The Best Baked Ziti


Simply the best baked ziti recipe. I am half Italian, was raised eating the finest Italian-American cuisine, and have filmed almost 2,000 recipe videos, so when you consider all of those facts, it seems incredible that I have never posted a video for baked ziti. Hopefully I make up for that long wait by posting what I think is the best version of it.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins


  • ¾ pound hot Italian sausage

  • ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 2 (24 ounce) jars prepared marinara sauce

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta

  • 1 drizzle olive oil

  • 1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, or to taste


  1. Cut down the length of each sausage with a sharp knife. Remove and discard casings.

  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over high heat. Add sausages and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up with a spatula, until sausage begins to brown, and onion turns translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add oregano, thyme, and rosemary and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in marinara sauce. Pour 1 cup water into each jar to rinse out remaining sauce; add to the saucepan. Stir together and bring sauce to a simmer.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Turn off heat and reserve until needed. Before using, skim any excess fat that rises to the surface.

  4. While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 or 2 minutes less than the directions on the package call for, about 8 minutes. Drain well and transfer into a large mixing bowl.

  5. Carefully add the meat sauce and stir until thoroughly combined. Let rest for 5 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a large 9x15-inch or 9x13-inch casserole dish with a drizzle of olive oil.

  7. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half of the pasta and sauce mixture to the prepared dish, then use a spatula to even out into a uniform layer. Top with 1/2 of the ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and then 1/2 of the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, being sure to distribute evenly. Top with the rest of the pasta and sauce mixture and give the pan a little shake to settle the sauce. Repeat the cheese application.

  8. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the casserole is piping hot, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Top with parsley.

Chef's Notes:

You can use all mild or sweet sausage, or all hot.

You can use Parmesan cheese instead of Pecorino.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

627 Calories
30g Fat
58g Carbs
31g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 627
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 1380mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 454mg 35%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 765mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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