Million Dollar Baked Ziti Recipe

Million Dollar Baked Ziti – seriously delicious! Meat sauce, ziti pasta, and 3 kinds of cheese! The BEST pasta casserole EVER! Can make ahead and refrigerate or freeze for later. Ziti pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, Italian sausage, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Serve with a simple salad and garlic bread. Great for dinner parties and potlucks! Everyone loves this easy casserole. Super easy to make & tastes like a million bucks! #pasta #casserole #ziti #freezermeal

plate of baked ziti with salad and rolls

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BEST Baked Ziti Recipe

This Million Dollar Baked Ziti has been on repeat at our house. Meat sauce, ziti pasta, and tons of cheese. YUM! We ate this for lunch and dinner on the same day. We just couldn’t get enough of it! I’ll take this baked ziti over the Olive Garden’s any day! Whip up a salad and some garlic bread and you have an easy family dinner that tastes like a million bucks!

baking dish of baked ziti pasta

How to Make Million Dollar Baked Ziti

This casserole is super easy to make. Start with cooking the pasta. While the pasta is going, brown some Italian sausage in a skillet. Drain any fat and stir in some spaghetti sauce. Mix together cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, mozzarella, and eggs. Toss the meat sauce, cheese mixture and cooked pasta together and transfer to a baking dish. Top with more mozzarella cheese and bake.

  • Can substitute ground beef, ground turkey, breakfast sausage, or turkey sausage for the Italian sausage.
  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • This casserole uses cottage cheese. I NEVER ever eat it straight out of the container – yuck! BUT it is heavenly in casseroles. If you haven’t tried it, I really encourage you to branch out and try it. If you aren’t ready to trust the word of a tried and true picky eater, you can try and substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese.
  • Can Baked Ziti be made ahead of time? Yes! You can assemble the casserole in advance and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time since it will be cold.
  • Can Baked Ziti be frozen? Yes! You can assemble the casserole and freeze it for later. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Write the baking directions on the foil and freeze. To bake after freezing, thaw completely and bake as directed.
  • To reheat the casserole after freezing, thaw completely and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350ºF until warmed through, approximately 45 minutes.
plate of baked ziti with salad and rolls

What to Serve with a Pasta Casserole

This pasta casserole is definitely on our holiday menu. We usually have lasagna, but this year I think I am whipping up this casserole. This makes a TON of pasta. It is great for potlucks, dinner parties, and also makes a great homemade holiday gift. I mean, who wouldn’t love to take a night off from cooking and eat this big ol’ pan of baked ziti?

We serve this pasta with a salad and some garlic bread. Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this easy pasta casserole:

Creamy Italiano Salad

Creamy Italiano Salad – our favorite salad!!! Romaine, tomatoes, thinly sliced seedless cucumbers, sliced banana peppers, croutons, parmesan cheese, and…

Garlic Roll Cupcakes

Garlic Roll Cupcakes – great with pasta! Super easy to make with only 4 ingredients! Refrigerated bread sticks, garlic seasoning,…

Italian Green Bean Salad

Italian Green Bean Salad – quick and delicious side dish! Green beans, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, prosciutto, and mozzarella tossed…

Garlic Parmesan Skillet Bread

Garlic Parmesan Skillet Bread – refrigerated biscuits chopped and tossed in butter, garlic, italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Baked in…

plate of baked ziti with salad and rolls

Million Dollar Baked Ziti

Yield: 10 people
Prep Time 15 mins
Million Dollar Baked Ziti – seriously delicious! Meat sauce, ziti pasta, and 3 kinds of cheese! The BEST pasta casserole EVER! Can make ahead and refrigerate or freeze for later. Ziti pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, Italian sausage, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Serve with a simple salad and garlic bread. Great for dinner parties and potlucks! Everyone loves this easy casserole. Super easy to make & tastes like a million bucks! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 (24-oz) jars spaghetti sauce
  • cups cottage cheese
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink. Drain fat. Add spaghetti sauce.
  • In a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir in meat sauce and cooked pasta and pour into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Notes:

  • Can substitute ground beef, ground turkey, breakfast sausage, or turkey sausage for the Italian sausage.spaghetti sauce
  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • This casserole uses cottage cheese. I NEVER ever eat it straight out of the container – yuck! BUT it is heavenly in casseroles. If you haven’t tried it, I really encourage you to branch out and try it. If you aren’t ready to trust the word of a tried and true picky eater, you can try and substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese.
  • Can Baked Ziti be made ahead of time? Yes! You can assemble the casserole in advance and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time since it will be cold.
  • Can Baked Ziti be frozen? Yes! You can assemble the casserole and freeze it for later. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Write the baking directions on the foil and freeze. To bake after freezing, thaw completely and bake as directed.
  • To reheat the casserole after freezing, thaw completely and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350ºF until warmed through, approximately 45 minutes.

Steph

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Comments

  1. Made this tonight for dinner. It was delicious! Used a bigger jar of sauce because we like it saucy bit everything else was the same. It almost didn’t fit in my pan! Thank you for a delicious and easy meal.

  2. My favorite italian dish ,cooking a little different do not use cottage cheese use ricotta I only use cream cheese and cannelloni and since I create my own italian sauce I use that , bottom line no matter how you cook this dish is a bomb.

  3. Since I do not access to Trader Joe sauces are you able to recommend another type and brand as I would love to try this recipe. Thanks.

    1. There is a photo of the sauces that I enjoy in the post. Only the Trader Joe’s sauce is from Trader Joe’s. The others are at all grocery stores.

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