Skillet Baked Ziti
My family loves a cozy plate of this Skillet Baked Ziti, and I love how quick and easy it is to make from scratch. With tender pasta, flavorful Italian sausage and herbs, and plenty of stretchy cheese in every bite, this is a comfort food classic you can enjoy any night. Ready in about 30 minutes.
We all love a cozy baked pasta, and this one is a true classic: baked ziti loaded with flavor-packed Italian sausage, creamy mozzarella, tangy Parmesan, and a super simple but from-scratch basil- and oregano-infused tomato sauce.
Best of all, this is easy to make and bake right in its pan, so you get some hands-off time at the end to clean up, prep sides, or just pour yourself a beverage and relax!
Baked ziti makes an amazing everyday family dinner — any leftovers keep well for lunches or another dinner. It’s also great for feeding a crowd, whether that means hosting extended family or bringing the dish with you to a potluck, party, game night, or church gathering. You can’t go wrong!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ziti. Or any other mid-sized tubular pasta shape, like rotini, penne, or bowties (farfalle).
- Ground Italian sausage. For best results in this recipe, purchase the type of sausage sold in a flatpack and ground, rather than links. You can also substitute ground beef, though this will not have seasoning as sausage does, so you may want to compensate by doubling the amounts of herbs you add to the mix.
- Minced garlic. Fresh or jarred works.
- Crushed tomatoes. I often purchase fire-roasted tomatoes for an added layer of flavor.
- Red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Heavy cream or half and half. This is just to enrich the sauce a tad, so either works.
- Shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese.
How To Make Skillet Baked Ziti
This is a great recipe for novice to learning cooks, but of course equally suited for someone with more experience but little time. 🙂
- First, cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Be sure to drain when it is still a bit firm, because the pasta will absorb sauce and cook slightly more in the oven.
- Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking. Crumble the sausage in a large, oven-safe skillet, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes, basil, and oregano, then simmer gently for about 5 minutes to meld the flavors and thicken ever so slightly.
- Assemble. Stir in the cream, Parmesan, and cooked pasta. This is the time to sample and add more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella on top!
- Place in the oven and bake just for 5-7 minutes at 400 degrees F, until the sauce is bubbling and wonderful, and the cheese is melted and browned slightly in spots. Dig in!
A large cast-iron skillet is perfect for this and so many other recipes. Most 12-inch versions will work — it’s best if it has high, straight sides, but that’s not a must.
It’s OK to use the broiler setting to melt the cheese more quickly or get a browned effect, but watch the dish very carefully. Just 1-2 minutes under most broilers is enough; more and your dinner may be blackened, not browned.
A tiny sprinkling of Italian parsley, either fresh or dried, or fresh basil makes a nice finishing touch just prior to serving. You can plate this up in the kitchen, or serve family-style at the table. This does make it easier to grab seconds, which you may or may not consider a good thing. 🙂
Storage & Reheating
I’m personally always glad that this makes a lot of food, because it’s so easy and delicious to reheat and enjoy for lunch the next day. I can count on my husband excitedly grabbing it for work lunches, too.
- Storage: Leftover baked ziti keeps very well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Store in your favorite prep boxes for individual portions, or simply stash it in the skillet if you have a larger amount.
- Reheating: Warm individual portions in the microwave or over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add a splash of broth or water to help loosen the sauce and minimize sticking, only if needed. If you have a larger portion and stored it in the cooking skillet, you can also warm in a 200 degree F oven until heated through.
If you enjoy a cozy baked pasta dish, try my baked ravioli, baked tortellini, chicken Parmesan meatball pasta, or a ground turkey pasta bake next. All guaranteed to comfort and feed your family for a couple of nights!
If you try this Skillet Baked Ziti recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Skillet Baked Ziti
- 12 ounces ziti or another pasta
- 12 ounces ground Italian sausage
- 4-5 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Boil a large pot of water. Add a generous pinch of salt, then add pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes shy of the time recommended on the package directions. (It should still be firm; it will absorb sauce and cook more in the oven.) Drain and set aside.12 ounces ziti
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and crumble it into small pieces as it cooks. When the sausage is nicely browned, which should take 4-5 minutes, add garlic and red pepper. Cook for 30-60 seconds more.12 ounces ground Italian sausage, 4-5 garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Add the tomatoes, dried basil, and dried oregano. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir it occasionally and lower the heat if it starts to bubble really rapidly.1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Stir in the cream and Parmesan, followed by the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle the mozzarella evenly on top.1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Transfer skillet to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned in spots. (You can finish it with a broil, just watch carefully to avoid burning.) Serve and enjoy!