Baked Ziti with Sausage

Tested & Perfected Recipes
Baked Ziti with Sausage

This baked ziti with sausage is a MAJOR family pleaser. It’s similar to meat lasagna but without the fuss, easy enough for a weeknight but also special enough for company, and it makes a great prep-ahead potluck dish.

Sausage Baked Ziti

People often say to my kids, “You must love having a mom who cooks all the time.” The kids jokingly lament that it’s not as great as it seems. When I’m developing recipes, we eat the same dinner for several nights in a row (whether they like it or not), and when I’m working on desserts, we order pizza. But when I was testing this sausage baked ziti and serving it night after night, absolutely no one complained: it’s a MAJOR family pleaser.

Loaded with Italian sausage, which packs a ton of flavor, it’s similar to meat lasagna but without the fuss, easy enough for a weeknight but also special enough for company, and it also makes a great prep-ahead potluck dish. While the baked ziti is in the oven, throw together a big Italian salad and warm some bread, and a comforting, make-everyone-happy dinner is served.

What you’ll need to Make Baked Ziti with Sausage

how to make baked ziti

Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, a few words about the ingredients:

  • Ricotta cheese is a traditional addition to baked ziti, but I leave it out because it has a tendency to get dry and grainy when baked. I use heavy cream to add richness instead.
  • For the mozzarella cheese, I recommend buying whole milk mozzarella (the kind in plastic-wrapped bricks sold in the dairy case) and shredding it yourself. It has a somewhat rubbery texture that’s easy to shred and melts beautifully. Pre-shredded mozzarella is tossed with anti-caking agents so it doesn’t melt as nicely, while fresh mozzarella is best suited for salads. (To make mozzarella easier to work with, pop it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes prior to shredding. The cheese will firm up, thus mitigating “gumming up” when shredding it by hand, or in a food processor.)
  • Many grocers sell bulk Italian sausage (pictured above), which is simply ground sausage without the casings. If you can’t find it, you can ask your butcher to take the meat out of the casings or do it yourself.

How to Make Baked Ziti with Sausage

Begin by boiling the ziti noodles in salted water until very al dente, about 7 minutes. (The pasta will continue to cook in the oven so you want to undercook it just a bit.) Drain and add the pasta back to the pot. Set aside.

how to make baked ziti

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

how to make baked ziti

Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate.

how to make baked ziti

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and set over low heat (if you don’t have enough fat in the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil). Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until soft but not browned, about 1 minute.

how to make baked ziti

Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar and red pepper flakes and simmer for 10 minutes.

how to make baked ziti

Add the heavy cream, 1/3 cup of the Pecorino Romano, and basil to the pan.

how to make baked ziti

Then stir in the cooked sausage.

how to make baked ziti

Carefully pour the contents of the sauté pan into the large pot with the pasta and gently stir to combine.

how to make baked ziti

Spoon half of the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and half of the remaining Pecorino Romano.

how to make baked ziti

Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Pecorino Romano.

how to make baked ziti

Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the cheese has melted and browned, about 15 minutes.

how to make baked ziti

Sprinkle with more basil and serve.

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Baked Ziti with Sausage

This baked ziti with sausage is a MAJOR family pleaser. It’s similar to meat lasagna but without the fuss, easy enough for a weeknight but also special enough for company, and it makes a great prep-ahead potluck dish.

Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 1 lb ziti noodles
  • 1.5 lbs ground spicy or sweet Italian sausage (or removed from casings)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • 8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ziti according to the package directions for very al dente, about 7 minutes. (It will continue to cook in the oven so you want to undercook it just a bit.) Drain and add the pasta back to the pot. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set the oven rack in the middle position.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and set over low heat (if you don't have enough fat in the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil). Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream, 1/3 cup of the Pecorino Romano, cooked sausage, and basil to the pan; stir until evenly combined. Carefully pour the contents of the sauté pan into the large pot with the pasta and gently stir to combine. Spoon half of the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and half of the remaining Pecorino Romano. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Pecorino Romano. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the cheese has melted and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with more basil and serve.
  5. Make Ahead: This dish can be assembled and refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days in advance. Since the dish will be cold, the baking time will need to be increased. To bake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 425°F oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and the pasta is hot throughout.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The dish can be frozen unbaked. When you’re ready to cook it, defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then proceed with the Make Ahead instructions above.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories: 613
  • Fat: 38 g
  • Saturated fat: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 43 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Sodium: 913 mg
  • Cholesterol: 111 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn,

    My family loves this recipe! Could you tell me how many ounces are in the 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino cheese? Thanks so much!

    • — Sarah F on September 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • It’s the equivalent of 1.75 ounces. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • I LOVE I can always trust your recipes Jenn! Wanted to make something with a little twist in my family’s favorite Ziti, looked this one up…made it for my granddaughter’s birthday, she LOVED it, as well as remaining guests. Thank you, so wonderful at random notice I can pull out your recipes and have great success. One of our two favorites is your chocolate cream pie, the best of the best! Thank you SO much for all your hard work!

    • — Mimi on September 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • 💓

      • — Jenn on September 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • So simple and delicious

    • — Drew on September 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is a favorite of our family’s, and has become by “go-to” when I make a casserole or baked dish for friends. It freezes and reheats wonderfully, which is perfect. I often double the recipe so I can have leftovers 🙂

    • — Kim H. on September 13, 2020
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  • Again, a winner recipe from you. So often I don’t like baked ziti dishes because all I taste is cheese. This had all the flavor of a lot of cheese, but allowed the other flavors to come through. My husband said, “you can make this anytime you want.” You have become my go-to reference for recipes. Thank you!

    • — Amy on September 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is one of our new favorite recipes! I got with everyone and guests have asked for the recipe. Definitely worth trying.

    • — Jo on September 7, 2020
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  • The best I’ve ever had!

    • — Sara Jorg on August 29, 2020
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  • Hands down the best baked ziti and sausage recipe of all time. I’ve tried so many different recipes found online, and truly none compare. Even my picky eating toddlers devoured. Saving this recipe, and trying so many more. Don’t be afraid to send me a sample of any new recipes you’re testing 😉 A++

    • — Kristina on August 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • 🙂 So glad you (and your little ones) enjoyed!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen! I have tried 80% of your recipes- and ALL of them came out 10 stars! This recipe is now a go-to in our household! I am only 12 but have the biggest passion for cooking. Can’t wait for the new cookbook! I already have a book stand ready! Just one question, I have made this recipe before SEVERAL times :):), and want to make it again, but sadly- I have no Italian Sausage, will Ground Beef be fine? Thanks, Jen for everything!

    • — Hannah on August 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Are you actually 12? You sound so mature!! 🙂 Yes, you can use ground beef here; I would suggest adding some extra herbs and spices to mimic the sausage flavor (onion powder, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, black pepper, oregano, salt, etc). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
      • Reply
      • Oh really?! Haha, Thank you!! All the best on the new cookbook!

        • — Hannah on August 27, 2020
        • Reply
        • 🙂 💗

          • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
          • Reply
  • Made this recipe today and we absolutely loved it. Looked kid friendly and certainly didn’t deceive.

    I did not have heavy cream on hand or even whole milk as the last drop was consumed in the morning. So I substitute some inexpensive $3 cooking wine for the heavy cream and that worked out well and I think helps reduce calorie-intensity of the overall dish. I did add a tablespoon of butter and I one small takeout packet of ranch sauce to add the creamy, white-pink color and some salty-flavor .

    I had ground italian sausage on hand in a 1-lb tube – that stuff seems to like in the refrigerator for a long, long time. I had it sitting around unfrozen in the refrigerator for one week and still tasted great.

    I bought fresh basil by a bunch for this and loved that. I did not use pecorino romano cheese, just ended up using a half-pound of shredded mozzarella. Turned out great, as expected.

    Thanks for a easy, delicious recipe for kids and adults.

    • — Jeff in California on August 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is my all-time favorite baked ziti recipe. It’s out-of-this-world and we make it frequently for company or for friends of ours that need a meal. No changes, no adjustments. I come back to it all the time!

    • — Jenny W. on August 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious and a fairly simple recipe too! I used partially dried basil, so I only put in 1/2 of the 1/3 cup that the recipe suggests. I used shredded parmesan cheese because I couldn’t find Romano.

    • — MA Cook on August 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • would like to try a vegetarian version of this dish and I know you’ve mentioned substituting veggies instead of the sausage, but what about vegan sausage, which tends to still pack in quite a bit flavor? Do you think that might sub in better or is there a reason this would not work?

    • — Grace on August 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Grace, I’ve never tried vegetarian sausage, but I have no reason to believe it won’t work. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wow! Jenn’s recipes always delight, but this one is outstanding! I made it with half sweet sausage and half spicy. Super yum!

    • — Kara on August 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this for my family and they loved it!!! I will be sharing this recipe with my girlfriends!

    • — Brandy Vaughn on August 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • I love this meal! I thought it was difficult to make the first time but it just gets easier and easier. I make it at least once every two weeks because it is my boyfriend’s favorite!! He said he could eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner. For me, it is a little too rich to eat all the time because of the fatty sausage but the taste is amazing. This is my “cook to impress” dish, and I’m making it for boyfriend’s mom tonight 🙂

    • — Lindsay on August 2, 2020
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  • Thank you for a great recipe. How would you adapt for individual portions in aluminum pans? Thank you

    • — Carol on July 31, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! Depending on the size of the pans, they may need a little less time in the oven.

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • I don’t usually review or comment but my super picky, foodie son (17) made this recipe tonight and it was delicious! He tripled the red pepper flakes and used Molinari’s spicy sausage which made me a little uneasy but somehow this dish incorporated it like a pro without getting too spicy. This is a keeper:)

    • — Elizabeth on July 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was a great recipe! Absolutely delicious. Super easy and straightforward instructions.

    • — Ingrid on July 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Dear Jen,

    I made this for supper and it is so delicious. This is going to be my dish when we do potluck in school. Easy to make. I followed the recipe step by step. so Goood!

    Thank you!

    • — Maria on July 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • This baked Ziti was absolutely delicious and the recipe is one I plan to make again and again!
    I had purchased all the ingredients and looked forward to making it, when overnight the weather turned hot and steamy! No problem- we just turned the A/C down and pretended it was late fall instead of midsummer! Everyone loved the cream addition that softens the acidity of the tomatoes. Thank you, and I can promise I will be making this again in cooler weather or as soon as this heat wave is over!

    • — Barbara Dedman on July 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • My son cannot eat sausage because of sodium nitrate. Can I sub ground beef.

      • — Ellen Young on August 19, 2020
      • Reply
      • Sure — Just make sure you season it well with salt, pepper, and a pinch of Italian seasonings like oregano, parsley and fennel if you have it on hand. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on August 20, 2020
        • Reply
  • A big hit with my family!

    • — Susan on July 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Having a very small gathering and would like to make this recipe but put in individual serving size baking pans. Can that be done?

    • — Michelle on July 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Michelle, that should work. Baking time will be significantly shorter so keep a close eye on them!

      • — Jenn on July 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’m making this again per my son’s request. I first made it for a high school hockey banquet this winter. There were a few similar dishes brought by other families but this one was DEVOURED within the first half hour. I was the only one to bring home an empty dish. Some boys asked their moms to get the recipe (that rarely happens). Thank you for continuing to offer amazing recipes – I’ve made so many now over the years and they’re always perfection!

    • — Sharon W on July 2, 2020
    • Reply
  • I needed something to take to a friend who was in an car accident, Maybe something to freeze for later and I found this recipe. Of course I had to try it before giving it to her and her family, As always, I’m never disappointed with your recipes!
    She also loves your German Potato salad, so I made that too.
    This is a keeper, so easy to make.
    Stay healthy!

    • — Susie on June 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it and I hope you’re friend recovers quickly!

      • — Jenn on June 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • Great dish. I followed the instructions exactly. I may have added a little more cheese than called for 🙂 My only mistake was not under cooking my pasta enough. The pasta will continue to cook after you rinse it and when you mix it with the sauce, in addition to the oven. My instructions said 12-13 for al dente so I cooked it for 10. I should have done it for 7 as the recipe states.

    • — Minih on June 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • This is from a reliable Italian website: Drain the pasta, but never rinse it: you want to keep the starches on its surface, to help the sauce stick to it.

      • — Peg on August 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can you please clarify how much Romano cheese is required for this dish? Directions state to add 1/3 cup of cheese to cream, sausage and basil and then sprinkle half on top?
    Thanks, Staci

    • — Staci on June 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Staci, you’ll need a total of 1/2 cup. 1/3 of that will be added to the pan with the heavy cream and cooked sausage. Then you’ll divide what remains of that 1/2 cup between the two layers of pasta. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • I am wanting to make this but dont have Ziti on hand. Any reason I couldn’t use something like Farfalle? Not ideal I know.

    • — Amanda Marshall on June 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • While this won’t be bad with farfalle, I’d suggest something else that’s tubular (like ziti) — penne and rigatoni would both work well.

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have made this in the past and it is the most fantastic ziti recipe I have ever come across! The flavor profile is fantastic and it’s super easy to make. I think the heavy cream really finishes the dish. I will be making this again but for a vegetarian crowd. Would the measurements change without the sausage? Thank you.

    • — Phyllis on June 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Phyllis, Glad you like it! Several readers have commented that they’ve made vegetarian versions of this and have added sauteed veggies (like bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.) in place of the sausage. That said, I really prefer this with sausage because it adds so much flavor. You may want to consider this lasagna recipe instead. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • This has become a staple in our household. I have made this numerous times and the whole family loves it! Will continue to make this dish for years to come!

    • — Christy on June 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • To the one and only chef that I have EVER left reviews on… wow! Just, wow! My 7 year old son saw the recipe, and kept pronouncing it as “Zit…” and then saw crushed tomatoes (which he apparently doesn’t like). Instant turn off in his head… I assured him it was for make ahead supper for Father’s Day, so he went outside and rode his bike.

    This was such an incredibly easy meal to throw together! I followed it exactly (except had bought 2 lbs of sausage, so threw it all in).

    My child came in, raved about how good the house smelled and ate two massive bowls (very atypical of him 😂) and asked if he could have some before bed as a bedtime snack. His only suggestion (and I’m not kidding you) was to add a little less sausage the next time. 😂🤣😂 Maybe he is a Chef Jenn in the making! ❤️

    Thank you so very much for yet another AMAZING recipe (that threw my low carb diet out of whack, but so worth it!)

    You make me feel like a professional Chef with every single recipe of yours that I have tried! ❤️

    • — Kim on June 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad it was a hit, particularly with your 7-year-old food critic! 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2020
      • Reply
    • Hilarious! 😂Your 7 yr old knew how it was suppose to be done!! 👍🏾 But, like you I’m thinking what boy/girl child wants less meat in his pasta??

      • — Gigi B on July 31, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this last night and it’s a huge hit with the family… They’re requesting to have it again next week!

    • — Michelle on June 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • There are other recipes that I prefer on this site but the men in my house loved this recipe.

    • — JE on June 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • I would like to change my review . I took some Baked Ziti with Sausage to my son and he just texted me that it is “so so good”. He likes food but he usually doesn’t text me such nice comments.

      • — JE on June 7, 2020
      • Reply
      • LOL – glad it was a hit! 🙂

        • — Jenn on June 8, 2020
        • Reply
  • I live in Austria and we don’t have the ground sausage as they do in the US. So I could use either a mix of ground steak and pork, or simply ground pork. What spices would you recommend? Many thanks! Anna

    • — Anna on May 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’d probably go with the ground pork and you can use this recipe as a guideline. (Keep in mind that the ratios there are for 2 pounds of ground pork so you can cut all the amounts by ¼.) Hope that helps and that you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe turned out great!! Plenty of compliments from hubby and son. I used half and half because I didn’t have heavy cream. At first I thought sauce was to thin but it was fine. Only thing I did different was sauté some mushrooms, peppers and shallots before adding the garlic. Will definitely make again. Thanks for the recipe.

    • — Bonnie Quintana on May 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Whole family loved this easy and quick recipe!

    • — Ivie D Carl on May 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’ve made it per the recipe and it’s the best ziti recipe ever. And so simple! I’ve also made it with modifications to accommodate what I’ve got in the fridge/pantry and they’ve turned out pretty darn good too. Those modifications include: substituting a jar of marinara sauce for the crushed tomatoes/salt/sugar/basil; and using half smoked and half regular mozzarella (adding some smoked mozzarella was really good!).

    • — AnneMarie on May 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Seriously the BEST baked ziti recipe out there. It has become a special occasion staple in our house – so easy to make and so SO good!

    • — Shelby on May 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • We loved it! Can’t wait for leftovers.

    • — Daisy on May 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was a huge hit. My son said that he wanted me to make this at least once a month and he said he would never get sick of it.
    Also easy to make. I made one with pork sausage and one with Trader Joe’s chicken sausage.

    • — K M on May 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe was fantastic! I was looking for a good ziti recipe to make for family members who are out there right now working long, exhausting hours in the healthcare and grocery store fields. It couldn’t have been easier or more delicious. It got huge raves. I can’t wait to make it again and for other family/friends currently at home with young children. Even my husband, who is not a fan of ziti, asked when I will make it again. It was that good – and then some. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • — Lynne on May 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Very delicious! Made for me and my family everyone enojoyed your thanks! 💕 – CharlotteNc

    • — Zhauna on May 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I never leave reviews but wanted to say thank you! I have 4 boys and since six found you we all have been eating so good!!! I’ve made this ziti, your chicken Marsala, beef stew, cheesecake bars so far-every recipe has turned out perfect. Even my pickiest one has not complained once but gobbled everything down. I bought your cookbook now and have been enjoying reading through it and looking at the beautiful pictures. Thank you from one mama to another so much. Britt

    • — Britt on May 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’ve been making this recipe for 2 years now, it’s the perfect ziti! I’ve done so many variations-leaving out the parm if I don’t have it, substituting whole milk for cream. It’s always good but best when the recipe is followed exactly. Also, I leave out the red pepper flakes and always use sweet Italian sausage. The fresh basil is a must!

    • — Ashley C on May 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was an amazing dish and so easy to pull together. We used a sweet italian chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s, and it was amazing.

    • — Tammy on April 30, 2020
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  • This was so delicious. I made a few substitutes due to what I had. I used ground beef and added lots of dried basil and Italian seasoning as Jenn suggested. Then I mixed in ricotta that I made instead of cream.. It was the best we ever had. My husband wants me to make it again soon.

    • — Fran on April 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Just made this. Two of us (plus MIL, Who fixes her own plate) just about finished this, in one sitting. Do I need to say more? Wonderful, really wonderful and comforting.

      • — Greg on May 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this for dinner and it was good but felt like something was missing. Next time I’ll try a little tomato paste and see if that does it. Again, it was good and hubby liked it too.

    • — Robin on April 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Love your recipes and have made this one. Since I don’t have any crushed tomatoes, would jarred marinara work as a substitute? Thanks! Barb

    • — Barb on April 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • I think that’s doable, but you may want to cut back on the added salt and sugar just a bit. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • I need to preface this by saying that I am NOT a fan of baked pasta so that when I say that THIS RECIPE WAS FREAKING AMAZING you realize how much I REALLY liked it! Typically I find that baked pastas are a soggy, overcooked, unappealing, unappetizing hot messes. Not the case here, folks. Perfectly cooked pasta, just enough sauce at the end of baking time to not be dry or overly wet, the amazingly crispy golden top. It hit every high note to make the most perfect baked pasta dish. I can guarantee I’ll be making this again. And again. And again!!

    • — Meredith on April 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi I am wanting to make this tonight to bring to my sons tomorrow, however I do not have heavy cream. Any substitutes? I have almond milk and 2%milk. Thank you

    • — Sheryl Aguilar on April 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sheryl, Not sure how well milk will work here — do you happen to have ricotta or cottage cheese? If so, I’d use one of those.

      • — Jenn on April 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this several times. Best sauce ever! Always a favorite! I split it and freeze half since there are only 2 of us at home most of the time.

    • — Dyan S on April 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I made this dish for the family tonight and they wiped the baking dish clean. 🙂 I’ve been making many of your recipes over the past 3 weeks and this might be one of their favorites. As I’ve found with many of your recipes, the ingredients are simple, and the recipe easy to follow, but it is rich in the taste department. The sausage and sauce just bring everything together so nicely. My husband and brother said they could eat this every day. Thanks!

    • — Karem on April 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and it was a hit! Husband ate 1/3 of it! I’m wondering if I can sub it with any other sausages since I’m not a fan of Italian sausages?

    • — Serena on April 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad it was a hit! Yes, feel free to use your favorite sausage here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn we loved this dish, very tasty! I find myself turning to your blog often, your recipes I’ve made have all turned out delicious. Your pumpkin muffins are the best, bar none. I have so many of your recipes lined up to make, I’m excited to have found you, & now you’re my top go to out of five top favorites. I bought your cookbook, please do another one!! And put some of your Highest rated recipes in it. Thanks for sharing your love of cooking gift with us.

    • — Chris on April 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed this and that my blog has become a go-to for you — thanks for your very kind words!

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    With everyone staying home right now I can’t find Ziti. I found Rigatoni but they look really big. Could you recommend another pasta? Rotini maybe?
    Thank you

    • — Karyn in MN on April 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, you could get away with rotini. Penne would also work well. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 12, 2020
      • Reply
      • How about Tortiglioni?

        • — Lisa Munoz on May 1, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure!

          • — Jenn on May 3, 2020
          • Reply
  • Hello!!
    This has been my go-to website for recipes for the last 5 years! I have not tried one thing I didn’t like! And tonight was no exception! My whole family loves this very delicious baked ziti and they kept asking for more! Thank you so much for making our two college boys happy! God bless your family, stay happy and healthy!!

    • — Lillian A on April 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made a double recipe to feed the amazing team at my local Emergency room to thank the doctors and nurses for their incredible work. It was such a hit! I used 1/3 spicy sausage and 2/3 sweet and it was perfect. Many thanks for a great recipe to feed a crowd!

    • — kirsten in NY on April 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • How lovely that you did that — so nice to give a comforting meal to those who are sacrificing so much for us! Hope they enjoyed it. 💗

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hello, I will love to do the cooking class. Who do I send the money into?

    • — Jessica Evans on April 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jessica, I’m flattered that you’d ask, but unfortunately, I don’t offer cooking classes — sorry!

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this Baked Ziti and it was absolutely delicious! I shared with people from my office and froze about half a pan. I also took pictures because it turned out so beautiful but the pictures didn’t do the dish justice! My next recipe to try is the pulled pork.
    Can’t wait.

    • — Virginia Tate on April 2, 2020
    • Reply
  • Would using the johnsonville original sausage work? or does have to be spicy/Italian sausage?

    • — Vee on March 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Vee, that will work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 29, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hey Jenn love your recipes! Cant seem to find spicy or sweet sausage here. any suggestions how can I make Mild sausage spicy or sweet?

        • — Staci on April 27, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Staci, I’d probably just add a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes to the garlic/crushed tomato mixture. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on April 27, 2020
          • Reply
    • Hi, I made this and the family LOVED it! Since sausage comes in 1 lb usually that’s what I used and it was plenty. I added merlot wine and sun dried tomatoes to the sauce. It was amazing. Thanks so much!

      • — Joy on March 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • Super yummy!!! I used a combination of sweet Italian and fennel sausage since that’s what I had in my freezer. Excellent dish and very easy to prepare. The flavors develop more the next day or two which is a bonus. Froze a portion for later as well.
    Another fabulous recipe!! Thanks Jen for sharing. ❤️

    • — Lisa on March 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe, exactly as written, is perfect. I did not make any substitutions and used all spicy Italian sausage. It was so easy to prepare and came together very quickly. I love so many of your recipes and have been working my way through your book, thank you for another hit. Will be making this again.

    • — Kalie on March 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoy the recipes! ❤️

      • — Jenn on March 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • My husband and I absolutely loved this dish. I baked half and froze half uncooked. I am making it again, but with roasted chicken because my friend can’t eat pork or beef. I am wondering what I can add to give it extra flavor since chicken is bland.

    • — Lynn on March 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! You can get away with using chicken here; just make sure it’s well seasoned as the sausage has a lot of seasoning. Some spices I would add — a pinch of oregano, parsley, and garlic powder, whole or ground fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.

      • — Jenn on March 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • I tried this recipe and absolutely loved it…Thanks so much!!!

    • — Sharon on March 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made this again today to serve tomorrow. It’s always a hit. I find a half sweet- half hot Italian sausage mix tastes best. I serve a big Italian salad with it with a simple dressing of a Greek olive oil, wine vinegar, minced garlic clove, salt and pepper.
    I do appreciate your providing suggested amounts for salt and pepper….love your recipes!

    • — Diana on March 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this last night for dinner and we loved it. Thought I would miss the ricotta but didn’t. Definitely will be making this again. Thank you!

    • — Karen on March 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • Could you tell me how far in advance this could be made

    • — Anne on February 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, this can be made up to 2 days in advance. (See the bottom of the recipe for make-ahead instructions.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Can I use chicken sausage and marinara sauce? Thanks

    • — Janelle on February 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Janelle. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe was easy to make and very delicious. My family loved it and most important I loved it.
    Thank you.

    • — Alice Rosenfeld on February 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Can I sub dried basil? With everything going on in the country right now I can’t find fresh.

      • — Stacey on March 25, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Stacey, I really don’t love dried basil, but a few readers have commented that they’ve used it here and have gotten a good finished dish. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

        • — Jenn on March 25, 2020
        • Reply
  • So I read the reviews before doing this type of bake ziti. The only thing I did differently was that since I didn’t have crushed tomatoes I did diced tomatoes in a blender with paste in a blender. It gave it the same consistency and I did extra heavy cream to make more sauce so it wasn’t dry when cooking it. My family loved. Making it again soon. And I did cayenne red pepper instead of red pepper flakes to give it a kick.

    • — Sarah on February 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I have made lots of your dishes and almost always they were met with rave reviews so with your outstanding recommendation for this dish I decided to try it. I would have to say I was very disappointed. I felt like it had way too much pasta and not nearly enough sauce. I used your recipe exactly as written and would have to say we were all very disappointed. The flavor of the sauce was good but it just got lost in the pasta. I did serve it with your Big Italian Salad which was wonderful!

    • — Linda Harden on February 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • What would you recommend to season the ground beef if I were to use it in place of the sausage?

    • — Israel on February 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Israel, I’d season it well with salt, pepper, and a pinch of Italian seasonings like oregano, parsley and fennel if you have it on hand. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • Thanks for the great recipe! I used ground beef (since I do not eat pork) doubled the mozzarella, and added a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. It was perfect! Thanks again.

    • — Daphne K. on February 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Gave this a try and loved it. The sauce was really good and simple. The prep work was minimal. Do use the fresh cheeses, I think it makes a difference. Next time I may add a bit more mozzarella.

    • — Kevin on January 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • My entire family loved this and that rarely happens. It was easy to make and super good. Another great recipe.

    • — Kim Anderson on January 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe and shared half the recipe with my son’s family. Apparently all the kids, four of them, went back for seconds. My granddaughter, who is 6, said this is going on her list of favorite meals! We loved it too!

    • — Cindy B on January 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made this tonight and wanted to tell you how yummy it is, and so quick and easy too!
    Thanks for another delicious recipe.

    • — Lizo on January 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight for casual company. As always, delicious. I used fresh mozz because that’s what I had. Next time I’ll either use more, or get the block whole milk. Served with a salad. Everyone had multiple helpings.

    • — Patti on January 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Fabulous recipe! I was out of town and made this for a group. I was not able to find whole milk mozz so I cheated and used shredded mozz in the bag. It’s not as good of course but it still turned out fine and the group loved it. I make it often, thank you!

    • — Mary M on January 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Wow! I made this tonight for dinner and it’s so delicious and as always your recipes are a 5 stars! Thank you so much Jenn.

    • — Salli on January 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn, first of all, I love your cook book and my family loves the food I make from it. In my family, I am the “dedicated cook” and my wife is the baker. I will be making this recipe later today on a cold and damp Wisconsin day. One tip you may want to consider communicating to your readers/followers: I put my mozzarella cheese, typically a one pound “brick”, in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes prior to shredding. The cheese firms up, thus mitigating “gumming up” when shredding it by hand, or in a food processor. Thank you and take care.

    • — Scott Erskine on January 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Great tip, Scott – have added above. Thank you!

      • — Jenn on January 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Sounds delish, I will make it this weekend. I wonder if you could also make this with tuna?

    • — DJO on January 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi DJO, I’d stick with the sausage here as it adds a lot of flavor.

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • My family thoroughly enjoyed the baked ziti with sausage. I appreciated how easy it was to prepare. Due to product availability, I made some small swaps that didn’t impact the outcome. For the sausage, I browned sweet Italian chicken sausage in the casing, and cut them into small pieces for the casserole. I used light cream, and the sauce still came out rich and creamy. I had difficulty finding Pecorino Romano, so I used Parmigiano Regiano instead. Delicious. Will definitely be making again. Thank you very much for the recipe.

    • — Kathleen on January 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • This tastes amazing! I wasn’t sure about not using ricotta, but the textures and flavors are wonderful. I added a bit more red pepper. Thanks for sharing a new twist on an old favorite. My daughter just cleaned her plate.

    • — d g jones on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • It’s true that this is a major family pleaser! I made it first for my grown kids and their little kids and they all loved it so I started bringing it for friends who needed meals. A new mom, with a four-year-old at home, recently told me that even her picky four-year-old loved it so much that he kept asking for it for days, even after it was long gone. That’s a winner!

    • — Marie on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • I invited a work team over for dinner to review a business plan….why? Why dinner? I’m not that confident of a cook and we have stuff to talk about and I don’t know if it’ll be 3 or 8 people…well, it was over-the-top successful because of this easy recipe. Much better than my usual ricotta cheese recipe, much easier than the ones that layer some canned sauce, then noodles, then this or that. Followed the recipe exactly. Perfection.

    • — Susan Korthase on January 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • My sons “most favorite pasta ever” which is amazing because I am not a stellar cook 🙂 It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and super easy.

    • — TB on December 26, 2019
    • Reply
  • This recipe is definitely a keeper! Not only is it easy to follow, but it tastes delicious! My boyfriend and I made a huge tray to bring to our friend’s housewarming/pot luck and it was wiped clean! We received nothing but compliments throughout the night. A few people even asked us for the recipe!

    I’m super excited to make this again for our family gathering on Christmas Eve hehe.

    • — Jessica Diep on December 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • This was delicious and quick if you prep your ingredients first. I will say that it was milder than I expected, and probably because I used Parmesan instead of the bolder Pecorino, and I used a bit less basil. Don’t, unless you’re making this for kids! 🙂 Also, next time I will go for the spicy sausage. Still, we really enjoyed it, and with the correct ingredients we will enjoy it even more the next time.

    • — Nancy Koon on December 22, 2019
    • Reply
  • HI Jenn — We LOVE this dish and are making this for a large group, and want to complement it with another dish. Do you have any suggestions? We were thinking the slow roasted salmon with herbs or the panko crusted salmon, but welcome any thoughts you have. Ideally, we would do something that didn’t require us to use the oven. Thanks so much for your help!

    • — Eve on December 20, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Eve, I like the sound of either of the salmon dishes with this. Some other options to consider: Crab Cakes, or for another pasta option Linguine with Clams. Hope you enjoy whatever you choose!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn! Happy Holidays!

        • — Eve on December 22, 2019
        • Reply
  • Great recipe and easy to make. It was a big hit at the dinner party!

    • — Mary on December 15, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am having trouble finding ziti pasta. Would you recommend rigatoni or penne pasta if I cannot find ziti.
    Thank you.

    • — Marta on December 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Marta, either one of those will work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • Outstanding recipe. So fun to make and so delicious.

    • — Joette Brownrigg on November 27, 2019
    • Reply
  • I make this once every few weeks! It’s fabulous when you make the sauce – and still darn delicious when I cheat and use jarred sauce. Leftovers are a dream and go fast in our house. Thanks!

    • — Caitlin Higgins on November 27, 2019
    • Reply
  • This recipe has become a go-to for our family and when we have guests. Everyone always loves it!

    • — Erin on November 18, 2019
    • Reply
    • Delicious! I made this last night for 6 adults – it was devoured. Everyone loved it. I used a roll of Bob Evans Italian sausage, it worked very well. Also, I could not find a ball of whole milk mozzarella but I did find a bag of shredded whole milk mozzarella, it worked very well and saved me some time. I will definitely pass this recipe on and make again. Thanks!

      • — Amy on January 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have to tell you that my 16 year old son has not stopped talking about this pasta! I am getting him to make it tonight. I fear my husband will gain weight because I am off work right now and have made at least 15 of your recipes. 🙂 Thanks!

    • — Kathryn on November 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is seriously the best Italian dish I have ever made for my family. Perfect amount of savory, richness, spice and cheese. This completely replaces the need to ever make lasagna.

    • — Kim on November 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • Can this be made one day ahead and if so should I just assemble and actually bake it the day of or should I cook it and then refrigerate over nite?

      • — Celeste’s on December 13, 2019
      • Reply
      • Hi Celeste, I’d recommend assembling and refrigerating it and then baking it right before serving. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on December 13, 2019
        • Reply
        • If you do make a day ahead, do you still slightly undercook noodles?

          • — Calley O'Henley on January 15, 2020
          • Reply
          • Yep!

            • — Jenn on January 15, 2020
  • This is delicious! I doubled the recipe and took one to the family of a friend recovering from surgery, and kept one for us. It was a hit with both families. A question: the directions say it’s preferable to use a nonstick skillet, but the photos show a stainless skillet, so which is preferable? It doesn’t matter that much, but just curious. I used stainless and that worked well.

    • — Kay on November 1, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I love this recipe and so does my son-in-law since he asked me to make it for his office party pot luck luncheon. He won’t have access to an oven so I’ll bake it ahead of time. Do you have any advice on how to reheat it using a microwave oven?
    Much appreciated.

    • — Maureen McCue on October 30, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Maureen, you’re a nice mother-in-law to make this for son-in-law’s potluck lunch! I don’t have any specific guidance regarding warming this up in the microwave with the exception of maybe letting the dish sit out on the counter for about an hour to take the chill off before microwaving it. Hope everyone enjoys it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 30, 2019
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this multiple times for my very picky boyfriend and it’s a huge favorite! Like many of the recipes on this site, it’s easy to adjust for our non-beef/meat tastes – I sub spicy Italian turkey sausage for the pork sausage and everyone loves it! Better than any of my lasagna recipes for freezing ahead unbaked as well. Making it again tonight and as usual, will divide into two pans for an easy dinner to pull out of the freezer next month!

    • — Meg on October 29, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi
    I tried this dish and it was fabulous. In Edinburgh I couldn’t find the noodles so used wholewheat penne. I like it a bit spicy so added a diced chilli, some oregano, a diced pepper and my home made umami. I used a mix of spicy and plain sausage. The family love it. Your recipes look delicious. I’m going to make the blueberry muffins now. Thanks for making this inspiring blog.
    Best wishes
    Mohini Gray

    • — Mohini Gray on October 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it Mohini (and hope you like the muffins too)!

      • — Jenn on October 29, 2019
      • Reply
      • The blueberry muffins were amazing🤗

        • — Mohini Gray on October 29, 2019
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I would like to make this but without meat. Can I follow the recipe as is? Thank you!

    • — Lauren O on October 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauren, several have made vegetarian versions of this and have added sauteed veggies (like bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. in place of the sausage). That said, I really prefer this with sausage because it adds so much flavor. You may want to consider this lasagna recipe instead. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2019
      • Reply
      • I missed your reply and went ahead without the meat and it was still a HUGE hit! I can’t imagine it gets tastier but I’ll have to try the original with the sausage for the next time 🙂 Thank you!

        • — Lauren O on November 1, 2019
        • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, by using cream instead of ricotta does the dish take on a pink color instead of red sauce color. I know this is a strange question but my husband asked it, for me I don’t care what color it is. Thanks

        • — Maria on February 11, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Maria, I suppose it gives the sauce a slightly pink hue while it’s cooking, but the finished dish definitely doesn’t look pink. 🙂

          • — Jenn on February 11, 2020
          • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I never thought to write a review for a recipe but your recipes are amazing and have never let me down!!!! This is just one of several I have tried and it is the best as is everyone I have tried! I have served it countless times and it is always a hit! Thank you when I need to find a new recipe you are my go-to person! Or as my daughter and son in law say my “homegirl!” Thank you so much!

    • — Kim Daley on October 26, 2019
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoy the recipes! xoxo

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2019
      • Reply
  • This was a big hit with me, because I could make it a day ahead. It was a big hit with my six guests the next night, and the leftovers just kept getting better. I didn’t change a thing, and it was delicious. I’m looking forward to making it again. I served it with Jennifer’s Big Italian Salad and Garlic Bread.

    • — Phyllis on October 24, 2019
    • Reply
  • I have no idea how this recipe has such good reviews. It’s seriously the nastiest thing I’ve ever tasted. I made the recipe as written with the exception that I used hot Italian chicken sausage instead of pork sausage. Now, I admit it may be a personal taste thing but even my boyfriend really didn’t prefer it although he didn’t have the contempt for it that I have. I really don’t understand, it’s not because I’m an inexperienced cook, I just really didn’t like this recipe at all I guess. The flavor is not good.

    • — Alison on October 23, 2019
    • Reply
    • No need to be rude Alison! Especially when you didn’t follow the recipe.

      • — Caroline on October 28, 2019
      • Reply
    • Obviously you’re not a good cook! If you follow the recipe it’s delicious.

      • — Salli on January 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hello! Can I substitute the can of tomatoes for a jar or two of store bought butternut squash sauce? If so, do I follow the recipe the same? Thanks!

    • — Susie Ryan on October 21, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Susie, yes, I think it’s possible to use an equal amount of butternut squash sauce in place of the crushed tomatoes but the finished dish will definitely have a different flavor. No other modifications necessary to the recipe if you go the butternut squash route. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 21, 2019
      • Reply
  • I am looking for a dish to make for a crowd (80 people) and think this may be it. Do you think it is easily adaptable for a large group (recipe times 8)? I will have a commercial size kitchen to work in and extra hands in the kitchen. Any special advice for a large batch?

    • — Deborah on October 18, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Deborah, I do think this would work nicely for a crowd. I’m assuming you’ll be making these in separate baking dishes? (I don’t think these will cook as evenly as you’d like if made in baking dishes that are too large.) Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thank you! Yes, probably double batches in each baking dish. Looking forward to trying this. Thanks for the recipe.

        • — Deborah on October 18, 2019
        • Reply
        • I would love to hear how it goes making this for a crowd. I’m planning to make this to feed the cast of my daughter’s high school musical during their last week of rehearsal.

          • — Elise on October 21, 2019
          • Reply
  • my family loved it. making it again tonight!

    • — carolyn on October 17, 2019
    • Reply
  • Awesome dish!!

    • — Mike on October 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn — this is my second time making this most scrumptious dish, but I made a boo boo! I used chopped tomatoes instead of crushed, and the sauce (including cream, romano, etc), which I have not combined with the pasta yet, looks a bit soupy. Should I pour some of the liquid off before combining, or just put it together with the pasta and hope for the best? Thanks for any advice you can offer!

    All best,

    • — Eve on October 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Eve, If you have a blender or large food processor, I’d give it a whirl to thicken the sauce a bit; otherwise I’d just mix it with the pasta (the extra liquid should get absorbed by the noodles). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2019
      • Reply
    • I am such a fan of your recipes! I have made this dish several times and wonder if I can add the cream and cheese to the sauce and freeze until a later date when I can add the ziti and bake.

      • — Linda on April 25, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Linda, So glad you like the recipes! I’ve never made and frozen just the sauce portion of this so I can’t say for sure, but I know that the whole dish freezes nicely, so I suspect you might be able to get away with it.

        • — Jenn on April 27, 2020
        • Reply
  • Wow! Great recipe. You are right. Adding heavy cream instead of ricotta makes this dish more moist, especially when heated back up. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and I decided to cook my sausage whole (casing removed), then cut it up after it’s cooked because I like bigger chunks of meat.

    • — Lisa D. on October 6, 2019
    • Reply
  • We LOVED it! I’ll definitely be making it again and I’m so excited you can do it as a freezer meal too. My kids love pasta dishes and this is a perfect one!

    • — Lisa on September 30, 2019
    • Reply
  • Making this for Sunday dinner today and having my parents over too. I told my mom they could come over, but I’ve never made it before. She said, oh if it’s a once upon a chef recipe, her stuff always is delicious! 😉

    • — Lisa on September 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2019
      • Reply
  • This has become a staple meal at my house. I make it with chicken sausage and it is divine!

    • — Ann MacDonald on September 28, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can you freeze this?

    • — Teresa on September 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yes (and if you scroll down to the bottom of the recipe, there are freezer-friendly instructions). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 25, 2019
      • Reply
      • Would this be okay for a family with a peanut allergy?

        • — Danielle on November 19, 2019
        • Reply
        • Hi Danielle, None of these ingredients contain peanut products, but you may want to double-check the packaged items you buy to make sure none of them are produced in a plant that also has peanut products.

          • — Jenn on November 20, 2019
          • Reply
  • This looks delicious! I’m making and taking this to a friend who is recovering from surgery. Cold from the refrigerator (but already baked), what would be the best way to reheat? Thank you!

    • — Aimee Moreno on September 20, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Aimee, Since the dish will be cold, the baking time will need to be increased. To bake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 425°F oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and the pasta is hot throughout. BTW, these make-ahead instructions are also at the bottom of the recipe. Hope your friend enjoys! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 20, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thanks, Jenn. I thought the make-ahead instructions were if it hadn’t yet been baked. If it’s already baked, the instructions to reheat would be the same?

        • — Aimee Moreno on September 20, 2019
        • Reply
        • Oh sorry, Aimee – I misread your original question! I’d remove it from the fridge about an hour before it needs to go in the oven. Then reheat it, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven until hot in the center.

          • — Jenn on September 22, 2019
          • Reply
          • Thank you again, Jenn! It was a huge hit with my friend’s family. She said her two-year-old (who would not previously touch pasta dishes) loved it! I also took a caesar salad and your recipe for Blondies, which were also a huge hit. Thank you again for your always delicious recipes!

            • — Aimee on September 26, 2019
          • So glad everyone enjoyed! 🙂

            • — Jenn on September 26, 2019
  • This was amazing! It was rich, but very satisfying. Just don’t over brown it like I did. I was assembling the veggies for the Big Italian Salad, and the time got away from me. It was still amazing! You won’t be disappointed.

    • — Donna W on September 18, 2019
    • Reply
  • Followed this recipe last night, except I only had 1 lb meat and dried basil, and it was fabulous. Instead of freezing leftovers, the family asked for it tonight! That’s a great endorsement.

    • — Chris Rettich on September 18, 2019
    • Reply
  • Love the baking dish you used, where’d you get it??

    • — Nina on September 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • I honestly don’t recall, Nina– sorry! I think you could find something very similar at Sur La Table.

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2019
      • Reply
  • Super easy and fast. Family loved it, had second servings, and was GONE in no time! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Mimi on September 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, your recipes are delish! I was wondering if it would be ok to cut the heavy cream down to 1/2 cup of half and half? I’m concerned that the sauce will be too rich and too pink.

    • — Linda on August 23, 2019
    • Reply
    • That should be fine, Linda. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 23, 2019
      • Reply
  • This pasta dish was delicious! My husband even loved it. I was looking for a spicy, creamy pasta dish and this was perfect. I also love how easy it was to make. The only change I made was to use 1 pound of the cooked sausage. 1.5 pounds looked like way too much and if I had used all of it the meat would have absorbed all the sauce and it wouldn’t have been saucy enough for the noodles. I’ll definitely be adding this to my dinner rotation.

    • — Veronica on August 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made your Baked Ziti with Sausage recently. DELICIOUS! To the canned tomatoes called for, I added a couple chopped fresh tomatoes that I had on hand and which needed to be used plus I increased the sausage amount to 2 pounds, but everything else was done exactly as your recipe specified. So very good! Thank you for this great recipe. Caryn Wiggins

    • — Caryn Wiggins on August 15, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious and very easy to make. I made it a day ahead and put it in the fridge for easy baking the following night. I used sweet sausage since that’s all I had thawed and ready to cook, but next time I will try it with a mix of sweet and spicy. It was delicious but I like the little kick the spicy sausage gives. Another regular rotation dinner for our household now.

    • — Kia on August 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • I love this pasta for my family as written hence the five stars. I also hardly use any other recipes than Jenn’s. We do prefer meatloaf mix to the sausage and sometimes I use pre-grated cheese and it works just fine for us. Tonight I had a happy accident that I was making hidden veggie pasta sauce for my non-veggie eating family by finely chopping onion, celery, carrot, and a little apple and zucchini, added a big can of crushed tomato, tomato sauce bay leaves, salt pepper, sugar, cream, blended it, then added penne. I remembered this recipe so threw it in a casserole dish with cheeses, baked and broiled it. It was delicious and got my family to eat veggies! So this was a great dish that can also hide veggies in instead of using meat.

    • — Janet on August 7, 2019
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    • Love this idea, Janet!

      • — Jenn on August 8, 2019
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  • I made this last night, cutting the recipe down to 1/3 as I’m cooking for two. It was delicious, but needed a bit more sauce. Next time I’ll make more. Love your site!

    • — Carolyn on July 25, 2019
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    • I’ve made this twice and we can’t get enough of it. I add half of a sweet onion with the garlic then spinach and mushrooms before adding the meat and cream to the sauce. I came across your recipe when I had to find something to do with one of those HUGE cans of crushed tomatoes. TYSM!! ☺️

      • — Angelica D. on October 15, 2019
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  • I’ve never left an online review for anything… ever. But it’s worth sharing that thanks to this dish I’m now “the best cooker ever” according to my three year old who also called it “my favorite in the whole world.” My five year old proclaimed it the best thing I’ve ever made… soooo…. yeah. Thanks for a family winner. 🙂

    • — Nadia on July 13, 2019
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on July 13, 2019
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    • Wow! I made this tonight and everyone in my family loved it. This one is definitely a winner and I will be making it again soon. Spicy, cheesy, creamy, and SO satisfying! I made the recipe exactly as written except I only used one pound of hot Italian sausage. I thought it was enough meat for us. I don’t think I would skimp on any of the other ingredients though. Thanks Jenn for another amazing recipe!

      • — Elise on October 6, 2019
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  • Loved this recipe! Added some ricotta and it was delicious!

    • — Mary on July 7, 2019
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    • Was looking for a recipe to make for my sister who just had foot surgery and is unable to move around a lot. I decided on this one because I’ve had great success with all of the recipes on this site. I made two of them, one for my sister, and one for my family. I got half sweet Italian sausage and half spicy Italian sausage from my butcher. I also didn’t have enough fresh basil for two dishes, so I added a bit of dried basil and Italian seasoning in the mix. Also didn’t read the part about the mozzarella cheese and ended up getting pre-shredded. Because that’s all the store had, at the time. I didn’t seem to have a problem with it melting, but I will definitely use the suggested cheese, next time. It got rave reviews from my sister, and rave reviews from my husband and my twin boys! I have one twin who is highly picky with food, and he absolutely loved it. Yay! I will definitely keep this in my rotation and maybe try ground beef next time, as well. Thank you for the great recipe!!

      • — Shawn on July 17, 2019
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  • We have made this many times since discovering Jenn and her Once Upon a Chef website about six months ago. The Baked Ziti is delicious, and that is an understatement. Perfect comfort food on a cold night for friends and family.

    • — Chad on June 29, 2019
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  • Made this tonight for dinner. Family lost their minds over this baked Ziti. I used half hamburger and half Italian sausage and they loved it! I will definitely make it again.

    • — Cyndi on June 27, 2019
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  • I made this ziti for a potluck. Outstanding! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Colette Dryden on June 24, 2019
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    • Wow! I made this tonight and everyone in my family loved it. This one is definitely a winner and I will be making it again soon. Spicy, cheesy, creamy, and SO satisfying! I made the recipe exactly as written except I only used one pound of hot Italian sausage. I thought it was enough meat for us. I don’t think I would skimp on any of the other ingredients though. Thanks Jenn for another amazing recipe!

      • — Elise on October 6, 2019
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  • Hey Jenn,
    I’m a big fan of yours. I’m making this tonight and wonder how’d it turn out if I left the sausage in it’s casting?

    • — Tricia Drury on June 23, 2019
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    • Sorry just seeing this now, Tricia. I prefer to take the sausage out of the casing so I can break it up more easily. But it’s fine to leave it in if you don’t mind bigger chunks of sausage. Hope that helps! 😊

      • — Jenn on June 23, 2019
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  • I’ve made this twice in the past week. After the first time my teenaged sons clamored for it again almost immediately. The first time I prepared it the night before and the second time all at once. Brilliant both times. Great recipe, Jenn. Thank you!

    • — Chris on June 18, 2019
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  • We had it for dinner last night, my kids took some for lunch today and my son just asked if we could have it for dinner tomorrow. This was a definite hit! Thanks again, Jennifer for another fantastic recipe!

    • — Hilary on June 18, 2019
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  • I’m in São Paulo Brasil (wedding Paulo this Wednesday!). Cooking for Paulo and my mother-in-law tonight : this ziti. Very nervous. No ziti in store (used penne). The heavy cream here is half-solids. The Brazilian sausage doesn’t brown, it stays pink. (Adapting to the grocery store is a challenge: no sour cream in brasil. I have yet to see cheddar cheese or actual kosher salt. There is no hot water in the kitchen. Seriously…)

    But thanks to Jenn and this great recipe, everyone was thrilled. Paulo and I ate half of the pan ourselves. Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Greg on June 16, 2019
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    • So glad that the dish was a success despite all the (many!!) obstacles! 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2019
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  • Delicious! My whole family loved it and kept going back for more. Thank you for the great recipe!

    • — Laura Kargov on June 9, 2019
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  • Why is ziti so difficult to find in my (HUGE) metropolitan area? I substituted rigatoni and made no other changes. Excellent and everyone went home with leftovers!!

    • — JOHN on May 25, 2019
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    • Yeah I can’t find it ever either. I used penne.

      • — Jamie on June 2, 2019
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  • Outstanding! It tastes so fresh. I couldn’t find the block of mozzarella in the description so I used kraft creamy melt mozzarella and it worked beautifully. You’re my go-to and I’m never disappointed. Thank you for making me look so good 😊

    • — Jamie on May 24, 2019
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  • I’m not a big fan of sweet tomato sauces. Do you think it would be okay to substitute oregano for the basil? Or perhaps half oregano and half basil?

    • — Amanda on May 10, 2019
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    • Sure, Amanda – but you won’t need nearly as much oregano as you would basil so just add it to taste. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 11, 2019
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  • I can’t say enough.. Usually I’m a sceptic when it comes to trying new food items… But WOW- What an Amazing & Delightful Recipe!!!!!

    • — Amazing Eats! on May 7, 2019
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  • My family loved this dish! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    I’ve already been asked to make this recipe again!

    • — Erica on May 5, 2019
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  • This dish is amazing- my husbands favorite ziti so far. I want to make it for a potluck- do you think I could make it ahead and then warm it in a Multi-cooker? I have the Cuisinart model.

    Thanks again for the great recipes!


    • — Sara K on April 28, 2019
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    • Glad you enjoy the recipes, Sara! I’m not familiar with a multi-cooker so I can’t weigh in on that, but it’s fine to make the ziti ahead and reheat it. (It also reheats nicely, covered, in the oven, or even in the microwave.)

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2019
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  • Made this for a family dinner party and my adult sons, who enjoy my cooking, declared it one the best things I’ve ever made!! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful recipes!

    • — Sylvia D. on April 20, 2019
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  • This dish is so easy and SO delicious. It’s great for my busy nights when I need to throw together a quick, hearty meal that my picky boys will eat before they race out the door to their various practices. They absolutely love this dish and will request it from me, often. Follow Jen’s recipe to the letter because it’s perfect as is!

    • — Addie S. on April 14, 2019
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  • I’m raving over this dish!! I made the size listed in the ingredients and was able to freeze half of it for a quick fix on a night not feeling quite up to cooking. Worked out perfect. The sauce you use for this dish…I confess my daughter and I use it in so many of our other favorite pasta dishes. Canned and store-bought sauces can be so full of lot’s of salts and sugars that we really don’t need in our pasta sauces. I remember growing up and eating fresh tomato’s straight from the garden, no salt or sugar added. This recipe brings back really great memories and is so easy and, confession #2…I did add just a bit of white wine to it as well. So Yummy (the frozen dish was just as good as the first round also).

    • — Trena Craig on April 13, 2019
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  • This dish is a favorite on a cold night. Definitely don’t use pre-shredded mozzarella as a shortcut, it doesn’t taste the same, not as creamy & cheesy. I used mild ground Italian sausage & it tasted really good. I substituted black pepper for the red pepper which was fine. I was advised to use more mozzarella if I was unable to find or afford pecorino ramano. I tried both ways & prefer the extra mozzarella. This dish is even good as leftovers. Definitely a must try!

    • — Jenifer Garcia on April 12, 2019
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  • amazing recipe. 3rd time making it. fresh basil works much better.

    • — jo on April 12, 2019
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  • This recipe is fabulous! Made as per recipe. My sisters loved it, and was so easy to put together.

    • — sv on April 11, 2019
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  • This pasta dish is easy to make and very tasty. I don’t like leftovers, but this pasta was delicious, a couple of days later. I will make it again.

    • — Nicole Good on April 11, 2019
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  • This is one of the yummiest pastas I have ever made! I have made this twice recently to giveaway to other families and have had absolutely rave reviews! I gave this recipe away to a friend who also gave it away to someone else! I made no changes and served with Jenns garlic bread and a quick salad- everything turned out perfect. Love you Jenn- EVERYTHING I make from your cookbook or blog is an automatic hit. I don’t even try recipes first before company if it’s one of yours. I’m already waiting for cookbook #2!! Xo

    • — Melissa on April 11, 2019
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  • This is my go-to recipe for serving a crowd. It’s easy, delicious, can be made ahead…refrig or freezer and ready to go. All it needs is the sidekick of a salad or vegetable and perhaps a loaf of bread. Excellent pasta dish!

    • — Margie on April 11, 2019
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  • My whole family loves this recipe. I have used ground beef instead of sausage and it turns out great. I try to keep this in my freezer for quick last minimal meals! I usually freeze 1 recipe in 2 dishes.

    • — Ann - War Eagle on April 11, 2019
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  • This is a delicious meal and a favorite for my family. I love it how it is, but I do add 2lbs vs the 1.5lb of sausage. It’s great with a salad and her Rosemary Focaccia Bread. Once Upon a Chef has yet to disappoint my family’s taste buds.

    • — Mary Howton on April 11, 2019
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  • This was delicious. I had never made baked ziti with sausage before but I’m a convert now.

    • — Allison on April 11, 2019
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  • It was good as is but I would use more sauce. Just the right amount of sausage good flavors.

    • — JoAnn Nuber on April 11, 2019
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  • This is sooooo good! My family loves it!

    • — Lori Hanson on April 11, 2019
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  • This is delicious. My family raves about this dish. I highly recommend it!

    • — Sherry Downing King on April 11, 2019
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  • This is a go-to dish when we’re looking to add some pasta in our lives. My Finacé and I LOVE it!

    CAUTION: If you choose to use dry basil – I’d recommend not using 1/3cup. After the first time making this, there was SO MUCH basil – every time we’ve made it since using dry basil, we only use a couple tablespoons or eyeball the ratio with the amount of pasta as we mix it all together.

    • — Corinne on April 11, 2019
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  • This recipe is AMAZING!! It is my go to recipe for company and it always receives rave reviews! I usually add a little splash of red wine to the sauce. Thank you for the great recipe!

    • — Tracy on April 11, 2019
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  • Not one who tends to write reviews.. but this is a great recipe. Added a yellow onion and probably more garlic than the recipe stands for, as well as a small can of tomato paste. Best pasta I’ve had in a while. Really really tasty. Bon Appetit!

    • — Jenna on April 9, 2019
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  • Sooooooooooo good. Even using dried basil instead of fresh. Even my kids devoured it, and we are at epic levels of picky eating.

    • — Steff on March 27, 2019
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  • This was so delicious! I used two smaller foil containers instead of a big baking dish so that I could give half to my sister in law. She loved it too! Kept in the fridge for a day before baking and it turned out perfectly.

    • — Verity on March 18, 2019
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  • Hi Jen,
    Per your freezer friendly instructions: you say to proceed with the baking instructions. Which baking instructions are you referring to? The one in the original recipe, or the Make Ahead instructions? They are different. Thanks!

    • — LP on March 15, 2019
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    • Hi LP, Sorry for any confusion. You should use the instructions in the make-ahead section (and I’ve updated the oven temp to be 425°F) in that as I’ve found that works better. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 16, 2019
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    • My family loves this recipe and I have made it so many times now. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Its perfect!

      • — Paula Echavarria on April 11, 2019
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  • Jenn-
    I appreciate you taking the time to share this delicious recipe with all of us. Your passion for cooking genuinely radiates through your blog and your attention to detail when preparing recipes truly eliminates any guess work for rookies like myself. I prepared this dish and there were lots of smiles in our home. Love your work, thank you- T

    • — Tia on March 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • Tia, thanks so much for your kind words — so glad you enjoy the recipes! 💕

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2019
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  • I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out divine! The flavors are perfectly paired with the cheesy goodness. I served it with a ceasar salad and garlic bread. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

    • — Ela Rivas on March 10, 2019
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  • I tripled this recipes and feed my large family. So easy and got rave reviews. Thanks!

    • — Elisabeth on March 3, 2019
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  • This is a super delicious recipe! It gets my husband his lasagna fix and its a lot less trouble. We use venison as a substitue a lot and I like to add a bit of fennel seed to help it have that sausage taste. I had to buy the Once Upon a Chef cookbook because I am always using the recipes. I joke that this is what it feels like to live in Jenn Segal’s house because we use the recipes here so much. Very glad to have found this site and thank you Jenn – you are GREAT!!

    • — Melissa on February 26, 2019
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on February 26, 2019
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  • This Ziti recipe has become a family favorite in my home. My question is, if I want to break the recipe in two halves (one for now, one to freeze for another meal)would I use two 8×8 pans in place of the 9×13? Also, what would the adjusted baking time be?

    • — Tracy A on February 26, 2019
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    • Hi Tracy, Glad to hear this has become a family favorite! Yes, you can use two 8 x 8 pans if you want to split the recipe in two. Baking time will be about the same if not a touch shorter. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 27, 2019
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  • This was unbelievably delicious! My guests loved it as well. A real hit!

    • — Linell Joplin Slater on February 25, 2019
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  • Jenn!! I can honestly say you’ve improved my marriage! Your recipes are fool proof. Thank you so much for each of them. This was absolutely, positively delicious. I have appropriately stocked my pantry and can now make a variety of dishes. Any plans on developing an app for “once upon a chef”?

    • — Jennifer on February 24, 2019
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoy the recipes!! As of now, I don’t have any plans to create an app, but my website is mobile friendly and will adapt to the size of any device you’re using.

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2019
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  • I made this yesterday and it’s all gone! Unbelievably flavorful esp. using the fresh basil, whole milk mozzarella balls, and the red pepper flakes. I’ve already passed it on to a friend of mine. My Italian mother-in-law taught me the basics years but ago but this recipe raises ziti to a new level. Thanks Jenn. BTW I also use your spinach quiche recipe — outstanding!

    • — Erica O'CONNELL Nastasi on February 19, 2019
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  • This is DIVINE!!! Thank you for this incredible recipe. Everyone loved it. Thank you!!!

    • — Eve Hall on February 19, 2019
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  • This is a very tasty recipe. Would be great with a salad and some crusty bread. I used a dry herb because I did not have fresh. So quick and easy yet impressive.

    • — Shelley James on February 18, 2019
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  • This was an absolute winner! Made it exactly as written. I doubled it for a dinner party and it was perfect. Jenn’s recipes are truly foolproof. Every time I make one of Jenn’s recipes they come out perfect.

    • — Doreen on February 14, 2019
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  • I can’t eat recipes with heavy cream- is it better to substitute ricotta or milk?

    • — Danielle on February 9, 2019
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    • Hi Danielle, I’d probably opt for the ricotta here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2019
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  • Delicious! Eating it right now and it is just as good as it’s pictured. My only difference is that I had only 1 lb of sausage rather than 1.5 lbs. I’m not missing the half pound. Make it. You will not regret it!

    • — GinaBoBina on February 8, 2019
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  • Hello! Would you cook this covered & at 450° after being in the fridge for any amount of time or just for say, 2 hours or more?
    Thank you!!!

    • — Steph on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Steph, Yes, I think I’d still set the oven to 450°. That should ensure it will be hot in the center. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
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  • this was amazing !
    I think it rivals lasagna . Even better next day !
    I know I will be requested to make it often .
    Jenn , I enjoy all the recipes I try -Can’t wait to make the French Onion Soup.

    • — Kelly on February 7, 2019
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  • Absolutely the best baked ziti recipe EVER – although when I can’t find ziti I use rigatoni. Always a hit and I always make extra to have a tray in the freezer. Thanks, Jenn, for a real foolproof keeper!

    • — Joan Brennan on February 7, 2019
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  • Everyone goes for seconds every time I make this!

    • — Sherrie on February 7, 2019
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  • I loved this – but my husband would prefer it with groud beef instead of sausage. How would I adjust the recipe? I thought it was so delish, I want to make this a go too – but would need to switch out the sausage for beef. Thanks!

    • — Danielle on February 4, 2019
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    • Hi Danielle, you can get away with using ground beef here; just make sure it’s well seasoned as the sausage has a lot of seasoning.

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2019
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  • This was delish! And so easy! Definitely makes a ton, and is a great comfort food.

    • — Danielle on February 4, 2019
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  • Absolutely fantastic recipe!

    • — Monée King on February 4, 2019
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  • Just made this for my Super Bowl -watching guys. Fantastic, big hit! You’re right, the difference is, the cream keeps it juicy. A keeper!

    • — Joyce on February 3, 2019
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  • Does it come out as good if you cut it in half to make for a smaller group

    • — Lisa on January 14, 2019
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    • Sure, Lisa – it’s fine to cut the recipe in half. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2019
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  • Best baked ziti recipe (and I have tested a lot). Loved that it wasn’t dry liked most baked ziti. Really good flavor. My family and guests loved it!

    • — Lynn on January 13, 2019
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  • Made this for dinner last night, for at least the tenth time. Family all agreed it is one of our favourites. Served with a tossed salad and garlic bread. Perfect! Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Liz on January 9, 2019
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  • I just made 3 pans of this for my New Years Party and it was a hit! Delicious in all the right ways. Only thing I changed was the sausage to mild Italian. Will be making again and again!

    • — Sharon on January 3, 2019
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  • I have consistently made mediocre baked ziti. Just made this for a group of 20 and it was exceptional. I am going to keep this in the rotation for large groups and definitely will be my only baked ziti recipe from this point forward! Thank you!

    • — JC Lore on December 30, 2018
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    • How much pasta and ingredients did u use for 20 people ?

      • — Lori on May 14, 2019
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  • Gave this a rave review when I first just made it and served it at home.
    This time I needed to provide a meal while at our daughter’s for the holidays. Then I remembered that this recipe came with how to “preserve for a later serve”. Assembled and froze late on Thursday. Tossed it in an insulated bag for a five hour drive on Saturday morning. Into the refrigerator (300 miles away),, still partly frozen.
    Partied with the family while it came to temp on Sunday. Per instructions, into the oven and onto the table, to rapturous applause for an effortless, long distance performance,, with every bite as good as if I ‘d just served it right after assembly.
    Thank you, Jenn. Once again, one of your recipes made me look like I know what I’m doing. This one is a permanent addition to my book.

    • — Craig on December 28, 2018
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  • Delicious! I made it for my son-in-law’s birthday dinner the week before Christmas. The four of us almost ate the entire dish! I didn’t change a thing and it’s a nice change from lasagna.

    • — Donna on December 26, 2018
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  • I made this (exactly as described) on Christmas Eve and my family loved it! This will be new Christmas tradition dish. Thank you!

    • — Sylvia Flippo on December 26, 2018
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  • This is one of my favorite easy dinners

    • — Patty Young on December 20, 2018
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  • This is the best Baked Ziti recipe. Everyone in my family loved this dish. I will be making this again to add to our Christmas buffet.

    • — DS on December 20, 2018
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  • This has become my go-to Ziti recipe. The flavors are absolutely perfect! I think the fresh mozzarella is an absolute must! Thank you so much for

    • — Regina on December 20, 2018
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  • This is the best make ahead recipe for the holidays. I made it as a side for Thanksgiving and making again for Christmas! Everyone loved it. My 4 and 6 year old couldn’t get enough! I made it 4 days in advance and pulled out 24 hrs before cooking to thaw in fridge just like Jenn said to do and it turned out perfectly! A family favorite!!

    • — Abby V on December 20, 2018
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  • Delicious! Tripled the recipe for a party, fit perfectly into a full hotel pan. Made ahead, reheated (covered) at 425 degrees until warm, then uncovered 15 more min. Fabulous. Very happy to have some leftovers. Guests loved it!

    • — Megan on December 16, 2018
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  • Jenn
    I make this dish every time we have visitors and it never disappoints. This time I have made it ahead and it is in the freezer. My question…can I put it in the fridge 3 days ahead of cooking as we will be out of town together until the morning of the day I’d like to bake it. Thanks for your help.

    • — Diane on December 15, 2018
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    • I think that’s fine, Diane. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 16, 2018
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  • I am so excited to make this recipe! If my family doesn’t eat pork…what are some alternatives to give the same flavor to the dish? Turkey sausage? Beef with fennel? What do you think?

    • — Misty on December 14, 2018
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    • Hi Misty, You can use either chicken or turkey sausage in place of the pork. Ground beef would also work as long as you season it well. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2018
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  • Hello Jenn! I can’t wait to cook this recipe. I plan on cooking one with the sausage and one without the sausage. I have some friends that do not eat meat. Should I follow the recipe exactly as written just omitting the sausage for the second pan? Any tips are appreciated. 🙂

    • — Amy on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Amy, a number of readers have commented that they’ve made vegetarian versions of this and have added sauteed veggies (like bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. in place of the sausage). That said, I really prefer this with sausage as it adds so much flavor. You may want to consider this lasagna recipe for your vegetarian friends. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
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  • Absolutely wonderful! This is becoming a go-to recipe in rotation. Bakes up well – who doesn’t love crispy baked bits on top! My only feedback is the serving sizes. There’s no way this makes 9-10 recipes, unless you are serving a table of toddlers. I had a family of four over last week, with my husband and me, that made six of us at dinner. A few of us went away from the meal wanting a bit more and we finished the pan! I would say it comfortably feeds four – five (six if you have salad, bread and some starters).

    • — Dorothy on November 30, 2018
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  • It’s the best baked ziti I’ve ever tasted. My 6 year old son didn’t lift his head up once while devouring two bowls full!!! Even my 8 year old who doesn’t care for pasta had two helpings. Yet another great recipe from Jenn.

    • — Diana on November 27, 2018
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  • This recipe is wonderful! It has become my go to for most of my Fall and Winter gatherings, and everyone is always so impressed! Love it!

    • — Molly on November 24, 2018
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  • If I were to use 1.5 pounds of pasta, do you think I should double the sauce?

    • — Erin on November 20, 2018
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    • Hi Erin, Yes, I would definitely double it (you can always freeze any extra since you won’t need all of it).

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2018
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  • When it sits for one or two days before baking doesn’t it absorb too much sauce? I’m afraid it will be dry.

    • — Kay on November 17, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kay, I don’t think you’ll find it dry, but If you are concerned about it, feel free to make 1.25 times the sauce so it will start out with a bit more sauce in the mix. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2018
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  • Made this and froze it for my sister after she had her second baby, and it was a total hit! It defrosts and bakes up really well. I’m definitely storing this one for future meal trains and family dinners.

    • — Kim H on November 15, 2018
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    • Hi. I’m looking to make this and freeze it. How did you do it? Did you prepped it all the way through and then freeze it? How did you cover it when you froze it? Did you defrost it at all before you baked it? How did it change your baking time? Thanks.

      • — Shana on December 8, 2018
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  • Hi Jen, I have leftover canned tomato sauce (not marinara just sauce) from another recipe. Can I use this in place of crushed tomatoes? I love your recipes and just purchased your cookbook! Thanks so much

    • — Lauren on November 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • I think that’d be fine, Lauren. Hope you enjoy the cookbook! 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn, just wondering if this “feeds 8-10” as a main course? I am having dinner guests on Friday and we will be 4 adults and 5 kids under 9. Think it will be enough with a salad, some bread and a cheese course?

    • — Audrey on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Yes, Audrey – I think that will be enough to satisfy everyone. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
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  • Another terrific recipe from Once Upon a Chef! Made according to recipe.

    • — Sandy Bragg on November 7, 2018
    • Reply
  • My husband loved this. He had it 4 consecutive days lol. I think the heavy cream gives it a velvety texture that ricotta wouldn’t have…ingenious! Jenn, I can’t wait until you release another cookbook. You are such a gift to the home cook.

    • — Jennifer on November 7, 2018
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  • So delicious, very filling and comes together quick and easy. I made this tonight for dinner and everyone was saying “yum” as they were eating it. I know when I make a recipe from Once Upon a Chef, that’s it’s going to be delicious. Your recipes never disappoint Jenn. Thank you for all you do!

    • — Vanessa A. on November 1, 2018
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    • 🙂 So glad everyone enjoyed it!

      • — Jenn on November 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Sent my review in too soon and forgot to mention that I used J.O. sweet Italian turkey sausage and it was great, no one knew the difference!

    • — Kim on October 26, 2018
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  • Wow, this was great, especially not having any ricotta in the ingredients. Was not sure how it would taste without it, but was very satisfying. The only thing I would do differently next time is make a little more sauce because that always delicious as well! Another winner from Jenn!

    • — Kim on October 26, 2018
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  • This sounds delicious and I plan to make it for my granddaughter and her boyfriend when they come for dinner this weekend. However, I was wondering if I could substitute something for the heavy cream.


    • — Donna Bechtold on October 25, 2018
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    • Hi Donna, You could try half & half. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
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  • Made this over the weekend and it was absolutely delicious!!!! Only changes were I used ground beef instead of sausage and rigatoni noodles because I prefer them bigger in baked ziti – still came out so yummy. Such an easy to follow recipe and tastes like restaurant quality, the sauce is amazing. Thank you for your recipes, they never disappoint!

    • — Allison on October 24, 2018
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  • Hi Jen,
    I’m wondering if you can put the pasta casserole in the oven directly from the freezer. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of knowing 24 hours in advance when you want to serve it.
    I’ve noticed that when I defrost a tray of unbaked lasagne in the fridge for 24 hours, it renders the pasta too soft after baking the casserole. Perhaps this is because it has absorbed too much moisture from the 24 hour refrigerator thaw. I’ve used the “bake from frozen” lasagne suggestion that I saw in America’s Test Kitchen, and that has solved the mushy noodle problem. They suggest baking the lasagne, frozen, at 375 for an hour and 15 minutes, then removing the foil and baking for another 30 minutes until the edges are brown and sauce is bubbling. Thanks in advance for your input.

    • — Christi on October 23, 2018
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    • Hi Christi, Yes, I think it would work to bake it from frozen – it will obviously just take longer to bake. (Also, I would suggest letting the dish sit out at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes before placing it in the oven just so you’re not “shocking” your cookware by putting it into a hot oven straight from the freezer. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 24, 2018
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  • Delicious!

    • — Rita on October 22, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn. Firstly I love your website and cookbook. Could I make this recipe without any meat or meat substitutes?

    • — Kathy on October 18, 2018
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    • Sure, Kathy, that will work. You could also use diced, sauteed veggies in place of the sausage. LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2018
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  • I love the sauce in this recipe. I made it with “meatless” sausage since I am a vegetarian. I would skip the sausage altogether and add spinach and mushrooms instead. The sauce, ziti, and cheese combo is fantastic on its own. Thanks for a great recipe. It will now be a regular in my rotation. 🙂

    • — Jane C. on October 17, 2018
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  • Amazing. I did half sweet half spicy sausage…lots of fresh basil! yummy.

    • — Megan on October 11, 2018
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  • I substituted turkey Italian sausage, no one knew the difference and it was fantastic.

    • — Elena Pietrantonio on October 11, 2018
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  • Made for my Italian husband this past Sunday. the best I have ever made. husband had 3 portions and told me never lose the recipe….It was the best consistency. she is right about the ricotta and hubby does not like. Boy are the leftovers going to be good in this house. can’t wait to try more recipes.

    • — enid luchetti on October 9, 2018
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  • A great weeknight supper. This was easy to make and we had lots of leftovers which made my family happy. I felt the fresh basil, rather than dried basil, at the end was a nice touch.

    • — Karen Cauty on October 9, 2018
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  • My family of 5 loves this dish. We call it “Pizza Pasta!!” It’s delicious comfort food. I make it with gluten free pasta due to one person’s sensitivity (cork screw if I can find it), and I’m always skeptical when I look at that cardboard-y cooked pasta, but it always works out great. Thanks for another keeper!

    • — Patricia on October 9, 2018
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  • This recipe is one of my favorites, and definitely my all-time favorite baked pasta. I use 1 pound of sausage which is definitely enough!

    • — Sally on October 8, 2018
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  • This is now my go to ziti recipe! My whole family loves it, which is hard when feeding a family of 6. Normally at least 3 out of 6 don’t like what’s for dinner, but not with this recipe. The homemade sauce along with the sausage and fresh basil is just delicious. I have had some trouble finding the ziti rigate in my food store which I like better than the traditional ziti, but it’s just personal preference. Thanks for another yummy family friendly recipe Jenn!

    • — Chris on October 7, 2018
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  • I fixed this recipe for my BUNCO group for dinner. Everyone asked for the recipe….it was fantastic

    • — Margie B on October 7, 2018
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  • This is my favorite Ziti recipe. I share with my co workers and friends.

    • — Shayla on October 7, 2018
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  • Another wonderful, delicious recipe. Half of the recipe is plenty for my family, so I freeze the other half. It’s so nice to get two meals for the work for one!

    • — Jacquie Rohricht on October 7, 2018
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  • I made this dish because my husband loves lasagne and I thought this would be a good, quick substitute. He ended up loving it! Extra bonus, we keep most of the ingredients that this recipe calls for on hand so I had to do very little shopping. I followed the recipe as it’s written, only substituting parm for the pecorino, and it turned out excellent. It was a little meat heavy for my taste, so next time I’ll probably decrease the amount added, otherwise perfect as is.

    • — Randi on October 5, 2018
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  • This is an easy dinner to make and the flavour is all there. I add extra garlic and pepper but I know my family likes it spicy. If I am out of ziti, I sub penne or rotini instead.

    • — Lisa on October 5, 2018
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  • Delicious,easy and perfect crowd pleaser recipe. I used Parmesan instead of Romano and substituted tomatoes grown in my garden which I canned. I have made this several times and it does not disappoint!

    • — Evelyn on October 5, 2018
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  • I have made this many times. It’s easy and delicious. I like that it is a little different than the usual ziti recipe. The flavor is excellent, and the house smells wonderful when it’s baking. It’s a perfect dish for fall.

    • — Lori on October 4, 2018
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  • Made this while at a rented home on holiday. It was quick & vacation friendly because. Just basic cooking tools needed. It was delicious and more importantly kid approved. It’s become a part of our meal rotation at home ever since we tasted it. Great how you can control spiciness through your sausage choice and spices. We paired it with a Caesar salad and baguette.

    • — Barb Le Mare on October 4, 2018
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  • I made this recipe last night and not only was it easy but wonderful too. I did add mushrooms and sautéed them in the pan with the garlic. The leftovers were enough for dinner the next night and the entree was just as delicious. I served the meal with a Caesar salad (your dressing) and a crusty french baguette. Next time I’m going to try a vegetarian option with sautéed zucchini, peppers and mushrooms just for fun.

    • — Sandra Childs on October 4, 2018
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  • I was looking for an easy but special main dish to bring to an little weekend getaway with friends and settled on this Baked Ziti because it could be fully assembled at home but baked at the cabin. It was so good! I made it exactly as stated in the recipe except I used turkey Italian sausage. I wouldn’t change a thing. I paired it with Jenn’s Big Italian salad which was also a big hit (we especially enjoyed the dressing) and focaccia bread.
    I love this site and return to it often because the recipes are always delicious and I am confident in the results. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Kim N on October 4, 2018
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  • 5 Stars! This is my favourite baked ziti recipe. It’s creamy, cheesy and so flavourful! I’ve made many baked pasta recipes and have come up disappointed – usually because of them being dry and lacking a certain something. I do like the traditional ricotta in baked ziti however, so I ended up doing half and half: half ricotta, half cream and it turned out perfectly. Thank you for another fantastic 5 star recipe.

    • — Leah Beatty on October 4, 2018
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  • Delicious!! This recipe is a regular in our house, and leftovers are great for lunch the next day!

    • — Laura on October 4, 2018
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  • Fantastic recipe Jen! I have had many baked ziti’s over the years but this one is for sure my favorite. I love the flavor that the sausage brings! I blend a mix of ground Angus and mild Italian sausage. I just like the balance it has. I also tend to use creme fraise in place of heavy cream for many of my dishes. I am a bit sensitive to dairy and I tolerate that better.

    My family LOVES this recipe! And my college freshman son appreciates that he can make a batch and have lunch for the entire week! I am frequently sending him links from your blog.

    This one is a keeper for sure!

    • — Bruce Ahrendt on October 4, 2018
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  • Made this for my family. My husband loved it. He ate it for 2 days! The kids loved them sausage but for some reason was not into the baked pasta. I omit the sugar as I typically do when I make tomato sauce and added a bit more red pepper. Yum!

    • — Megan on October 4, 2018
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  • Delicious pasta dish – and easy to prepare. I have fixed it on multiple occasions for friends and family because it is freezer-friendly. (When preparing for my family, I use hot Italian sausage, because it adds a little extra something.) I have also divided the recipe into 2 8-inch disposable aluminum pans for giving to singles. Thanks, Jenn, for another great recipe!

    • — Sarah P on October 4, 2018
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  • Another big hit, Jenn! I made this for a dinner party (after having a trial run for the family) and it was perfect for preparing a day ahead. I put it completely made into the fridge and then let it come to room temp. before the guests came. A large onion and a bell pepper (the second time I made it) gave it a little extra flavor. To prevent tough or burnt noodles on the edges, I poured a little extra tomato sauce around the whole perimeter.
    Btw, the recipe really reminded me of my university days: my roommate’s mom used to make us baked ziti to take with us when we drove back to school after any holiday. Thanks for the memories.

    • — Karen on October 4, 2018
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  • This recipe is one of my family’s favorites! I’m also part of a parents group that will send out meal prep notifications requesting meals for families who’ve just had a new baby, medical procedure, etc., and I always make this recipe. I usually sub chicken sausage to make it a little lighter, and it’s a hit every time! The prep is very easy, and you can easily cut the recipe in half if you want to make a smaller batch, but the leftovers never go to waste in my house!

    • — Stephanie on October 4, 2018
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  • Hello,

    This was the first recipe I tried from your site. It was delicious! We all enjoyed it in our family including my 6 and 4 year old. I plan on adding this to our dinner rotation. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • — Rose on October 3, 2018
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  • Would have given 5 stars if it hadn’t gotten burned around the edges. Next time I make it I’ll reduce oven temp, 450 is just too high.

    • — Kurt on October 2, 2018
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  • Hello, would you mind giving me freezing instructions, please?

    • — L on September 30, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi L, The dish can be frozen unbaked. When you’re ready to cook it, defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then proceed with the baking instructions in the recipe.

      • — Jenn on September 30, 2018
      • Reply
      • Thank you so much, Jenn! I always get confused about whether or not I can freeze dairy products without if affecting the final product. Glad to know I can!

        • — L on September 30, 2018
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  • Made this last week (tucked half in the freezer for one of “those days.) Himself says, “You can make that again!” This is high praise. I used turkey Italian sausage. Yum.

  • I am the only meat eater in my family of 4 (2 militant vegans and 1 vegetarian) so I made a vegan version of this with textured soy protein instead of the sausage. It was a huge hit and every scrap got eaten. I can only imagine what the real thing tastes like (single tear rolls down cheek)

    • 🙂 Glad everyone enjoyed it!

  • OMG, I made this today in preparation for company in a few weeks, just to make sure we liked it! Well, hands down this is great. My grandsons gave it two thumbs up and my husband is still talking about it. This is smooth and creamy, tasty – just overall great! I froze the over half of the recipe for a dinner just for my husband and I!

  • Can you substitute dry basil for the fresh? If so, how much dry basil do I use?

    • Sure, The rule of thumb is to use about a 3rd of the amount if you’re using dried versus fresh herbs, so you’ll need about 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Hope you enjoy!

  • That s dish was simple to prepare and the instructions are easy to follow. I doubled the recipe and my family thinks I’m a culinary genius. This dish is creamy and cheesy. Cooking noodles very aldente is key. I read a couple of reviews that said the dish was dry…I do not see how that was possible. The best! Thank you.

  • Wonderful recipe, thank you. Will definitely be making again but will use the suggestion you gave to another reviewer in making it in two smaller dishes with one for the freezer.

  • I saw this recipe (today) and it sounded so good… I made it tonight. Delicious! I actually halved the recipe as there are only four of us eating. I used sweet chicken sausage (and I forgot to get the basil…oops… still delicious… and the basil will make it even better.) I will definitely make this again (with the basil next time).

  • Do you think I could freeze the leftovers as we are only 2 people?

    • Hi Gail, For best results, I recommend dividing the pasta into 2 smaller dishes before baking and freezing one unbaked dish for another time. See instructions at the end of the recipe. Enjoy!

  • If I use bottled sauce how much should I add to sausage mix

    • Hi JoAnn, I’d use a 32-oz jar.

  • Came across the Once Upon A Chef blog yesterday and decided to make this ziti for dinner. It was delicious. I used 1lb spicy and 1 lb mild for the meat and it had quite a kick to it. Flavors and textures were excellent. All five of us, even the picky eater, loved it! Will be looking for recipes to try after this successful choice.

  • Again, another great easy dish. I tasted it and it’s really delicious. I made it for tomorrow’s dinner so all my husband has to do is put it in the oven. Making salad tonight and then we’ll all set. So looking fogrward to it. Thank you.

  • Can you use half and half instead?

    • Yes, Rose, that will work. Enjoy!

  • Hi, thank you for all your great recipes. I was wondering will this recipe work with ground turkey instead of sweet turkey sausage?

    • Hi Amreeta, Yes, you could get away with using ground turkey here. I would suggest adding a few tablespoons of olive oil before browning it and also lots of extra herbs and spices to mimic the sausage flavor (onion powder, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, black pepper, oregano, salt, etc). And glad you like the recipes! 🙂

  • Hi Jenn! I love this recipe, and make it all the time. My question is if I use chopped canned tomatoes instead of crushed, should I add some tomato paste or sauce? If so, how much? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Carol, Yes, I’d add a small 8-oz can of tomato sauce along with the chopped tomatoes. Hope you enjoy it!

  • This recipe is not only easy but it’s also absolutely delicious! I’m keeping this recipe forever because everyone loved it!

  • Y’all, this recipe is bomb and is SO easy. Add a quick salad and a bottle of vino and you have a perfect date night meal.

    I sauteed a diced onion before adding the garlic, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. The whole thing comes together in no time.


    SO GOOD.

    My husband, my kids, and myself (hehe) went back for seconds and thirds. I had to eventually put it away since my hubby was going a bit over board!!!

  • I made this dish exactly as the recipe instructed with one major substitution. I used a wonderful crumbly meat alternative by Lightlife. It was delicious! My point is despite being unable to eat meat because of digestive difficulties, your recipes lend themselves very well to using protein substitutes. With a crisp pear/candied pecan salad, buttermilk asiago biscuits, and a fine Cabernet, this made for a GREAT Sunday dinner!

  • Any chance you could make a lower sodium version? At almost 1 gram of sodium per serving a lower sodium version would be much more desirable from a health standpoint.

    • Hi Lorna, a lot of the ingredients in this dish (like the crushed tomatoes and cheese) contribute to the sodium level. I’d suggest looking for a brand of tomatoes that has no salt added and cutting back on the added salt to taste.

  • Very good recipe!

  • I made this for a family birthday party. Followed the recipe exactly and everyone agreed it was wonderful. I have two, fussy, 8 year old grandsons. One wolfed it down and asked for more. The other wouldn’t try it. You win some; you lose some.

  • Great recipe, total hit at my Fourth of July party, made a couple minor substitutions and turned out very well.

  • I made this ziti exactly according to your recipe and it was wonderful. I would like to add spinach to it next time. My daughter-in-law likes her girls [my granddaughters] to get vegetables as often as possible. Can I add frozen spinach or should I add fresh? How much should I add? Thank you.

    • Hi Martha, glad you enjoyed this! Spinach would be a nice addition to this and the frozen is just fine. I’d use one of the 10 oz. boxes. Just be sure to squeeze all the water out when you defrost it.

  • Made this ziti for dinner last night, as usual, another winning recipe! I substituted italian turkey sausage, but other than that followed the recipe as written and everyone loved it!

    • I also used half and half instead of heavy cream just because that’s what I had on hand, and did double the sauce recipe.

  • I just made this today, and just finished eating it. Wow, I would give it more stars if I could! Love the sauce, I could see it being used for spaghetti or other pasta. I might even like it more than my beloved Alfredo sauce. I have more of your recipes bookmarked, and look forward them. I love the step by step photos, very helpful. Thank you so much Jenn!

  • I was wondering if this recipe would work in a crock pot. Make it just as the recipe says and then just layer it in the crock pot like you would in a baking dish and cook on low. Would that work without drying it out? I would really like to make this for a lunch at work, but would have to do it in the crock pot.

    • Hi Angie, I don’t have experience with a slow cooker, so I can’t say for sure, but I would think you wouldn’t get great results cooking pasta in one (I think it would get overcooked and mushy). I’d suggest making this as the recipe suggests and then transporting it to a slow cooker to keep it warm for serving. Hope that helps!

  • I stumbled on your site a few days ago and I’m so glad I did. This is a really great baked ziti recipe. It’s very flavorful and better than any I’ve every had at any restaurant. My family absolutely loved it. It was very simple to make and your directions were very easy to follow. Your recipes are top notch and I look forward to trying more! Thank you for sharing your talent!

  • The flavor of the dish was really good, but it seemed dry to me. I followed the recipe exactly, but I prefer my Italian dishes with more sauce, I will try it again, but next time I may double the recipe for the sauce.

  • My family loved it! My husband had 3 servings! Did 1 lb sweet italian sausage with 1 lb seasoned ground beef and added extra garlic and cheese. So yummy! Definite repeat in this house. Thank you Jenn for all your wonderful recipes.

  • Excellent dish! Didn’t have basil on hand so substituted with oregano. Will use oregano next time.

    • Meant to say “will use basil next time” 🙂

  • This was so simple to make and absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
    Quick question, If I prep it in the morning to be baked in the evening, how long do I wait to refrigerate it after cooking it?

    • Hi Sasha, No need to wait – you can put it right in the fridge.

  • The whole family LOVED this dish! It’s a perfect weeknight meal as it’s quick, easy, filling and simply delicious!

    Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  • Can I use light cream instead of heavy?

    • Yes, Jane, that should work. Enjoy!

  • I have only recently discovered your site and have already made five items each and every one fantastic. We are a household of just two, but we very nearly finished the ziti in one sitting. Can you tell me if adding baking soda to the sausage, the way you advise for ground beef, would be of benefit or detrimental to a recipe. Thank you

    • Hi Pam, so glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I wouldn’t bother to add baking soda to the sausage here. Sausage is already quite tender, so it’s not needed.

  • Found this recipe by googling baked ziti w/ sausage and loved your version so much. I made it with lentil pasta and added a homemade bechemel sauce because… how could that hurt? It’s creamy and tomato-y deliciousness! Thank you 🙂

  • Mid April in Minneapolis, and we got 15 inches of snow over the weekend. Perfect pasta weather, so I gave this a try and was pleased beyond measure! The only thing I added were some chopped onions. Thanks so much for this treat!

  • I can’t believe how good this is. It’s super easy to double or triple, and is an amazing crowd-pleaser.

  • Hi Jen,
    When I told my son I had bought hot Italian sausage, his response was “I hope you’re planning on making Jen’s ziti.” We’ve had it twice, and love it! Would it be OK to put everything together the night before, but save the baking for the next say?

    • 😊 Definitely!

  • Jenn, I made your baked ziti tonight & the family raved! I have been baking ziti for 50 years, have many different recipes. First time to use cream instead of ricotta. My daughter insisted it was the best ziti ever. TY so much for your fabulous recipes. They are so dependable.

    • So glad everyone enjoyed! 🙂

  • Can this recipe doubled with same results?

    • Sure, Toni. This should double nicely. Enjoy!

  • Jenn,
    Can I make this using beef instead of pork.

    • Hi Evie, I think it’s best with sausage but it should also work with well-seasoned ground beef. Enjoy!

  • To make ahead, do you complete all the steps except the last 15 minutes in the oven? Thank-you.

    Second time I’m making this, so delicious.

    • Yes, that’s correct, Nicole (but because it will be coming out of the fridge right before baking, it will take more time in the oven to heat up. Glad you enjoy it!

  • This dish is great and versatile. I replaced the tomatoes with the same amount of marinera sauce and it was delicious. The second time I made it I accidentally grabbed asiago cheese, what a happy mistake! The asiago is excellent if you don’t have parmesan. I’ve also just made the sauce and put it over spaghetti and my family loved it!

  • This was spectacular! Even my picky brother loved it. The only thing I changed was to use dried basil as grocery store did not have fresh and maybe a little extra Romano (how could that hurt?) This will be my go to ziti casserole. Thanks for doing all the hard work in making your recipes wonderful

  • I like to cover the Ziti w/ foil, this way the Ziti does not get hard on the edges.

  • This recipe came out great! The only change I made was to substitute some of the crushed tomatoes with Prego Original Pasta Sauce. I did this because I only had about half the amount of crushed tomatoes called for. I also added some diced, sauteed onion. I served this with a store-bought loaf of garlic bread and everyone loved it.

  • Hi Jenn,
    I am making this for my oscars party 🙂
    what do you think about adding spinach?
    your recipes are awesome! and I’m excited to make this for the first time.
    thank you,

    • Hi Lisa, I think spinach would be a nice addition to this. (And glad you like the recipes!)

  • This recipe is always on rotation at our house because everyone loves it. Very easy and quick recipe. I like to prepare earlier in the day and then bake before serving. Recipe is perfect the way it is. Sometimes I add sautéed cut up mushrooms and onions to the sauce.

    • — Jessica Overholtzer
    • Reply
  • This is a great easy recipe, I’de call it a staple. Bought link sausage and cut into bit size pieces.

  • This is my family’s favorite. I made it as written.

  • Easy & Tasty…It was a dish that my entire family enjoyed. I have made it four times because they are constantly requesting me to make it again. I knew it was a hit when they ate the leftovers without me asking….little brats ;-P

  • Super easy to make and delicious! My boyfriend says this is his favorite pasta dish now so I’ve made it several times since. We don’t always have fresh basil so if you use dried – make sure to only use a tablespoon or two so it’s not overpowering!

  • One of the best pasta recipes ever! I added more cheese and my entire family loved every bite.
    Please keep these easy make-ahead recipes coming!

  • A question about the heavy cream.. I’m lactose intolerant but I found a wonderful lactose free moz/jack made locally. I also have lactose free cottage cheese in my fridge. Would you use this in place of heavy cream or just L-free whole milk? I know neither is ideal….

    • Hi Cathy, I think you could get away with the cottage cheese instead of the cream here. Hope you enjoy it!

      • I did end up using the cottage cheese and it was delicious. Thought about pureeing it, but I just sort of mashed it so it would be smoother.

  • I mean, seriously. THE best pasta dish I’ve ever made. And it was easy and cheap. Not healthy, but who cares! Everything in moderation.

  • Absolutely delicious! Another hit Jenn!

  • Fabulous! Made this dish along with the “Pair With” dishes you suggested – Big Italian Salad and Rosemary Focaccia – for Valentines dinner lastnight fo0r my family. YUMMMMM was the feedback 🙂
    Thanks Jenn!!

  • Hi Jennifer,
    Would it be OK to put this recipe together the day before baking it?

    • Sure – hope you enjoy!

  • This is one of my new favorite recipes. We are having a luncheon for the teachers at my son’s school next week, and this is what I signed up to bring. Wondering the best way to serve it in a crock pot so it will stay warm…bake first and then transfer to crock pot, or bake it directly in the crock and keep it warm in the crock pot? Advice appreciated!
    P.S. I find I can’t cook anymore unless I’m using one of your recipes!

    • So glad you like this recipe enough to share it with the teachers at your son’s school! I would suggest baking it first and then keeping it warm in the crockpot. Hope they all enjoy it!

      • I baked it first in the crock and then put it straight into the crockpot to keep it warm. I’m not sure when it was eaten, but when I picked up the dish 6 hours after I dropped it off, there was a scoop left. The ziti was really big. Didn’t taste it at this point, but I’ll just assume the ziti gets really mushy with this method. In the future, I’d say this is better eaten straight away or even at room temperature over the crock pot method described above.

        • Thanks so much for the follow-up, Sally! Definitely good for other readers to know.

  • I made this recipe exactly and it was a big hit at the Super Bowl party. I made two casseroles and baked at 450 as written, then baked the 2nd at 425 (because the first had baked/burned bottom and edges. So for my oven this slightly lower temperature was better. And it was an awesome dish. Love it and will make again! Thank you Jen!!

  • Easy and delicious! I’ve been trying to incorporate more veggies into our meals so I added some peeled, diced eggplant that I sautéed in the pan after cooking the Italian sausage. My daughter ate it all up and didn’t even notice the eggplant because it sort of melted into the dish after baking. We are adding this dish to our regular rotation.

  • This was so easy and delicious, in the time it takes to cook the pasta you can do the rest of it. It would be a great weeknight meal or a dish to bring to a party. My whole family enjoyed this.

  • This was delicious!! Made this tonight for dinner and my family loved it. I sort of live in the middle of nowhere and was not able to find all of the ingredients. I substituted the romano cheese with parmigiana reggiano and the whole milk mozzarella with part skim. I also used sweet turkey sausage and it turned out great!

    I also want to personally thank you for making mealtime in my home so special. I having been cooking my way through your blog and my husband now knows we don’t question Jenn! I triple love your recipes and can’t wait for your cookbook!!

    • That is so sweet, Shami. So happy your family is enjoying the recipes! ❤️

  • I love this baked ziti, I usually double the sauce because we like it a little saucier in my house, but it’s delicious!

    • — Christina Lengyel
    • Reply
  • The first time I made this dish, I prepared it ahead of time to leave in the fridge for my parents and kids while my husband and I went out of town. My parents raved about it. I also made it for a family who had just lost their father. It’s a perfect dish to make for people who need some support and care. It’s delicous and easy to make.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating amazing recipes with ingredients that I have in my kitchen. I never seem to please my whole family but when I make your dishes, they gobble it up! The baked ziti was absolutely spectacular – hubby said it tasted better the next day. Followed your recipe exactly and I can’t wait to make it again.

  • Am I able to do all the steps up to baking it in the oven and freeze this dish for future use?

  • Hi Jenn,

    Can this be made a day ahead and cooked just before dinner?

    • Sure, Mary, that will work. Enjoy!

  • Fantastic!!! It’s easy but does take a little time to prepare, although not nearly as long as traditional Ziti recipes. Loved, loved, loved it…. so did my husband. Will definitely make it again. I didn’t change a thing in the recipe. Why would you….it is perfect!

  • I’m planning to make this tomorrow, but no fresh basil at my store. If I use dried, how much would you recommend? Thank you!

    • Hi Carol, I’d probably just use a teaspoon in the sauce. Hope you enjoy it!

      • Came out great!

  • Made this tonight and was a huge hit with my husband… it’s only the two of us so l divided it up into two casserole dishes and froze the other for another night. Followed the recipe and was not disappointed… I used 1/2 spicy Italian sausage and 1/2 regular Italian sausage so I skipped the red peppers and it was perfect.

  • Hi Jen,
    A dear friend passed away and I am anxious to support his family with some home cooked meals that are either heated up easily or frozen–with delicious results. This seems like a good one. Which of your recipes fit this bill the best and what directions would you provide for the family for thawing/ heating? You are the best, by the way!

    • Norah, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend! Yes, the Baked Ziti is a good candidate for freezing; I’d suggest that you assemble and freeze it unbaked. Let your friends know that when they’re ready to cook it, to defrost the fridge for 24 hours, then proceed with the baking instructions in the recipe. Some other good options for freezing are: Salmon Cakes, Thai Butternut Squash Soup, and Italian Meatloaf. Each of these recipes has guidance for freezing in the recipe instructions. Hope that helps!

  • My husband and I love your recipes. I could never get him to eat chicken until I found your recipes. I can’t wait for your book to come out. I would love to make this recipe but we do not eat pork. Do you have any suggestions? I would really like to make this.

    • Hi Stacey, so glad you and your husband are enjoying the recipes and that he is now officially a chicken eater! You can use either chicken or turkey sausage in place of the pork. Please LMK how it turns out!

  • So delicious. This will be added to my recipe collection.

  • I Made this for my family tonight, and it was delicious. I agree that using cream rather than ricotta is the way to go. All of the baked ziti I’ve made in the past dried up and flaked because of the ricotta. I think stirring mascarpone into the tomato mixture instead of cream would also be delicious. The fresh basil really made this dish. I tucked fresh mozzarella pearls in as I was layering and added slices of fresh mozzarella to the top instead of whole milk mozzarella, and it melted beautifully. This will definitely be added to my regular recipe rotation. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Jenn,
    You’ve done it again! Super easy.super great!. I liked the substitution of cream for ricotta and it produced the expected results. Much creamier.
    Funny story. I was making this for a family get together. Mom asked if I had made it before as she wanted everything perfect for the family. I told, Mom it’s from once upon a chef. She knew of the other 5 things I’ve made from your recipes. Enuff said. She was in.

    Thanks again
    P.S I’ve been posting all this to your Instagram page @onceuponachef

    • Glad you enjoyed it (and thanks for the confidence both you and your mom have in my recipes)! 🙂

  • This has earned a spot in our regular dinner rotation-my suspicious, casserole fearing boys love it! Thank you once again.

  • Hi there- can i use a different pasta besides ziti? such as rigatoni? Is there any downside? Thanks!

    • Sure, Tanya – no downside. Enjoy!

      • thank you 🙂

  • Made recipe as is – exception of the fresh mozzarella as my local store was out. But even though you were right about the texture of the pre-shredded cheese it was still a big hit. I did a mix of the sweet and spicy Italian sausage and it was just the right amount of kick. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe it’s a keeper for sure! As there are only two of us in our house I froze half of that dish – do you recommend thawing before reheating and do you recommend repeating at the same original temperature and in the oven?

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Piper! Yes, I would recommend putting the frozen ziti in the fridge the night before you plan to serve it. Assuming the frozen ziti is already baked, you can likely bake it for the same amount of time if not a bit longer. (I’d keep it covered, though, so it doesn’t’ dry out too much.

  • Wow – a real hit with my family!
    Put it into 2 pans – one to bake right away and one to bake a couple days later. Both delicious. Followed the recipe to a ‘t’.

  • Jenn, would this work with seasoned ground beef? Thanks for your website, I am so glad I discovered it

    • Hi Olga, I think it’s best with sausage but it should also work with well-seasoned ground beef.

  • So yummy! By far the favorite pasta dish in my house! Thank you! You always share the best.

  • We’ve made this a few times now and really love it. Made a triple batch for a party recently and it was a hit. Froze a little pan for later but haven’t eaten that yet, so I can’t speak to how that will turn out. Can’t see any reason it won’t be great though. Takes a little time, but definitely worth it.

  • Lovely flavors and very satisfying. The fresh basil really enhances this dish.

  • I don’t normally review BUT this was so good. The sauce was very good. Very much enjoying your recipes

  • I made this with the sausage and it was spectacular. What changes should I make if I were to make this without the sausage? Vegetarian coming for dinner (not vegan.)

    • Hi Jayce, Unfortunately I don’t think this dish would be nearly as good without the sausage since that’s where most of the flavor comes from. You might try this vegetarian lasagna recipe instead.

    • I made this vegetarian using frozen Boca crumbles sautéed with a few dried herbs (dried basil, oregano, etc) and it was INCREDIBLE! My young kids and my meat-eating husband loved it. I froze leftovers in small kid-sized portions and it is still fantastic from the freezer. By far our favorite *vegetarian* pasta dish. Thank you!

  • PS — for spaghetti I would use 50 % ground beef.

  • Hi Jen — Would you ever use this sauce as a meat sauce for spaghetti? Suggestions?

    • Hi Dory, Definitely (and I do!).

  • I don’t dislike many foods, but Italian pasta dishes and sausage are not items I generally crave or seek out. It’s like the two things I don’t really care for were put into a dish, but I made it anyhow. I’m so glad I did! This seemed simple, pretty inexpensive, and soul-warming during the cold and dark winter months that we are experiencing. I made this last week and am making it again tonight. I’m from Iowa, but I was still taken aback by the amount of cream at first. However, it’s a large dish and the cream helps with the reheating factor (this dish makes great leftovers, which I am picky about). I definitely recommend fresh basil because it adds a freshness and flavor pop against the heavier flavors of cheese, pasta, sausage, etc. However, my local grocery store was out of fresh basil last time I made it and it still was delicious!

  • This recipe is a total keeper, YUM! I used hot Italian sausage meat (from 4 sausages) so left out crushed pepper flakes, otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

  • This recipe was fairly easy to make and, wow, was it ever delicious! I made it just as the recipe called for and am in awe at how good it is without a lot of work. My family loved it and said it’s a “make again”.

  • Delicious! This tastes like it came from a restaurant. I can’t wait to use the sauce again for many other dishes. We have a small family so I split the mixture into 2 pans. One went into the freezer for Christmas Eve dinner.

  • I made this last night along with the big Italian salad (recipe from this site). Wow was it perfect. The only substitution I made was that I had a ground pork/beef to use up but it was only about a pound and thankfully had some honey-garlic sausages. The husband said he would love the sausages cut into medallions in it. So that’s what I did. Everything else I followed spot on. The kids took leftovers for lunch and are actually excited to have it for dinner again as well. Yay. I truly didn’t think one pound of noodles was going to be enough but with the sauce and meat it fit the 9×13 dish perfectly. The family believes this meal has to happen weekly. It is so easy I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Thanks Jennifer. A+ recipe.

  • I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Chef but was a little apprehensive to a try a baked ziti recipe without riccotta cheese. I decided to try it anyway because so far this site has never let me down, and boy am I glad I did! The sauce was delicious andeven though its a simple recipe its packed with flavor! I cut the sugar in half and used mild spicy sausage, it was perfect!

  • Very easy and very delicious. My son loved it. Will make again.

    • Oh my! Simple, straight-forward ingredients all come together easily for an elegant comfort dish. I used a spicy organic chicken sausage made right here in our home town, and it was delicious. Thanks for another trustworthy, successful dish.

  • My entire family is in love with this recipe. And I love it especially because– in addition to being delicious every single time– it is also really simple to put together and so convenient on nights when everyone is busy. I’ve made it quite a few times by now, and have had just as much success when I use half and half (which we usually have on hand) instead of heavy cream (which we usually do not). The tip about the mozzarella was especially useful to me, as I’d attempted similar recipes with fresh mozzarella, which just doesn’t work very well. Thank you for a family favorite!!

    • — Christine Jackson
    • Reply
  • We really enjoyed this dish! Less time consuming than lasagna, but tastes just as good! I always enjoying reading your recipes. Most of the indredients you use are already in my fridge or pantry. Thanks!

  • It seems that I am only cooking from your recipes lately. This one was one of our favourite’s! It was quick and delicious. I didn’t change a thing and made it with your big Italian salad. Will be making again for my next dinner party! Thank you 😀

  • This dish was delicious! Quick, easy to make and perfect for a weekday dinner. The kids loved this pasta dish too. This will become a go to recipe for our family for sure!!

  • Hi Jenn, since I found your website recently I’ve cooked the Peruvian style chicken with the green sauce, the carrots, big italian salad, mashed potatoes and baked ziti they were delicious! It’s the first time I follow a recipe exactly and have wonderful results, my family say thank you, looking for your book next spring 😉

  • Made this dish three times. Each time it was perfect. The third time I forgot to buy heavy cream but had half and half and mascarpone cheese on hand and used those. Could not tell the difference. I am making it again for new mom. Leftovers are wonderful!

  • Hey Jenn-
    When you make this, do you prefer sweet or spicy sausage? And,have you ever tried it with chicken sausage?
    Barbara Marietta, GA
    Just found your site and I’m already a fan!!

    • Hi Barbara, I use spicy because my family prefers it but both work well. I haven’t tried this recipe with chicken sausage but I think it’d be good.

  • This is a keeper!

  • What a wonderfully easy pasta recipe! Hearty and satisfying to the end. This recipe will become one of my top pasta recipes for sure! Thanks Jenn!! Your recipes never disappoint me, nor my family!

  • We absolutely love this dish. It was made with no modifications and has quickly become a family favorite. The tomato sauce is so easy and so delicious.

  • Absolutely perfect. I am not big on Italian Sausages so substituted that with 85% lean ground beef and otherwise followed the recipe.

  • Easy and a hit with the whole family!

  • This recipe is fantastic! It even surpasses the lasagna recipe I’ve honed over 40 years!

  • I host thanksgiving very year with my immediate family. And every year on the Sat night after thanksgiving I host a second event for my father’s side extended family. We are Italian so of course I have pasta each year. So this year I made the Baked Ziti and Sausage. It was FABULOUS!! I doubled the recipe for the number of people and actually made it the
    Day before and then baked it the day of. Everyone loved it. And the leftovers where even better the second day. I love your recipes. They are easy for the everyday cook. Thank you.

  • I made this for my family and they loved it – haven’t had a recipe we didn’t love from your site! Thank you!

  • The baked Ziti is fabulous – my new go to for potlucks, new neighbors….
    Easy to make and transport. Full of flavor.

  • I made this recipe to take to a friend whose son had an accident. It was easy to make and transport to their home. I added a green salad and a loaf of Italian bread. They said the casserole was “fabulous”. Will definitely be making this again.

  • A delicious recipe and definitely a keeper.

  • WOW, this was fantastic!! I wasn’t certain it would be a hit because it has quite a bit of sausage, and I worried it would not be well received, but I served it at a family dinner and they all loved it! My mom said it was the best baked ziti she’s ever had. I agree!! Again, it does have a lot of sausage meat in it, but it brings so much flavor, so I wouldn’t cut back.

  • We have always loved baked ziti but this is the only recipe to use from now on. Perfect in every way.

  • My Italian husband LOVED this dish as did all 3 of my kids. I always Follow the recipe exactly then make changes, if necessary, for the next time. No changes needed! This dish is perfection.

  • I can’t eat really spicy so I left out the pepper flakes and added Mrs. Dash Italian instead. It was really good.

  • I made this soon after you posted it. It was easy, delicious, and got a big thumbs up from my family. I have a family member who does not care for ricotta cheese and this is perfect. The flavor of the sauce is just so rich and good I could just eat it as is! I will be making this again and again and it freezes well too. This recipe moved to the top of my favorite ziti recipes!

  • My husband and loved this recipe! Since I didn’t have heavy cream, I substituted organic half and half, and it was still creamy and delicious.

  • I have made this dish numerous times and when someone asks for the recipe I give your website. It is so easy, simple yet awesome flavors.

  • This has become a favorite in our small household. I love dividing the recipe into two 8×8 glass dishes and freeze one portion. I defrost over night in the refrigerator and bake it on a busy day. I use turkey sausage often to save calories. Great recipe! I have never been disappointed in Jann’s recipes.

  • Made this for a family dinner this past weekend and it got rave reviews. I made two casseroles, one exactly as written and one with gluten free pasta and seasoned ground turkey and both were amazing! Thank you for another “keeper” recipe!

  • Your recipes are fantastic Jen! I am going to a dinner tonight and was going to make two of your “nice” lasagnes, but I think I will do one lasagne and this instead. Question: can I sub creme fraiche for the heavy cream here? Thanks so much for your terrific site!

    • I think that’ll work, Cate. The sauce will just be a bit tangier. Enjoy!

    • Made this and Julia’s nice lasagna for a potluck. The only sub I did on this one was to use creme fraiche instead of heavy cream and mild turkey sausage instead of pork. It was a huge hit! The flavours are amazing together and both kids and adults enjoyed it. Thanks for another winner!!

  • Hi Jenn. This dish is outstanding! I made it last night for my husband and we both couldn’t get enough. I’ll be making it again very soon! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • We’ve made this a couple times now and really love it. Takes a little time to put together but not too bad (I had to triple it yesterday for a party). Really great flavor for so few ingredients. I used San Marzano tomatoes which are better quality but more expensive. Also added some onion the second time. This is definitely a keeper that we will make again and again.

  • Sooooooo delicious!!! Doubled up extremely well for a large family gathering. Yet another staple. Thanks Jen!!

  • Will this work in individual ramekins?

  • Thanks for another great recipe! I don’t always have fresh basil available. Could I substitute dried and if so how much?

    • Hi Dawn, The fresh basil really makes the flavors pop here, but you can use dried; I’d suggest 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp. Hope you enjoy!

  • I just made the baked ziti with sausage and let me say it’s DELICIOUS !! My kids love it and they are very picky eaters.

    • — Paula Echavarria
    • Reply
  • This ziti dish is absolutely the best Italian recipe of anything that I have ever made or tasted. It is rich and savory. I divided the recipe into two pans since we are empty nesters. Put the second pan in the freezer for an easy meal in the future month. Jenn, your recipes are always so satisfying and yummy. Your directions are easy to follow and make great cooks out of us ammateurs.

    • So glad you’re enjoying the recipes, Diane! 😊

  • It was just awesome!

  • I made this tonight, and while delicious, it was a little heavier than our usual fare. I would make it again but definitely save it for a special occasion. I’m always excited to try your recipes, and am looking forward to the new book!

  • I made this for a track pasta party and the mom picking up my son sent me a text about how delicious it smelled!When I picked up the whole thing was gone and the boys were raving about how great it was-impressive from 15 year old boys!!! Thank you yet again for another fantastic dish!!!

  • This recipe is comfort food perfection. I am always looking for great make ahead recipes and this is a keeper!

  • Delicious!

  • Hi Jen,
    I’ve never cooked more & been more satisfied with every dish as much as I have since receiving your emails! I don’t have any fresh basil on hand. Is there an alternative you can suggest?
    Again THANKS!

    • That’s so nice to hear, Loree – so glad you’re enjoying the recipes! You could use thyme, rosemary or sage but definitely reduce the amount or to just a few teaspoons. Or you can just make it without the herbs – it’ll still be delicious.

  • Jen,
    We are a small family. Can I assemble the recipe and freeze half of it for another day?
    I made the big portion for neighbors that have a very sick mom. They LOVED it. I had a taste as well. YUMMY!

    • Sure, Maria, that will work. Sorry to hear your neighbor is sick– glad to hear that the family enjoyed the dish!

  • Jennifer,
    Another wonderful, foolproof recipe! I never would have thought that a sauce that was this simple could taste so good. Thanks for another great recipe!

  • We absolutely loved this! My husband actually had seconds, something he hardly ever does then took leftovers to work the next day! Will definitely make this again

  • Yet another great recipe from once upon a chef! I made this with half sweet/half spicy sausage, and bought sausage patties so I wouldnt have to take them out of the casing, which worked well. I assembled the dish in 2 smaller pans, and froze one before baking. The one I baked immediately was delicious and filling and was great as leftovers as well. Next time I might try leaving out the heavy cream as the sauce tasted great before adding it, but was great as is! Will definitely make again.

  • Can this dish be prepared and assembled on Friday and finished in the oven on Sunday?

    • Yes, that’ll work. Hope you enjoy!

      • As I was reading your directions I saw the note. Lol sorry for the stupid question. But…I’m excited! It’s assembled and waiting to go in the oven!! Sunday’s are the only days I don’t cook. So to have an actual homemade meal means a lot. Thank you Jenn! I’ll be back to rate the final product 😊

  • I made this with ground beef instead of sausage (family preference) and it was absolutely delicious. It was just as good–maybe even better!–leftover for work the following days. Simple and a hit with the kids–definitely a keeper.

  • Awesome recipe! Made it tonight. Question on freezing. Before or after final bake? Having an event coming up. Thanks.

    • You really can go either way, but I’d probably freeze it unbaked; when you’re ready to cook it, defrost in the fridge for 24 hours, then proceed with the baking instructions in the recipe.

  • Just made your baked ziti. Turned out amazing. I love all your recipes and easy to folow instructions.

  • Once again, Jenn hits it out of the park with this keeper! Perfect with a good salad and bread. Easily serves 10 people.

    Jenn, I want to make this ahead of time for Thanksgiving week. My question is, can I make the tomato/meat mixture several weeks from Thanksgiving, freeze that and then just make the pasta and add the cheeses the day of? Sincerely, Your biggest fan!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Tissa! You can definitely make the sauce ahead – just leave out the cream and add it when you combine the pasta and sauce the day of.

      • Great advice and so glad I asked!

  • Hi Jenn,
    Since we’re not huge sausage fans, I was wondering if I could substitute 1/2 of the meat for beef or turkey? If so, what adjustments would I need to make?
    Thank you so much for your awesome step-by-step recipes! I’ve tried many & every one makes me look like a better cook than I actually am! Can’t wait for the cookbook!!!

    • Hi Kelly, yes you could substitute half the sausage with ground beef or turkey. I would suggest adding a few tablespoons of olive oil before browning it and also lots of extra herbs and spices to mimic the sausage flavor (onion powder, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, black pepper, oregano, salt, etc). And glad you like the recipes!

  • I made this yesterday and it was by far the best ziti of many recipes I have tried. The tip to swap heavy cream for ricotta is brilliant as well as using the spicy sausage. I will definitely be making this again!

  • Just finished eating this wonderful ziti dish. Other than boiling my ziti a little longer than Jenn suggested, using the already shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella that I had in the fridge, and sweet Italian sausage I followed her directions and wha lah dinner was served.

    The fresh basil really made the flavors pop!

    Thanks Jenn!

    • — Delfina Scirocco
    • Reply
  • What would the equivalent spicy italian sausage be? Johnsonville Hot or Mild? I noticed your recipe calls for adding crushed red pepper flakes. This makes me think using the Mild italian sausage is preferred? No one mentioned this being too spicy in the reviews. Thanks for your help. Rhonda

    • Hi Rhonda, You can buy either variety depending upon whether or not you like your food spicy. You can always sprinkle more red pepper flakes between the layers before baking if you use sweet sausage and want to up the heat a bit. Enjoy!

  • I made this for my husband and in laws. They LOVED it! And so did I. Creamy goodness! Hubby puts it at the top of my list. I wonder if it could be a tad healthier with fat free Half and Half instead of heavy cream?

    • Hi Christie, So glad you all enjoyed it! I think you could get away with half & half but not fat-free. Sorry!

  • Oooh, loved this! Yum. Turned out perfectly.

  • Really delicious. The whole family loved it!

  • I made this dish last night and it was DELICIOUS!!! I will definitely be making this again!

  • What’s the best way to re-heat the leftovers?

    • Hi Diane, You can cover with foil and reheat in a 325°F oven until hot – or the microwave works, too.

  • Excellent casserole, and so easy to make. I showed the recipe to my twenty-something son, who made it for dinner when his girlfriend joined us. All seven of us loved this recipe; the fresh mozzarella was a great addition. I like the way you explain things about ingredients and cooking methods in a very straightforward way. My son said the baked ziti reheated well in the microwave for his lunch the next day, so next time we hope to have more leftover.

  • I could eat Italian food four or five nights a week; my wife; not so much, once or twice a month is plenty for her. Until now that is. We loved this recipe and since I am the cook we will be having this at least once a month! Thank you Jenn.

  • My husband does not like pasta dishes, this one he actually loved. It was very good. Usually when I cook pasta he goes to get fast food. 5 stars for this easy recipe

  • LOVED this! I subbed half and half for the heavy cream (because it’s what I had in the fridge) and only used half the cheese (again, what I had in the fridge), and it was still rich and wonderful. Much easier AND tastier than my old baked ziti recipe, which is saying something! Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

    My only question–how do you get your cheese to grate so neatly? I’ve tried the freezing trick and have tried both a hand grater and food processor, yet my cheese always looks clumpy. Still tastes great, but doesn’t look neat. Any hints/tricks?

    • Hi Ali, Glad you liked the ziti! Mozzarella can definitely get clumpy when grated. Make sure you buy a brand that specifies that it’s for grating/shredding. The one I buy is Galbani and it says “great for shredding” right on the package.

  • Has anyone tried freezing this before cooking it? If so, how did you adjust the cooking times?

  • delicous, used only a 1/2 cup of cream and was a hit!

  • This was delicious – creamy and full of flavor! I’m looking forward to leftovers 🙂 Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  • This is a keeper for sure! Love it! I have a clear box in my fridge into which we put food that is ‘a little tired’. So, when I made this ziti/penne I added some cauliflower to the pasta towards the end of cooking. Because it is harvest season I also used about 12 plum tomatoes coarsely chopped as I didn’t have canned on hand and then found about a cup of mashed squash in the fridge. With a good glug of red wine and some simmer time, the sauce was wonderful, if I say so myself! It is a super recipe. Love this and also am a fan of your Shrimp curry and Pad Thai and spinach quiche. Thank you for this great website. Use it a lot!

  • Just my personal opinion I thought the heavy cream was over kill too rich. I would maybe next cut the cream to 1/4 c and add red wine to scrapping of sausage and garlic

  • This is one killer recipe, Jenn. Sometimes the sauce one makes for baked pasta dishes gets dried out and sticky once cooked. But this one does not do that. Even using the sweet Italian sausage, the red pepper flakes added just the right amount of kick. Continued kudos to you for knocking out consistently good recipes that make me look like a trained chef!

  • Absolutely awesome!!! I made a half portion following the recipe right down to using the wooden spoon and finished baking the pan in my toaster oven. Heavenly result. I was SO impressed with this technique. Well done! No ricotta ever again! Thank you very much

  • Made this last night and it was a big hit with the family. Easy and delicious! I couldn’t find ziti as well so I used penne instead and it worked just fine. Leftovers are great too!…if you have any left. I made the Big Italian Salad from this site to go with it. Perfect combo with a glass of red wine 🙂 Will definitely add to the rotation. Thanks Jenn!

  • Made for supper tonight. Awesome!!!! No ziti in store so used penne Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Wow. Our baked ziti has been a strictly vegetarian affair, but I think we might want to work a little variation into the rotation. And this looks just great. Agreed about the Ricotta. Besides, most store-bought Ricotta is abysmal. Filled with gums and other ‘wierd’ stuff (carageenan?), it’s truly a food abomination. I recall when I was a kid, mom brining home a tallish tin (quart size) of fresh Ricotta. It had a plastic wrap over the top, which was held on by a rubber band! It was so creamy and delicious. This gooey stuff they sell in the markets now – no thanks. Oh, thanks for the recipe. This is getting made in the next menu rotation!

  • YUM!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. My husband and I loved it.

  • Delicious!!

  • Delicious! I used half spicy Italian sausage and half sweet Italian sausage. Followed the recipe to a T and it was wonderful. I had trouble to find whole milk mozzarella as most of the cheese bricks are made with partly skimmed milk. I paired it with a Caesar salad (dressing from this site also) and garlic bread. The whole family devoured their meal. Thank you for sharing.

  • I made this for dinner tonight. It is absolutely fabulous!!!! Thanks for a new family favorite.

  • I have some leftover kale – would it work to add that in? Raw or sauteed? THANKS!

    • Sure Sally; I would saute it first to soften it up. LMK how it turns out!

      • I sautéed about half a bunch of kale before sautéing the sausage. We absolutely loved the entire dish. I couldn’t find turkey sausage in my whole foods, so used sweet chicken sausage which was perfect and probably a little lighter. Perfect to make ahead of time

  • How long will this keep in the fridge after being baked? Thanks!

    • I’d say it would be fine for 2 – 3 days. Enjoy!

  • Jen, I have a ton of tomatoes from the garden. Could I use fresh tomatoes in this recipe?

    • Sure, Marilyn – I think fresh tomatoes would work well. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • I used fresh tomatoes. I cut them up and cooked them down while waiting for the pasta water.

  • Jen, could I make this ahead and bake it 1 or 2 days later? Looks delicious! Thanks,


    • Hi Elizabeth, You can assemble and refrigerate the dish up to 2 days in advance. Since it will be cold, the baking time will need to be increased. To bake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 450°F oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and the pasta is hot throughout. Hope you enjoy and please LMK how it turns out!

      • When making this ahead, would you recommend letting both the pasta and sauce cool a bit before assembling so the pasta doesn’t absorb too much liquid?

        • Hi Lorraine, you could do that, but it’s really not necessary. Hope you enjoy!

      • I tried these suggestions for assembling ahead of time, and I baked the next day, pulling the pan straight from fridge to oven. The pasta was on the “well done” side so if you prefer a little more bite may think about decreasing the time baking w foil on top. There will be no issues finishing the pan as it is, though, make no mistake.

        The recipe overall was fabulous! I love how your recipes are so dependably tasty and easy to follow.

        I did cut back on cream to 3/4 cup (all I had left after another recipe) and it was still quite filling and rich. Probably personal preference-i might even try 1/2 cup next time to see if I miss it.

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