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Baked Ziti with Ricotta

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Baked Ziti with Ricotta is a layered pasta dish that is just as tasty as lasagna but is way easier to make! A sausage marinara sauce is layered with boiled ziti and three different types of cheese to create this rich and comforting Italian dish.

 Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-complete

Let’s be honest, lasagna is not the easiest dish to make. This baked ziti, on the other hand, is just as saucy, rich, and aromatic as lasagna, but can be thrown together in just 20 minutes! Simply layer some boiled ziti, Italian sausage, marinara sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan in a casserole dish and bake. In no time, you’ll have a flavorful and cheesy baked pasta dish that the whole family is sure to love. This classic comfort dish pairs well with almost any side and the leftovers store and reheat beautifully. If you like quick easy meals try my Easy Beef Stroganoff. Trust me, this baked ziti recipe is going to become one of your go-to’s!

We Love This Recipe Because It’s…

  • Super cheesy and comforting!
  • An easy dish to feed to a crowd.
  • Freezer friendly and easy to reheat.
  • Like lasagna, but less labor-intensive
  • Saucy, warm, rich, hearty, and aromatic!
Baked-Ziti-With-Ricotta-Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ziti pasta (1 box)
  • 1 lb of ground Italian sausage
  • ½ large onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce 
  • 1 generous cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How to Make Baked Ziti with Ricotta

  • In a pot full of salted water, boil the ziti until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Cook together the Italian sausage, onion, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. You want the onion to be translucent and the sausage to be cooked through.

Add the marinara sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, immediately remove it from the heat.

Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-with-marinara-sauce

Transfer 1/3 of the marinara sauce mixture to a prepared casserole dish. Then, layer in the ricotta cheese, another 1/3 of the sauce, the pasta, the remaining sauce, and finally your mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake the pasta until the top has browned and the sauce is bubbly.

Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-baked

Allow the baked ziti to cool slightly before garnishing it with some fresh basil. Serve and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Lasagna?

Both of these baked pasta dishes include layers of sauce, cheese, meat, and pasta. The difference lies in the pasta shape. Lasagna features thin sheets of pasta, whereas baked ziti is made with bite-sized, tube-shaped pasta.

Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-wooden-spoon-side-vision

Can you make this baked ziti vegetarian?

Absolutely! Simply omit the Italian sausage or replace it with your favorite plant-based sausage or some steamed veggies.

Do I need to cover baked ziti when cooking?

Not necessarily. In my oven, I found that the pasta baked best when left uncovered. Plus, the cheese melted and browned perfectly. If you’re worried about the cheese burning, you can add some tin foil to the top of your baked ziti halfway through the cooking time.

 Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-on-stacked-plate

How to Store Leftover Baked Ziti with Ricotta

Cover any leftover baked ziti with a layer of tin foil or plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can transfer this baked pasta to an airtight Tupperware container and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

I recommend reheating this baked ziti with ricotta in a 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes. You’ll want to cover the leftovers with a layer of tin foil to lock in moisture. You can add some additional marinara sauce if you feel your leftover baked ziti is drying out as it warms up.

Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-being-eaten

Recipe Variations

Can’t find any ziti at the store? Maybe you’re not a fan of marinara sauce. Or maybe you want to toss some veggies into this pasta bake. Below are a few lists of ingredients you can add to this baked ziti recipe to make it your own!

Different pasta shapes to try

  • Macaroni
  • Rotini
  • Penne
  • Rigatoni

Switch up the sauce

  • Alfredo
  • Pesto
  • Vodka sauce
  • Cheesy or creamy marinara

Add some veggies

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Squash
  • Bell Peppers
  • Zucchini
 Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-on-a-fork

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • I love the extra flavor a basil garlic marinara sauce adds to this dish. However, you can also use a regular red sauce and add your own additional basil and garlic.
  • If you’re not a fan of ricotta, parmesan, or mozzarella, feel free to swap any of them out for any cheese of your choice! Asiago, fontina, feta, and brie would all pair nicely with this sweet and savory dish.
  • I like making a spicy version of this baked ziti by doubling the amount of crushed red pepper flakes I use. You can even sprinkle some extra pepper flakes on your baked pasta as a garnish! 
Baked-Ziti-With-Ricotta-Pin-1

More Recipes:

Yield: 8

Baked Ziti with Ricotta

Baked-Ziti-with-Ricotta-recipe-card

Baked Ziti with Ricotta is a layered pasta dish that is just as tasty as lasagna but is way easier to make! A sausage marinara sauce is layered with boiled ziti and three different types of cheese to create this rich and comforting Italian dish.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of ziti pasta (1 box)
  • 1 lb of ground Italian sausage
  • ½ large onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • 1 generous cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Ziti—Smooth, tube-shaped pasta that fills with sauce and cheese when its baked.
  • Italian Sausage—If you can’t find ground sausage, you can always remove the casing from some Italian sausage links.
  • Marinara Sauce—Grab your favorite jarred sauce or make your own.
  • Cheese—A mixture of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella gives this pasta bake a great range of flavors and textures.
  • Onion—White or yellow; finely diced.
  • Spices—Oregano, basil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Bring a sauce pot full of water, with 1 tbsp of salt added for every 2 quarts of water, to a boil. Add your pasta and cook until al dente; your pasta should be cooked through but still have a bite. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
  3. In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, cook your ground Italian sausage to the pan until the sausage is no longer pink and nice and browned. Add your onions to the pan along with the oregano, basil, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes just as the sausage is finishing cooking and cook until the onions start to turn translucent, 4-5 mins.
  4. Add your tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Once the sauce has reached a simmer, remove from the heat.
  5. Add a light layer of your sauce to a casserole pan or a 9x13-inch baking pan. Using your  ricotta cheese, dot the surface of your sauce in the pan with the cheese. Add a ladle of your sauce into your pasta to incorporate, then add your pasta to the pan. Add the rest of your sauce over the pasta, then cover the surface with your mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  6. Place your ziti dish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 20-25 mins or until the top is lightly browned and the cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Top with additional dried or fresh basil. Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can store this dish in the fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can store this dish in freezer-covered plastic wrap for up to 2 months. Simply allow the dish to thaw in the fridge overnight before cooking it in the oven according to the original directions.
  • You can use any store-bought or homemade red sauce for this recipe. We like to use a basil garlic red sauce sometimes to give the dish a little extra flavor.
  • If you like things spicy, you can double the amount of red pepper flakes in this dish and sprinkle some on top of your cheese before putting the dish in the oven.
  • If you want to add fresh basil to the dish, it is important to wait until it comes out of the oven and add it to the top of the dish, otherwise, it will just wilt and you will lose the flavor.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 732Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 2613mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 8gSugar: 19gProtein: 38g

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