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Baked Ziti

Easy Baked Ziti

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Baked ziti with ricotta is Italian comfort food at its finest! This easy recipe is simple to bake up and feeds a crowd. Make a half recipe in a 9 x 9 baking dish if you prefer!


  • 1 pound ziti pasta (or penne or rigatoni)*
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Basil leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than al dente (about 3 minutes before the package instructions indicate). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. If it’s cooked before the sauce is done, stir in a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and fennel seeds, crushing the fennel with your fingers as you add it, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and fire roasted tomatoes and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, then taste and add a pinch of salt if the flavor doesn’t pop (this will depend on the marinara brand). Then pour the tomato sauce into the drained pasta and stir to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the lemon zest, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
  5. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish*. Pour in the pasta mixed with the tomato sauce. Add large dollops of the ricotta mixture to the top of the pasta, then use the side of a large spoon to swirl it into the top of the pasta, leaving some larger pockets of ricotta. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese on the top is melted and browned. Allow to stand for 10 minutes prior to serving. If desired, top with basil leaves and serve. Leftovers last for up to 3 days refrigerated, though they taste best the day of (add a few pinches of salt and reheat in a skillet to revive the flavors). 


*Want to make a half recipe? Use half the ingredients and make it in a 9 x 9″ baking dish.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Baked ziti, baked ziti with ricotta