How to Make Homemade Italian Baked Ziti, With Pictures

Simple Authentic Traditional Pasta Recipe Step By Step

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Everyone seems to love Italian food, and one favorite dish is Italian Baked Ziti. Pasta, tomato sauce, cheese… what's not to love? It’s popular fare at Italian restaurants across the globe, but it can be an expensive dish. What many people don't realize is that they can achieve that restaurant taste right from their own kitchen, and it is not that costly or even complicated to do. With a few simple steps, you and your family can be enjoying that delicious plate of baked Ziti in no time.

You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 2 Boxes (1 lb. each) of Dried Ziti Macaroni. This pasta is common to find in most grocery stores amidst the standard pasta varieties of spaghetti, fettuccini, etc. The good brand names are usually a little over a dollar a box, so it’ll be easy on the budget.
  • 1 lb. Block of Mozzarella Cheese. Again, stick with a brand name. You can choose part-skim or whole-milk mozzarella (only difference is the milk used to make the cheese). It’s best to buy the entire block instead of a pre-shredded bag. Pre-shredded cheese tends to dry out – besides, it only takes a few minutes to grate cheese at home.
  • 2 lb. Container of Ricotta Cheese. The same rules apply for the ricotta as the mozzarella. Choose a brand name for richer flavor, but the choice of part-skim or whole milk is up to you.
  • 2 Cups of Homemade Tomato Sauce. Jarred tomato sauce is not preferable here. Trust me, it will make a complete world of difference.
  • 2 Eggs. You will need to incorporate the eggs into the ricotta later in the recipe.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese to taste. You have the choice here of purchasing something that is often extremely expensive (i.e. Peccorino Romano brand), or something less expensive (i.e. Kraft). The choice is yours, but to be honest, I use the cheaper option and no one can tell the difference.
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Dried Italian Herbs to taste.

You'll also need:

  • Large aluminum baking pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoons
  • Large pot
  • Strainer
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cheese grater

Ready to get started? First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then dive right in to Step One.

Step One: Pre-boil Ziti according to package directions.

When finished, drain thoroughly and place back in the pot.  Mix a few tablespoons of tomato sauce with the Ziti so that the pasta doesn’t stick together.

Step Two: Grate mozzarella cheese.

Using a quality cheese grater makes this task a breeze. You can use a sturdy box grater, a food prep tool, or even a food processor with a cheese grater blade included. When finished, place in a bowl and set aside.

Step Three: In large mixing bowl combine ricotta, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, and seasonings to taste.

If you don’t have a pre-mixed blend of dried Italian herbs on hand, use herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Make sure everything is incorporated well. When baked, this mixture will become a cheesy Ziti filling. Set aside, but not for long since the mixture does have raw eggs in it.

Step Four: Place the tomato-coated Ziti into an aluminum baking pan.

You can find a lot of great deals on aluminum baking pans, like this baking set from Nordic Ware. (It even comes with a reusable store-&-serve plastic lid.)

After the pasta is spread evenly in the pan, place dollops of the ricotta mixture across the Ziti like so.

Step Five: Love those layers.

Top the ricotta mixture with the shredded Parmesan cheese and tomato sauce, building layers as you go.

Step Six: Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place in oven.

Cook for 45 minutes to one hour. Then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

And that’s it – you’re done! You can let the Baked Ziti stand a few minutes to cool off before serving it to your anxiously waiting dinner guests.

Serves: 8-10 depending on portion size
Prep Time: Approximately 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour covered at 350 degrees, 15 minutes uncovered.

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