This easy CHEESY gluten-free baked ziti recipe is the ultimate comfort food! Serve this family favorite with a side salad or some green veggies and you’ve got a delicious meal.
- 16 oz. dry gluten-free penne pasta (or ziti or rigatoni)*
- 12 oz. ground sausage (Italian sausage)
- 1–2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
- 24 oz. (3 cups) marinara sauce
- 15 oz. tomato sauce (or tomato passata) – use 8 oz. if you like your pasta less saucy
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, minced or cut into ribbons
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese (or you can use sliced provolone cheese)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Optional: additional fresh basil or red pepper flakes, to garnish
- Preheat The Oven To 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish (at least 9×13 and preferably a deep one!)
- Cook The Pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and cook the pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot (off the heat).
- Brown The Sausage. While the pasta is cooking, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through. If you have a lot of extra fat in the pan, you can drain this, but if there’s only a little, I usually leave it in. (If you’re using a lower-fat option, like turkey sausage or chicken sausage, you’ll likely need to add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan so it doesn’t stick.)
- Mix Up The Sauce. To the browned sausage, add garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Mix in marinara sauce, tomato sauce and fresh basil and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.
- Mix Pasta With The Sauce. Add the tomato sauce mixture to the pot with the drained pasta and stir to combine.
- Layer The Pasta. Add half of the pasta to your prepared baking dish. Dollop with the ricotta cheese (or cove with provolone cheese, if using), then cover with the remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Bake. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Serve & Store. Sprinkle with a little extra fresh basil, if desired, and enjoy the pasta right away. Store leftover baked ziti covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Freezer Instructions (2 Ways):
Divide The Recipe In Half and freeze it for later. Mix up the recipe as recommended, but divide it between to 8×8 or 9×9 baking dishes instead of one 9×13 pan. Cover one pan with aluminum foil (or a layer of plastic wrap and then foil for a tighter seal) and freeze for another day.
Make It 100% As A Freezer Meal. You can also make this entirely as a freezer meal (great for travel, prepping for a baby or surgery, or getting ahead during a busy season). Mix up the recipe and instead of baking, cover the pan with foil (or a layer of plastic wrap and then foil for a tighter seal) and freeze for another day.
I recommend flexible foil baking trays for this so they don’t warp in the freezer. To bake from the freezer, remove the foil/plastic wrap and place the frozen pan in your COLD oven, then set it to preheat and cook as usual. Plan to add 5-10 minutes to the bake time.
*Keep in mind that bean-based pastas and high protein pastas (made with peas, lentils, beans, or quinoa) can get gummy or crumbly when boiled and baked. For the best texture, I prefer corn or rice-based pasta in this recipe. Remember to slightly undercook the gluten-free noodles, since they’ll finish cooking in the oven.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: baked ziti recipe, gluten-free baked ziti, gluten-free pasta casserole, gluten-free freezer meal, gluten-free pasta bake