This easy baked ziti recipe is one of my favorite pasta dishes. It combines a meaty tomato sauce with perfectly cooked pasta, creamy ricotta, and melty mozzarella.
The great thing about this dish is that it’s essentially an entire meal. You can add a salad or garlic bread, but you can also eat it on its own, which makes it perfect for weeknight meals when you need easy cleanup.
The next time you’re looking for hearty pasta dishes that are easy to put together, give this one a try.
Common Questions about Baked Ziti
Is baked ziti just lasagna?
While they have similar ingredients and flavors, baked ziti is different from lasagna in that it uses ziti pasta while lasagna is made with sheets of lasagna noodles.
Does baked ziti have to be layered?
Baked ziti benefits from layering so that the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the dish.
Is baked ziti cooked covered or uncovered?
It helps to cover the ziti with aluminum foil for most of the time it’s cooking, then remove it toward the end so that the cheese can fully melt and brown.
Since you can store it in the fridge or freezer, baked ziti is a great dish to make ahead for meal prepping or to prepare for a busy week.
Refrigerator: After the baked ziti cools to room temperature, store it in an airtight container (or covered with plastic wrap) for 3-4 days.
Freezing: Freeze individual portions of baked ziti in a freezer safe container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.
You don’t need too many tips or tricks to get this pasta dish just right.
- Be sure not to overcook the pasta when boiling it since it will be cooking even more in the oven.
- Chop onions uniformly so that they cook evenly and avoid having any large, uneven chunks.
- If you want to make this ahead of time, you can go through all of the steps that lead up to baking, then store the unbaked ziti in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Simple ingredients are all you need to make this delicious dish.
- Italian sausage
- Onion (diced finely)
- Garlic cloves minced
- Marinara sauce
- Diced tomatoes (undrained)
- Tomato paste
- Italian seasoning blend
- Ziti pasta
- Ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- Large egg
- Salt and black pepper (to taste)
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
Just grab a couple of simple supplies to get this ziti prepared and on the table.
How to Make Baked Ziti
This recipe is the easiest way to get an ooey-gooey, cheesy, tomato-based pasta dish on the table at dinner time.
- Cook sausage halfway in a preheated large skillet.
- Add onions and continue cooking until soft and the sausage is completely browned.
- Add garlic and cook briefly.
- Stir in the marinara, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasoning, and bring the entire mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer.
- Pour the meat sauce into a bowl to cool.
- Prepare the pasta by cooking it to al dente in a large pot of salted water and rinse once finished.
- Add the ricotta cheese, a portion of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg to a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Add half of the cooked pasta on top of the sauce and then add sauce on top.
- Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over top.
- Layer the rest of the pasta and top with sauce.
- Add the remaining mozzarella on top.
- Bake until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
- Allow a brief time to cool, then serve.
What to Serve With Baked Ziti
This ziti is pretty much already a full meal, but you can serve sides with it, too.
- Garlic bread – The most obvious side dish is a delicious garlicky and buttery bread to accompany this delicious meal.
- Side salad – Keep the accompaniments light with a simple green salad.
- Soup – Serve a pasta fagioli or minestrone beforehand or with the meal.
Why You Should Make Baked Ziti
If you need an easy weeknight meal, there’s no reason not to make baked ziti!
- Complete meal – With meat, veggies, and pasta all in one dish, this can serve as a rounded meal without any accouterments.
- Versatile – This is the kind of meal that makes weeknights easy but it’s also so tasty you can serve it for a large group gathering.
- Customizable – You can sneak in veggies for picky eaters or you can spice up the night if it’s an at-home date night meal.
Variations and Add-ins
Put your own twist on this cheesy dish.
- Heat – Spice the sauce up with some crushed red pepper flakes.
- Herbs – Add any herbs you enjoy in Italian dishes from oregano to fresh basil.
- Meat – Use ground beef, ground turkey, or any other favorite ground meat instead of sausage.
- Cottage cheese – Use cottage cheese in place of some or all of the ricotta.
- Pasta shape – Try using penne pasta or any other type of pasta with a similar shape.
- Vegetables – Add veggies like bell peppers or mushrooms to the sauce.
If you love this easy Baked Ziti recipe, you’re going to love these other pasta dishes too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Casserole-Style Dishes
If you love this recipe for Homemade Baked Ziti as much as I do, please write a five-star review, and be sure to help me share on Facebook and Pinterest!
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 small onion about ½ cup, diced finely
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 28 oz marinara sauce 1 jar
- 15 oz diced tomatoes undrained (1 can)
- 3 oz tomato paste 1 can
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
- 16 oz ziti pasta cooked to al dente (1 box)
- 15 oz ricotta cheese 1 tub
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 large egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until it is about half way browned- for 5-8 minutes.
- Add the onions and cook until they are soft and the sausage is completely cooked with no pink remaining.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Drain if necessary.
- Add the marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning blend.
- Stir to combine and then bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Transfer from the pan to a bowl and allow it to cool while you cook the pasta and prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to directions on the box to al dente.
- Rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and the egg. Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Layer with half of the cooked pasta, then half of the sauce.
- Top with the ricotta mixture.
- Add the remaining pasta, top with the remaining sauce.
- Then sprinkle the top with ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- Serve immediately with garlic bread and a salad if desired.
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.