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Classic Italian comfort food, Million Dollar Baked Ziti, is reminiscent of lasagna but effortless to throw together. This is a great family weeknight dinner and doubles easily for a crowd.

All you need for the perfect meal is a crusty piece of bread or Parmesan Garlic Knots and green salad.

Million Dollar Baked Ziti


I loaded this pasta with sausage. As well, I added cream cheese and cottage cheese which makes it ultra-creamy and gives it a lasagna-like flavor. The rich tomato sauce is made from scratch with tomatoes and tomato sauce. However, to save time you can use a 24-ounce jar of your favorite tomato sauce.

You’re going to want to bookmark this recipe. It’s a staple in my house that everyone loves. It’s easy to make, you can make it in advance and bake it later.

pasta in tomato sauce


As well, it freezes nicely. (I like to portion leftovers in individual servings and freeze. It will keep in the freezer for 6 to 8 weeks.)

To reheat individual frozen portions, place the ziti on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a wet paper towel or plastic wrap. Microwave on medium power for 3 minutes, test, and repeat if necessary.

To reheat individual refrigerated portions, place the ziti on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a wet paper towel or plastic wrap. Microwave on full power for 90 seconds, test, and repeat if necessary.

To reheat a large amount, first make sure the container is microwave-safe. Cover the dish with a wet paper towel or plastic wrap. Microwave on 75% power for 4 to 5 minutes depending on the amount. Test the center and microwave again in necessary.

Million Dollar Baked Ziti


There are really no specialty ingredients in this recipe. Italian sausage may be the only ingredient that you may not already have on hand. Further, you can totally use breakfast pork sausage if you want.

  1. Pasta. You can use any shape of pasta.
  2. Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. You can use spaghetti sauce to save time.
  3. Cottage cheese. You can use ricotta but it’s more expensive so I usually go with cottage cheese.
  4. Parmesan cheese. I highly recommend you always grate your own Parmesan cheese and don’t use the powdery stuff.
  5. Coconut sugar. I use sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use granulated sugar or omit the sugar.

 Baked Ziti

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Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary based on the products used.

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Baked Ziti

Million Dollar Baked Ziti

This is a great family weeknight dinner and doubles easily for a crowd.
Author: Paula
4.97 from 26 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 28 ounces tomato sauce
  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese
  • 1 and ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • fresh basil for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
  • Cook pasta according to directions on the package. However, cook it for 2 minutes less than instructed. Drain, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to prevent from sticking together.
  • In a large skillet, braiser, or Dutch oven, cook the sausage, onions, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Drain fat if needed.
  • Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • In a bowl, stir the cream cheese, cottage cheese, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1 cup Mozzarella together.
  • Add the pasta and 1 cup of tomato sauce to the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Take care not to break up the pasta. Pour into your 9x13-inch pan.
  • Top with the remaining tomato sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella, then the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the foil (be careful steam will release) and return the dish to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Carefully remove from the oven. Allow it to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving. It will be very hot. Top with fresh basil before serving.


Calories: 955kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 2423mg | Potassium: 1011mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1308IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 525mg | Iron: 5mg
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  1. 5 stars
    Doubled the recipe for my game night for 20 women. They loved it. I will definitely make this for my family for their next visit. For me, this wasn’t “so easy” but more time-consuming probably because doubling meant a lot moreParmesan grating and cooking up 4 pounds of sausage, 1 hot and 3 mild. It was worth the time. I used the cream cheese and ricotta (it was on sale), and prepackaged shredded mozzarella.

  2. 5 stars
    This was amazing and the whole family loved it because it makes a lot.

  3. 5 stars
    Best ziti I have found yet. The only thing different I used ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese and I doubled the amount of sauce. I don’t like it dry. It was really good! It’s my new favorite.

    1. Did you add the cream cheese to the ricotta cheese?
      Never heard of cream cheese in ziti.


      1. 4 stars
        I feel cream cheese is too heavy for this recipe. I would use Ricotta and cottage cheese together for a much light and creamy sauce.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my favorite pasta recipe ever! Its so easy to make and tastes so good! Everyone always loves it! I only wish leftovers lasted longer!

4.97 from 26 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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