The Best One Pot Baked Ziti

5 from 4 votes

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Italian sausage, three types of cheese, spinach, and tomato sauce work together to create this cheesy baked ziti! One Pot Baked Ziti is easy to make and quick to clean up! 

white plate with one pot baked ziti recipe.
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Warm, cheesy pasta will forever be one of my favorite comfort foods! And it’s even better when you can make it all in one spot. This one pot baked ziti checks all of the boxes by being easy to prepare, full of flavor, warm, and satisfying.

The Italian sausage, cheese, and seasonings fill this baked ziti with bold and savory flavors! One pot baked ziti will become everyone’s new favorite meal. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Balanced flavors with spinach and basil complementing rich ingredients.
  • The use of three types of cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta) adds depth and complexity. Creates a cheesy, gooey texture that is irresistible.
  • Simple one-pot preparation makes it convenient and easy to clean up.
  • Versatile dish that can be customized with additional ingredients or variations.

Recipe Ingredients

portion bowls each with digitally labeled raw ingredients to make one pot baked Ziti.
  • Italian Sausage—You can also use regular sausage or ground beef with Italian seasoning. 
  • Garlic—Freshly minced.
  • Tomato Sauce—Serves as one of the base ingredients of your dish.
  • Diced Tomatoes—For extra texture and flavor. 
  • Sugar—To develop the flavor of the sauce and balance the tangy tomatoes. 
  • Ziti—Uncooked.
  • Water
  • Fresh Basil—For a sweet, aromatic flavor. 
  • Spinach—You can use regular or baby spinach.
  • Cheese—A combination of mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta.
  • Spice Blend—A flavorful mix of salt, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.  

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make One Pot Baked Ziti

Step #1. Cook sausage and garlic in a large Dutch oven until browned and fragrant. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, salt, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until thickened.

Step #2. Stir in water, pasta, and some basil. Cook until pasta is firm but starting to soften, stirring often.

Step #3. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, some mozzarella, and some parmesan. Dollop ricotta on top and add remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Step #4. Broil until cheese is bubbling and browned. Let cool, sprinkle with remaining basil, and serve.

Recipe FAQs

    Why is my baked ziti watery?

    If your baked ziti is runny after coming out of the oven it is most likely due to how long it has been cooked for. It is important to bring your tomato sauce to a simmer after adding it to the pot. This will help cook off some of the moisture before you add the pasta. As the pasta cooks it will also absorb some of the excess moisture in the baked ziti.

    Can I use a different type of pasta?

    Definitely! If you’re having a hard time finding ziti, you can substitute it for a different pasta. The end results will still be the same. Penne is a great option as it is close in shape to ziti, or you can try it with rigatoni. Ultimately, any type of pasta will work if you can’t find ziti, don’t worry too much about it! Just be sure to not overcook the pasta. 

    What is the difference between baked ziti and lasagna?

    Baked ziti and lasagna are very similar but the key difference is in how they are assembled and the end result. Most ingredients that you use in baked ziti are also used in lasagna, down to the cheese! However, the noodles are completely different. Baked ziti utilizes a cylindrical shaped pasta, similar to penne as opposed to the long sheets of pasta used in lasagna. Both of these pasta dishes have similar tastes but can also be spiced up to have unique flavors! 

    white plate with one pot baked ziti recipe.

    How to Serve Baked Ziti

    This dish is perfect as the main course for a late lunch or dinner! I like to serve it with light sides since it is such a hearty meal on its own. You can serve it with some homemade Italian bread, bread sticks, Caesar salad, or a berry salad with vinaigrette on the side to bring everything together! 

    How To Store Baked Ziti

    Any leftover baked ziti should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and will be good for up to 5 days. To reheat, you can microwave the pasta covered for 45 seconds at a time until warm. Alternatively, you can place it in an oven safe dish and reheat at 350°F for 5-7 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. 

    Expert Tips

    • Chop your spinach before adding it to your dish because it will incorporate better and not be as prominent!
    • Full-fat cheese really makes this dish extra gooey, rich, and hearty! I highly recommend using it when you can. 
    • When you add the pasta and start cooking it, you want to make sure that you do not over cook the noodles! Cook them until they are starting to soften but still firm. The pasta will continue to cook as it sits in the sauce and broils in the oven. 
    • There is no need to cover the Dutch oven with the lid or tin foil once it goes in the oven to broil.

    More Pasta Dishes To Consider

    white plate with one pot baked ziti recipe.
    5 from 4 votes

    The Best One Pot Baked Ziti

    The best cheesy One Pot Baked Ziti recipe with sausage and spinach; everything, including the noodles are cooked in one pot and then finished in the oven.
    Prep: 40 minutes
    Cook: 20 minutes
    Total: 1 hour
    Servings: 5 large servings

    Ingredients 

    • 8 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 can tomato sauce, 28-ounce
    • 1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 ounce
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 2 cups water
    • 12 ounces ziti, about 3 3/4 cups
    • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    • 6 ounces baby spinach, about 6 cups
    • 6 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
    • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
    • 8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 cup
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    Instructions 

    • In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking the meat into 1/2-inch pieces, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomato (with the juice), oregano, salt, sugar, and pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
    • Stir in the water, pasta, 1/4 cup basil, and increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, stirring often, until the pasta is still very firm but starting to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack 8 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler.
    • Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the spinach, 3/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Dollop the surface of the pasta evenly with the ricotta and then top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
    • Broil the ziti until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the dish cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of basil and serve.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1 of 5 servings, Calories: 698kcal, Carbohydrates: 68g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 1820mg, Potassium: 1127mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 4550IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 481mg, Iron: 5mg
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    Recipe Rating




    19 Comments

    1. Laura says:

      5 stars
      This is my go to recipe for all things. Company coming over? Ziti. Need a cozy meal? Ziti. It’s Wednesday? Ziti! Seriously, it’s just so good.

    2. Michelle Meloni says:

      Is it possible to replace thawed frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach?

      1. Melissa says:

        Yes! I’d probably just use half a block, stir it in, no issue there. I’d probably thaw it first because it’s pretty wet.

    3. Fuji Sushi says:

      5 stars
      I really enjoyed your page. Thanks so much!

      1. Melissa says:

        Thank you for being here!