Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti is a comforting pasta casserole that won’t take all day to make! Sausage and peppers baked with a marinara sauce, cheese and the perfect amount of seasonings!
Also check out our Classic Baked Ziti that we serve at pretty much every holiday or party! Or you can serve both for a meat and meat-free option!
Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti Recipe
If you love a good, comforting pasta recipe, this Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti is for you. Not only do we serve this baked ziti for every day dinners, but also on holidays and for parties.
Everyone loves, it, it’s easy to make and can be made ahead of time. It doesn’t get better that that!
We’ll get into some variations below, but you can absolutely make this a vegetarian ziti recipe by just leaving out the Italian Sausage. The flavors of the sweet onions and peppers will still make this pasta comforting and hearty.
How Do You Make This Ziti Recipe?
This pasta casserole only takes a few minutes to put together, and it can be done even a day ahead of time. Remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking to take the chill off.
- Start by browning a pound of Italian sausage in a skillet. You can swap out regular pork sausage, chicken sausage or turkey sausage if you like. Add diced bell peppers and onions and garlic to make and cook to soften.
- Season the sausage and vegetables with oregano, basil, dried parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in a jar of marinara sauce and turn off the heat. While you’re making the filling, cook a pound of ziti or ziti rigati (with the ridges), drain and have it waiting for you.
- Mix the cooked pasta together with the sausage and peppers along with a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. We decided to not use ricotta cheese for this Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti recipe because we wanted it to remind us more of traditional sausage and peppers feel, but you can add it if you like.
- Pour the pasta filling into a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish and top with more mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minute until the cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through.
What Side Dishes Go Best With Baked Ziti?
We do love our sides…and we have a few ideas here that are our favorite side dishes to go with almost any pasta recipe. Baked ziti is so hearty that it feels (and can be) a meal in itself, but a side dish or two will never be a bad thing!
- Garlic Bread
- Homemade Caesar Salad
- Escarole Bistro Salad
- Steamed Artichokes
- Garlic Roasted Broccoli
- Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Can You Make This Baked Ziti Recipe Ahead Of Time?
Yes, absolutely! Make this recipe through up to the point of cooking, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator until your ready. Remove the baked ziti from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking to take the chill off and then bake per the recipe card.
Also, leftovers do reheat beautifully right in the microwave. Be sure to add this Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti to your meal prepping ideas for the week!
Can You Freeze Baked Ziti?
It’s not my preferred method, but yes, you can freeze baked ziti. The best way to do this is before baking, just as you would to prepare it the day before.
Cover the casserole dish with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Pull out the casserole dish and let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake per the instructions in the recipe card.
You will most likely need extra sauce for serving on the side after baking this casserole from frozen, so don’t forget to have some on hand.
There are many different ways that you can change up the ingredients in this recipe. Like we mentioned before, leave the sausage out if you want a vegetarian option.
Or you can use different proteins like ground beef or ground turkey, too. Different kinds of sausage like chicken sausage or spicy pork sausage would also be delicious.
If bell peppers aren’t your thing then you can also swap out a lot of different vegetables in this pasta recipe!
- Chopped broccoli
- Frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and water squeezed out) OR fresh spinach, cooked down
- Cubed, cooked eggplant
- Broccoli rabe
Can I Use Different Pasta?
You can use different pasta besides ziti in this casserole. I’ll go as far to say that you can use almost any type of pasta, with the exception of smaller shapes like ditalini or orzo.
Of course, penne or rigatoni will work, but even longer pasta shapes like spaghetti are fun to swap out in pasta casseroles like this. For a spaghetti casserole you cut it into squares, much like a lasagna, but this same recipe will work.
Looking For More Pasta Recipes?
- Cheesy Shells and Ham
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Lemony Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta
- Pasta Carbonara
- Classic Beef Lasagna
Sausage and Peppers Baked Ziti is a cozy dinner the whole family will love! A make ahead cheesy, pasta casserole that’s hearty and comforting.
- 1 pound ziti, rigatoni or penne
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 cups diced bell peppers, any color
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided (1/2 cup in filling, 1/4 cup on top)
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (one in filling 2 on top)
- Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, then add the sausage and cook while breaking up into small pieces.
- Once the sausage has cooked through, add the peppers, onion and garlic, stirring to combine with the sausage. Cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened and then season with salt, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil and fresh black pepper to taste.
- Place the cooked ziti into the pot that you cooked it in and then add the sausage, peppers and onion mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Pour in the marinara sauce and stir to combine.
- Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and then pour the ziti mixture into the dish, spreading out into an even layer. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
- Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes until the cheese has melted and the baked ziti is warmed through.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove Top / Oven
- Cuisine: American