This Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta has just six ingredients, and you’ll need minimal equipment. It’s a hearty, comforting dish that you can freeze for later, too!
If you can make spaghetti, then you can make Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta!
It’s great for serving a crowd, it’s inexpensive to make, and kids and adults of all ages love it.
Baked Ziti tops my list when I need something quick and easy to make. I love it so much, I’ve even rounded up 25 recipes for Baked Ziti.
This recipe is seriously fuss-free.
And, it’s customizable. Don’t have ziti? Use penne instead. Like it spicy? Make it with hot Italian sausage instead of mild. You can also use your favorite marinara sauce, whether it’s from a jar or a homemade marinara.
Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta 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.
After you try this one, don’t miss Pizza Casserole—another baked pasta dish that my family loves!
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What is baked ziti?
Baked ziti is an oven-baked pasta dish made with ziti pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. Many versions include meat such as sausage or ground beef/pork.
Ziti is a tube-shaped pasta that is smooth on the outside. Similar pasta shapes can be used as a substitute, such as penne or rigatoni.
You just need six ingredients to make this easy baked ziti with ricotta.
- 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). It typically comes in both mild and hot varieties. Choose whichever one you prefer!
- Fresh basil adds fresh herb flavor and color to the finished dish.
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 pound 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 half of the mozzarella cheese, the rest of the pasta, and finally the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and the cheese has melted.
Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta is ready to serve! I like topping it with fresh basil to add a little freshness to the dish.
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.
Defrost Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta 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.
Make it ahead
To make baked ziti ahead of time, follow the recipe as written. But instead of baking it in the oven, cover it with foil and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or until you’re ready to bake it.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can replace ricotta cheese with an equal amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.
You can use one pound of ground beef and one teaspoon of fennel seeds in place of the sausage. The fennel seeds give the dish the classic sausage flavor without using sausage.
Add one-half teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the marinara sauce before baking. You can also use hot Italian sausage instead of mild sausage.
You can store leftover baked ziti in the refrigerator for 4–5 days.
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.
Garlic bread and and a big leafy green salad are great accompaniments to a big dish of Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta.
Here are a two salads that I love:
Church Lady Salad
Italian Chopped Salad
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta (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 9×13 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.
Lol, just finished prepping my third pan for a party next weekend and noticed the x1, x2, x3 buttons on the recipe card. Nice touch and very glad you provided freezing instructions. We have a party for 100 and no caterers are available.
Kate Shungu says
Wow! Glad you found it helpful. Enjoy the party!
YYYUUUUMMMMM!!!!! CANNOT WAIT to make this!!! And LOVE the freezer friendly help! I love to make two batches of things when I cook so that I can freeze one for when I’m busy and only have time to pull stuff out of the freezer! Keep ’em coming! Love your food.
Kate Shungu says
Aw thanks, Kristie! Such a great idea to make two batches of things! <3