Spinach and Artichoke Baked Ziti

Our easy baked ziti with spinach and artichokes only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on time. We add a creamy layer of sour cream, pesto, and cheese to the middle of the ziti, making the pasta utterly delicious. Jump to the Easy Baked Ziti Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach, Artichokes, and Pesto

Not Your Typical Baked Ziti

If there’s one dish that will instantly make our knees buckle, it’s baked ziti. Just the thought of it makes us gasp. I’ll take baked pasta anyway I can get it, but this vegetarian version is loaded with spinach and artichokes as well as an ultra-creamy and cheesy layer of sour cream, pesto, and cheese. It’s ridiculously good!

How To Make The Best Baked Ziti

This baked ziti recipe comes together fast. Let me show you how I make it:

Start by cooking your pasta, but undercook it by 1 to 2 minutes. This way, when we toss it with the marinara sauce and bake, the pasta won’t become mushy.

When the pasta is cooked, I drain it, but save some of the hot pasta water for later. The starchy pasta water helps to make the sauce stick to the pasta when it bakes in the oven.

From there, I toss the pasta into a big bowl with marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought), fresh spinach, and the artichokes. For the artichokes, I use canned that have been drained.

Before baking the ziti, I toss slightly undercooked pasta with marinara sauce, spinach, artichokes, and a little starchy pasta water.
Before baking the ziti, I toss slightly undercooked pasta with marinara sauce, spinach, artichokes, and a little starchy pasta water.

As you toss the ziti ingredients in the bowl, you will notice that the spinach will begin to wilt from the heat of the pasta. It will seem like a lot of spinach at first, but as it wilts, it becomes more reasonable.

When everything is tossed together, spoon about half of the pasta, spinach, and artichokes into a baking dish then add a layer of creamy pesto.

The creamy pesto layer is my favorite part of this baked ziti recipe. It’s such a treat and really simple to make. To make it, I stir sour cream and pesto together. Cottage cheese, ricotta, and cream cheese are all excellent substitutes.

Adding a creamy pesto layer to the middle of the ziti makes this veggie baked ziti extra delicious.
Adding a creamy pesto layer to the middle of the ziti makes this veggie baked ziti extra delicious.

In addition to the pesto layer, I add some mozzarella cheese then top with the rest of the pasta, spinach, and artichokes.

So that the baked pasta is extra cheesy, I add more mozzarella on top, and then bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.

How to Make Seriously Good Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes, and a Creamy Pesto Layer

Make Ahead and Storing Tips

Baked ziti is the perfect make-ahead meal. Here’s how I do it:

You can refrigerate the pasta unbaked. Cover and refrigerate the assembled, but unbaked pasta up to 2 days. When you cover, use parchment paper between the pasta and aluminum foil. Aluminum foil can react with the tomatoes.

Baked ziti also freezes well. Let it cool completely on a rack before freezing, and then wrap it very well with foil (we use two layers). Defrost the frozen pasta overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 400°F for about 1 hour. (I prefer baking and then freezing the pasta instead of freezing uncooked pasta dishes.)

Easy Baked Ziti with Spinach and Artichokes

More Baked Pasta Recipes

Recipe updated, originally posted October 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Spinach and Artichoke Baked Ziti

  • PREP
  • COOK

Baked ziti with spinach and artichokes only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on time. A layer of sour cream, pesto, and cheese is sandwiched in the middle of the ziti, making it extra delicious. If you do not have sour cream, substitute with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese.

Makes about 8 servings

You Will Need

1 pound dry pasta like ziti, penne, or rigatoni

Salt, to taste

3 cups marinara sauce or use 1 (28-ounce) jar store-bought sauce

1/4 cup basil pesto, see our pesto recipe

3/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

10 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 cup canned or jarred and drained artichoke hearts, chopped

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)


  • Prepare Ziti
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta then follow package directions, but cook 1 to 2 minutes less than the package calls for. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water then drain.

    While the pasta cooks, warm the marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium heat.

    In a small bowl, stir basil pesto and the sour cream together until well blended.

    Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl with the spinach, artichokes, warmed marinara, and the reserved pasta water. Toss until the spinach has wilted and everything is well combined.

    • To Finish
    • Spoon half of the pasta into the baking dish. Spread the sour cream and pesto mixture over the pasta and scatter with half of the mozzarella cheese.

      Top with the remaining pasta, lightly press everything down into the baking dish, and then scatter remaining mozzarella cheese on top.

      Place the baking dish onto an aluminum-lined baking dish (just in case any sauce drips over the sides of the baking dish). Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/8 of the recipe / Calories 457 / Protein 25.2 g / Carbohydrate 62.1 g / Dietary Fiber 9.6 g / Total Sugars 8 g / Total Fat 13.3 g / Saturated Fat 4.9 g / Cholesterol 23.3 mg / Sodium 893 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter with easy, delicious, and fresh recipes and receive our eCookbook with 16 of our most loved recipes for free! Click Go to signup for free!

60 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Sonia December 28, 2016, 1:59 pm

    Can gluten free pasta be substituted without sacrificing taste? Thanks!

    • Joanne January 4, 2017, 1:39 pm

      Hi Sonia, The taste should be very similar. We’ve noticed that when using gluten-free pasta, it is usually the texture of the pasta that is different.

  • Patricia December 23, 2016, 5:37 pm

    I now know how to bake delicious banana bread thanks to you two wonderful, giving people. Thank you for sharing your expertise and thank you for the easy to follow instructions. My family, neighbours and friends enjoy your delicious banana bread and they always look forward to receiving the next loaf. 5 stars! Thank you for making so many people happy, Joanne and Adam!

  • 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.


Leave a Comment/Review

Cancel reply

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Guidelines. You must be at least 16 years old to post a comment. All comments are governed by our Privacy Policy & Terms.

* Required fields (Email address will not be published)

Did you make it? How was it?:


Previous Post: Next Post: