Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach

Simple Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto

If there’s one thing that will instantly make our knees buckle, it’s baked ziti. Just the thought of it makes us gasp. We love it. Since we weren’t happy to just think about a plate of steaming, cheesy baked pasta, we made some. We made this simple baked ziti with spinach and artichokes and it was incredible!

You see, it all starts with pasta tossed with marinara sauce (we used store-bought) then we add  fresh baby spinach leaves and a whole jar of quartered artichokes. Then, since that wasn’t enough for us, we sneaked a layer of sour cream mixed with pesto in the middle. Oh, and topped with cheese.

Simple Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto

It’s So Easy to Make Our Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto

There really isn’t much time required from you at all for this. Just about 15 minutes in the beginning to boil pasta and mix everything together. Not bad, right?

Simple Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto

That’s the layer of sour cream and pesto I mentioned earlier – it is so good! By the way, if you didn’t have sour cream, you could use cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. They would all be delicious.

Simple Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto

One of our favorite parts to this easy baked ziti is the crust. Since we bake it for 30 minutes before serving, the tips of the pasta on top become a little crunchy, the cheese melts and browns and any artichokes peeking out of the ziti become caramelized.

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5.0 from 9 reviews
Simple Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes and Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
With only about 15 minutes of hands-on time this easy baked ziti with spinach and artichokes is perfect for a weekday. A layer of sour cream and pesto is sandwiched in the middle of the baked ziti. If you do not have sour cream, feel free to use cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese.
Created By:
Yield: 6
You Will Need
  • 1 pound (454 grams) dry ziti pasta
  • One 26-ounce (737 grams) jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) basil pesto
  • 3/4 cup (175 grams) sour cream
  • 6 cups (180 grams) loosely packed baby spinach leaves
  • One 12-ounce (340 grams) jar artichokes, drained
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or lightly grease with butter. (A 13-inch by 9-inch pan works well for this).
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then add pasta and cook according to the package directions (this usually takes about 10 minutes). Before draining, reserve about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water - we will use this later. Then, drain pasta.
  3. While the pasta cooks, heat the tomato sauce. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave, and then set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, stir the basil pesto and sour cream together, and then set aside.
  5. Add drained pasta to a large bowl then add spinach, drained artichokes, hot tomato sauce and about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Then, toss.
  6. Add about half of the pasta and spinach mixture to the baking dish. Then, spread the sour cream and pesto on top. Scatter about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the sour cream then add the rest of the pasta on top of that. Press everything down into the baking dish then scatter the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top.Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach and Artichokes Steps
  7. Place the baking dish onto an aluminum-lined baking sheet (just in case any sauce drips over the sides of the baking dish). Then, bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling.
  8. Let the baked ziti cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving - it’s really hot! Then, enjoy!

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52 comments… Leave a Comment
  • John Waye December 5, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Someone told me to add an egg if I substitute ricotta cheese. Is that necessary or better?

    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 1:06 pm

      The egg will make form up the ricotta a bit. It isn’t necessary, but some people prefer the texture with the egg.

  • Gail August 30, 2015, 12:48 pm

    I’ve made this dish countless times now and my hubby and I enjoy very much!! The only suggestion I have is to make sure to use marinated artichokes. We used plain ones once and it turned out kind of bland, so the marinated artichokes definitely add flavor to the dish. Love love love!

  • MPaula April 11, 2015, 9:18 pm

    The only artichokes in a jar available to me are marinated, which seems to be correct per one of the comments, but they do not look like what you have pictured. Unfortunately this looks like my idea of a perfect comfort food, which means I will have to stock up on artichokes and pesto, although I do usually make pesto all summer and freeze for winter use.

    • Joanne April 21, 2015, 1:06 pm

      We have seen artichokes in cans (usually in water), in jars (usually in oil) and sold in the frozen section. Any of these will work. Hope you love the ziti 🙂

  • Simmone January 6, 2015, 7:49 pm

    This recipe sounds awesome BUT would I be able to substitute heavy cream for sour cream?

    • Joanne January 8, 2015, 1:50 pm

      You could certainly try it, it should still taste great. The cream will just be thinner than if you were to use sour cream.

  • Kate December 20, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Would it be possibly to put this ziti together in the morning, refrigerate it. and then bake it just before dinner?

    • Joanne March 5, 2015, 10:31 am

      Yes, definitely.

  • Brandy October 13, 2014, 3:51 pm

    I made this last night and it was very easy to prepare and was delicious! I chopped up the artichokes as suggested by another user; I love the flavor they add to the dish. Used a 13×9 pan and there was no need for a foil lined baking sheet underneath. I had all of the ingredients on hand, however, I like that you can easily swap out certain items if you don’t have them, or add others to your liking. Looking forward to trying out other recipes from this site!

  • Mollie April 29, 2014, 8:35 pm

    My husband and I just made this for dinner – I would say the total cooking time is pretty accurate. While it was baking, I had time to put together salads and prep for packing leftovers for lunch.. and drink some wine! This recipe is delicious – I doubt I would’ve thought to mix pesto with sour cream for the middle layer. *yum*

    BUT….We changed some things to make it easier/create less dishes – we did not reserve any pasta water (the water from the uncooked spinach and other ingredients seemed like it would keep the pasta from drying out anyway), we used a large stock pot to boil pasta and returned the pasta back to the pot after it was drained for the spinach+sauce mixing (instead of using a “large bowl”), we did not preheat the sauce in any way (it was poured out of a room temperature jar), and we used a 13×9 glass baking dish and (luckily, because I forgot!) discovered there was no need for an aluminum-lined baking sheet.

    • Joanne May 16, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks for your extra tips!

  • Carol April 29, 2014, 8:33 pm

    Sounds really good. I was wondering about preparing the night before cooking it. I would not heat sauce but not sure if that would be recommended?

    • Joanne May 16, 2014, 12:09 pm

      Preparing the night before should work fine.

  • jesse March 23, 2014, 6:31 pm

    looks delicious! what kind of pesto sauce do use? Is there a certain brand or kind?


  • Kameron January 6, 2014, 12:54 am

    Made this tonight. Also added asparagus and served with a side of roasted broccolini and heirloom tomatoes. It was a huge hit! Thank you!

  • loren October 10, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Hi!!I just made this for lunch and it was delicious.My husband and I ate almost the whole thing by ourselves,lol!!
    I only changed the very top layer,I mixed some parmesan cheese and minced garlic with seasoned panko breadcrumbs and the mozzarella to give it an extra little crunch!
    The sauce I used was Amy’s Marinara and it came out fabulous.I served it with a regular lettuce-onion-tomato salad.

    The only thing I’m going to change is next time I’m going to use pre marinated artichokes because today I only had plain ones on hand and felt like they were a little bland…my bad.

    It was awesome.Thanks for a great recipe!It’s on my bookmarks now! 🙂

  • Jackie August 12, 2013, 4:33 pm


    Can you make a suggestion for a sub for artichokes.

    • loren October 10, 2013, 2:58 pm

      you could use asparagus! 🙂

  • Judy July 31, 2013, 9:19 pm

    Had leftover tomato sauce, artichokes, pesto and mozzerellla cheese from pizza night. Plugged those ingredients into google and this recipe popped up. Made it and added some pepperoni (which was also left over). It was fast, simple and delicious!

    • Joanne August 8, 2013, 1:08 pm

      Sounds wonderful! Adding pepperoni is never a bad thing.

  • Chris May 28, 2013, 9:28 pm

    What do you think about using an arugula pesto instead of basil pesto?

    • Joanne May 30, 2013, 3:48 pm

      That would be delicious!

  • Mary March 10, 2013, 9:41 pm

    Made this tonight for dinner, awesome, will be making again!!

  • Ashlee February 8, 2013, 9:31 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight, and it was INCREDIBLE!! I’ll probably chop the artichokes up next time– the big pieces were a little much for our tastes. We also added more cheese because cheese is amazing. This might be my new favorite! Perfect, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Joanne February 10, 2013, 1:34 pm

      More cheese is always a good call 😉

  • Jessa R. January 5, 2013, 10:26 pm

    This recipe is delicious & so easy to make! I halved the amount of spinach but it still turned out wonderfully.

  • Rebecca December 13, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Going to make this real soon, maybe today…I will let you know how i liked it….

  • Rebecca December 10, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Hi! As a ziti traditionalist I was skeptical of this, but it tastes awesome and definitely make agai with no changes.

    Btw I discovered your site this past Friday. It’s Monday and I’ve already made three of your recipes.

    thanks so much!!

  • Ju October 30, 2012, 12:59 am

    LOVE your recipies!!!

    • Joanne October 30, 2012, 3:32 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  • marla October 28, 2012, 7:08 am

    Such a delicious looking pasta!

    • Adam October 28, 2012, 10:43 am


  • Reeni October 27, 2012, 8:12 pm

    Love, love, love the addition of spinach and artichokes to baked ziti! So flavor-filled and super comforting!

    • Adam October 28, 2012, 10:43 am

      Thank you!

  • Cassie | Bake Your Day October 27, 2012, 7:35 pm

    This is gorgeous! I love how you layered it in the dish!

    • Adam October 28, 2012, 10:44 am

      Thanks! The layer of sour cream with pesto is so good!

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks October 26, 2012, 5:56 pm

    Ummmmm, I just died. This is gorgeous.

  • Lori @ RecipeGirl October 26, 2012, 11:58 am

    Pasta makes my knees buckle too 🙂 Love this simple idea!

    • Joanne October 26, 2012, 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Lori!!

  • Abby@ Totes Delish October 26, 2012, 8:16 am

    Yum! One of my weaknesses has always been baked ziti, cheesy and all in one dish with veggies and pasta, can’t beat it!

    • Joanne October 26, 2012, 2:04 pm

      Thanks! We love it, too!

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious October 26, 2012, 12:43 am

    Baked ziti was my absolute favorite! When I was living in NY, I would always have to get this at our local pizzeria! And I love that you jazzed this up with spinach, artichoke and pesto! I bet the flavor combination was amazing!

    • Joanne October 26, 2012, 2:05 pm

      Thanks! We love it so much – but how can we not — pasta + cheese! Yum

  • Donna C October 25, 2012, 7:08 pm

    OMG, this is right up my alley. Looks fan-tab-ulous!!!!!! MUST TRY!

    • Joanne October 26, 2012, 2:06 pm

      Thank you! Hope you try it soon 🙂


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