup, salad, ravioli, enchiladas, and this Butternut Squash Baked Ziti.

Classic Baked Ziti is one of our families favorite meals, but during the fall months, we like to make this butternut squash version. It is the perfect dish for easy weeknight dinners, dinner parties, or serving as a side dish at Thanksgiving.

The baked pasta is creamy, cheesy, and has the most luxurious butternut squash sauce. There are three kinds of cheese (mozzarella, white cheddar, and Parmesan) and a crispy panko topping that is the perfect finishing touch.

This baked ziti is the ultimate fall comfort food. Cozy up to a bowl and enjoy every single bite!

butternut squash baked ziti ingredients in bowls.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil– toss the squash in olive oil before roasting.
  • Butternut squash– peel, remove seeds, and cut the squash into cubes with a sharp knife. You can also buy pre-cut squash from most grocery stores that is prepped and ready to go!
  • Ziti– can use penne or other small pasta instead of ziti.
  • Ricotta cheese– to make the sauce super creamy and cheesy!
  • Pasta water– make sure you reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water to make the sauce! It is magic water!
  • Butter– a little butter to make the sauce super rich.
  • Shallot– look for shallot in the produce section by the onions and garlic.
  • Spinach– I love adding in spinach, bring on the veggies! Kale works well too!
  • Herbs– fresh sage leaves and dried thyme compliment the squash nicely.
  • Garlic– lots of garlic!
  • Heavy cream– can use half and half or milk too.
  • Nutmeg– optional, but I like to add just a pinch!
  • Crushed red pepper flakes– to add a little heat!
  • Cheese– a mix of shredded mozzarella, sharp white cheddar, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Panko breadcrumbs– the panko adds a nice crunchy topping!

How to Make Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

butternut squash on baking sheet drizzled with olive oil.
  • Place the cubed butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes (400 degrees F) or until squash is tender. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  • While the squash is roasting, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and then drain well. You can drizzle with a little olive oil and toss so the pasta doesn’t stick while you make the sauce.
roasted butternut squash and ricotta cheese in blender.
  • Place the roasted butternut squash, ricotta, and reserved pasta water in the blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Use the same large pot you cooked the pasta in to make the sauce. Heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, spinach, sage, and thyme. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Turn off the heat.
butternut squash baked ziti sauce in pan with wooden spoon.
  • Pour the butternut squash mixture into the pot. Stir in the heavy cream. Add a little pinch of nutmeg, if desired, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Add the pasta to the pot and gently stir until coated. Stir in ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese and the white cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
butternut squash baked ziti in white baking dish with panko breadcrumb topping before going in oven.
  • Pour the pasta into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread evenly with a spatula. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Panko.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melty and bubbly. Turn the oven to broil and broil just for a minute or two so the cheese can brown a little. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
butternut squash baked ziti in baking dish with spoon.

Variations

If you want to play around with this recipe, here are a few ideas.

  • Add Italian sausage. Cook the sausage before adding the shallot, spinach, and herbs. Drain off any excess fat and then add the other ingredients.
  • You can also add cooked chopped bacon or pancetta.
  • Use a different combination of cheeses. Fontina, Gruyere, and smoked mozzarella are all good options.
  • You can use cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese.
  • Add caramelized onions.
  • Add basil and fresh parsley if you want more herbs.

Serving Suggestions

This fall baked ziti is very satisfying and comforting, but if you want to serve a full spread, here are some recipes that go well with the pasta.

Storing Leftovers

The leftovers are SO good! Let the pasta cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven in a 350 degree F oven.

butternut squash baked ziti with fresh sage on plate with fork.

More Baked Pasta Recipes

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti- baked pasta with a creamy butternut squash sauce, lots of cheese, and a crunchy panko topping. Serve with garlic bread and a simple salad for the perfect fall meal.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces ziti, can use penne or other small pasta
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cups packed spinach
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream can use half and half or whole milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg, optional
  • Crushed red pepper, flakes, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Place the cubed butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  • While the squash is roasting, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and then drain well. You can drizzle with a little olive oil and toss so the pasta doesn’t stick while you make the sauce.
  • Place the roasted butternut squash, ricotta, and reserved pasta water in the blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Use the same large pot you cooked the pasta in to make the sauce. Heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, spinach, sage, and thyme. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Pour the butternut squash mixture into the pot. Stir in the heavy cream. Add a little pinch of nutmeg, if desired, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Add the pasta to the pot and gently stir until coated. Stir in ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese and the white cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly with a spatula. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Panko.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melty and bubbly. Turn the oven to broil and broil just for a minute or two so the cheese can brown a little. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 451kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 292mg, Potassium: 451mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 7768IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 314mg, Iron: 2mg
Keywords butternut squash, ziti

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. I make a similar version of this…no spinach and a few less ingredients.
    I am anxious to try yours but I thik I will cut it in half. ..I only have a coupld of moths to feed and honestly, I could eat the entire pan by myself. So, making a yummy large batch could be dangerous!
    Thanks for sharing you excellent recipe development skills. You offer the best cookie recipes ever.
    FYI…The NYT had an fun article/quiz article yesterday about the most nutrious way to eat veggies…cooked or raw. I only got 3 out of 10 correct.A couple of vegatarian friends fared no better. If you can access it, you might enjoy the read.