Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller 
Hands-on Time
30 Mins
Total Time
55 Mins
Makes 8 servings

Whether it’s a holiday dinner or simply a weekend family meal, this baked ziti with sausage is always the right decision. Hearty, cheesy, and loaded with robust, savory flavors, a pasta bake like this is cold weather comfort food at its finest. While baked ziti has a reputation for being a time-intensive dish to prep, this recipe is ready for dinner in under an hour. A combination of sausage and pancetta delivery rich meaty flavor to the ziti while the addition of fresh basil gives it a delicious touch of brightness. Pancetta, or cured pork belly, is the same thing as bacon without the smoke. Find it in the deli case of most supermarkets. Native to Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are known for their sweet flavor. Consider trying them in place of regular crushed tomatoes in the sauce.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare ziti according to package directions for al dente.

Step 2

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Add wine, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

Step 3

Stir ricotta and 1 cup mozzarella cheese into hot cooked pasta. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to prepared dish, and top with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy, East Memphis, TN

Ratings & Reviews

September 21, 2016
why the one star then?

June 04, 2017
Why did you leave one star?

Yummy Baked Pasta!

December 29, 2018
This was a hit last night with my family and a family we had over for a supper and game night. The kids are all young adult college kids now with discerning tastes. All loved it and went back for seconds. I used bacon because it was on hand and beef broth as a red wine substitute (as mentioned in an earlier review-thank you) because of a food allergy in the group. It was easy to make. Served with a large salad, Italian bread, and a vegetarian pasta alternative this was a nice, casual meal. All want the recipe! It’s a keeper!

Marciathudium's Review

February 05, 2014
I tried this last night and thought it was great. I didn't have all the ingredients so I substituted: I used bacon but pancetta would be yummy also. Used penne instead of ziti,added a couple cups of fresh chopped spinach, a couple tablespoons of pesto instead of fresh basil, feta cheese instead of ricotta and provel cheese instead of mozzarella. It was moist, tasty and the perfect comfort food for a snowy winter night

KJSBBQ's Review

January 26, 2014
My husband (yes, it's that easy) made this for dinner. It looked and tasted great! Warm comfort food on a cold night. The only change we made was substituting beef broth for the red wine. Will make again!

1noazrk's Review

January 15, 2014
I just made this for a pot luck event and it was amazing! Flavorful, creamy (but not too creamy), and rich! My husband, who doesn't usually like cheesy or creamy foods told me to keep this recipe on my short list! I will definitely make this again!

TheMomChef's Review

March 04, 2014
We absolutely loved this recipe. I've made one similar to it, but it didn't have near as much flavor as this version did. Using the sausage was a great idea, as was the pancetta and red wine for deglazing. High marks from the whole family on this one. You can read my full review at Taking On Magazines:

Mbmotley's Review

February 04, 2014

MarySF's Review

April 17, 2014
Simply fantastic and easy to make. I loved the pancetta and it was a real pleaser at our place!

rsvph91's Review

January 20, 2014