Million Dollar Baked Ziti

Million Dollar Baked Ziti recipe

healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

Million Dollar Baked Ziti is the ultimate comfort food, combining hearty pasta, flavorful sausage, and a creamy cheese mixture that’s sure to impress. This dish is perfect for feeding a crowd or making ahead for busy weeknights. Its rich and savory flavors will make it an instant family favorite.


  • 1 lb ziti
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated and divided
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes and divided
  • Fresh basil, chopped, for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Pasta:
    • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Cook the ziti according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the Sausage:
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the mild Italian sausage until browned, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.
  3. Add Aromatics and Sauce Ingredients:
    • Add the minced garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil to the skillet with the sausage. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
    • Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, granulated sugar, and chopped fresh basil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Prepare the Cheese Mixture:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
    • Stir in 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of chopped mozzarella cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Assemble the Baked Ziti:
    • In a large baking dish (9×13 inches or similar), spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom.
    • Layer half of the cooked ziti on top of the sauce. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the pasta, followed by half of the remaining meat sauce. Repeat the layers with the remaining ziti, cheese mixture, and meat sauce.
  6. Top with Cheese:
    • Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 cup of chopped mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
  7. Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
  8. Serve:
    • Let the baked ziti cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped basil for a burst of fresh flavor.

Cook Notes and Variations

  • Meat Variations: You can substitute the mild Italian sausage with spicy sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey based on your preference.
  • Cheese Options: Feel free to use ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese for a more traditional baked ziti texture.
  • Vegetarian Option: Omit the sausage and add sautéed vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach for a vegetarian version.
  • Make-Ahead: This dish can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. Adjust the baking time to ensure it’s heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I freeze baked ziti? A: Yes, baked ziti freezes well. Assemble the dish and cover tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.

Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through or in the microwave.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: Absolutely! You can use any short pasta such as penne, rigatoni, or rotini.

Q: Is there a substitute for cream cheese? A: If you don’t have cream cheese, you can use mascarpone cheese or a combination of ricotta cheese and sour cream for a similar creamy texture.

Q: What can I serve with baked ziti? A: Baked ziti pairs well with a simple green salad, garlic bread, and a glass of red wine.

Million Dollar Baked Ziti is a comforting and delicious dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Its rich, cheesy layers and hearty meat sauce make it a standout meal that everyone will love. Whether you’re making it for a family dinner or a potluck, this baked ziti is sure to impress.

Enjoy the decadence of Million Dollar Baked Ziti, a dish that lives up to its name with its rich flavors and satisfying textures. Perfect for gatherings or a cozy family meal, this recipe is sure to become a favorite in your home. Happy cooking!

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healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

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