Skillet Baked Ziti

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Skillet Baked Ziti is a big time favorite pasta recipe!

Skillet Baked Ziti

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s made all in one skillet. You won’t be messing up a lot of dishes. Everything is just made in one pan, and the result is wonderful. Skillet Baked Ziti is a delicious and easy pasta recipe to make. It’s totally family friendly. Everyone usually loves this one. You’re not likely to have much in the way of leftovers! This recipe was originally found in The Best 30-Minute Recipe by Cooks Illustrated, one of my favorite go-to cookbooks for making easy dinner recipes.

starting to make Skillet Baked Ziti

How to make Skillet Baked Ziti:

Be sure to scroll to the end of this post to print out the complete recipe. It’s best if you can use an oven-safe skillet for this recipe. A large cast iron works well, or an all-metal skillet without plastic handles. If you don’t have one though, you can still make this recipe so read on!

You’ll begin by sautéing oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. The red pepper flakes add just a teeny-tiny amount of spice, so I wouldn’t skip them because they are a good part of this recipe.

Making Skillet Baked Ziti

Next, you’ll add a can of crushed tomatoes, water, the ziti pasta and more salt. If you don’t have ziti, you can sub penne pasta. This is the part where the pasta cooks in the pan, so you’ll cover the pan and let the pasta cook for about 15 minutes.

Making Skillet Baked Ziti

It’s amazing, but the pasta cooks well in the skillet with the tomato sauce and the water!

Skillet Baked Ziti

The final step is adding in some cream, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, at this point you can scrape the pasta mixture into a casserole dish and continue with the recipe. You will sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese and transfer it to the oven to bake for 10 minutes- just until the cheese melts. 

Skillet Baked Ziti

And that’s how your Skillet Baked Ziti will look when it comes out of the oven. It’s so good!!

Note: I’ve been making this recipe for a long time. I often make it for friends in need– someone who is sick and needs a drop off dinner or someone who just had a baby. You can prepare it to the point just before baking in the oven with the cheese and just cover and deliver with instructions to warm it up in the oven.

serving of Skillet Baked Ziti

Try this for dinner, and I think you will be pleased. There are instructions in the recipe below for cutting the recipe in half to serve only 3 to 4 people if you don’t want to make the full recipe. Enjoy!

Here are a few more pasta recipes you might like to try:

Skillet Baked Ziti
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Skillet Baked Ziti

Simple and delicious pasta dish!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 439kcal
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked pasta, baked ziti, skillet pasta


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 ounces ziti or penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place the oven rack in the middle position.
  • Combine the oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch oven-safe skillet (I use a cast-iron) and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, pasta, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
  • Stir in the cream, Parmesan and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the pasta. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.



  • *If your skillet is not oven-safe, transfer the pasta mixture into a shallow 2-quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the cheese and baking.
  • *To make a smaller portion of this pasta: use a 10-inch oven-safe skillet to saute 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes & a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add one (14.5 ounce) can chopped tomatoes with garlic, oregano & basil + 1 1/2 cups of water and 6 ounces of pasta. Bring to a boil, cover; reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for about 8 minutes at 475 degrees F. until bubbling and lightly browned. This smaller portion will serve 3 to 4.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 566mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 852IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 3mg
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  • Jan Frossard wrote:

    I had a dish kind of like this at a restaurant in Oregon and I have been trying to find it here. When I say here I mean Olive Garden, I also added the Dellmonte garlic and onion pasta sauce with it. It turned out fabulous

  • Kristina wrote:

    Could I use something other than crushed tomatoes? My son complains if he can see any chunks of tomatoes because he hates them but he doesn’t realize tomatoes make his ketchup and spaghetti sauce! Lol

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Can you blend the crushed tomatoes in the blender before using in the recipe?

  • bc in edmond wrote:

    This sounds wonderful! Quick question – do you drain the canned tomatoes or not? I can’t wait to make this – thanks!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      No, don’t drain the tomatoes!

  • April wrote:

    Looks awesome! I’m going to make it tomorrow and I am going to add a half pound of hot Italian sausage and half pound ground sirloin. I can’t wait.

    • Lori Lange wrote:


  • Lynda wrote:

    What about adding hamburger meat?

    • Lori Lange wrote:


  • Carrie wrote:

    Looks great, but any healthier substitute for the heavy whipping cream?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Well, there is only 1/2 cup in the whole recipe… but I suppose you could try to use Evaporated Milk, which tends to lend a creamier texture than regular milk.

  • Ann McDermott wrote:

    This was AWESOME! I made it one night anticipating leftovers for another night, but there was NONE left! My picky eaters gobbled it up! Thank you!!!!

  • Jamie Roberts wrote:

    Hi Lori, I LOVE your site!
    I wanted to make this for a friend that just had a baby… could I complete until oven baking part and refrigerate? (So she could finish at dinnertime?) Would it still turn out?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Hi Jamie- glad you are enjoying the site 🙂 Yes, I’ve done this exact thing with this recipe before… for a a new Mom too! Just prepare and cover and give instructions for finishing it up. You can even put it in a foil throw-away pan to make it easier!

  • Missy wrote:

    Great recipe! Love it so much!

  • katie wrote:

    This was great. The whole family loved it and I loved how quick & easy the recipe was.