Baked Ziti with sausage, pasta, flavorful meat sauce, and loads of cheese! This easy pasta dish is an amazing comforting dish that’s great to make ahead and it’s freezer friendly!
Baked ziti is a lot like lasagna but you don’t have to worry about tearing the noodles or the noodles all sticking together and can’t get them apart! I love great comfort dishes like this especially if they are easy to make!
Why You Will Love This Baked Ziti With Meat Sauce Recipe:
- comfort food to the max
- baked ziti with ricotta is the perfect potluck meal
- it’s rich, cheesy, and so easy to make
- great for making ahead
- freezer friendly
- baked ziti with ground beef and Italian sausage makes the sauce taste like it’s been cooking all day
Baked Ziti Ingredients
GROUND BEEF AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE: Both are used in this version to give the sauce loads of flavor.
ONION AND GARLIC: Both add even more flavor to the sauce
MARINARA SAUCE: This is how we keep things easy by using a good quality store bought pasta sauce
ITALIAN SEASONING: And add a little Italian seasoning to freshen the flavors.
RICOTTA, MOZZARELLA, and PARMESAN CHEESE: I love using these cheeses when making baked ziti or lasagna. I also add an egg to help hold everything together and some Italian seasoning to flavor the cheese layer.
ZITI: And of course the pasta….it can’t be called baked ziti without it.
How To Make Baked Ziti:
CHEESE MIXTURE: In a medium sized bowl mix together the cheeses with an egg and Italian seasoning.
SAUCE: Brown the beef and the sausage with the onion. Stir in the garlic after the meat is no longer pink. Add the sauce and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
PASTA: Boil the pasta while the sauce is simmering.
THE LAYERING: Start by spreading some meat sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Top with half of the noodles then half of the sauce. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the sauce. Top with remaining noodles then the remaining sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
BAKE: Bake the pasta casserole uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Wrap the completely cooled dish with plastic wrap then heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Yes! Wrap assembled dish in plastic wrap then in heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
You need plenty of sauce to keep things from drying out. It isn’t necessary to cover the dish while baking if you use enough sauce to coat all the noodles. If you don’t want the cheese to brown while baking then cover with foil.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until heated through. For smaller portions, you can reheat the same way in a toaster oven or place the uncovered portion in a microwave.
Tips and Suggestions
- Place a casserole dish on a baking sheet before baking to catch any leaks.
- Stop cooking the pasta a little before al dente. It will continue to cook when it’s baked. If you start with pasta that is overcooked with will be mushy in the final product.
- If you don’t have ziti on hand use penne. It’s a perfect substitute! You can also use any medium sized pasta for this dish.
- Please grate your own cheese so it melts beautifully!
You can serve this with the classic garlic bread or try these Garlic Cheddar Biscuits. They taste so much better than Red Lobster’s and you can enjoy them right at home! Or maybe try this Three Cheese Braid for even more cheesy goodness.
- 1 pound (454g) ziti pasta
- 1 pound (500g) ground beef
- 1 pound (500g) Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (25 oz) (708g) jars marinara sauce
- 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning; divided
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ( 15 oz) (425g) container ricotta cheese
- 3 cups (340g) shredded mozzarella cheese; divided
- 1 cup (100g) grated parmesan cheese; divided
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish; set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook noodles until a couple minutes before al dente. Drain and lightly toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
- Meanwhile, brown ground beef and Italian sausage with the onion until meat is no longer pink. Stir in garlic for 30 seconeds. Stir in marinara sauce, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, ½ cup grated parmesan, egg, and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning.
- Spread 1½ cups of the meat sauce on bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with ½ of the pasta and ½ of the meat sauce. Spread all of the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Top with remaining pasta and meat sauce. Sprinkle with reserved cheeses. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- STORAGE: Store cooled leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- FREEZER FRIENDLY: Wrap completely cooled pasta dish in plastic wrap and then in heavy-duty foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to remove the plastic wrap before reheating.
- MAKE AHEAD: Make baked ziti and instead of baking cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Can also wrap in plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil and freeze at this point. Remove pasta dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.