Stuffed Ziti Fritta is jam packed with all of our favorite melty, tangy cheeses and fried for a magnificent, mouthwatering crunch. They’re like little pasta mozzarella sticks! Try out my stuffed ziti fritta Olive Garden copycat recipe and be amazed at how much flavor can fit into one little noodle!
Stuffed Ziti Fritta
Pasta dinners save my life at least twice a week! They’re so easy, so tasty, and so inexpensive.
Playing around with different textures is always fun too — and I knew I had to make stuffed ziti fritta from Olive Garden the first time I tried it!
Olive Garden™ also features a ziti al forno with five different cheeses that you’re sure to love!
I’m a big fan of baked ziti myself. It’s easy to prep ahead of time and throw into the oven for a super simple, super delicious dinner.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Rigatoni – I know, it’s not ziti! But this is a larger, thicker tubed pasta that’s much better for frying and for stuffing.
Ziti and penne are, of course, totally fine to use too.
- Ricotta – Fresh, milky, and very soft. We’re using it more for texture than anything else!
Cottage cheese is a good substitute — but if you don’t want to use it, you can get away with only using the other cheeses listed below.
- Cream Cheese – Give it an hour at room temperature to get it soft enough to easily mix with the other stuffed ziti fritta filling ingredients.
- Mozzarella – Another milky cheese that’s the cornerstone of all cheesy Italian delights!
Provolone cheese is a pretty good alternative, and gouda would be my third recommendation.
- Parmesan – Can’t beat sharp, tasty parmesan! Shred it fresh off the block so that it melts properly — the pre-shredded stuff never does.
- Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs – Getting the breadcrumbs pre seasoned makes things easier.
But you can really use any kind of breadcrumb! Just mix your crumb of choice with Italian seasonings.
Tips for Recreating Stuffed Ziti Fritta from Olive Garden
- Cheeses giving you a tough time?
You can briefly microwave the mozzarella, parmesan, cream cheese, and ricotta cheeses so that they soften and mix together more easily.
Microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, stir, and repeat — just don’t melt them too much!
- Make it ahead of time.
Follow the Olive Garden stuffed ziti fritta recipe as instructed, but stop after breading the pasta.
At this point, transfer the pasta to a plate or tray and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, then bake whenever you’re ready!
- For a lighter option, bake instead of fry!
You won’t get the same crispy crunch, of course, but you can avoid using extra oil by baking your stuffed ziti fritta in the oven.
Lay the pasta on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, brush lightly with olive or vegetable oil, and bake in an oven preheated to 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Turn them halfway through to help them cook evenly!
An air fryer is another excellent way to make these without using too much oil, if you have one!
Storing and Reheating Ziti Fritta
Put any leftovers in an airtight container (even a Ziploc bag works for these!) and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes or so. They won’t be as crispy, but they’ll be just as tasty!
Ziti fritta can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Freeze after breading but before baking, laying the pasta on a baking sheet and freezing until firm.
Transfer to an airtight container and freeze. No need to thaw before baking — just give your stuffed ziti fritta a few extra minutes in the oven!
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Use a Slotted Spoon to remove the crispy pasta from the oil.
- Piping Bag or Ziploc with a corner cut off to fill the noodles.
- Shallow Bowls for dredging
Stuffed Ziti Fritta FAQ
Well, not really! Lasagna is a layered, flat noodle dish, while baked zitis are closer to a casserole, in a sense. It’s not layered so much as all dumped into a dish and baked together.
But the ingredients are similar: ricotta, a plain red or rich meat sauce, and mozzarella.
According to their website, the stuffed ziti fritta Olive Garden recipe has 500 calories on its own. The marinara dipping sauce has 35 calories, and the alfredo dipping sauce has 220 calories.
But it’s important to remember that when you’re making a copycat recipe and using different ingredients, the calorie count will be different!
So check out the nutritional information on the ingredients that you’re using to get an accurate count.
As with any Italian meal, garlic bread is nice to have. Don’t hesitate to go full Olive Garden with these breadsticks, either! But sometimes a crisp salad is nice, too, to break up those rich flavors.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Olive Garden Recipes
Olive Garden Stuffed Ziti Fritta
- 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni pasta
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Canola oil for frying
- Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions until a dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and shredded parmesan cheese, Mix until well combined.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a zip top bag or piping bag, cut off the tip of one of the corners of the zip top bag and fill each rigatoni with the cheese mixture.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the beaten eggs and water. Add the flour to another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs with the salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.
- Working in batches, dredge the stuff rigatoni first in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture, making sure each piece is fully coated.
- Heat about 2-3 inches of canola oil in a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat until it reaches 350°F (180°C)
- Carefully place the breaded rigatoni into the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the zita fritta from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
- Serve the stuffed ziti fritta warm with alfredo sauce, marinara sauce for dipping, and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published September 2023
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