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Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno

This decadent Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno recipe is impressive enough for the holidays, yet incredibly easy to make. Made with marinara sauce, alfredo sauce and five kinds of cheese, every bite of this pasta dinner is supremely satisfying.

A slice of baked ziti al forno on a rustic plate

For many, many years, if you asked my husband what his favorite dinner was he would say my zucchini parmesan recipe. He requested it every year for his birthday, at holidays, and one time even mused that pasta dish would be his top pick for “last meal” – plus a thick slice of honey-vanilla challah on the side.

But my friends, the king has been dethroned because there is a new favorite on the table. This five cheese baked ziti al forno. Hard to believe after all these years, but it’s true.

I can’t blame him. This baked pasta recipe is supremely indulgent and utterly satisfying. Tender ziti noodles are smothered in a combination of marinara sauce and alfredo sauce. Then everything is layered in a 9×13 casserole dish with sour cream, ricotta cheese, provolone, Romano cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. A buttery, garlicky topping finishes the whole thing off with a crunchy layer that contrasts beautifully with the cheesy pasta.

Sound decadent? It is. You have to try it!

Five cheese ziti al forno in a baking dish

Why You’ll Love this Baked Ziti Al Forno

  • Easy. One of the best things about this recipe is how simple it is. With minimal effort, you can throw this meal together, pop it in the oven, then sit back and enjoy an incredible pasta dinner.
  • So, so good. It is hard to describe just how good this pasta is. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s flavorful. The first time my family took a bite of this dish their eyebrows literally went up as their brains processed all the goodness that was happening. Then they cleaned their plates.
  • Flexible. There are 5 kinds of cheese in this baked ziti recipe, but the amounts are flexible. If you prefer Parmesan over Romano, simply use more of one and less of the other. You can also use your preferred brand of pasta sauce, or even use a different kind of tubular pasta noodle.
  • Fancy, yet simple. This baked ziti dish is impressive enough to serve at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but it still has that down-home rustic vibe that makes it equally suited to your weeknight dinner table.
  • Can be made in advance. You can assemble the baked ziti the day before, then cook it the following day for a super easy and satisfying meal.
Five cheese ziti al forno in a baking dish with a slice taken out

Ingredient Notes

Here are some quick tips/notes about the ingredients used in this pasta recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Ziti. You can use any kind of tubular pasta with this recipe, though it won’t be “ziti al forno” if you use a different shape. 🙂 Rigatoni and penne would be my top picks if you can’t find ziti noodles.
  • Marinara sauce. If I have homemade pasta sauce in the freezer I will almost always use that. If not, then I like Newman’s Own marinara sauce. Whatever your preferred brand is works.
  • Alfredo Sauce. I like Newman’s Own or Rao’s alfredo sauce but use your favorite brand.
  • Sour cream. This may sound like an odd ingredient in baked pasta but it adds unbelievable creaminess and flavor. Highly recommend.
  • Cheese. There are 5 kinds of cheese in this baked ziti recipe. Ricotta cheese, Romano cheese, mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan. You can adjust the amounts of each according to your tastes. For example, you could use less Romano and more Parmesan if you prefer. As long as the total amounts of cheese remain the same you’re good.
  • Breadcrumbs. These are used in the topping to add an irresistible crunch to the top of your creamy baked pasta dish. Don’t skip the topping!
  • Garlic and butter. Four cloves of garlic are minced and combined with butter and breadcrumbs for the topping. The combination basically tastes like a layer of garlic bread on top of your pasta. Yummeh.
A slice of baked ziti al forno on a rustic plate

How to Make Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno

The process for making five cheese ziti al forno is easy. Here’s how to do it:

  • Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with PAM or olive oil spray, then set aside.
  • Cook the pasta. Nothing fancy, just according to the package instructions.
  • Mix the two sauces. In a large bowl combine the marinara sauce and Alfredo sauce. Mix well. Set aside
  • Combine sauce, pasta, and some of the cheese. When the pasta is done cooking drain well and return to the cooking pot. Add the sauces to the pot and mix well. Add 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup Romano, mix well.
  • Layer the pasta in a 9×13 dish.
    • Spoon 1/3 of the pasta sauce mixture into your 9 x 13 dish.
    • Swirl the sour cream with the pasta. Top with a layer of provolone cheese slices.
    • Add 1/4 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup mozzarella on top.
    • Add another third of the pasta. Top with the rest of the ricotta, 1/2 cup Romano, and 1/2 cup of mozzarella.Add the rest of the pasta to the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
  • Make the topping. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, Panko bread crumbs, minced garlic, and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
  • Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. The pasta is done when it is bubbly on the top is golden brown.
  • Cool and serve. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. If you want to get a clean slice, let the pasta cool for 20 minutes.

What Does Al Forno Mean?

Al forno is an Italian phrase that means “from the oven.” So “five cheese ziti al forno” means “five cheese ziti from the oven.” In other words, it’s a fancy way to say this is a baked ziti recipe. 🙂

(If you love baked pasta recipes, by the way, you have to try my beef lasagna!)

A fork with a bite of ziti al forno on it

What to Serve with Ziti Al Forno

I recommend serving this pasta with a salad and something bready on the side so that you can use the bread to sop up every last bite. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Want to be a little extra and serve a drink with this dish? I recommend:

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Let the pasta cool to room temperature, then cover it tightly with saran wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also transfer it to airtight containers.

When you’re ready to eat some, simply scoop your desired amount onto a microwave-safe plate and zap it until warmed through. I recommend cutting a big slice into smaller pieces so that the inside of the slice warms up too. Start with 1 minute and 30 seconds, then heat in 30-second increments until the pasta reaches your desired temperature.

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Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno

A slice of baked ziti al forno on a rustic plate
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This decadent Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno recipe is impressive enough for the holidays, yet incredibly easy to make. Made with marinara sauce, alfredo sauce and five kinds of cheese, every bite of this pasta dinner is supremely satisfying.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs uncooked ziti
  • 2 24-oz jars marinara sauce
  • 1 15-oz jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 5 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup Romano cheese
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese

For the Topping

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with PAM or olive oil spray.

Cook the pasta. According to the package instructions. 

Mix the sauces. In a large bowl combine the marinara sauce and Alfredo sauce. Mix well. Set aside

Combine cooked pasta with sauce and some cheese. When the pasta is done cooking drain well and return to the cooking pot. Add the sauces to the pot and mix well. Add 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup Romano, mix well.

Assemble the baked ziti. Now it’s time to assemble the dish. Here’s how to do it.

  • Spoon 1/3 of the pasta sauce mixture into your 9 x 13 pan.
  • Swirl the sour cream with the pasta. Top with a layer of provolone cheese slices.
  • Add 1/4 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup mozzarella on top.
  • Add another third of the pasta. Top with the rest of the ricotta, 1/2 cup Romano, and 1/2 cup of mozzarella.
  • Add the rest of the pasta to the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.

Make the topping. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, Panko bread crumbs, minced garlic, and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. The baked ziti is done when it’s bubbly on the top is light golden brown.

Cool and serve. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

Let the pasta cool for 20 minutes if you want to get a clean slice. 🙂

Keywords: ziti al forno, 5 cheese ziti al forno, baked ziti

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This pasta is so good! Very easy to make too, I used the Newmans own brand like you suggested. Everyone loved it.