When it comes to hearty Italian comfort food, baked ziti and lasagne, are two dishes that come to mind. Both dishes are made with pasta, cheese, sauce and then baked to perfection. However, there are key differences between these dishes that set them apart from each other. In this article, we'll explore the differences in ingredients, sauces, and cooking processes between baked ziti and lasagne to help you determine which dish you prefer.

Baked Ziti vs. Lasagne: What is the Difference?

Baked ziti is a popular Italian-American dish that originated in the eastern United States. It's made with ziti pasta, which is a type of tube-shaped pasta, mixed with tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and melted mozzarella cheese. Baked ziti is typically served as a casserole-style dish, baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Traditionally, lasagne was invented between 1544 & 1692, most likely in Emilia Romagna or Naples. It is a traditional Italian dish that dates back to ancient Rome. It's made with lasagne sheets, which are wide and flat then layered with meat, vegetables, cheese, and sauce. Lasagne is typically served as a multi-layered dish, baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and the top layer is crispy.

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What is the Difference in Shape?

The most obvious difference between baked ziti and lasagne is the shape of the pasta used. Baked ziti uses ziti pasta, which is a tubular pasta with straight edges. Lasagne uses lasagne sheets, which are flat and wide.

What Type of Cheese is Used?

Baked ziti uses ricotta cheese, which has a creamy texture and mild flavour. On the other hand, lasagne uses a combination of ricotta, parmesan, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese, which gives the dish a richer, more complex flavor.

Meat Additions

While both dishes can be made without meat, lasagne often includes ground beef or sausage in the meat sauce layers, while baked ziti is typically meat-free.

The Best Sauces to Use for Baked Ziti and Lasagne

Choosing the right sauce is crucial to making a delicious baked ziti or lasagne. Here are some of the best sauces to use for each dish.

Classic Tomato Sauce

A classic tomato sauce is perfect for baked ziti. It's simple, flavourful, and pairs well with creamy ricotta cheese. It uses only a few ingredients, making it a delicious family budget beater.

Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel sauce is a creamy, white sauce that's commonly used in lasagne. It's made with butter, flour, and milk, and gives the dish a rich, luxurious texture.

Alfredo Sauce

For a decadent twist on baked ziti, try using alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce. It's made with cream, butter, and parmesan cheese, adding a creamy, cheesy flavour to the dish.

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is a great alternative to tomato sauce for lasagne. It's made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, and gives the dish a fresh, herby flavor.

delicious lasagna plate on wooden table
Lasagne is perfect for special family occasions. It is always a great crowd-pleaser. Best served with a light green salad.


Preparing These Dishes

The cooking processes for baked ziti and lasagne are similar, but there are some differences to be aware of. To make baked ziti, the ziti pasta is cooked until it's al dente, then mixed with the sauce and cheese. With lasagne, the sheets are boiled until they're soft, then layered with the meat, cheese, and sauce.

Baked ziti is typically made with a layer of pasta, followed by a layer of ricotta cheese mixed with egg, a layer of tomato sauce, and then a layer of melted mozzarella cheese on top. For lasagne, the layers typically include ground beef or sausage, cheese, and lasagne sheets, these steps are then repeated until the dish is full.

Ziti and lasagne are both baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Baked ziti typically takes around 30 minutes to bake at 375°F, while lasagne can take up to an hour to bake at the same temperature. Additionally, lasagne can be covered with foil for the first 30-40 minutes to prevent it from drying out, make sure that the foil does not touch the cheese to prevent it from sticking.

Nutritional Differences Between Baked Ziti vs. Lasagne

If you're watching what you eat, it's important to know the nutritional differences. In the chart below we will compare the nutritional values of baked ziti vs. lasagne according to Nutritionix.

Nutritional FactsBeef Lasagne
1 serving of about 1.5 cups
Baked Ziti
1 serving 2 cups
Total Fat32g19g
Saturated Fat15g9.1g
Trans Fat0.3g0g
Polyunsaturated Fat2.6g2.5g
Monounsaturated Fat11g5g
Total Carbohydrates35g71g
Dietary Fiber3.9g6.8g

The Best Occasions to Serve Each Dish

Both baked ziti and lasagne are hearty, comforting dishes that are perfect for feeding a crowd. Here are some occasions when you might choose one over the other:

Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is a great option for a casual dinner party or a family gathering. It's easy to make in large batches and a crowd-pleaser that everyone will love.


Lasagne is a bit more elegant and sophisticated than baked ziti, so it's a great option for a formal dinner party or a special occasion. It's also a great dish to bring to a potluck or to serve at a holiday gathering.

Variations of Baked Ziti and Lasagne

If you're looking to mix things up and try something new, here are some variations of baked ziti and lasagne to try:

Veggie Baked Ziti

Switch the meat in your baked ziti for your favorite vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, or peppers.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne

This vegetarian lasagne is filled with spinach, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese, making it a healthy and delicious option.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagne

This variation of lasagne uses chicken, alfredo sauce, and plenty of cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Baked Ziti

This twist on baked ziti uses eggplant instead of pasta, making it a healthier option that's still just as delicious.

Final Verdict: Baked Ziti or Lasagne?

Both dishes are delicious and comforting and are perfect for feeding a crowd. If you're looking for a more elegant dish, go with lasagne. If you're in the mood for something casual, baked ziti is the way to go. Either way, you can't go wrong! From classic tomato sauce to more modern variations, there's a baked ziti or lasagne recipe out there for everyone. So next time you're in the mood for a warm and comforting pasta dish, consider trying out a new recipe for either baked ziti or lasagne and enjoy the delicious flavours of Italian cuisine.


Can I use the same pasta for baked ziti and lasagne?

No, when making ziti you can use similar pasta shapes such as penne, or rigatoni. However, lasagne uses lasagne sheets.

Can I make baked ziti or lasagne ahead of time?

Yes, both dishes can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen, until ready to bake. However, lasagne may require a longer baking time if it's been refrigerated or frozen.

What's the difference between ricotta cheese and cottage cheese?

Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese can be used in baked ziti and lasagne, but ricotta cheese has a creamier texture and milder flavor, whereas cottage cheese has a slightly tangy taste and a curd-like texture.

Are these dishes vegetarian-friendly?

Yes, both dishes can be made vegetarian-friendly by omitting the meat and using vegetable broth in place of beef or chicken broth in the sauce. Additionally, many vegetarian variations of these dishes use vegetables as the main ingredient.

Baked ziti and lasagne recipe

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