Foolproof Baked Ziti With Italian Sausage

Baked Ziti with Italian sausage is a great casserole dish because, first and foremost, it’s delicious. Secondly, you can feed a crowd with it without breaking the wallet.

Baked ziti with a serving on a dark plate.

I am not sure about the rest of you, but finding something that tastes really good but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is tricky to find.

Well, this is one of those. The pasta with a tasty marinara sauce, chunks of Italian sausage, the bite of romano cheese, and melted mozzarella makes each bite better than the last.

A serving of baked ziti on a black plate with a casserole dish in the background.

We also add a bechamel sauce to ours to add another layer of creamy goodness. Bake it all up, and they will come running for the table!

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How To Make The Baked Ziti

There are no crazy ingredients for this dish. just a few steps. It’s just a matter of browning up the sausage, cooking the pasta, making the sauces, and putting it together.

ingredients for baked ziti.

These steps can be done one at a time, so don’t think you will have to juggle this dish. Just take it one at a time, and pasta Nirvana will be yours.

Making The Meat Sauce

Take a large pot or dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and let it get to temperature.

Add the diced onion to the hot oil and cook over medium heat until the onion softens and begins to become translucent.

Add the garlic to the pot and stir. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground Italian sausage to the pot and stir. Cook the sausage, breaking it up into your preferred coarseness as you cook. We like to leave some chunks and don’t break it all up into a mince.

When the sausage is cooked, drain off the excess fat and return to the heat.

tomato sauce for baked ziti cooking on the stovetop.

Add to the pot the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and basil.

Stir to combine and allow the sauce to simmer (a very low boil) over low heat. While simmering, we can move on to the other steps.

Making the Pasta and Bechamel Sauce

This would be a great time to start preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pro Tip

When cooking your pasta, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions in a large pot of salted water. Cook minus two minutes according to the instructions (al dente). The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the flour into the melted butter while whisking. Whisk until smooth.

making a bechamel sauce

Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan, whisking vigorously. Add the nutmeg and continue to whisk when all the milk has been incorporated.

Increase to medium / medium-high heat while continuously whisking. Continue whisking until the bechamel sauce is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. You will notice it changing and getting thicker right towards the end.

Remove the bechamel sauce from the heat and set it aside.

adding ziti noodles to a sauce

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain well and add to the pot with the meat sauce. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Assembling the Baked Ziti

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish or baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/2 the ziti mixture into the casserole dish.

adding bechamel to the ziti casserole dish

Drizzle half of the bechamel sauce over the ziti. Next, sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese and romano cheese over the ziti.

an assembled ziti casserole dish ready to go into the oven

Pour the remaining ziti and meat sauce into the casserole dish and repeat the steps with the cheese.

Baking It Up

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes.

If you’re like us and you want some of that cheese to get kinda burned up, throw it on broil and monitor until the cheese gets to your preferred crispiness.

Baked ziti out of the oven

Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and set up for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

A serving of baked ziti on a dark plate

Using a spoon or spatula, serve in large bowls or plates. Garnish with extra cheese, red pepper flakes, and perhaps some chopped fresh parsley or chopped fresh basil.

spooning out some baked ziti

This baked ziti recipe does not lack anything. It is good! And it makes a ton, which is great for those bigger families. Of course, the next day, you know I was back into it!

Leigh also makes a great lasagna, which reminded me of that, except without all the ‘perceived’ hassle.

You can also mix this recipe up as well. Instead of sausage, you could use ground beef or perhaps ground turkey. You could add some ricotta cheese instead of romano. Better yet, just add it as well!

You could even mix up the kind of pasta. Rigatoni wouldn’t be a bad choice.

baked ziti with a serving on a black plate

To sum up, this is a solid winner. It comes together quickly, feeds a large group, and doesn’t cost a crazy amount of money. Most importantly, it tastes great!

We hope you give it a whirl!

FAQ

Can I make Baked Ziti Ahead?

Sure can! Assemble the dish but do not bake it. Cover with aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to cook it, remove it from the refrigerator and bake it according to the recipe. If it’s cold, bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Can I make Baked Ziti A Freezer Meal?

Yes, you can! Make the recipe up to the point of baking. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap it with plastic wrap. Next, wrap in foil or freezer paper. Place it into the freezer.

When ready to make this, remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Bake as the recipe instructs.

Other Delicious Pasta Dishes

Baked ziti with a serving on a dark plate.

Baked Ziti With Italian Sausage Recipe

This baked ziti recipe comes together quickly and easily. We call for fresh Italian sausage, but it works with any kind you like.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: hotdish, Italian sausage, pasta, pecorino romano
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 604kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb Ziti pasta

Meat Sauce

  • 1 lb Italian sausage ground
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Onion diced
  • 3 clove Garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup Red wine
  • 28 oz Tomatoes Italian style, crushed
  • 15 oz Tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup Basil chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper freshly ground

Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese grated

Instructions

Make The Meat Sauce

  • Take a large pot or dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and allow to come up to temperature.
  • Add the diced onion to the hot oil and cook over medium heat until the onion softens and begins to become translucent.
  • Add the garlic to the pot and stir. Allow to cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the ground italian sausage to the pot and stir. Cook the sausage, breaking it up into your preferred coarseness as you cook.
  • When the sausage is cooked, drain off the excess fat and return to the heat.
  • Add to the pot the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, the salt and pepper, and the basil.
  • Stir to combine and allow the sauce to simmer (a very low boil) over a low heat.

Make The Pasta and Bechamel Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions in a large pot of salted water. Cook minus two minutes according to the instructions (al dente).
  • While the pasta is cooking melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium low heat.
  • Sprinkle the flour into the melted butter while whisking . Whisk until smooth.
  • Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan whisking vigorously. When all the milk has been incorporated, add the nutmeg and continue to whisk.
  • Increase to medium / medium-high heat continuously whisking. Continue whisking until the bechamel sauce is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. You will notice it changing and getting thicker right towards the end.
  • Remove the bechamel sauce from the heat and set aside.

Assembling The Dish

  • When the pasta has finished cooking, drain well and add to the pot with the meat sauce. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Spray a 9×13 casserole dish or baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray.
  • Pour in 1/2 the ziti mixture into the casserole dish.
  • Drizzle half of the bechamel sauce over the ziti. Next, sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese and romano cheese over the zita.
  • Pour the remaining ziti and meat sauce into the casserole dish and repeat the steps with the cheese.

Baking The Dish

  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • If you want some of that cheese to get browned up, turn to broil and monitor until the cheese gets to your preferred crispiness.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set up for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 604kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 1164mg | Potassium: 772mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1395IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 3mg

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