If you’re looking for a delicious, cheesy, easy recipe that everyone will like, our Baked Ziti With Sausage recipe is it. It’s pretty hands off, which makes it a good idea for a weeknight dinner.
For more ideas of what to make, check out all of our recipes.
I love baked ziti. It’s such a childhood memory for me. Any time we had a family party, there would be a tray of baked ziti. It’s so easy to make and feeds a crowd. Plus, it’s something you can assemble ahead of time and then bake when you’re ready for it.
That’s part of why I think baked ziti is a great meal to make any time I’m asked to be a part of a meal train. It’s so easy for someone to throw in the oven and reheat whenever they’re ready for it. Baked ziti freezes really well too, so the recipient can just toss it in the freezer if there’s already too much food.
If I make this for a meal train, I skip the meat. But if I make this for our dinner, I love adding sausage to baked ziti to give it some extra flavor. Adding meat doesn’t add any time to this because you’re cooking the meat at the same time that you’re boiling the pasta.
This baked ziti isn’t the only pasta dish we have on Drugstore Divas. We make pasta a lot because it’s delicious and because it’s pretty frugal. For more pasta ideas that will please the whole family, check out our list of 20+ Budget-Friendly Pasta Recipes.
Baked Ziti With Sausage Recipe
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How To Make Baked Ziti With Sausage:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Side note: When I’m cooking pasta in general, I always cook it at the maximum of the range on the package. I’m not a fan of slightly crunchy, al dente pasta, so I always boil it for those extra minutes. When I cook pasta for a baked ziti or pasta bake, something where the pasta will go in the oven, I cook it to the minimum range on the package.
Drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the sausage links from the casing. Break them apart into small crumbles. Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s cooked through, about six minutes.
I always choose a spicy Italian sausage (which is usually a pork sausage) to give the baked ziti a little extra flavor, but you could use a mild sausage or a turkey sausage instead.
Pour the pasta into an 13- x 9-inch baking pan.
Add in the ricotta cheese and stir until it’s combined. The ricotta cheese will melt from the heat of the cooked pasta leaving a really delicious creamy ricotta that’s easy to stir around.
Shred the mozzarella cheese.
Add it into the pan and stir until it’s combined.
Sprinkle the cooked sausage across the top.
Sprinkle the salt across the top as well.
Pour the pasta sauce onto the pan.
Gently stir until everything is combined and evenly distributed.
Quick note: If you can’t find the tomato, garlic, basil pasta sauce we recommend in the ingredients, you can use any marinara sauce. You’re just gonna need to add a little bit of seasoning. If you’re using a plain sauce, you’ll want to add a half teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning when you add the salt for the best flavor.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Now, quick note about meal trains. If I’m making a tray of baked ziti for a meal train, I assemble it in a disposable pan and then let it cool down to room temperature. I cover it with foil and write, “Bake covered at 350 F for 45 minutes” on top. I pair it with garlic bread and a side salad and drop it off.
If you think that your recipient is going to be receiving a lot of prepared meals and will need to freeze this baked ziti, add a layer of plastic wrap between the pasta and the aluminum foil to help prevent freezer burn.
Baked Ziti With Sausage: Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s address the elephant in the room. This is called baked ziti. But, I use penne pasta instead of ziti in it.
Ziti and penne are very similar in that they both have a cylindrical pasta shape. Penne has ridges in it, which hold sauce better. So, I tend to use penne any time I have a recipe with sauce. Traditionally, ziti noodles are used when there us a chunky or homemade meat sauce in the recipe because the chunks and meat can fit into the large holes of the ziti noodles.
But, at the end of the day, pasta is pasta. You can use rotini (the spiral pasta) if you don’t have any tube-shaped pasta. Almost anything you have in the pantry will work. Except spaghetti. I don’t recommend that.
You can use any type of ground meat (ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, etc.) in this baked ziti recipe, although we wrote this recipe using sausage.
Bagged cheese has a preservative that’s added so the cheese doesn’t clump together in the bag. That’s great for when it’s sitting on the shelf, but not very helpful in a recipe where you want the cheese to melt. In those types of recipes, you want to buy a block of mozzarella cheese and shred it yourself.
Also, quick note. Processed cheese is better for melting than fresh cheese, so pick up a block of mozzarella cheese, rather than fresh mozzarella for this recipe.
A casserole pan would bake this really well, but it might not be large enough to hold all your ingredients.
Wait until the baked ziti has cooled to room temperature.
We usually replace the aluminum foil on top and put it in the fridge and store the leftovers that way because we’ll eat it for the next two days and it’ll be fine.
If you prefer, you can cut the leftover baked ziti into small pieces in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to four days.
The easiest way to reheat leftovers is to put them into a bowl and microwave for about two minutes, checking the temperature after 90 seconds.
Baked ziti holds up really well in the fridge, which makes it a little hard to heat through. So, when I put it in a bowl, I usually spread it out with a fork so that it’s not in such a thick structure.
You want to bake the baked ziti covered. That helps lock in the moisture that would otherwise escape if there wasn’t any foil. If you skip the foil, you’re going to dry out your delicious baked ziti and the noodles will get hard and the dish won’t have that delicious cheese pull.
- 1 box (16 oz.) penne pasta
- 3 sausage links
- 16 oz. ricotta cheese
- 16 oz. mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 24 oz. jar tomato, garlic, basil pasta sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, remove the sausage links from the casing. Break them apart into small crumbles. Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s cooked through, about six minutes.
- Pour the pasta into an 13- x 9-inch baking pan.
- Add in the ricotta cheese and stir until it’s combined. The ricotta cheese will melt from the heat of the cooked pasta leaving a really delicious creamy ricotta that’s easy to stir around.
- Shred the mozzarella cheese. Add it into the pan and stir until it’s combined.
- Sprinkle the cooked sausage across the top.
- Sprinkle the salt across the top as well.
- Pour the pasta sauce onto the pan. Gently stir until everything is combined and evenly distributed.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Amount Per Serving Calories 410Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 75mgSodium 901mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 25g
Have you tried this easy Baked Ziti with sausage recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments.