This baked ziti recipe is so classic and delicious and the perfect make ahead weeknight meal. You can totally make your own sauce but you can also buy a great quality jar from the store to keep things simple. We love this jarred marinara sauce. I added a little bit of diced bell pepper to this easy baked pasta. It adds nice texture to the dish. You can totally omit it though, and make this dish even more simple.
This easy Baked Ziti recipe is great because food doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive and this dish is neither of those things. It’s so comforting, so tasty and feeds a crowd. It also makes really great leftovers the next day. It reheats really well, especially since we’ve made ours pretty saucy. You don’t have to worry about this dish drying out.
What’s Baked Ziti?
Baked Ziti is a classic American Italian dish. It is made in a casserole dish, and typically uses a tomato sauce, and cheese, as well as other ingredients to suit your taste. It is prepared with cooked ziti pasta, and then baked in the oven.
This recipe is great because you can make it ahead of time. You can prepare everything and place it in the casserole dish and then just simply skip the baking. Tightly wrap it and place it in the refrigerator for up to three days. Then simply bake it in the oven when you are ready.
Can You Freeze Baked Ziti?
You can easily freeze Baked Ziti for a quick weeknight dinner. All you have to do is assemble everything into the casserole dish and top it with the cheese. Then just cover it and stick it in the freezer, and it will keep for up to three months. It’s important to remember to freeze the casserole prebake.
How long do you cook Baked Ziti for?
We recommend you cook it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If you have made the recipe ahead of time and have frozen it, we recommend you add an additional 20 to 30 minutes of baking time, or just look out for the cheese to brown and bubble.
Should I cover Baked Ziti in the oven?
Our recipe doesn’t call for your to cover your casserole dish when you are baking it. However, if you find that the top of your oven runs especially hot, and your cheese is getting a little too dark on the top, you can loosely cover the casserole with aluminum foil to prevent the casserole from getting burned.
There are so many variations that can be made with this baked ziti! I often like to swap the Italian sausage out for a turkey sausage or even sautéed mushrooms for a vegetarian option. You can also add some cream to your marinara for a creamier pasta bake. Occasionally I also make a variation with some sautéed spinach or even some sautéed kale to get some greens in there.
If you’re as big a fan of baked pastas as we are, you’ll love our Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Roll Ups or our Baked Turkey Sausage and Mascarpone Stuffed Shells. Enjoy!
Hungry for more?
- casserole dish
- 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 spicy Italian sausages casings removed
- ½ small yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups marinara sauce homemade or store bought
- 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese divided
- ½ cup parmesan grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Recipe instruction visual controls:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a small handful of salt and pasta to water and stir. Boil pasta for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pasta is al dente. Drain, toss with a teaspoon of oil, pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over medium- high heat. Add sausage and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage for about 5 minutes or until evenly browned. Drain and add to pasta.
- Discard grease and add remaining oil to pan. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic to pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour onion mixture over sausage and pasta mixture and toss together.
- Add marinara, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and ¼ cup parmesan and gently fold together until fully incorporated. Adjust seasonings.
- Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8”x 8” baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and browns.
- Allow ziti to cool for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.