Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

This easy baked ziti combines hot Italian sausage, fire-roasted tomatoes, pasta and lots of gooey cheese to give you the ultimate comforting dish! 

After the first forkful hits your tongue, you’ll understand why I say this is the “best ever baked ziti!” Made with minimal ingredients and you still get an explosion of flavor in every taste.

For those nights when you don’t feel like cooking, be sure to try my lazy day mac and cheese. The whole family will be happy to devour it! Or check out all of my pasta recipes.

No meal is complete without some of my air fryer garlic knots or rosemary garlic bread, so you are going to want to check them out too.

easy baked ziti being lifted out of a casserole dish

How To Make Easy Baked Ziti

It’s super easy to whip up this baked ziti recipe, even on busy weeknights.

Start off by browning the sausage. Add the tomatoes and let simmer to form the sauce.

Prepare the pasta and add the sauce. Mix together the ricotta, egg, and seasonings. Add in cheese and combine.

Add a layer of sauce in a casserole dish, then top with the pasta mixture. Repeat the process until everything has been added to the dish. Top with the rest of the cheese, cover, and bake for 20 minutes.

Broil to make the cheese bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with parmesan and parsley, then dig in.

baked ziti recipe ingredients

Helpful Tips and Tricks
  • Shred the cheese. I know it’s tempting to buy pre-shredded cheese, but if you want ooey, gooey, melty cheese you have to shred it yourself. Store-bought has caking agents that will prevent it from melting correctly.
  • Prevent sticking. Before adding tin foil to the casserole, give the underside a quick spritz of non-stick spray. It will help prevent the cheese from sticking to it.
  • Meal prep is always an option. This easy baked ziti recipe makes a lot and the portions are large. If you can't eat it in one sitting, go ahead and add it to single-serving containers to grab for an easy lunch or dinner.
  • Too spicy? Tone down the spice by using regular Italian sausage instead of spicy. Or if you want it even hotter, add some red pepper flakes!

meat sauce in a casserole dish

Kitchen Tools You Will Need
  • Large Skillet - Browning the sausage and simmering the sauce is a breeze with this skillet. 
  • Mixing Bowl - You can never have too many mixing bowls, and this set has several sizes. 

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe pasta with cheese in dish

FAQ - Common Recipe Questions

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, of course! Keep in mind it does make 12 servings, but it can easily be doubled to feed a bigger crowd. I recommend using 2 casserole pans instead of 1. Because it makes so much, it will fill one dish and there won’t be room for a 2nd batch in the same pan.

How do I store leftovers?

If you don’t eat it all immediately, let it cool down before storing in a sealed food container. It will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Additionally, you can freeze the leftovers for up to 1 month.

best ever baked ziti prepped and ready to bake

How do you reheat baked ziti?

Oven method: Turn on the oven to 350 degrees, then place the ziti in a casserole dish. Add some aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it’s hot.

Microwave method: Place on a microwavable plate and cover with a moist paper towel. Heat for 1-2 minutes or until hot. The damp paper towel keeps the pasta from drying out as it heats.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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easy baked ziti on a spatula

Yield: 12
Author: Donna Elick
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

This easy baked ziti combines hot Italian sausage, fire-roasted tomatoes, pasta and lots of gooey cheese to give you the ultimate comforting dish!
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 50 MinTotal time: 1 H & 4 M


  • 2 pounds hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 (16 ounce) container whole ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, (divided)
  • 12 ounces fresh shredded mozzarella (divided)
  • 4 ounces fresh shredded provolone (divided)
  • Chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, (for garnish)


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, break apart and cook the sausage until cooked through. Drain most of the excess fat and return sausage to the pan.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to the cooked sausage. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile: boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Cooked until just al dente (about 10 minutes), it will continue to cook in the oven.
  4. Drain pasta.
  5. In a large bowl combine ricotta, beaten egg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, don’t ovemix. To keep the pasta creamy you do not want to break up all of the ricotta mixture.
  6. Then add half cup of the Parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella (6 ounces) and half of the provolone (2 ounces) to the ricotta mixture. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the cheese mixture to the pot of pasta. Mix lightly.
  8. Ladle about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Then add about half of the pasta mixture. Smooth it out with a spatula and press it down in the dish. Add a few ladles of sauce over top.
  9. Add the remaining pasta. Smooth out the pasta. Add the remaining sauce over top, spread it out evenly and then sprinkle the remaining cheeses over top.
  10. Cover and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove cover and broil until just lightly browned and bubbly (about 2-3 minutes).
  12. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and chopped Italian flat leaf parsley.

easy baked ziti closeup

Originally published September 2021

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