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Baked Ziti with Sausage

This recipe makes two pans of pasta. Serve one tonight, and keep the other in the freezer for up to three months.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
Baked Ziti with Sausage

Source: Everyday Food, 2004


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.

  2. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.

  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.

  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Cook's Note

To freeze, prepare the dish through step 4; let cool completely before covering tightly with plastic wrap and placing in the freezer. If you freeze this dish, do not thaw before baking. Remove plastic wrap, and cover with foil. Cook until heated through, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, and continue with step 5.

Reviews (37)

  • janinebarclay 20 Jun, 2015

    I really liked this. I made it tonight and pretty much followed the recipe exactly except I added a good handful of basil at the end of cooking the sauce. I used fontina cheese and everyone thought it was better than mozzarella and worth it. I am hoping the frozen one is as good

  • Romina Gujic 4 Mar, 2015

    Easy to make , I only seasoned once while the pasta is cooking , seasoning again would be too much for me . I bought all the ingredients from Whole Foods and it was gluten free , I used turkey sausage instead of chicken and it came out amazing. I also used a mixed Italian Blend cheese to top the pasta before making and cubed mozzarella instead of the fontina. The italian blend mix is a combination of fontina mozzarella ... DEFF. must try

  • j cim 1 Feb, 2014

    I just made it for the second time. It is so good. I will bring this one to a super bowl party tomorrow. The second tray of it I will keep for myself because I know how much food will be there. However, if it's needed I'll slip across the street and bring over the second tray.
    I love it and know I'll make it often. It's so nice to know there is always the back-up tray. I may even divide the second tray.

  • lizzette romero 8 Jan, 2014

    I made this last night and my husband and daughter, Alexis, loved it! They could not stop picking at it while we had a discussion at the dinner table. I made it with two 12 oz packages of Apple chicken sausage and chopped up 8 oz.'s of Fontina. The tomatoes also had jalapeno, fresh herbs & spices in it, so it had a bit of a kick, which balanced out the sweetness in the sausage. I also grated fresh mozzarella cheese to top if off along with the parmesan cheese. Delicious dinner and hardy.

  • graymontgomery 18 Nov, 2013

    I was excited to try this recipe, but did not love the final dish. Even after using high-quality chicken sausage and fontina, this tasted bland to me. The ingredients were not inexpensive for the result. I would consider making again but adding more flavor (fresh herbs, etc)

  • auk1234 14 Nov, 2013

    Made this last night, but added a full 8 OZ of Fontina cheese. Really excellent! A keeper.

  • sbendo67 30 Oct, 2013

    Made this last night for the family and I used turkey sausage instead of the chicken sausage (store did not have the chicken sausage) and it tasted wonderful. I thought it would be alittle running with all the tomatoe juice and it was fine.
    Best dinner ever and can not wait to have it again.

  • MrsBabs 1 Nov, 2011

    Now this is sooo a recipe I want to try!

  • suehalehayes 10 Sep, 2011

    For "queenzookie",try drainging tinned Tomatoes.Use Your Favourite Flavours and Taste if not using un~pasterised Eggs.Should renew Faith in Miss.Martha.

  • tamaralukie 10 Nov, 2010

    this is one of our fav's in the family. although it says it's 2 recipes, it barely lasts us one dinner! thanks martha!!!

  • Jarbusto 16 Aug, 2010

    Best baked pasta dish. I substitute mozzarella for the fontina and use crushed tomatoes from the can as a short cut. Everyone loves it.

  • laura fulton 16 May, 2010

    With so many flavorful ingredients, I expected this to be very tasty. But I found it to be barely mediocre. It was less than the sum of its parts. Sorry, Martha!

  • khp 3 Mar, 2009

    I used ground chkicken and seasoned it with Penzey's Italian Sausage seasoning - perfect and cost effective!

  • geekygrandma 16 Nov, 2008

    I had to use Hilshire Farms Smoked Turkey Sausage as chicken was not available. Also Fontina cheese was $23.00/lb at Safeway so I used a 4-Italian shredded cheese mix instead. I think the idea here is to get a smokey flavor, but my family said to try either sweet or hot Italian sausage next time. The vodka sauce makes this very good.

  • CardDiva 16 Nov, 2008

    I substituted a few things to this dish....Italian Sweet Basil Sausage for the Chicken Sausage and my grocery store didnt have fontina cheese but used Mozzerella instead. Excellent recipe!

  • CardDiva 16 Nov, 2008

    My family loved this recipe, I had nothing left. I love that I can put the second dish in the freezer for another dinner. Perfect! I substituted the Italian Sweet Basil for the chicken sausage. Delicious! Definately make this dish again.

  • ajkamantigue 15 Nov, 2008

    I added pancetta in mine and it came out totally divine.

  • FrogsRMe 13 Nov, 2008

    To christydiane: I believe the chicken sausage described here is precooked. If I were substituting raw ground turkey sausage I would definitely cook and crumble first.

  • Irenefox 13 Nov, 2008

    I tried jarred Vodka pasta sauce in this dish, and it worked just fine. Also substituted vegetarian Italian sausage for chicken sausage. Delicious!

  • harvard44 13 Nov, 2008

    This is DELICIOUS made just as directed but you can do fine with a jarred sauce. Also Fontina is a yummy melty Italian cheese but good substitutes would be mozzarella, Asiago - even a shredded Gruyere ["Swiss-y"] cheese would be good.

  • christydiane 12 Nov, 2008

    Is the smoked chicken sausage already cooked? I am substituting ground turkey sausage and was wondering if i should brown it before putting in the recipe.

  • christydiane 12 Nov, 2008

    Is the smoked chicken sausage already cooked? I am substituting ground turkey sausage and was wondering if i should brown it before putting in the recipe.

  • Momsie 12 Nov, 2008

    You can find excellent chicken sausage at Cosco or Sams. Many butcher shops make thier own and also many Italian markets.In fact, Emirel even has one that is quite tasty.

  • lizfreet 12 Nov, 2008

    Sprouts, Whole Foods and Central Market in texas all carry Turkey Sausage. You can also get Jenny O Turkey Sausage at Target Superstores

  • KristyRC 12 Nov, 2008

    Any recommendations on a brand or source for chicken sausage? Several recipes call for it, but I haven't found it in regular grocery chains in Texas.

  • dmwochele 12 Nov, 2008

    I'll try to remember to let you know, I'm going to to store and using the jarred sauce for tonight.

  • Irenefox 12 Nov, 2008

    Is it possible to substitute jarred vodka pasta sauce in this dish instead of making the sauce in the recipe? This would save some time.

  • novawalker 12 Nov, 2008

    red6586--Thanks for the suggestion- I may try pepper jack for more punch! My apologies for multiple entries. No indications that 1 submit worked!

  • red6586 12 Nov, 2008

    Hi novawalker,
    Mozzarella would be a good substitute, although not as flavorful, but easier on the checkbook too.

  • novawalker 12 Nov, 2008

    What is a good substitue for fontina cheese? I've never had it?

  • Encee 12 Nov, 2008

    Has anyone here made their own sausage? I saw this and wondered about making my own chicken sausage, adding our fav seasonings. Any advice?

  • Erin39 19 Mar, 2008

    This is really good and flavorful! The flavors really meld well together and are subtly delicious. I followed recipe exactly. I definately recommend this one!

  • justhereforfood 24 Feb, 2008

    Recipe did not say what SIZE pan of pasta this makes. It only makes one 13x9, as a previous commenter noted. Very tasty though. I used kale instead of spinach.

  • juliachristinaduke 17 Feb, 2008

    This is a delicious dish. I made it just in one 13x9 pan. I made it a day in advance and was able to cook it right before a dinner party. It turned out great.

  • sali 15 Feb, 2008

    Delicious. Makes 2 9x9 casseroles. Next time I will shred all of the cheese instead of just the cheese for the top. Great to make on a weekend when you have kitchen time and then freeze for easy weeknight meal with little cleanup. Good leftovers for work too! I will keep this in my lineup

  • number1jess 9 Jan, 2008

    Turned out great! I ended up doubling the recipe because we are having two sets of friends over this week. I froze half and served the other half last night. Very good!

  • bakingauntie 30 Dec, 2007

    Good. So good! It's quick and definately easy to make for a starter cook like me! My husband thought my cooking skills are definately improving after this dish!

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