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Baked Ziti

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Baked ziti with ricotta and sausage is the savory comfort food your family is craving! It boasts pan-crisped Italian sausage, flavorful homemade marinara sauce, and deeply-cheesy pasta.

Is your mouth watering yet? Dining out at home has never been so exciting! Add this easy baked ziti recipe to your meal plan rotation. It’s also an ideal make-ahead recipe and freezer meal. Pair it with a crisp garden salad!

PIN BAKED ZITI NOW TO MAKE IT LATER!

Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage served on a white plate and garnished with Italian parsley.

BAKED ZITI INGREDIENTS

This hearty Italian dish is made with a combination of refrigerator and pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need for this delicious pasta bake.

  • Ziti pasta
  • Italian sausage links (hot or mild), raw/uncooked
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Crushed tomatoes (canned)
  • Water
  • Sea salt
  • Oregano
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Granulated sugar
  • Whole ricotta cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Italian parsley, for garnishing
  • OPTIONAL GARNISH: fresh basil leaves

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Ingredients for the best baked ziti recipe laid out on a wooden John Boos Board.

HOW TO COOK ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Italian sausage is a raw ground-pork ingredient. The sausage links must be cooked before proceeding with this baked ziti recipe! Prepping the sausage is quick and simple to do with these easy step-by-step instructions.

Get dinner on the table faster by multi-tasking: cook the ziti al dente, according to package directions.

  • STEP 1: Place a small pot of cold water on the stovetop. Submerge sausage links in the cold water. Do not pierce the casings. Bring to a light boil over medium heat. The sausages will be 3/4 cooked. Remove them from the pot onto paper towels. Lightly pat them dry.
  • STEP 2: Add olive oil to a small skillet over medium-low heat. Transfer the links to the pan. Frequently turn the sausages until they’re cooked and browned with an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a Thermapen or another cooking thermometer to check for doneness. Transfer the sausages to a cutting board.
  • STEP 3: Once the sausages are not too hot to handle, slice them into 1/4-inch rounds.
  • STEP 4: As you multi-task, the pasta should be done cooking. Drain noodles in a colander, then return to the pot.
Step by step, how to cook sausage for baked ziti recipe.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE

Prepare this easy marinara sauce recipe in less than 18 minutes! Experience full-bodied flavor that’s 100% better than store-bought sauce in a jar! It contributes to making this the best baked ziti recipe you’ve ever tasted.

  • STEP 1: Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic. When the garlic sizzles, add the crushed tomatoes with all the liquid from the can. Stir.
  • STEP 2: Pour one cup of water into the tomato can. Swirl it around to collect any tomato pieces and liquid left behind. Pour the water into the skillet. Stir well to incorporate.
  • STEP 3: Add sea salt, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Allow sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, or until thickened. The olive oil on the surface should develop a beautiful orange tint.
  • STEP 4: Add 1/4 teaspoon sugar to the sauce. This secret ingredient helps offset the tomato acidity. It enhances the natural flavor and complexity of the marinara sauce. Do a taste test. Adjust spices and sugar, as desired.
Four-image collage showing how to make homemade marinara sauce for baked ziti recipe.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE EASY BAKED ZITI

Now that the prep work is all complete, it’s time to assemble this easy recipe. Here’s how to make the best baked ziti.

RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9X13 baking dish, or 2 8X8 baking dishes.

  • STEP 1: Add the sausage and 3/4 of the marina sauce to the pot of cooked pasta. Fold the ingredients together.
  • STEP 2: Transfer half the baked ziti mixture to the baking dish.
  • STEP 3: Using half the ricotta cheese, spoon it in dollops over the noodle mixture. Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese on top. With a spatula, pat and spread the cheese into an even layer.
  • STEP 4: Spread remaining ziti mixture on top. Spoon dollops of remaining ricotta over ziti. Do not spread. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle remaining marinara sauce over the cheese.
Four-image collage showing how to make easy baked ziti step by step.

BEST BAKED ZITI RECIPE

This homemade recipe is deeply satisfying. Here’s how to bake and garnish this Italian favorite:

  1. Tent baking dish loosely with foil.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 10 minutes more.
  3. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
  4. Let baked ziti stand 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Garnish with thinly sliced basil and chopped Italian parsley.
Baked Ziti dinner served on a white table with white plates, gold forks, and red wine.

EXPERT TIPS FOR EASY BAKED ZITI

Baked ziti with ricotta and sausage is a family favorite! These helpful tips answer the most-asked questions for this easy recipe.

  • BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR ZITI PASTA: Penne is the best swap out for ziti. But these pastas will also work: mostaccioli, rigatoni, or chifferi.
  • SUBSTITUTES FOR RICOTTA CHEESE: The best substitute is Requeson, which is Mexican-style Ricotta. Other swaps include cottage cheese, goat cheese, or mascarpone.
  • HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE MEATIER: Use 1.5 pounds of Italian sausage. When making this recipe for Dad, his special request is always the same: please add more meat!
  • HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FASTER: Instead of homemade sauce, use a jar of store-bought marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce.
  • HEALTHY ADD-IN: 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn. Mix the spinach into the pasta along with the sausage and marinara sauce.
  • MAKE-AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS: This is the ideal make-ahead meal! After assembling baked ziti, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To bake this dish, tent loosely with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Continue baking until heated through.
  • FREEZER-FRIENDLY INSTRUCTIONS: After assembling this dish, tightly cover it with 2-3 layers of foil. Freeze it unbaked for up to 3 weeks. Before baking, defrost it in the fridge for 24 hours. Bake according to make-ahead instructions.
  • WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED ZITI: Pair it with steamed veggies or a crisp green salad. Enjoy it with garlic bread, or a rustic sourdough baguette and pats of butter.
Single serving of baked ziti with ricotta and Italian sausage on a white dinner plate.

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BAKED ZITI > RATE THIS RECIPE! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage served on a white plate and garnished with Italian parsley.

Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Prep Time: 45 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 8 Servings 1x

Description

This easy baked ziti with ricotta and sausage is hearty, comforting, and deeply satisfying. Made with a flavorful homemade marinara sauce, this Italian recipe is Grandma approved!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ziti pasta
  • 1 pound (raw) Italian sausage links, hot or mild
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – for pan frying sausages
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – for marinara sauce
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, or as desired
  • 1 15-ounce container whole ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped (for garnishing)
  • OPTIONAL GARNISH: fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Instructions

COOK ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Multi-task while prepping the sausage: Cook the ziti al dente, according to package directions.

  1. Place a small pot of cold water on the stovetop. Submerge sausage links in the cold water. Do not pierce the casings. Bring to a light boil over medium heat. The sausages will be 3/4 cooked. Remove them from the pot onto paper towels. Lightly pat them dry.
  2. Add olive oil to a small skillet over medium-low heat. Transfer the links to the pan. Frequently turn the sausages until they’re cooked and browned with an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a Thermapen or another cooking thermometer to check for doneness.
  3. Transfer the sausages to a cutting board. Once the sausages are not too hot to handle, slice into 1/4-inch rounds.
  4. As you multi-task, the pasta should be done cooking. Drain noodles in a colander, then return to the pot.

PREPARE MARINARA SAUCE

  1. Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic. When the garlic sizzles, add the crushed tomatoes with all the liquid from the can. Stir. Pour one cup of water into the tomato can. Swirl it around to collect any tomato pieces and liquid left behind. Pour the water into the skillet. Stir well to incorporate.
  2. Add spices: salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Allow sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, or until thickened. The olive oil on the surface should develop a beautiful orange tint. Add 1/4 teaspoon sugar to the sauce. This secret ingredient helps offset the tomato acidity. Do a taste test. Adjust spices and sugar, as desired.

ASSEMBLE BAKED ZITI

RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9X13 baking dish, or 2 8X8 baking dishes.

  1. Add the sausage and 3/4 of the marina sauce to the pot of cooked pasta. Fold the ingredients together. Transfer half the baked ziti mixture to the baking dish.
  2. Using half the ricotta cheese, spoon it in dollops over the noodle mixture. Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese on top. With a spatula, pat and spread the cheese into an even layer.
  3. Spread remaining ziti mixture on top. Spoon dollops of remaining ricotta over ziti. Do not spread. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle remaining marinara sauce over the cheese.
  4. Tent baking dish loosely with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 10 minutes more.

GARNISH THE PASTA

  • Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish with chopped Italian parsley, and basil if desired.

Notes

  • BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR ZITI PASTA: Penne is the best swap out for ziti. But these pastas will also work: mostaccioli, rigatoni, or chifferi.
  • SUBSTITUTES FOR RICOTTA CHEESE: The best substitute is Requeson, which is Mexican-style Ricotta. Other swaps include cottage cheese, goat cheese, or mascarpone.
  • HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE MEATIER: Use 1.5 pounds of Italian sausage. When making this recipe for Dad, his special request is always the same: please add more meat!
  • HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FASTER: Instead of homemade sauce, use a jar of store-bought marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce.
  • HEALTHY ADD-IN: 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn. Mix the spinach into the pasta along with the sausage and marinara sauce.
  • MAKE-AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS: This is the ideal make-ahead meal! After assembling baked ziti, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To bake this dish, tent loosely with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Continue baking until heated through.
  • FREEZER-FRIENDLY INSTRUCTIONS: After assembling this dish, tightly cover it with 2-3 layers of foil. Freeze it unbaked for up to 3 weeks. Before baking, defrost it in the fridge for 24 hours. Bake according to make-ahead instructions.
  • WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED ZITI: Pair it with steamed veggies or a crisp green salad. Enjoy it with garlic bread, or a rustic sourdough baguette and pats of butter.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop and Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Baked Ziti, Baked Ziti with Ricotta, Baked Ziti with Sausage

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

BAKED ZITI RECIPE > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

What are your favorite Italian dinners? What do you think about this easy baked ziti with ricotta and sausage? Share your thoughts below!

14 thoughts on “Baked Ziti”

  1. This recipe is simply the best. Your photos are gorgeous and your step by step is simply amazing. I love your parsley printed towel so cool. Thank you for this easy recipe.

    Reply
  2. This pasta meal sounds so comforting that I am going to give it a try for sure. And thank you: I have learned about a new type of Italian pasta:)

    Reply
  3. My mouth started to water in the very beginning of the post lol This ziti is too good and looks absolutely amazing!

    Reply
  4. This baked ziti was amazing! First time making it, but the final dish was delicious. My hubby loved it.

    Reply
  5. My family enjoyed every bite of this baked ziti! It was full of flavor and so hearty and absolutely no fuss!

    Reply
  6. This Baked ziti with ricotta and sausage is making me totally drool! No doubt that I am really craving for this right now. I want to try making this at home for my husband and son.

    Reply

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