The Best Easy Baked Ziti – This baked ziti with ricotta & Italian sausage recipe is so easy because there is no layering.
Easy Baked Ziti
This recipe is full of traditional flavors – ziti, Italian sausage, pasta sauce, ricotta cheese, Mozzarella, and parmesan. However, most baked ziti recipes call for layering the ricotta, pasta, and sauce like a lasagna. Not this recipe.
The ricotta is mixed in with the Italian sausage and pasta sauce making the most amazing creamy sauce ever.
How To Make The Best Baked Ziti Recipe
Note: The full printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet or soup pot over medium-high heat. *This makes a lot of sauce so I use a 12 inch high-sided skillet.
- Add onion and Italian sausage.
- Break the sausage apart and cook until browned.
- Add ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, and salt.
- Stir until the ricotta is smooth.
- Add pasta sauce to the sausage mixture. I like Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce for this (NO affiliation).
- Stir until the sauce is well combined.
- Cook and drain ziti pasta.
- Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta.
- Stir well to coat the pasta in sauce.
- Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large baking dish. *I use a 13×9 inch high-sided baking dish because this makes a lot of pasta. If you don’t have a big enough dish, leave a few cups of the pasta out so it doesn’t bubble over in your oven.
- Sprinkle the top of the pasta with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Cool slightly before serving.
Can You Make This Baked Ziti With Sausage Ahead Of Time
Yes. Assemble the pasta in the baking dish according to the directions. Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Let the dish come to room temperature as the oven is preheating. You may need to add 5-10 minutes to the bake time to get the center warmed through.
Can You Freeze This Baked Ziti With Ricotta
Yes. Assemble the pasta in a freezer friendly baking dish and cover with foil. Freeze.
Transfer the dish to the refrigerator to thaw 24 hours before you want to bake it.
Remove from the refrigerator and remove the foil. Let the dish come to room temperature as the oven is preheating. You may need to add 5-10 minutes to the bake time to get the center warmed through.
Try These Other Easy Pasta Recipes
Watch The Step By Step Recipe Video For The Best Easy Baked Ziti In This Post
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The Best Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
- 1 lb. dry ziti pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 (24 oz.) jars pasta sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a high-sided 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook the ziti pasta according to its package directions.
- Place a large soup pot, or a large high-side skillet* over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the Italian sausage to the skillet. Break the sausage apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 10-11 minutes, until the sausage is browned, stirring occasionally. Drain off the excess fat if necessary.
- Add the ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir until the ricotta is smooth.
- Add the pasta sauce to the meat. Stir to combine. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water from the cooked pasta and return the pasta to the hot pot. Add the meat sauce to the cooked pasta. Stir until the pasta is completely coated in sauce.
- Transfer the pasta to the baking dish**. Spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
I’ve made this twice now.
Once with Ziti and once with Penne. They were both amazing. Thank you Amanda!
Totally awesome! I can’t imagine that this actually makes 10 servings since I halved it and still had easily four to six servings left over BUT delicious, worth it, and I’m not terribly mad about the leftovers since my husband liked this enough to go back for seconds. I might just quarter it in the future if I don’t feel like eating baked ziti for the next two days, lol. Thanks for the recipe!
This really turned out awesome!!!! Im a single Dad of a 16 year old son, Trying to put some rotation in my meals…
REALLY good, Son loved it…… Left overs are a staple at my house…. Need to add a little more sauce when re-heating. Thanks,,,, Trying your Chili this weekend.
Loved this recipe! This baked ziti is so classic, the leftovers reheated the next day are even better.
Oh man! This is one of our favorite dinners of all time! We love baked ziti, and this made making it so quick and easy!
Boy does this baked ziti look good. I think what I like best about your recipes is that they often seem “do-able” to a single guy like myself who is easily intimidated with cooking, particularly for others. Thank you!