Baked Ziti

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Quick Summary

A big pan of Baked Ziti filled with pasta, cheese, sausage, and marinara sauce just might be the best dinner ever, especially when garlic bread is served on the side. This baked pasta is a family favorite!

Baked Ziti in white baking dish with cheese and fresh basil.

Baked Ziti is a staple dinner recipe at our house. Our boys LOVE this cheesy baked pasta recipe. My recipe makes a full 9×13-inch pan which makes it really good for feeding a crowd or having leftovers.

Leftovers always come in handy, especially during the week and our boys are always happy to see baked ziti on the menu, even a few times in one week. It’s that good!

This baked ziti recipe is also perfect to make for someone who needs a big, comforting meal. Take it to someone welcoming a new baby, to someone who is under the weather, or to someone who just needs a delicious meal!

You can’t go wrong with this pasta dish. It’s a classic Italian that everyone loves!

Baked ziti on a serving spoon being served from a baking dish.

Ziti Pasta

Ziti is a tubed pasta like penne, but the edges are cut in a straight line instead of at a slant. Look for ziti pasta in the pasta aisle. If you can’t find ziti, penne is a great option since they are very similar. If you need the recipe to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta.

Marinara Sauce

We love to use our Homemade Easy Marinara Sauce or Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce for the very best flavor. Of course, if you have a favorite store bought marinara sauce you can use that in this recipe to save some time. I always keep our homemade marinara sauce in the freezer so it is ready to go! It keeps this recipe super simple!

Sausage Baked Ziti

This baked ziti recipe is made with Italian sausage. You could also use ground beef or turkey, whatever you and your family like best. If you want to make a vegetarian baked ziti, you can leave out the meat and add in your favorite vegetables. This baked pasta dish is easy to adapt to your liking.


  • Ziti
  • Olive oil
  • Italian sausage
  • Marinara sauce
  • Cheese– you will need ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Egg
  • Herbs– fresh basil and dried Italian seasoning.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

How to Make Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti with Ricotta

Baked ziti is easy to make, there are a few steps, but the steps are easy! Let’s get started!

  • Let’s cook some pasta! Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Don’t over cook the pasta because it will keep cook more in the oven.
  • Drain the pasta and put it in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and give it a good stir. This is going to keep everything from sticking together! Set aside.
  • Now it’s time to prep the sausage. Cook it over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it’s no longer pink. This should take 5-7 minutes. Once done, drain the fat and set it aside with the pasta.
  • In a medium mixing bowl combine ricotta, egg, half the mozzarella cheese, ½ cup Parmesan, and all the seasonings.
  • Combine the pasta, ricotta mixture, marinara sauce, and cooked sausage. Stir gently so the pasta noodles stay intact, and then pour it into a greased 9×13-inch pan.
  • More cheese, please! Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Bake until bubbly! The cheese will be golden brown and your house will smell amazing!
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes, garnish with fresh basil, and serve warm. It’s so cheesy, so filling, and so tasty. Bon appetit! 
  • If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave.

How to Freeze

  • Here’s a great way to have THE BEST dinner ready when you need it: assemble everything up until it’s time to bake in a disposable aluminum pan or freezer safe pan, then seal it well with a lid or plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Pop it in the freezer and freeze for up to 2 months. Let it defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking! Then follow, the baking instructions.
  • You can also freeze baked ziti. I like to freeze leftovers in individual portions. You can pull out the baked ziti when you need an easy lunch or dinner! Reheat in the microwave.
Baked Ziti in white baking dish with serving spoon.

Serving Suggestions

Baked ziti is very filling and good by itself, but if you want to serve a full meal, here are a few of our favorite side dishes to serve with baked ziti.

baked ziti with sausage and fresh basil on plate with fork.

More Pasta Recipes

If you are looking for more delicious pasta recipes, we have you covered! I have a feeling you will love them all!

Baked Ziti

A big pan of Baked Ziti filled with pasta, cheese, sausage, and marinara sauce just might be the best dinner ever, especially when garlic bread is served on the side. This baked pasta is a family favorite!
4.47 from 193 votes


  • 16 oz ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling over pasta
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • For garnish: chopped basil, if desired


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Use a colander to drain well. Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil and stir so it doesn’t stick together. Pour the pasta into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Discard the excess fat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, basil, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the ricotta mixture to the pasta. Add the marinara sauce, cooked sausage, and stir until combined, stirring gently to not break up the pasta noodles.
  • Pour the pasta into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and the pasta is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired, and serve warm.


Calories: 528kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Calcium: 388mg, Iron: 3mg
Keywords pasta

Have you tried this recipe?

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. Hi there! In the nutritional information, can you include what serving size is? It says 528 calories per serving but does not indicate what size a serving is. Is it per 100g, 500g? That would be helpful Thank you!

    1. See the serving size at the top of the recipe card. It is for 10. It makes a lot, 10 is a nice size portion. It could be less if you have a smaller portion.

  2. Maria This baked ziti recipe is fantastic….and just to thank yoi for todays wonderful pasta meals and other great easy suggestions..
    Thanks …family is enjoying these new meals….

  3. I’m going to try the baked Ziti this weekend. It sounds warm and comforting on a cold cold day.

    I’m bringing a new card game for the boys when we come next week. Hopefully it’ll be a hit.

  4. This looks great! If I was wanting to give this to someone as a freezer meal, would you suggest doing everything up through baking it and then give the person the baking instructions? Or bake it and have them reheat it?

  5. This was Amazing! And so easy!! My boys said it’s a keeper…YAY! I used plant based sausage in mine. Making this reminded me to order your cookbook! Wow Maria it’s wonderfully put together and so beautiful! Thank you for all your recipes and personally I appreciate that so many are vegetarian friendly!

  6. Can you leave out the ricotta ? My husband doesn’t like ricotta or sour cream. Is there something else I can use to replace it ?
    I want to thanking for the wonderful recipes. Ever one I have tried are keepers. Some I have passed on to my 3 daughters. And they said they where keepers for them also. Keep up the great work.

    1. You can try cottage cheese! I am so glad you are enjoying our recipes. Thanks for letting us know!

    2. I used greek yogurt as a substitute for ricotta and it was perfect. Gave it a nice zing! Also used chopped up leftover chicken instead of sausage and that worked well. This is a recipe that you could substitute almost anything and it would turn out nicely.

    3. My son is lactose intolerant and can’t have ricotta cheese, but he can have Sharp cheddar so I substituted cheddar and left out the egg it turned out great. Everyone loved it.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for Super Bowl and it was wonderful! My family loved it. Thanks for the recipe. Go Bucs-Tom Brady 🙂

    1. Just a comment. I understand the logic behind doing the 9×13 casserole dish for cooking a family dinner or potluck.
      However, for my smaller family I would use 2 disposable foil cake pans 8×8 or 9×9 size . I will use a sheet pan underneath for added support in and out of the oven.
      That way you can prepare them both and have one to share or freeze for future use.
      Each 8×8 yields @ 6 entree portions…which works great for our family of 5.

  8. 4 stars
    Just a comment. I understand the logic behind doing the 9×13 casserole dish for cooking a family dinner or potluck.
    However, for my smaller family I would use 2 disposable foil cake pans 8×8 or 9×9 size . I will use a sheet pan underneath for added support in and out of the oven.
    That way you can prepare them both and have one to share or freeze for future use.
    Each 8×8 yields @ 6 entree portions…which works great for our family of 5.

  9. I am making 2 8×8 pans for a new mom to keep in her freezer. If frozen before baking, how do I tell her to adjust baking baking time? Thank you- we haven’t had a recipe of yours yet that we haven’t enjoyed! Your site is a regular recommendation when friends ask for good sites for recipes.

  10. 5 stars
    My family and friends LOVE this baked ziti recipe! It is my go to for taking meals to friends and family when they need a good home cooked meal that will also have leftovers! It is also a great one for feeding a crowd! It is easy to make, yet tastes fresh (thanks to the fresh basil) and delicious! It’s a win, win, win! Thank you for sharing.

  11. 5 stars
    This recipe sounds amazing! Going to make it Christmas Day. Can you prep it the day before then bake the next day? Would it turn out the same?
    Thank you!

  12. 5 stars
    As always, so popular for a dinner party for a side. It’s one of my go to dishes because I married an Italian. Everyone loves this. So good! Thanks Maria!

  13. Hi Maria,
    I make so many of your meals and 100% they are always a crowd pleaser and family is always asking for the recipes. Quick question- is there any way to substitute the sausage for ground beef?

  14. 5 stars
    Just made this. Your recipe are always on point so I picked yours out of 10000 baked ziti recipes on Google 🙂 I don’t like ricotta, so I added chopped fresh mozzarella instead. I added a big bag of power greens as I was sautéing the sausage. It’s in the oven now bubbling away and I cannot wait to eat it!

  15. Hi I like a lot of ricotta is it possible I can use 32 oz container in this recipe with one pound of the ziti
    Thank you

    1. Don’t think flex will work.

      I use besan and chickpea flour all the time to sub for eggs. I’d like to try that, a tablespoon or two, next time, with a little bit of water.

  16. 5 stars
    I followed your recipe exactly including the marinara sauce. It was a crowd pleaser! I’ll definitely make it again.

  17. 5 stars
    This was DELICIOUS! I took the leftovers to work and shared with coworkers who also raved about it. I will definitely make it again!

  18. Delicious! We used Italian sausage and mini pepperoni. Also added a bit more cheese. It makes a huge batch. This one is a keeper!

  19. 5 stars
    This was amazing! My son loved it so much, he took almost all of it home. From now on, when he comes over, this is what he wants to have every time! Thanks!

  20. 5 stars
    This is excellent, and it’s a repeat recipe in our house. I make it for other people too – it’s my go-to for anyone needing a boost. 🙂
    I don’t use the sausage, so I just skip that step entirely (no sub ingredient or anything like that), and I also add a few shakes of Penzeys roasted garlic powder.
    Thank you for a great recipe!

  21. 5 stars
    Might be the easiest baked ziti recipe I’ve tried yet! I used dried basil and ground beef because that’s what I had on hand and I put everything in the Dutch oven that I had browned the meat in with some garlic because I’m all for less dishes to wash.
    Thanks for the recipe! will def make again especially for company since I can make it beforehand and just pop it in the oven whenever we’re ready to eat and you can’t go wrong with cheese and pasta!