Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is the perfect weeknight meal. With layers of Italian meat sauce, noodles and creamy cheese, you can have a stress-free meal the whole family will love.
We are big pasta people…like huge. Some kind of pasta dish hits our dinner rotation at least once a week. We love this recipe because it uses up leftover spaghetti sauce and makes enough to freeze, too!
Why You Should Make this Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage:
- Easy to make – Italian heritage not required!
- Easily Vegetarian – Just leave out the meat!
- Easy to freeze – make, bake and freeze in smaller portions for nights when you forget dinner is a thing!
- Inexpensive to Make!
- Feeds a crowd!
- Make ahead of time – Assemble the casserole, then cover with foil and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. *Make sure you bring the dish to room temp (sit out about 30 minutes) to avoid a shattered casserole dish.
What is baked ziti?
Baked ziti is just a layered “casserole” of noodles, cheese mixture and meat sauce. It’s kind of like a lasagna but with different noodles and without the fuss of spreading the cheese on the slippery buggers!
How to Make Baked Ziti:
- If you don’t have any leftover spaghetti sauce, don’t fret! Whip up a quick sauce by browning the Italian sausage and onion, then simmering with a jar of marinara.
- As the sauce simmers, mix cottage cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella, egg and garlic in a bowl.
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
- Then, layer the noodles, cheese mixture, sauce and the remaining cheese in a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Since the ingredients are “cooked” already, baking really marries the delicious flavors together!
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
- 1 pound ground mild Italian sausage*
- 1 cup yellow onion diced
- 24 ounces jar of marinara sauce or 3 cups of leftover spaghetti sauce*
- 4 cloves garlic minced, divided
- 2 cups Ziti* dried, uncooked
- 12 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 egg
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside.
Prepare Sausage & Pasta Sauce
- Brown the sausage over medium high heat in a large dutch oven, heavy-bottomed pot or large sauté pan.
- When sausage is barely pink and almost cooked through, add diced onion and sauté until onion softens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add 2 cloves of garlic and stir quickly to avoid burning.
- Drain excess fat from the sausage mixture, if necessary.
- To the same pot, add the pasta sauce (either jarred or leftover sauce), and simmer for about 5 minutes until warm on low-medium heat. Stir occasionally.
- While sauce is warming, prepare pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Make Cheese "Filling"
- In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, oregano, remaining 2 cloves of garlic, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and parmesan. Stir until well-combined.
Layer Casserole & Bake
- To the greased 9×13 inch casserole dish, add about 1/4 cup of sauce to the bottom to avoid burning the noodles.
- Layer as follows: half of the ziti noodles, all of the cottage cheese mixture, half of the sauce, remaining ziti, remaining sauce and top with cheese.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until cheese turns golden on top.