Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
This Easy Baked Ziti Recipe is a hearty, delicious, and filling meal! Loaded with Italian sausage, fire roasted tomatoes, cheesy mozzarella, and ziti pasta, this dish has been dubbed out favorite pasta casserole!
Pasta is life.
It’s also a life saver.
Whenever I’m in a bind for dinner ideas, I always turn to pasta recipes. I don’t know why, but I just do!
I have a handful of pasta dishes I love to turn to, I’ll share a few.
Favorite Pasta Recipes:
- Butternut Squash Sage Pasta
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Goat Cheese and Asparagus Spinach Pasta
- Skillet Lasagna
- Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta
But today lets focus on this easy baked ziti pasta recipe! This dish is really easy to make. In fact, you can make it in advance. We’ll get into that a little bit later.
I’ll walk you through making this dish
How to make Easy Baked Ziti (with sausage)!
It’s no secret I love sausage. Like, love sausage. So naturally my baked ziti recipe is going to have sausage in it.
Begin by browning one pound of Italian sausage with 1/2 of a diced sweet onion.
Pro tip: use a wooden spoon (or two forks) to break up the sausage into small pieces. I’ve even heard people use their potato masher for breaking up their meat when they cook it.
Once the meat is fully cooked, drain any excess fat that might have accumulated in the skillet. Next, add water, marina sauce, Italian seasoning, and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes to the skillet. Let this simmer for 10 minutes. While this is simmering I will cook the ziti pasta 1 minute under al dente. Drain the pasta.
Cheesy Ricotta Mixture
One of the layers in this easy baked ziti recipe is a cheesy ricotta layer, and it’s amazing!
To a medium sized bowl add ricotta, 1 egg, chopped parsley, and shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Stir to combine.
Layering the Baked Ziti
It’s now time to layer the baked ziti.
To the bottom of a 13″x9″ inch baking dish, add 1 cup of the red sauce.
Spoon half of the ziti pasta over the sauce.
Spoon ALL of the ricotta mixture over the ziti pasta, doing your best to spread the ricotta into an even layer.
Top with half of the remaining sauce.
Add the rest of the ziti noodles.
Pour the last of the sauce over the noodles and then top everything with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
Baked Ziti FAQ:
Can you make Baked Ziti in advance? Yes you can. You can make this 2 in advance if you’d like. Do everything up until the baking step. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and store in the fridge. Once ready to bake, remove the foil and bake as directed.
To freeze baked ziti: do everything up until the baking step. Cover the dish in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake remove the dish from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and place the foil back over the casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour. You’ll want to watch it because the baking time will differ as the dish will be frozen.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of pasta dishes that have been frozen beforehand. I suggest you make this and bake it right away. Food always tastes better fresh. 🙂
I hope you love this easy baked ziti recipe!
If you make this recipe or any other recipe from Salt & Baker, be sure to share it on social media. Tag @saltandbaker and #saltandbaker so I can see what you’ve made!
Easy Baked Ziti
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1/2 sweet onion - diced
- 24 oz marinara sauce
- 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- 16 oz ziti noodles
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons parsley - chopped
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella - divided
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese - shredded
- Preheat oven to 375°F, lightly grease a 13”x9” pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat add the sausage and diced onion. Cook, breaking up the sausage as you go. Once sausage is fully cooked. Drain fat, if any.
- Add the marinara, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and water to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the ziti pasta to 1 minute under al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the ricotta, parsley, egg, and 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir to combine.
- Add 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Add half of the ziti pasta to the dish. Top with all of the ricotta, doing your best to spread it in an even layer. Top with half of the remaining sauce.
- Add the rest of the ziti, the remainder of the sauce, and then top with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
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