Lasagna or Baked Ziti? The results are in.

Golden and bubbling homemade baked ziti garnished with fresh basil leaves in a glass baking dish, showcasing the delicious layers of pasta, cheese, and sauce.

Lasagna or Baked Ziti – Let’s discuss.

Lasagna and baked ziti are both popular Italian-American pasta dishes that are well known for their comforting flavors, hearty textures and ability to feed a crowd. While they share some similarities, there are distinct differences between the two that set them apart. Both are made with the same ingredients and yet they are so different posing the questions – how are they different and which one is best? Let’s discuss.

The simple difference between Lasagna and Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is tossed with an extruder style, dried pasta similar to a penne, and then tossed with marinara sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and then baked in the oven. Lasagna is made by layering pasta sheets, often fresh pasta sheets, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese and mozzarella, and then baked. Both can include meat- sometimes ground, sometimes sausage.

Comparing pasta shapes

One of the most obvious differences between lasagna and baked ziti is the shape of the pasta used. Lasagna is typically made with flat, wide sheets of pasta noodles, while baked ziti uses a shorter, tube-shaped pasta, often resembling penne.

Layering Vs Tossing

While the ingredients are basically the same, the time commitment and the outcome are quite different.When making lasagna, you have to take the time to layer the ingredients being careful not to use too much sauce so it’s not soggy, and yet enough to not dry out the pasta sheets. You need to have patience spreading the layers of ingredients gently and evenly. Whereas baked ziti takes on more of a “toss it all together” approach and can therefore be assembled more quickly.  

Preparation of Lasagna vs Baked Ziti

Lasagna tends to be more time-consuming to prepare due to the layering process. Each layer must be assembled carefully to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Baked ziti is generally quicker to assemble since the pasta is simply mixed with the sauce and cheeses before being baked.

Lasagna’s effort results a wonderfully layered dish that ensures every bite is fairly consistent. It’s what I would make when I have time or for a special occasion. However, when it comes to feeding a crowd, this is where baked ziti has its time to shine!

Same Cheeses, different approach

While both lasagna and baked ziti include classic Italian melting cheeses, the way they are integrated into the dish is starkly different. Lasagna often incorporates ricotta cheese, along with mozzarella and sometimes parmesan into the layering process. Wheres, when making baked ziti, the cheese is tossed into the mixture and distributed evenly through mixing and then topped heavily before baking until golden brown and bubbly.


While both lasagna and baked ziti have traditional recipes, there are countless variations of each dish. Many are passed down from generation to generation in Italian-American households. And while the recipes out there can be great guidelines, these two classic dishes come out best when you make them your own and cook from the heart.

Lasagna may include meat such as ground beef, sausage, or even vegetables like spinach or mushrooms. Baked ziti can also be customized with different meats, vegetables, or sauces to suit individual preferences.

Whether you prefer the comforting layers of lasagna or the simplicity of baked ziti, both dishes offer a delicious taste of Italian-American cuisine. But the question remains…which do you prefer and why?

The results were a bit closer than I actually expected. 15 people said they prefer lasagna while 9 said they prefer backed ziti. If I count myself, the lasagna count would go up to 16. (Especially if I don’t have to make it!)

Here are some of the responses I received.

“ Lasagna. More versatility (meat, veggie, cheese) crispy top and gooey (not cheesy) bottom. Baked ziti is just baked ziti.”

“I prefer lasagna because I enjoy cutting into lasagna and getting every ingredient in one bite…and I’m a sucker for food with layers!”

“Lasagna without meat because you can really taste the cheese!”

“Lasagna. Nah- people ‘F’ up lasagna all the time. Baked Ziti”

“I like baked ziti better. Lasagna seems messy to me and I don’t really like meat lasagna which is how it most often comes (I find).”

“I prefer Lasagna because my nonna makes it with little meatballs!”

“I’m a lasagna girl. I love it for the layers and that u can put different ingredients in it.”

“I prefer baked ziti – easier to eat…lasagna always gets messy when people try to cut it…and i feel like baked ziti just tastes better – lasagna is always too soggy”

“Lasagna because of the structure. You can tell more care goes into creating the layers rather than just tossing it together.”

“Baked ziti- easier to eat.”

“Baked Ziti is boring. With Lasagna every spoonful is a surprise”

After receiving these comments, we can surmise that you really can’t go wrong with either. It comes down to time, skill level, and personal preference.

How to make the Best Lasagna

Like any meal that only contains a few ingredients, the better those ingredients are, the better it tastes. For those dedicated cooks out there who are ready to make lasagna (or raviolis) from scratch, try making your own pasta and your own ricotta cheese. And if you you have to choose between the two- make the cheese. Making ricotta cheese is incredibly easy and the results are outstanding.

Tip: When using fresh lasagna sheets, you do not need to boil them first which is a bonus!

The History of Lasagna

Did you know that the word “lasagne” or “lasagna” is actually traced back to Greece, not Italy? It is derived from the word “laganon”, which was the first form of pasta in the form of flat sheets of pasta dough. So how did become to be so widely known as a classic Italian dish around the world? If interested in the answer, check out this great article from Mi’talia Kitchen in Miami, Fl that has some fantastic and fascinating facts about lasagna.

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6 thoughts on “Lasagna or Baked Ziti? The results are in.”

  1. For me, baked ziti is just baked ziti. Love lasagna but instead of ricotta, which I’m not a fan of, I make it the British way with a white sauce instead. Delicious. It makes the lasagna creamy and light and turns a heavy dish into something you could have on a summer evening. Love it. Loaded with cheese, can’t go wrong.

  2. I totally agree about the white sauce. I grew up eating frozen lasagna in England. We recently learned the white sauce I loved so much as a kid was actually a type of Béchamel sauce (we learned this in Italy, of all places!) Chrissy had no words as she couldn’t believe that white sauce was actually commonly used to make lasagna in parts of Italy.

    • Béchamel Sauce is actually French. I’m a classically trained Chef and it is one of the Mother sauces that you have to learn.
      From Wiki:
      Béchamel sauce is one of the “mother sauces” of French cuisine. This sauce is traditionally made from a white roux and milk, with ground nutmeg added to enhance the flavour.

    • Usually, when a Lasagna is watery it is because it was made in advance and then frozen. Sad, but true.

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