This cheesy, decadent, and delicious Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage is the perfect cold-weather comfort food. Made with three cheeses (ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella) and baked to perfection, it’s ideal for any holiday or special occasion. Bonus: it comes together quickly thanks to quality store-bought tomato sauce.
My mom loves Ragu and has used it since I was a kid to make her beloved baked ziti.
Yes, us Italians love to make our own sauces. But sometimes you just don’t have hours to let your sauce simmer.
I definitely don’t have the time right now. With moving, family visiting, work, painting, and decorating the house. Nope. Life is a little chaotic at the moment! But I still wanted to make a nice, homemade meal for my family that was just a little special and just a little indulgent.
So, naturally, I made this Three-Cheese Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. I mean: creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, savory sausage, and a thick and hearty sauce that tastes like homemade? Come on. Add in plenty of fresh herbs, some garlic, and lots of love, and you have a lovely Sunday dinner.
Ragu’s new Homestyle Sauces are thick, rich, and seriously hearty. Plus, they’re made with real ingredients I can pronounce. Always a good thing. And no artificial ingredients, colors, or flavors. I used the Traditional, but their new flavors also include meat sauce, mushroom, four cheese, and roasted garlic.
I really like using sausage in baked ziti. I think it gives it a much richer depth of flavor than just using ground beef. However, you could of course use beef, or half beef and half sausage. Try to grab high-quality ground Italian sausage, which can be easily found at Whole Foods, specialty stores, or Italian markets. I used mild, but you could use hot for extra kick if you like things spicy.
Layering the baked ziti is always my favorite part.
I love reserving some ricotta to do little dollops in between the layers. Each piece should have a lovely little ricotta pocket, don’t you think?
You can crumble up the sausage as tiny as you’d like, or keep larger pieces to make it heartier.
The air is definitely starting to develop a chill, and I crave all-things baked and warm when the fall starts to roll in. And, yes, this dish isn’t exactly light. But this dish is where my ‘balance’ comes in. Real food. Real ingredients. Occasional indulgences. This baked ziti is perfect shared among family with a bright, simple, seasonal salad on the side.
Please enjoy this cheesy, comforting, crowd-pleasing Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage! Be sure to check out Ragu’s new Homestyle Sauces to make your favorite baked pasta dish easier and delicious! For more inspiration and amazing recipes, head to Ragu’s recipe index.
What’s your favorite baked pasta dish? What’s your special occasion dish go-to? Tell me in the comments below!
Here are a few things you may need (or want) for this recipe:
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- 1 lb dry ziti
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt, pepper, + red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 46 oz. (2 jars) Ragu Traditional Thick + Hearty Homestyle Sauce
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon each fresh chopped parsley and basil (plus more for serving)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. Rinse with cold water and set aside. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to prevent sticking.
- While the water is boiling, heat a deep skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook garlic and shallot until softened, but not browned. Season with sea salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add sausage and break up well, crumbling. Cook until the sausage is browned and cook through.
- Pour the marinara on top of the sausage mixture and mix well. Bring the mixture to a simmer to meld flavors and let cool slightly.
- Mix the ricotta in a bowl with a ½ cup Parmesan cheese, sea salt, pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon each fresh chopped parsley and basil.
- Reserve half of the sauce in a bowl. Mix the rest of the sauce with the pasta and toss gently. Mix in ¾ of the ricotta and toss until just combined.
- Layer the baked ziti in a large baking casserole dish: Spread some sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer half of the pasta. Dollop some small spoonfuls of the ricotta. Top with half the reserved sauce.
- Repeat the process once more.
- Evenly top the baked ziti with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of Parmesan.
- Bake until bubbly and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Enjoy!