Pasta bake with sausage (baked ziti) is basically a lazy day lasagna with layers of pasta tossed in a rich tomato meat sauce packed with Italian sausage, layered with lots of gooey golden mozzarella cheese, and baked to perfection. It's an easy and delicious casserole dinner to make any day of the week. Plus, you can even make it ahead and freeze for another day.
Pasta bakes are always a go-to in our family, because they are easy to make and can feed a crowd. And the leftovers? They taste even better the next day. Seriously. Plus, it's a favourite for the kids (and obviously adults too!). Some of our other favourites to make are Cheesy Tortellini and Sausage Pasta Bake and Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo Pasta Bake.
And a crusty loaf of bread is always welcome alongside this pasta bake with Italian sausage. Some great options are: Pull Apart Garlic Bread, Cheesy Garlic Dinner Rolls, Ciabatta Rolls, or slices of French Baguettes.
To make this delicious pasta bake with Italian sausage, you will need:
- pasta - I used penne, but you can use the more traditional ziti pasta. But really any kind of smaller pasta will work here such as elbow pasta, rotini, or farfalle.
- olive oil
- Italian sausage - you could use any kind of ground meat as well, such as ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. You may have to increase the amount of Italian seasoning used to compensate for the flavours in Italian sausage.
- tomato sauce
- herbs - I used Italian seasoning, fresh parsley and fresh basil.
- cheese - Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
- salt and pepper
How to Make the Best Pasta Bake with Italian Sausage (Baked Ziti)
- Boil the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente (fully cooked but still firm), about 8-10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
- Cook the sausage. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot (or 4 qt. Dutch oven) for 2 minutes over medium-high heat until the hot oil sizzles. Add sausage and stir to cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Use a spatula to break the sausages into small pieces. Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir to combine.
- Make the sauce. Pour in tomato sauce, turn the heat down to medium, and bring the meat sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir in Italian seasoning, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmering helps develop richer flavour in the sauce.
- Add the pasta. Transfer the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce and toss well to mix evenly.
- Assemble. Spread half of the pasta into a 9x13 casserole pan and top with half of mozzarella cheese (1.5 cups). Add the remaining pasta and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese evenly on top.
- Bake. Bake the pasta in a 375F preheated oven for 25 minutes until the melted cheese is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes, then serve.
Storing and Make Ahead Instructions
- How to store: Store this pasta bake with sausage covered with plastic cling wrap or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply heat in the microwave, skillet or oven.
- How to freeze: Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator first, then reheat in the microwave or over the stove.
- How to make ahead: Cook the pasta and the sauce and allow them to cool down. Then, assemble as directed in the recipe and store covered in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to bake. If baking from frozen, allow it to thaw first overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours on the kitchen counter.
More Pasta Recipes
- Cheesy Tortellini and Sausage Pasta Bake
- Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo Pasta Bake
- Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
- Pesto Penne Pasta
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.