Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!Growing up, we didn’t eat a lot of pasta.  In fact, I think the only pasta I remember was my mom’s spaghetti.  Oh, and there was my mom’s famous recipe for macaroni and cheese that we made for Thanksgiving each year.  But that was it.  No penne or ziti.  No linguine.  No bucatini, ravioli or manicotti.  It wasn’t that we didn’t like pasta.  Rather, pasta just wasn’t on our regular rotation of meals.  Things changed when I went off to college.

That first semester of freshman year in college was a game-changer for me.  I had to learn how to do laundry.  I had to learn how to live with 2 other guys in a room not much larger than a closet.  I had to figure out how to eat a balanced diet.  I had a meal plan, so my roommates and I would head to dinner at the “Marketplace” (aka freshmen cafeteria) each night.  At first, I ate pizza every night, but I soon realized that wasn’t working out too well.  That’s when I discovered the baked ziti.

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!I loved baked ziti nights at the Marketplace!  If I recall, baked ziti was one of the options every Tuesday.  And every Tuesday, I ate baked ziti.  I loved baked ziti so much that it was one of the first meals that I taught myself how to make once I graduated and moved into an apartment.

Get this, though.  There was a pasta brand ( I forget which one) that made ziti especially for baked ziti.  It was a dry pasta, so I actually don’t know what was special about it.  But I was naive when it came to cooking, so I assumed that I needed to use that special pasta to make baked ziti.

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!One Saturday morning, I went grocery shopping, and I discovered that special ziti was discontinued.  Say what!?  How could they do this to me?  How was I supposed to make baked ziti!?  I did what any logical 22-year old guy would do, and I bought the last 10 boxes of that pasta.  Over the years, I’ve realized that you don’t need a special pasta to make baked ziti.  (To be fair, that pasta didn’t need to get cooked first, so it was kinda handy.)  Any pasta will work.  You just need pasta, sauce and lots of delicious cheese.  Oh, and some Italian sausage if you’re in the mood.

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is pure comfort food in our house.  Truth be told, you don’t really need a recipe for Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage.  It’s kind of a dump-and-bake recipe.  Then again, maybe some of you out there were like me and didn’t have the foggiest idea how to make baked ziti with Italian sausage.  You gotta learn somewhere, right?  And it is helpful to have ingredient amounts and baking times.

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!Without further ado, I bring you one of my all-time favorite dinners: Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage.  I hope this cheesy, carb-y goodness brings a smile to your face like it does for me!  Cheers, friends!

Did you make this Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage at home?  Leave a comment.  Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog)!

Looking for other tasty pasta recipes?  Check out these favorites:

Spaghetti Carbonara
Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake
Burrata Bolognese
Cacio e Pepe
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 689kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. ziti or penne pasta
  • 16 oz. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh basil minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasonings
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes {optional}
  • 32 oz. marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 1 minute less than package instructions. (Pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so you can undercook it slightly in this step.)
  • Using a large, deep skillet, add Italian sausage and place over medium-high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sausage is browned.
  • Add onions and continue cooking for 4-5 more minutes, or until onions have softened slightly.
  • Add garlic, basil, Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes; stir until well combined. Continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Add marinara sauce, stir and bring to a simmer.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Using a large casserole dish, spread ~½ cup of sauce mixture into bottom. Using half of the container of ricotta cheese, drop spoonfuls evenly on top of sauce. Add several more large spoonfuls of sauce on top of the ricotta.
  • Pour cooked pasta into the casserole dish; top with all of the remaining sauce and ricotta cheese.
  • Spread shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan evenly on top of sauce.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese has completely melted.

This Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is an easy, delicious recipe that ranks up there as one of the best comfort food meals of all time.  Enjoy!

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26 Comments

    1. I hear ya, Kathy! I have no idea why baked pasta wasn’t more popular in our house growing up. The closest we had was when we mom baked up leftover spaghetti + sauce in a casserole form. This baked ziti is way better! Haha! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Mimi! And I totally agree with you. Pasta alone is delicious, but it just gets even tastier when you turn it into a baked version! 🙂

  1. 5 stars
    I didn’t eat a ton of pasta growing up either, but now? Pasta bakes are on the regular rotation for hubby and I. I love how you can just throw everything in the one pot and way to go. Plus, who doesn’t love cheese and carbs??? This baked ziti looks delicious, David, and the sausage really adds a lot of heartiness! Now I’m hungry 😉

    1. Pasta bakes are just SO good! I mean I can’t help but digging into a tray of this comfort food. Believe it or not, I didn’t love Italian sausage until I met Laura. But she made me see the light, and now I love a good ground Italian sausage in a pasta bake. This is pure comfort food for me right here! 🙂 Thanks, Dawn!

  2. Hi David! I love baked ziti and I just picked up a package of Italian sausage the other day! I have everything else on hand. I never had pasta as a kid, of course my mother couldn’t cook so it really doesn’t surprise me. Now I usually have four or five different kinds of pasta in the pantry.

    1. Yes! I am embarrassed to admit how many different pastas we keep in the pantry at any one time. I love trying different and unique pastas! Ziti is a staple, though, and I’ve always got at least 1-2 boxes in the pantry. A good baked ziti is hard to beat when it comes to comfort food! 🙂 Thanks so much, Dorothy!

  3. 5 stars
    It’s been ages since I made a baked pasta dish, but now you have me craving one! I didn’t have much pasta as a kid either, but it’s definitely a comfort food that I enjoy now!

    1. Oh man, you should totally whip up a baked pasta soon, Marissa! They’re so easy, and they’re basically the definition of comfort food…at least in our house. 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!

  4. 5 stars
    You figured out the balanced diet thing in college? I’m still working on it this many years later. . .I actually had a cupcake for lunch today. It’s a work in progress. But nothing makes me feel quite as happy as a big plate of cheesy carbs 🙂 Baked ziti really is the ultimate in comfort food and I’m getting really hungry looking at your pics!

    1. Haha! Baby steps, Kelsie, baby steps. Also, we won’t discuss how my dinner for some portion of my freshman year was pretzels and Mt. Dew. I kid you not. 🙂 Baked ziti is such an awesome comfort food, and it’s always a favorite in our house. You can’t go wrong with cheesy carbs! Thanks so much, my friend!

    1. Yes! That’s the great thing about baked pasta. It’s totally acceptable as a year-round dish. It’s great on a chilly winter night, but it also works for busy summer evenings as well. Baked ziti is such an easy recipe, and it’s always a huge hit in our house! 🙂 Thanks, Alexandra!

  5. 5 stars
    I have always loved baked pasta. Almost any past I have, I usually find myself thinking I’d like it even better baked. The recipe sounds super tasty and comforting. Perfect for anytime! 🙂 Valentina

    1. A good baked pasta really is hard to beat! Pasta in any form is a favorite around here, but baked pasta is comfort food at its finest if you ask me! 🙂 Thanks so much, Valentina!

  6. 5 stars
    Baked Ziti was a mainstay at my home when my kids were young. It was easy and not so expensive. We used to make a huge batch and freeze meals in aluminum pans for those weeknights we were not in the mood to cook. Now, I’ve got to make up a batch and remember munching on baked ziti while playing Zork with my son.
    Now you’ve got me trying to remember what were my favorite foods that I ate at my university dining hall (I was on the meal plan too). Buritto casserole on Thursday night and it was good. At least I remember it being good back then.

    1. You’re right, Ron! Baked ziti is not only easy, but it’s really inexpensive, too. It’s a great way to feed a crowd. Zork! Oh man, you’re taking me back there. 🙂

      And I totally know what you mean about dishes being good back then. It does make me wonder if they were really good, or did I just have a different definition of “good” back then! Either way, burrito casserole is another favorite in our house, too! We just got back from Germany, and my mother-in-law left us some burrito casserole leftovers in the fridge. Talk about a delicious treat! Of course, everything is more delicious when someone else cooks it for you, right? Haha. Thanks so much, my friend!

  7. 5 stars
    When I was a kid, we didn’t have any pasta of decent quality. Instead, they produced in Russia a product called macaroni. Still, it was nothing to do with real pasta as it was made with a cheap kind of flour (very “soft”), and you couldn’t reach the al dente stage (And you had like 10 seconds from turning pasta from the chewy stage to badly overcooked and mushy haha). From the beginning of the 90th some good produce started to appear…and I remember once my mom bought the entire box (30-40-50? packs?) of real spaghetti and another box with delicious Bulgarian tomato sauce. That was a very delicious year! 🙂

    I’m glad those sad times are in the pasta, and we can find pasta of any brand, shape and quality! The combination of sausage, tomato sauce, ricotta, and cheese is one of my favourite…and when it’s also baked? Oh, you’ve created a pretty perfect pasta dish to my liking, David!

    1. Weird! I find that so strange that it was called ‘macaroni’ but it wasn’t really pasta. A mushy “pasta” sounds terrible! No wonder you didn’t want to eat any pasta as a kid. I’m glad you’ve seen the light, though! Pasta is delicious, and we enjoy it in all forms. I have to see a good baked pasta is right up there on my list of favorite comfort foods. It’s easy and delicious, and this recipe is on our regular dinner rotation around here. Thanks so much, Ben! 🙂

  8. Well, this looks like some real stick-to-the-ribs goodness. Funny thing, I had a LOT of pasta growing up, to say the least, but baked ziti wasn’t on the rotation, but I do enjoy it. As you say, it’s a real snap to make. And baking pasta really does add that extra layer of comfort somehow.

    1. Hey Frank! I am not one bit surprised that pasta was a staple in your house growing up! 🙂 We love pasta in all forms (obviously since I post a lot of pasta recipes here), but a good baked pasta is just so hard to beat when you’re craving comfort food. Thanks so much, my friend!

  9. 5 stars
    David, this is definitely one of our all-time favorite dinners! Comfort food at its finest. Everyone wants seconds and it’s so easy to make. The Italian sausage makes it extra good! You know that question – If you were stuck on a deserted island, what one food would you want with you? This would be my choice!

    1. You’re totally right about that, Kelly! Whenever I make baked ziti, everyone always goes back for seconds. It’s a great (and easy!) way to feed a crowd, too.

      You ask a very tough question about picking one food. I’m gonna have to say a hamburger, but baked ziti would be in my top 3. 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!

  10. That ziti was indeed special. There are ways to make pasta more friendly to being baked without first being boiled. But imho, it’s an inferior product. I think you stepped up, my friend. I could probably live on pasta for years without ever tiring of it – especially when paired with Italian sausage. I’m not sure what it is that makes those two such a great combo, but they definitely are.

    1. You’re totally right, Jeff. That pasta that was designed to go straight into baked casseroles was probably quite inferior. However, to my uneducated self back then, I thought it was amazing! I literally was at a loss when they discontinued it…I was like “But how can I make baked ziti now!?” Haha! Thanks so much, my friend!

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