How to Make a Ziti with Sausage Recipe Your Kids Will LOVE

Posted on: October 26th, 2016by

How to Make a Ziti with Sausage Recipe Your Kids Will LOVE


What is your kids’ favorite dinner dish?


For my boys their go to favorite meal that I make is ziti. They absolutely love it, so much so that I often double the recipe so there’s always a batch of ziti for a night that we’re on the run or I’m away. Recently, I was invited to introduce Johnsonville® Italian Sausage into a pasta dinner dish for my family as part of Italian-American Heritage Month.


As part of this influencer/blogger campaign, Johnsonville sent us this incredible Johnsonville Italian meal kit. Never have I gotten a package with so much fresh food delivered at once. As I opened the box with a special cooler bag, I could not believe how fresh all the ingredients were. The spinach and broccoli rabe were vibrant green. The tomato was bright red with a perfectly smooth skin. There were packages of Johnsonville Fresh Mild Ground Sausage and Johnsonville Fresh Italian Sweet Ground Sausage. And if all those flavors weren’t enough, Johnsonville also included baby Bella mushrooms, roasted diced tomatoes, roasted tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese, pasta, and more. It was all the flavors and ingredients I needed to get started on a healthy pasta dinner for my family. They even included recipe cards for Rigatoni Salsiccia e Rapini and Spinach Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage. In fact with all these ingredients I could have made both dinners.


While Johnsonville has a great variety of recipes on their site like the Spinach Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage and Italian Sausage Rigatoni, I went with making our ziti with sausage and several of the fresh ingredients Johnsonville sent us. Knowing my boys enjoy Johnsonville’s flavor-filled sausage and LOVE ziti, I knew I couldn’t go wrong. Those additional flavors added some extra zing to our ziti with sausage recipe. It was a delicious mix of the new fresh flavors with the still traditional look and feel of a classic ziti.


Our How to Make Ziti with Sausage Recipe that your kids will love


Ziti with Sausage Recipe Ingredients

  • ½ cup – ¾ cup of ziti
  • 1 pound of Johnsonville All Natural Fresh Italian Sweet Ground Sausage
  • 3 cups of pasta sauce
  • 15 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups – 2 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh spinach to secretly replace parsley
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of baby Bella mushrooms
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Ziti with Sausage Recipe ingredients

Getting all the ingredients ready to make our Ziti with Sausage Recipe


Ziti with Sausage Recipe Prep & Cooking Times

  • Prep time is 30 minutes. Some prep work can be done simultaneously.
  • Cooking time is 15 – 20 minutes when using ramekins like we did. Allow yourself 25-30 minutes if cooking in a 13x9x2 inch pan or larger.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe ramekins

I picked up these ramekins at a craft store to make our ziti with sausage dinner extra special.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe prep work

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Cook the ziti according to the package directions. Then drain and sit aside.
  • Chop the spinach finely enough that it resembles parsley, this will allow you to add it in with the ziti as a secret ingredient.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe spinack

I’m loving how fresh and green this spinach is. By cutting it into small flakes, my kids will think it’s parsley. When really I’m sneaking in spinach.


  • Dice a tomato into small pieces.
  • Finely chop the mushrooms. If you’re using the mushrooms as another secret ingredient, I recommend cutting it finely like we did below.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe with Baby Bella Mushrooms

I cut the baby Bella mushrooms into small pieces in order to sneak them in as another secret ingredient.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe Steps

  • Brown the Johnsonville All Natural Fresh Italian Sweet Ground Sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Keep in mind you will want to use a skillet large enough to accommodate the sausage, pasta, and pasta sauce. Gently move around the sausage with a spatula breaking the ground sausage into smaller pieces while avoiding overcooking any meat.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe cooking

You can cook the pasta and brown the ground sausage at the same time to save time.


  • Once your Johnsonville ground sausage has cooked add in the pasta sauce, chopped tomato, and half of your chopped spinach. Stir your mixture before allowing it to simmer for 10 minutes.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe cooking


  • While the sausage and sauce are simmering, prepare your cheese mixture. Mix the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, the other half of your chopped spinach, salt, pepper, and the baby Bella mushrooms together in a large bowl. This is a great step for kids to help out with. My 8 year old loves pouring ingredients in.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe m

Get the kids involved with dinner prep and they’ll be eager to eat a recipe they helped create.


  • After the sausage and sauce have simmered, add the ziti noodles to your meat sauce.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe


  • Prepare the dish or ramekins you will using for baking your ziti with sausage. You’ll want them as close as possible to your pasta bowl and cheese mixture bowl to avoid having too many messes. I usually have the pasta on the right and the cheese mixture on the left.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe ramekins


  • Layer each ramekin or your baking dish with one layer of your pasta and meat sauce mixture. Since we’ve increased our quantities of ingredients compared to a typical ziti recipe, you should have plenty to cover the bottom layer of your cooking dishes.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe m

Layering in the cheese mixture.


  • Divide your cheese mixture between your baking dishes. My son helped with this step by dropping a large dollop of the cheese mixture into each ramekin. I then used the back of the spoon to spread out the mixture. If you are using a large cooking dish, the step would be the same. However, you’ll want to evenly space out how you drop the cheese mixture so that it spreads evenly like below over the first ziti layer.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe

I used the ramekins for tonight’s ziti with sausage and the casserole as a ziti dish for an easy dinner another night.


  • Top the cheese layer with another layer of ziti noodles with the sausage meat sauce.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Almost ready for the oven.


  • Use the remaining mozzarella cheese to sprinkle over each ramekin or your baking dish. Next, gently sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. A tip, I hold my hand vertical against the side of the dish while sprinkling with the other hand. It helps me to avoid making too much of a mess.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Ready for the oven. A cookie sheet makes it easier to get the ramekins in and out of the oven.


  • You’re ready to cook. If baking this ziti with sausage recipe in ramekins, I suggest placing them all on a cookie sheet to help with transferring them in and out of the oven. If cooking this ziti with sausage in a large baking dish, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to avoid the noodles on the outer edge of the pan from getting overcooked.


  • Bake your ziti with sausage recipe for 15 – 20 minutes if using ramekins or 25 – 30 minutes if using a large baking dish.


Ziti with Sausage Recipe


  • Enjoy!


Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Time for dinner.


My boys positively loved this ziti makeover. They appreciated the new flavors without recognizing that I had sneaked in spinach and mushrooms. The dinner got a two thumbs up from my little guy.

Ziti with Sausage Recipe

Two thumbs up for mom’s ziti with sausage recipe


Cooking our favorite ziti recipe with Johnsonville’s All Natural Fresh Italian Sweet Ground Sausage was certainly a win for our family. Did you know what it means to have Johnsonville sausage made the Johnsonville Way? It means behind every package of Johnsonville’s sausage is a team dedicated to creating the best sausage in America with choice cuts of meat and a variety of flavors and spices mixed in. My kids definitely enjoyed these new flavors in their classic ziti.


Go ahead! Print this now or ‘pin’ it for later.

ziti with sausage recipe




What pasta dish or recipe can you makeover with Johnsonville® sausage?



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnsonville . The opinions and text are all mine.

Posted in: All, Fun at Home, Kids Cooking

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Jennifer Auer is the hyperlocal mom blogger who runs Jersey Family Fun. From New Jersey, this mom of 3 boys just can’t sit still! Her husband likes to say she’s a work-at-home mom who never stays home. Jennifer started traveling as a child and hasn’t stopped since. Instead of letting her husband and boys slow her down, she brings them along! Did you know that boys behave better when they are out exploring? As her boys transition from tweens to teens there’s still so many places she wants to discover with them both across the U.S. and internationally.She has been a Jersey Girl for 20+ years, and a Jersey Mom for 8+ years and a New Jersey mom blogger for 10 years, although she'd much rather be referred to as an influencer or just by name.She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Bryant University in Rhode Island.

3 thoughts on “How to Make a Ziti with Sausage Recipe Your Kids Will LOVE

  1. Melanie C. says:

    I love the individual serving dishes! I think that might make my kids think it’s more fun to eat!

  2. Leslie says:

    Looks easy & delicious!

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