Baked Ziti With Two Mozzarellas and Parmesan Cream Sauce Recipe

Removing the ricotta and adding creaminess in the form of a Parmesan cream sauce is my secret to unbelievably good baked ziti. Vicky Wasik

This is, in some ways, a classic meatless baked ziti, loaded with pools of cheese and rich tomato sauce. But it gets rid of the one thing that can often make baked ziti less than great: grainy ricotta cheese. Instead, we drizzle it with an over-the-top Parmesan cream. Trust us, you won't miss the ricotta.

Why this recipe works:

  • Omitting ricotta cheese, which is often unpleasantly grainy, and replacing it with an indulgently cheesy cream sauce guarantees that this ziti will be full of flavor without any bad textures.
  • Two mozzarellas—low-moisture and fresh—deliver both the best melting properties and the best fresh milky flavor.
  • The Parmesan cream sauce is quick and easy to prepare, and can be made while the ziti bakes.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and position rack in center. Boil pasta in a medium pot of salted boiling water until about halfway cooked (about 6 1/2 minutes for pasta that will be al dente in 9 minutes). Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta with 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce, reserved 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, low-moisture mozzarella, and 1 cup fresh mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

  3. Scrape into baking dish and press into an even layer.

  4. Drizzle remaining 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce all over top of pasta.

  5. Scatter remaining 1 cup mozzarella all over, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, gently simmer cream over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle in Parmigiano-Reggiano into cream and whisk until completely melted and sauce is smooth. Season with salt. Keep warm.

  7. Increase oven to 450°F, uncover baked ziti, and cook until just starting to brown on top, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Top with basil leaves, spoon onto plates, and drizzle with Parmesan cream. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Baking dish

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
762 Calories
37g Fat
77g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 762
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 22g 109%
Cholesterol 123mg 41%
Sodium 743mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 14mg 69%
Calcium 394mg 30%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 703mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)