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Baked Ziti

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 35 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 528
baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella and basil

Italian-American comfort food doesn’t get any more classic than a big baking dish full of cheesy baked ziti with sausage.

Easy Baked Ziti: Cheesy, Carby Comfort-in-a-Pan

Remember how, on The Sopranos, Carmela always had a pan of baked ziti on-hand? Whatever was going on in Meadow or Tony’s life, they could come home and open the fridge and there was this huge, comforting pan full of baked ziti just waiting to be dug into. (We all watched The Sopranos mostly for the food, right? Just us? Oh, OK.) Or maybe it was a perpetual leftover situation. Whatever it was, it always had us craving a big pan of cheesy baked pasta, loaded with sausage and tomato sauce. And that craving never really went away! So, today, we’re making nothing more and nothing less than the best baked ziti recipe ever.

ziti pasta, ground sausage, marinara, cream, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning onion and mozzarella for homemade baked ziti

Everything You’ll Need To Make The Best Baked Ziti Recipe

Oozing with two kinds of mozzarella cheese and parmesan, too, this sausage-loaded baked ziti recipe is the very definition of Italian American cuisine—hearty, filling, imbued with a sense of indulgence and generosity and (most of all!) fit for a crowd. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:

  • Italian sausage
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Marinara sauce
  • Tomato sauce
  • Italian seasoning
  • Heavy cream
  • Ziti pasta. Ziti is a bit smaller than rigatoni, and it usually has smooth sides. There’s nothing exactly like it, but if you have trouble finding it, penne is a good substitute.
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chili flakes
  • Fresh basil
browned ground sausage, onion and garlic in a dutch oven
marinara, Italian seasoning, cream and ground sausage in a dutch oven
marinara and ground sausage in a dutch oven
ziti pasta, marinara and mozzarella cheese in a dutch oven

How to Make Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is a little bit lasagna-esqe, but easier! It’s also one of the most crowd-pleasing pasta recipes we know. Most pasta recipes aren’t great for entertaining, because you have to make them at the last minute and eat them right away. But because baked ziti is made in a casserole dish in the oven, it’s ideal for serving to company. Pop it in the oven just before people arrive, and all you’ll have left to do is take it out and serve! Here’s how to make the creamiest, cheesiest, best baked ziti ever:

  1. Cook the pasta until it’s just al dente—it needs to have some bite to it, because it will continue cooking in the oven.
  2. Brown the ground sausage, onion and garlic.
  3. Pour in the marinara sauce, tomato sauce, salt, Italian seasoning and heavy cream. Get chills, because that creamy, sausage-y, tomato-y baked ziti sauce looks SO good.
  4. Dump the al dente pasta and shredded mozzarella into the sauce
  5. Carefully pour—or ladle—the saucey ziti mixture to a baking dish.
  6. Top the ziti with fresh mozzarella and more shredded mozzarella—cheese, cheese and more cheese—and bake!
ziti pasta in a dutch oven with marinara, pasta, mozzarella and basil
baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara and pasta
baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella
baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella

More Italian American Pasta Recipes

If we could only eat one cuisine for the rest of our lives, we’d pick Italian American. We just do not get tired of it. It’s highly likely that you’ll make this baked ziti recipe and find that you suddenly need to have creamy, cheesy pastas like that in your life on the regular! If that’s the case, fear not—we’ve got you covered:

baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella and basil

Tools You’ll Need

baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella and basil
a scoop taken out of baked ziti in a baking dish with marinara, pasta, mozzarella and basil

Mangia Bene!

Baked ziti is a downhome dish that oozes with cheese, yes, but also a spirit of generosity. It invites you to gather people at your table and eat well together. We hope you love this recipe! If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Baked Ziti

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 35 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 528

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 cup Onion, diced
  • 4 Cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 24 oz Marinara sauce
  • 14 oz Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup Heavy cream
  • 1 lb Ziti pasta, cooked
  • 8 oz Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ tsp Chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp Fresh basil, minced

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Cook the pasta al dente** in salted water. 1 pound of pasta = 1 tablespoon salt : 4 quarts (16 cups) water.
  3. In a large dutch oven or soup pot set over medium-high heat. Brown the ground sausage, onion and garlic. Drain the fat if there is an excess of it.
  4. Add the marinara sauce, tomato sauce, salt, Italian seasoning and heavy cream, stir until combined.
  5. Drain the pasta, rinse it if it gets stuck together. Dump the pasta and 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese into the pot with the sauce. Stir to combine. Transfer the pasta and meat sauce to a 9X13 baking dish.
  6. Add the fresh mozzarella slices to the top of the pasta along with the remaining ½ cup shredded mozzarella, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and bake 5 more minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan, chili flakes and fresh basil.

** The pasta should still have a bite to it, because it will continue cooking in the oven.