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4 from 2 votes

Baked Ziti

Easy, delicious Baked Ziti Casserole has layers of ziti noodles, meat sauce, cheese and is baked to perfection for an easy dinner!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 823kcal
Author: Julie Evink


  • 1 lb ziti noodles can sub penne want ziti noodles for video
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 1 c. Italian cheese blend
  • 2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cook ziti noodles according to directions on the box until the pasta is al dente, a little firm. You will also be baking this so do not cook pasta al dente. When it is done cooking, drain, return to the pan and set aside. You can toss with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together, if desired.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot add the sausage and cook until it’s brown and crispy. Add the onion to the skillet when the sausage is almost cooked through. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and Italian seasoning, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook for 1 minute, then add the marinara sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta and Italian cheese.
  • Add 1 c. of red sauce into the prepared ziti pasta, stir to combine.
  • Pour half of the ziti into a 9x13’’ baking dish the deeper the better. Add half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the ziti in small dollops. Then spoon half of the red sauce over the ricotta. Repeat these layers, pasta, ricotta mixture and sauce. Top with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil. Tent the foil so it’s not touching the cheese.
  • Place the baking dish in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • After baking time is done, remove foil from the dish. Turn the oven to broil and return the casserole to the oven.
  • Broil for 3-5 minutes or just until the cheese is lightly browned.
  • Remove from the oven, top with chopped parsley if desired and serve.



Pasta Tip: When you drain the pasta, you can toss it with a little bit of olive oil. This will keep it from sticking together while it sits.
Baking Dish Tip: I like to use a deep 9×13″ baking dish for this recipe. It’s a big pasta casserole and needs plenty of room!
Make-Ahead Tip: You can assemble it early in the day, refrigerate it, and then bake it when it’s time for dinner. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
Freezer Tip: You can also freeze it before you bake it. It will keep well for up to a month in the freezer, just make sure it’s wrapped well. Let it thaw in the refrigerator and then bake as instructed.
Do you cover ziti when baking?
Yes, you will want to keep it covered with foil while it bakes. I like to tent the foil so it’s not touching the cheese. Keeping it covered will prevent it from drying out while it bakes.
What is baked ziti vs lasagna?
The are similar with the same flavors and ingredients, but prepared in a different way. Lasagna is a baked pasta made with sheets of pasta, with the cheese and sauce layered with the pasta. Baked ziti is less structured and made with a tubular pasta that is loosely layered with sauce and cheese.
Does baked ziti contain meat?
My recipe does. I like to make it with a sausage meat sauce. You can make a vegetarian baked ziti and just use marinara sauce.
How long do leftovers keep?
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days.


Calories: 823kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 1630mg | Potassium: 779mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1138IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 520mg | Iron: 3mg