Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti Recipe

Ingredients you’ll need

For a delicious and hearty Baked Ziti Recipe, you’ll need a few key ingredients that come together to create the ultimate comfort food. Make sure to have a box of ziti or penne pasta on hand – these tubular shapes hold the sauce beautifully. You’ll also need ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese for that gooey, cheesy goodness that everyone loves.

Don’t forget to grab a jar of marinara sauce or your favorite homemade tomato sauce. Ground beef or Italian sausage can add a savory kick to your ziti, so don’t skimp on the protein. And of course, seasoning is key, so make sure you have salt, pepper, and Italian herbs like oregano and basil to enhance the flavors of your dish. With these simple ingredients and a little love, you’ll have a bubbling pan of baked ziti that will please any crowd.

Baked Ziti Recipe

Choosing the right pasta

When it comes to making a delicious baked ziti, choosing the right pasta is key. You want a pasta shape that can hold up to the hearty sauce and cheese, so opt for something like penne, rigatoni, or ziti itself. These tubular shapes are perfect for capturing all that cheesy goodness in every bite.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try a mix of different pasta shapes to add some fun texture to your dish. Just remember to cook them all al dente so they don’t turn mushy in the oven.

Selecting the perfect cheeses

When it comes to choosing the perfect cheeses for your baked ziti, it’s important to aim for a good balance of flavors and textures. A classic combination that never fails is a blend of mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta. Mozzarella adds that gooey, stretchy factor that we all love, Parmesan brings a sharp and nutty flavor, while ricotta provides a creamy and luxurious touch to the dish.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also consider incorporating some smoked provolone or a bit of sharp cheddar into the mix for a tasty twist. Remember, the key is to experiment and find the combination that suits your taste buds best. Just make sure to grate or shred your cheeses fresh for the best flavor and meltability. For more cheesy inspiration, you can check out this helpful guide on different types of Italian cheeses on

Deciding on a meat option

When it comes to deciding on a meat option for your ziti dish, the possibilities are endless. Whether you prefer the classic combination of ground beef or want to mix it up with some spicy Italian sausage, the choice is yours. Chicken or turkey can also be great alternatives if you’re looking for a leaner option. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different meats to find the perfect flavor profile for your ziti.

One thing to consider when choosing a meat option is how it will complement the other ingredients in your dish. For a more traditional flavor, stick with beef or pork. If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding some pancetta or prosciutto for a unique twist. Remember, the meat you choose will play a significant role in the overall taste of your ziti, so choose wisely. For more inspiration on meat options for your ziti, check out this helpful guide from **Meat Lover’s Paradise**.

Preparing your tomato sauce

When making your own homemade tomato sauce for your baked ziti, it’s important to start with quality ingredients. Saute some finely chopped onions and minced garlic in olive oil until they’re fragrant and lightly browned. Then, add in a can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and some dried oregano for that classic Italian flavor.

Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and taste test along the way, adjusting the seasonings to your liking. Once your tomato sauce has reached the desired thickness and taste, it’s ready to be layered into your ziti dish for a delicious final result.

Cooking the pasta al dente

To achieve that perfect al dente texture for your pasta, follow the instructions on the package as a general guideline. Cooking times can vary depending on the brand and type of pasta, so it’s essential to taste test for the desired doneness. You want the pasta to be firm to the bite, not mushy or overly soft.

Remember, pasta will continue to cook slightly even after draining, so be sure to factor that in when determining when to remove it from the boiling water. Using a timer can help you keep track, but tasting it yourself is the best way to ensure your pasta is cooked al dente. For more tips on pasta cooking techniques, check out for further guidance on mastering the art of cooking pasta to perfection.

Layering your ingredients

Now comes the fun part – layering your delicious ingredients to create ultimate ziti goodness! Start by spooning a generous amount of tomato sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish. Spread it evenly to create a flavorful base for the pasta to soak up.

Next, add a layer of cooked pasta, followed by a sprinkle of your chosen cheeses. Make sure to cover the pasta evenly to ensure every bite is full of cheesy goodness. Repeat these layers for a few more rounds until you reach the top of the dish, finishing off with a final layer of sauce and cheese. For more inspiration on layering your ziti ingredients like a pro, check out this website for tips on perfecting the art of pasta layering!

Baking your ziti to perfection

Once your ziti is perfectly layered with all the delicious ingredients, it’s time to pop it in the oven and bake it to cheesy, bubbly perfection. Preheat your oven to 375°F and cover your ziti dish with aluminum foil before baking. This will help the pasta cook evenly and retain moisture while in the oven.

After about 20-25 minutes, remove the foil to let the top of your ziti get golden and crispy. Keep an eye on it as it bakes to ensure it doesn’t burn—everyone loves a bit of crunch, but burnt cheese is never a good look! Once the cheese is completely melted and the edges are browned, your ziti is ready to be served piping hot to your eager dinner guests. Enjoy the melty, gooey goodness of your perfectly baked ziti alongside a fresh green salad for a well-rounded meal. For more tips on baking pasta dishes, visit [Real Simple] for recipe inspiration and cooking advice.

Serving suggestions

When it comes to serving your delicious baked ziti, simplicity is key. Pairing it with a fresh green salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette will balance out the richness of the dish. Alternatively, a side of garlic bread or cheesy garlic knots would complement the flavors of the ziti beautifully.

If you’re looking to elevate your meal, consider serving a side of roasted vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. The combination of the tender ziti with the charred veggies brings a delightful contrast of textures and flavors to the table. Additionally, a glass of red wine, like a Chianti or Sangiovese, would be the perfect accompaniment for a cozy Italian dinner night.

Tips for leftovers

When it comes to leftovers, there’s no need to let anything go to waste. If you find yourself with extra baked ziti, consider portioning it into individual containers for quick and easy meals throughout the week. Simply reheat in the microwave or oven for a delicious and satisfying meal on-the-go.

Another great way to enjoy leftover baked ziti is to get creative with it. You can mix it with some extra vegetables or protein to give it a new twist or even use it as a filling for a sandwich or wrap for a tasty lunch option. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what new and exciting dishes you can come up with using your leftover ziti!

Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Person


  • 1 pound 450g ziti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound 450g ground Italian sausage (you can also use ground beef or turkey)
  • 1 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup 240ml ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup 100g shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup 50g grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish optional


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook the ziti pasta according to the package instructions until it’s al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the ground Italian sausage to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until it’s browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the marinara sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, half of the shredded mozzarella cheese, and half of the grated Parmesan cheese until well combined.
  • Add the cooked ziti pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.
  • Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese mixture over the pasta
  • then sprinkle with the remaining shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Top with the remaining pasta mixture, spreading it out evenly in the baking dish.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges are golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired. Serve hot and enjoy your delicious Baked Ziti!
Keyword Baked Ziti

Can I freeze leftover baked ziti?

Yes, baked ziti can be frozen for future meals. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag for best results.

How long will leftover baked ziti last in the refrigerator?

Leftover baked ziti can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Be sure to reheat it thoroughly before serving.

Can I add extra vegetables to my leftover baked ziti?

Absolutely! Feel free to add in extra veggies like spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers to give your leftover baked ziti a fresh twist.

What is the best way to reheat leftover baked ziti?

The best way to reheat leftover baked ziti is in the oven or microwave. If using the oven, cover the dish with foil and bake at 350°F until heated through. If using the microwave, cover with a damp paper towel and heat in 30-second intervals until hot.

Can I make individual portions of baked ziti with my leftovers?

Yes, you can portion out your leftover baked ziti into individual servings and reheat them as needed for quick and easy meals. Just be sure to store them in separate containers for easy reheating.

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