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.
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.
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.
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:
- Sweet Potato Bolognese Skillet
- Butternut Squash Vegan Tofu Lasagna
- Parsnip Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts
Watch our video for this recipe and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more videos:
No Boil Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti
- 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
- 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.