This Easy Baked Ziti Recipe is a fabulous no-stress, no-fail dinner recipe that tastes great, looks beautiful, and couldn’t be simpler to throw together.
Hello, lovely friends, who feels like a little comfort food today?
What’s your go-to comfort food? Me? My go-to is pasta and cheese. Always and forever.
If it’s made with cheese and it’s made with pasta, it makes my heart smile. And today, my heart is grinning like a loon, because today I’ve got another cheese and pasta recipe for you, Baked Ziti!
And not just any Baked Ziti: super easy, super delish, made with SAUSAGE, crushed tomatoes, and just a hint of cream, Baked Ziti.
You’re going to love it.
And you’re going to love it for two reasons.
First, because this is an A++ pasta experience from beginning to end. You’ll feel like an absolute kitchen rockstar when you pull the Ziti out of the oven with the skillet sizzling and the cheese browned and beautiful.
And you’re going to feel like an even bigger rockstar when you try the first bite because this is some damn good Baked Ziti. Using Italian sausage instead of hamburger gives the dish tons of extra flavor, and a couple tablespoons of cream in the sauce add just a slightly creamy, rich base note that makes *such* a difference.
Reason two is that this is one of the easiest dinners you’ll ever make. Seriously, if you can open a can of tomatoes and operate a kitchen timer, you’ve got this with your eyes closed.
How to Make Baked Ziti
To make this Baked Ziti, all you have to do it cook some pasta, ziti if you’ve got it, penne or rigatoni if you don’t, farfalle or rotini if you’re feeling like a rebel. While that cooks, you’ll brown some sausage and then a bit of garlic and red pepper flakes.
In goes a can of crushed tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper. You let that simmer for 15 minutes, stir in the cooked pasta, cream, Parmesan, and basil, top with mozzarella, and then bake.
10 minutes later you pull that beautiful, bubbly pan of ziti out of the oven.
Stop for a moment and appreciate the sizzle.
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe Notes
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using them. There is absolutely no additional cost to you.
- As written, this recipe will make two huge servings or three smaller servings.
- If you don’t usually cook with/buy Italian sausage, you can generally find packages of it near the hamburger in the butcher department. To remove the casings, you can make a shallow slice down the sausage lengthwise and peel it off, or just squeeze the sausage until it bursts out the top or bottom and squeeze the meat into a bowl.
- If you don’t own an oven-safe skillet, you can make this in a regular skillet and transfer it to a baking dish before baking.
- If your oven-safe skillet doesn’t have a lid, you can cook the sauce uncovered. Just add 1/4 cup of water along with the tomatoes and add another tablespoon or two of liquid towards the end of the cooking time if it seems like too much liquid has evaporated. I also recommend using a splatter screen if you own one because the sauce will pop and make a bit of a mess on the stove top.
- This recipe calls for heavy cream. If you need some ideas to use up the leftovers, check out Monday’s post, What to Do With Leftover Heavy Cream.
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe (Dinner for Two)
- Medium oven-safe skillet with a lid
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 ounces (about 1 1/3 cup) uncooked ziti penne, or rigatoni
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage mild or hot, casings removed
- 3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- Pinch Red Pepper flakes
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (1oz) shredded Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 cup (3oz) shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 475°F.
- Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook ziti according to package instructions until just barely al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta as it will become too soft after baking. Drain and set aside.
- While your water boils and pasta cooks, in a medium, oven-safe skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. Brown sausage, breaking it into crumbles as it cooks. If there is a lot of grease in the pan, drain sausage or use a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
- Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in cooked pasta, cream, Parmesan, and basil. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and enjoy!