Dinner Recipes




Baked Ziti vs. Lasagna: How They’re Different & Full Nutrition Comparison

Baked Ziti vs Lasagna Differences

Baked Ziti vs. Lasagna: How They’re Different & Full Nutrition Comparison

When it comes to hearty Italian comfort food, baked ziti and lasagna, 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 lasagna to help you determine which dish you prefer.

Baked Ziti vs. Lasagna: What is the Difference?

The main difference between lasagna and baked ziti is that baked ziti uses tube pasta whereas lasagna is layered using flat lasagna noodles. Both dishes use similar blends of cheese – utilizing ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. However, their sauces can differ, with baked ziti often using tomato sauce or a meat sauce and lasagna most commonly using a slow-cooked Bolognese sauce.

The History of Baked Ziti and Lasagna

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, lasagna 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 lasagna sheets, which are wide and flat then layered with meat, vegetables, cheese, and sauce. Lasagna is typically served as a multi-layered dish, baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and the top layer is crispy.

Easy Dinner Recipes Week One
Ziti Bolognese is a hearty meal the whole family can enjoy.


What is the Difference in Shape?

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

What Type of Cheese is Used?

Baked ziti uses ricotta cheese, which has a creamy texture and mild flavor. Lasagna uses a combination of ricotta, parmesan, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese, which gives the dish a richer, more complex flavor. It should be noted that the cheese on both dishes is typically similar, with mozzarella and parmesan cheese often being added to baked ziti as well.

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Meat Additions

While both dishes can be made without meat, lasagna often uses a slow-cooked Bolognese while baked ziti uses either a tomato sauce or meat sauce.

The Best Sauces to Use for Baked Ziti and Lasagna

Choosing the right sauce is crucial to making a delicious baked ziti or lasagna. 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 lasagna. 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 flavor to the dish.

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is a great alternative to tomato sauce for lasagna. 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
Lasagna 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 lasagna 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 lasagna, 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 lasagna, the layers typically include ground beef or sausage, cheese, and lasagna sheets, these steps are then repeated until the dish is full.

Ziti and lasagna 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 lasagna can take up to an hour to bake at the same temperature. Additionally, lasagna 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.

Baked Ziti vs. Lasagna Nutrition: Calories, Fat, Protein, and More

Baked Ziti vs Beef Lasagna Nutrition
Data provided by NutritionX


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. lasagna according to Nutritionix.

Nutritional FactsBeef Lasagna
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

Note that beef lasagna has more meat and that does add cholesterol and more calories per serving. While the beef lasagna listed above has slightly more calories, it's also a smaller serving. Portion control is important with all pasta products as they can have significant carbohydrates. The larger noodles in ziti contributed to higher carbohydrates per serving while the meat sauce in beef lasagna add sodium, saturated fat, and more overall calories.

The Best Occasions to Serve Each Dish

Both baked ziti and lasagna 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.


Lasagna 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 Lasagna

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

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

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  • The must-have convenient reference guide for every home cook!
  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

This variation of lasagna 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 Lasagna?

Infographic showcasing the differences between baked ziti and lasagna.
Baked ziti and lasagna can both have meat in them.
  • One of the main differences between ziti and lasagna is in the type of noodles used. Baked ziti uses tube pasta, while lasagna uses flat lasagna noodles.
  • Baked ziti usually uses tomato sauce or a meat sauce, while lasagna commonly uses a Bolognese sauce.
  • Typically, lasagna will be higher in calories and fat compared to ziti. This can change depending on the ingredients, however, so make sure you take that into account. The type of lasagna we used for our comparison was beef lasagna.

Both dishes are delicious and comforting and are perfect for feeding a crowd. If you're looking for a more elegant dish, go with lasagna. 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 lasagna 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 lasagna and enjoy the delicious flavors of Italian cuisine.


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

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

Can I make baked ziti or lasagna ahead of time?

Yes, both dishes can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen, until ready to bake. However, lasagna 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 lasagna, 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 Lasagna Recipes to Check Out

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Lasagna Bolognese. Layers of flat lasagna noodles baked with alternating layers of slow-cooked Bolognese sauce, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese.

Classic Bolognese Lasagna

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  • Author: Moms Who Think
  • Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 1 pound ground meatloaf mix (ground pork, veal and beef)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 24 ounces vodka pasta sauce
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles (1/2 of an 8 ounces packages) or 6 long lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese


1. Preheated oven to 375°F.

2. Cook meat in a large skillet with onion and carrots until no longer pink, stirring frequently; drain. Stir in pasta sauce; simmer 5 minutes.

3. Spoon 1-1/2 cups meat sauce onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish or pan.

4. Layer 3 noodles, half of the ricotta cheese, 1 cup meat sauce and 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese.

5. Repeat layers, topping with all of remaining meat sauce.

6. Cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven 40 minutes.

7. Uncover dish; top with remaining 1 cup Italian blend cheese. Continue baking 10 minutes or until bubbly.

8. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
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