Gimme Some Oven

5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti

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5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

My friend, Michelle, has a little family “tradition” that all us friends have decided to co-opt and adopt for ourselves. It’s Very Serious Business, it’s an art to be learned, and it’s best studied in groups. And it’s fondly called…

ultimate comfort.

To quote, Michelle defines ultimate comfort as “making cushiness, warmth, and togetherness your top priority.”

For example, ultimate comfort when watching a movie? Achieving the correct amount of fluffy blankets while watching a movie on a giant sofa with perfectly popped popcorn within arm’s reach. Ultimate comfort when laying out for a day at the beach? A comfortable padded deck chair with a massive umbrella, huge sunglasses, an icy drink topped with an umbrella nearby, and an entertaining (yet well-written!) chick lit paperback in your hands for reading enjoyment. Ultimate comfort for a road trip? Pillows for all, comfy yoga pants and sweats, unending bags of Chex Mix to pass around, huge cups of iced tea and other beverages with pellet ice from Sonic, a well-curated nostalgic playlist that everyone can jam along to, followed my compelling podcasts for the driver once people start nodding off.

It’s not just comfort. The mission is ultimate comfort.

And when achieved together, it’s a glorious thing to be celebrated.

So when I started getting all whiny last week about the umpteenth gray, dreary, and freezing day in a row, I decided that it was time for some ultimate comfort to come to the rescue. I had leftover sausage and kale in the fridge from making my favorite zuppa toscana soup. So I called up some girlfriends and invited them over for a spontaneous dinner in our slippers, lit up my Netflix fireplace, pulled out the wine glasses and lots of cabernet, and set to work making quite possibly the easiest and most comforting baked ziti recipe I could imagine. 5 ingredients, about 20 minutes of prep time, and 20 minutes of bake time later, we gathered around the table and ultimate comfort dinner was served.

Mission accomplished.

5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that any recipe that falls in the “quick and easy” category scores major extra bonus points in my book. And while this dish might look like you spent an hour on it, the truth is that it was ridiculously easy.

5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

Simply brown up some Italian sausage. (I strongly, strongly recommend using “spicy” Italian sausage for this one, even if you typically tend towards mild since the sausage is primarily what flavors this pasta.)  Then add in lots of garlic because, well, who doesn’t like lots of garlic. And then toss it all together with some pasta and fresh kale…5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

…layer it in a baking dish with lots of mozzarella cheese so that it gets all melty and stringy and gooey…5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

…and then bake it up to baked ziti perfection.

5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

And then dive in.5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

Ultimate comfort, Gimme-Some-Oven-style, right there. It’s flavorful, simple, and oh-so-comforting, especially during these colder winter months. All the better when shared with friends around the faux-fire with fuzzy slippers and full wine glasses and full hearts all around.

Make it happen. :)

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5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4 from 2 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 -8 servings 1x


This 5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti recipe is made easy with just 5 ingredients. And it’s totally delicious and comforting!


  • 12 ounces ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage (I strongly recommend using “spicy” Italian sausage)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large handfuls roughly-chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% low fat)
  • optional additional toppings: shredded Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Heat a large stockpot full of generously-salted water for the pasta.
  2. In a (separate) large skillet, saute the Italian sausage over medium-high heat until browned (about 8-10 minutes), breaking the sausage up with a spoon into bite-sized pieces while cooking.  When the sausage has browned, add in the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 additional minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. While the sausage is browning, cook the pasta al dente in the stockpot of boiling water according to package instructions. Drain.
  4. Return pasta to the stockpot and add the sausage, garlic and kale. Gently toss to combine until the kale is dark green and slightly wilted.
  5. Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11×7-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti |

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56 comments on “5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti”

  1. Pasta is my number 1 go-to when I need me some comfort. I just love how easy this is and it looks absolutely divine! Ziti… don’t you just love that word! I’m comforted already. :)

  2. Blankets and popcorn when movie watching is DEFINITELY the comfort mecca.
    Although, I could easy eat this ziti straight out of the pan instead of popcorn, it looks THAT amazing. And quick and easy?
    I want to marry this. Pinned!

  3. Come to mama! I will never say to no to a cheesy bowl of pasta!! Also, super excited for you to travel to Austin. You guys are going to have a blast!!

  4. Love these simple, but delicious, recipes!

  5. We’re carboholics over here and my husband loves italian sausage…making this soon!! :)

  6. Superb!! Keep up the terrific work!

  7. Wow this makes me want to open a bottle of red wine and start singing—Oh Sole’
    Miaaaaaa! Delish

  8. This baked ziti not only sounds incredible, but it’s stunning as well.  A win/win, Ali!

  9. This recipe looks great. On an unrelated note, I saw your instragram post about the place you are renting in Texas. What a great idea! I hope you share details of your time there when you go!

  10. My husband is from Upstate NY and absolutely loves ziti. This version looks pretty awesome!

  11. This looks awesome! I was just thinking about kale today.. I want to get it in my rotation but never know how to use it. This is a good starting place– the sausage makes it boyfriend-friendly, haha. Thanks!!

  12. This looks so good! Kale and sausage are such a good pairing, can’t wait to try it!

  13. This looks so delicious, my mouth is watering just looking at these gorgeous pictures!

  14. This is definitely ultimate comfort food and I know my meat loving boyfriend will LOVE this.  Pinned so I can make it next week for him :)

  15. Made this dish to switch up the weekly menu and my wife and kids wouldn’t stop raving about the flavor! Super easy and very tasty, especially for a “sauce-less” pasta, definitely making this again in the near future.  

  16. Could you use spinach instead of kale? And could you add a can of diced tomatoes (drained)?

  17. Made this last night with Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage from Whole Foods and Rigatoni. AMAZING. I cannot believe how much flavor there was. Thank you so much for sharing. I cant wait to make this again!

  18. I made this tonight. It was delicious! Even my kids ate it.

  19. I made this for dinner tonight. They gobbled it up. 

  20. LOVED THIS! Used Trader Joe Chicken Sausage (uncooked…removed casing and then cooked into ground chicken) Tasted just like a zesty cheesy pizza! Super quick. I prepared it at home then baked it in the oven at my in-laws.

    • That’s awesome, Sher! Isn’t Trader Joe’s the best? We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  21. This meal is delicious!!

  22. I am looking forward to making this tonight. Any idea if I can assemble in the morning, but put it in the fridge until dinner time??

  23. I noticed that is doesn’t call for any sauce… If u put sauce in recipe how much would you add.

    • Hi Kristie! I think this recipe doesn’t actually really need a sauce with all of that flavor from the other ingredients and the cheese, but you’d be welcome to add in 1 – 1.5 cups of marinara sauce if you’d like. Hope you enjoy it!

  24. WOW.  I made this for our Church Thanksgiving Dinner. & it was a hit. All were asking me for the recipe.  This was quick & easy.  I will def be making this again.  Only change I made was on the Pasta.  I had Penne Rigate on hand not Ziti.  But I figured any Pasta would work on this one.  Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. I made this last night.  I followed the directions exactly, and it came out so delicious!  For having few ingredients, it had so much flavor.  Will definitely make this again and again.  Thank you for sharing.

  26. Oh my. This is definitely my new favorite pasta recipe!!! This recipe is AMAZING! thank you so much for sharing. I just made it for my fiancé and he asked me to make it for his birthday dinner! Yum yum :) 

  27. Could I use frozen kale for this recipe?  If so, when would I add it in?

    • Hi Lena! Yes, we think that would be fine. We would just thaw it first, then you can add it in step #4. We hope you enjoy!

  28. This was so good!  My husband and I both went back for seconds.  We had leftovers, and we ate all of that too!  I’ve made a version similar to this with broccoli, but I’m a huge kale fan so I wanted to give this a go.  It definitely didn’t disappoint! The only thing we changed was using whole wheat penne vs. ziti.  I think this is such a good base recipe that you can easily customize based on your favorite green veggie. Thanks! 

  29. Looks amazing. Might add roasted red peppers. Would this freeze well? A double batch might be in order.

    • Ooooh, we think roasted red peppers would be an amazing addition! Also, we think this should freeze well — we hope you enjoy! :)

  30. DELICIOUS!!! I added Trader Joes 21 salute seasoning and a half jar of Classico jarred pesto to each layer. The spicy sausage and red pepper flakes were a great suggestion. This was enough for two full meals and my daughter took lunch. LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!

  31. I have made this pasta so many times, and I swear it tastes better every time!! And it really is so quick & easy. One of our regular weeknight meals now. Thanks for the delish recipe! 

  32. It would be helpful if nutrition info was included.

    • We’re sorry, but we currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  33. This looks wonderful and would be at our next church potluck. Can I prepare all the ingredients, refrigerate overnight and bake the next day? Many thanks.

  34. I love your simple and easy recipes; this is my new “go to” site for recipes. Can’t wait to try this one out on my family. Keep them coming!!! 

  35. Can I make and freeze this dish? Will it reheat well?

  36. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve made this!!! It’s so easy and yummy. And YES to the spicy sausage.. my husband loves that. THANK YOU for this!

  37. While this is a good base recipe, it is bland unless you add other things. I added diced green pepper, diced shallots, and a wee bit of tomato sauce (because it was leftover from another recipe). I also added fresh chopped oregano. I added red pepper flakes as recommended to my sweet Italian sausage. Still, it could have used more sauce of some kind.