This easy pasta recipe has just six ingredients, and you’ll need minimal equipment. It’s hearty, comforting, a crowd-pleaser, and also kid-friendly!
If you can make spaghetti, then you can make Simple Baked Ziti! It’s great for serving a crowd, it’s inexpensive to make, and kids and adults of all ages love it.
The dish can be made in one 13×9 inch pan, or it can be divided into 2 (8-inch) square pans. The latter is particularly helpful if you’d like to freeze half of the recipe for a later date.
You just need 6 ingredients to make this easy pasta dish.
- 1 lb of short pasta (I used rigatoni because it has ridges for the sauce to stick to)
- Ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese (replace the ricotta with more mozzarella if you don’t have ricotta)
- Marinara sauce—use your favorite brand
- Uncooked Italian sausage can be purchased at the butcher counter of your local grocery store. You can purchase in the casing or bulk (without casing).
- Fresh basil adds fresh flavor and color to the finished dish.
How to make baked ziti
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 lb of dried pasta and cook according to package directions. I used rigatoni, which has ridges for the pasta sauce to stick to!
Meanwhile, cook 1 lb of Italian sausage in a large skillet until cooked through. Stir in the marinara sauce and whisk in the ricotta. Then, stir in the cooked pasta.
Transfer half of the pasta to a 13×9 inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese, the rest of the pasta, and more mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and the cheese has melted.
How to freeze baked ziti
Choose a freezer-safe dish, such as a glass, metal, or foil pan. Pour the cooked baked ziti into the pan and sprinkle with cheese. Then, cover the pan with a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.
The dish can be safely stored in the freezer for up to two months. I recommend taping a date and reheating instructions to the foil.
How to reheat frozen baked ziti
Defrost the dish overnight in the refrigerator, then remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil.
Bake in a 350°F oven for 30–40 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
If cooking from frozen, remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil. Bake from frozen for 50–60 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Can I freeze baked ziti?
Baked ziti can be frozen in a freezer-safe dish for up to 2 months. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and foil, then store in the freezer. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil. Bake for 50 minutes at 350°F.
Can I make baked ziti without ricotta cheese?
You can replace ricotta cheese with an equal amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Simple Baked Ziti (Freezer Friendly)
- 1 lb short pasta like ziti, penne, or rigatoni (I used rigatoni)
- 4 cups marinara sauce (this is about 1½ 24-oz jars)
- 1 lb uncooked Italian sausage (mild or hot)
- 2½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- For garnish just before serving: fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, remove the casings from the sausage and place in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring to break up the sausage, until the sausage is no longer pink. Drain the grease out of the pan.
- Add the marinara sauce to the pan with the sausage and stir to combine. Gently whisk in the ricotta cheese without fully incorporating it into the sauce, leaving some pockets of cheese. Add the pasta and stir gently to combine.
- Pour half the pasta mixture into a 9x13 inch pan OR 2 (8-inch) pans. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Top with the remaining pasta, followed by the remainder of the cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbly.