No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

meat & poultry
No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

No-Boil Baked Ziti with Pumpkin and Sausage is one of the easiest, creamiest, and most satisfying one-pot pasta recipes. A thick pumpkin-tomato sauce and spicy pork sausage make the perfect comforting dish with springy ziti pasta. 

No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

There’s nothing like a one-pot pasta dish on a busy night. Especially when the weather is chilly. All I want is an easy meal that will warm me up and fill the house with the comforting smells of fall. This one-pot baked ziti with pumpkin and sausage checks both of those boxes and more. 

Not only is this comfort food at its easiest, but this recipe is also full of rich pumpkin flavor and it’s a crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Make the dish as spicy or mild as you like but whatever you do, don’t skimp on the mozzarella for the classic gooey and cheesy baked ziti experience. 

How to Make No-Boil Baked Ziti

Your classic baked ziti recipe might require you to cook the pasta on the stove first and again in the oven. However, I’ve skipped the boiling step to make a streamlined one-pot dinner. 

Forget managing two pots on the stove to brown the sausage and cook the pasta. Instead, stir the raw ziti right into the oven-safe skillet with your aromatic garlic, sausage, and caramelized tomato paste and bake.

After 40 minutes, open the oven to reveal a rich, creamy and cheesy pasta casserole that required just 20 minutes of attention. 

No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make easy no-boil baked ziti for dinner tonight:

  • Pork sausage. Choose mild, medium, or spicy. You can also swap out pork sausage for leaner chicken sausage if you prefer. 
  • Garlic. Because what sort of Italian baked ziti recipe would be complete without a hit of everyone’s favorite allium?
  • Tomato paste. This adds deep umami flavor to enliven the pumpkin pasta sauce. Cooking the tomato paste a bit before you bake also deepens the caramel flavors. 
  • Pumpkin puree. Naturally creamy and sweet, you won’t need any extra sweeteners to bring the pasta sauce to life thanks to canned pumpkin. 
  • Broth. You can use chicken or vegetable broth for this recipe. Choose low-sodium so you can control the saltiness of the final dish.
  • Ziti. The perfect pasta shape for soaking up all of the delicious pumpkin flavors. 
  • Ricotta cheese. You’ll hide dollops of creamy ricotta throughout the baked ziti for a decadent surprise in every serving. 
  • Mozzarella cheese. The shredded mozz will melt beautifully into the pasta as it bakes and make a stunning golden and bubbling cheese crust on top. 
  • Red pepper flakes. This spice is optional, depending on your preference for heat. 

No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

Tips & Ingredient Swaps

  • You’ll need a large oven-safe skillet to make the baked ziti. I recommend a cast-iron pan because it holds heat evenly and maintains its temperature. Just remember that the pan will stay very hot after it’s removed from the oven!
  • If you can’t find pumpkin puree in a can, you can easily make your own by roasting a whole pumpkin or butternut squash until very tender, then pureeing in a blender or food processor. 
  • You can also swap out the ziti for another similarly-sized pasta. 
  • Be sure to cover the skillet completely with aluminum foil to bake. Otherwise, you risk burning the cheese before the pasta is fully cooked through. If you like a really crispy top, you can always remove the cover during the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. 

Vegetarian Baked Ziti

It’s easy to make this dish vegetarian too. Simply omit the sausage and use veggie broth. In fact, the recipe gets even easier and faster this way. All you need to do is combine the ingredients in a large skillet and pop it into the oven to bake away. 

However, if you want to infuse your vegetarian no-boil baked ziti with a bit of extra fall flavor, I love frying up a few whole sage leaves. Heat them in the skillet until they’re brown and fragrant, then add the remaining ingredients and bake. 

Your house will smell like fall with the baking pumpkin and sage. And you can bet everyone will be hungry for dinner. 

No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

Make-Ahead Baked Ziti

You can make this casserole ahead of time if you’re meal prepping. Store the whole dish or individual portions in airtight containers in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat, warm in the microwave in 30-second intervals until hot. 

You can also freeze this casserole for later, which makes this the perfect recipe to stow away for chilly winter nights when you just don’t feel like cooking. Let the dish cool fully before storing it in an airtight container or wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to two months. 

To defrost, let the baked ziti thaw overnight in the fridge. Then place it in a baking dish or skillet, cover with aluminum foil and reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through. If the dish seems dry at all, you can add chicken or vegetable broth as needed.  

More Comforting Pasta Recipes

If you’re on a comfort food kick, you’ll love these other family-friendly recipes:

Watch our video for this recipe and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more videos:

Recipe: No-Boil Pumpkin Sausage Baked Ziti

No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork sausage decased
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 16oz box ziti
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • optional to garnish: red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large, wide oven-safe pot skillet, add the pork sausage and crumble with a wooden spoon. Cook until pork is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir well to coat the meat in the tomato paste. Add the pumpkin and stir to combine. Then, add the broth, season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. Add the ziti and stir to combine. Add dollops of the ricotta throughout the pasta, by the tablespoon. Sprinkle over the top with the mozzarella cheese. Cover and cook for 40 minutes or until ziti is cooked through and al dente. If you don’t like crispy pasta edges, make sure all the noodles are mostly submerged in the liquid (although, the crispy parts are the best!)
  • Uncover and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. Serve.

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24 comments

Anonymous says:
Any thoughts on using chickpea or lentil based ziti?
Meaghan says:
That would be great! Definitely try and let us know how it goes.
KGL Staff says:
I made this as a last minute dessert for my gluten free dinner guests. It was an absolute hit! I would highly recommend this recipe!
Danielle says:
So good, so easy! Made with sweet potato purée because I couldn’t find pumpkin. This will be on repeat allllll fall!
Meaghan says:
Wow! That's a great idea. Thank you for sharing!
Anonymous says:
Loved the simplicity of this recipe and how great it tasted! To make it more saucy, what would you recommend?
Meaghan says:
Definitely play around with it! If you'd like more sauce, add in more or heat some up on the side and add as much as you like to your dish. Have fun with it and let us know how it comes out! Share a photo!
Anonymous says:
I used red lentil rotini pasta and it worked out great! I also added some spinach. So delicious!
Meaghan says:
Fabulous to hear! thank you so much for sharing!
Heidi says:
Love this recipe! It was so easy to throw together and was a hit with my family. I used turkey sausage and added a little extra broth as I wanted to cover the pasta more. Checked it at 30 minutes and it was perfect, will definitely make again!

Meaghan says:
WOW! This is perfection! So glad to hear it was a hit with the fam!
Anonymous says:
If your pot is not oven-safe, can you transfer into a glass dish before baking?
Meaghan says:
We haven't tried that but definitely give it a go - that should work just be extra careful!
Anonymous says:
The chickpea pasta and vegetarian sausage worked out great. Also, butternut squash purée worked perfectly since it’s impossible to find pumpkin. Just used frozen butternut squash, heated it up, and then puréed it.
Meaghan says:
Fabulous to know it works well with butternut squash - that's super helpful information, thank you for trying and sharing!
Kristen says:
Made this last night and it was creamy & delicious! And using one pan made it SO easy. I used GF noodles so the cooking time was even less, about 30 minutes!
Meaghan says:
That's so fabulous!
Anonymous says:
Loved it! I used smoked pork corizo for the pork and sauted it with a sweet onion. Easy & yummy!
Meaghan says:
That sounds incredible!!
Tara says:
Hi Ali! Have you ever tried this with penne pasta? I'm sure it works about the same, but I wanted to check! 😊 Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!! ❤️
Meaghan says:
We haven't tried that but we're sure it would work great! Let us know if you do!
Amanda says:
This dish was to die for! Hubs was like, “you’re putting pumpkin in what?” He crushed it. Saving this one forever.
Meaghan says:
Yaaaasss! Amanda! We love this so much and we're so happy you and your husband enjoyed this one! We'll keep 'em coming!

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