Stuffed Ziti Fritta

Cheryl Malik
September 14, 2023
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The Olive Garden fave, but make it at home! This stuffed ziti fritta is even better than OG’s, we swear. Ziti pasta is stuffed with 4 types of cheese, lightly breaded, and fried to perfection… don’t forget the marinara and alfredo sauces for dipping. Absolutely delicious!

Stuffed ziti fritta, breaded and fried to golden brown, on a plate next to small bowls of ranch and marinara.

🍝 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • Stuffed ziti fritta is an appetizer dream! I mean, who wouldn’t love noodles, stuffed with 4 cheeses, coated in seasoned breading, then fried to crispy, golden perfection?! No need to leave the house to satisfy your cravings!
  • This recipe yields a large number of stuffed ziti bites, making it perfect to serve a group! For a full restaurant-themed evening, you could serve Olive Garden’s Capellini Primavera as the main course. Your guests will feel like they’re actually at Olive Garden!

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • To keep this recipe as authentic as possible, we used ziti noodles, just like Olive Garden. You can also use rigatoni! Rigatoni noodles are larger and easier to fill, but will result in a smaller serving size than the ziti noodles.
  • For the cheese mixture, finely grated cheese makes a big difference! Larger shreds of cheese have the possibility of getting stuck in the piping bags, interrupting your filling process.
  • Cold cream cheese is difficult to work with, so bring it to room temperature before you get started. If you’re tight on time, you can totally place the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat it for 15 seconds or so. You don’t want it piping hot, though – just room temperature.
A stuffed ziti fritta being dipped into a small bowl of marinara.

⭐️ More Italian Favorites

Stuffed ziti fritta, breaded and fried to golden brown, on a plate next to small bowls of ranch and marinara.

Stuffed Ziti Fritta

Ziti noodles, filled with an irresistible 4 cheese blend, lightly breaded, then fried to crispy perfection.
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Freeze: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 35 minutes
Recipe Makes: 6 servings

Equipment

  • large pot
  • large wooden spoon
  • colander
  • medium mixing bowl
  • fork
  • silicone spatula
  • piping bag (or food-safe plastic bag)
  • kitchen scissors (optional)
  • large baking sheet
  • freezer
  • 3 shallow bowls
  • paper towels
  • wire cooling rack
  • deep fry thermometer
  • slotted spoon
  • serving plates (or serving platter)

Ingredients

  • neutral oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.; for frying)

For the Pasta

  • 8 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 ounces dry ziti (or rigatoni, see Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Cheese Filling

  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup softened cream cheese
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup finely grated mozzarella
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

For the Breading

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs

Serving Suggestions (All Optional)

  • finely chopped parsley
  • alfredo sauce
  • marinara

Instructions
 

To Prepare the Pasta

  • Fill large pot with 8 cups water and place pot on stovetop over medium-high heat. Bring water to rolling boil, then stir in ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  • Bring salted water to rolling boil, then add 8 ounces dry ziti. Stir to incorporate, then boil pasta, reducing cook time on pasta packaging by 2 minutes.
  • After boiling pasta for recommended length of time, pour pasta and water into colander. Rinse pasta with colander and drain well, then return pasta to pot.
  • Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over pasta and toss or gently stir to coat noodles in oil. Set aside.

To Prepare the Cheese Filling

  • While pasta boils, add ¼ cup ricotta cheese, ¼ cup finely grated parmesan, ¼ cup softened cream cheese, ¼ cup finely grated mozzarella, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to medium mixing bowl. Use fork to mix ingredients together until completely combined, making sure to break up any large clumps or chunks of cheese.

To Fill the Pasta

  • Transfer cheese mixture to piping bag. Carefully work cheese mixture down toward tip end of piping bag, then twist piping bag closed. Alternately, transfer cheese mixture to food-safe plastic bag and work cheese mixture into one corner of bag. Twist bag closed, then snip off very small piece of bag to turn corner into piping tip.
  • Gently pipe cheese filling into one end of one ziti noodle, filling noodle halfway. Flip noodle and fill remaining half of noodle from other end. Place filled noodle on baking sheet and set aside. Repeat process until all noodles have been filled.
  • Once all noodles have been filled and transferred to baking sheet, place baking sheet in freezer and freeze noodles 30 minutes.

To Bread the Pasta

  • After 30 minutes, remove baking sheet from freezer and set aside. Return pan to freezer as needed if stuffed ziti become too warm.
  • Add 1 cup all-purpose flour to shallow bowl. Set aside.
  • Crack 2 large eggs directly into second shallow bowl. Whisk eggs together vigorously until well combined. Set aside.
  • Add 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs to third shallow bowl. Set aside.
  • Roll one stuffed ziti in all-purpose flour, coating all sides and both ends completely. Shake any excess flour back into bowl.
  • Use fork to lower floured ziti into egg mixture, coating all sides and both ends completely. Hold dipped ziti over egg mixture, allowing any excess egg to drip back into bowl.
  • Place ziti in bowl of breadcrumbs and roll ziti to coat all sides and both ends completely. Gently press ziti into breadcrumbs as needed to help breadcrumbs stick.
  • Shake any excess breadcrumbs back into bowl and return breaded ziti to baking sheet. Repeat process until all ziti have been breaded.

To Fry the Pasta

  • Place 2 to 4 layers of paper towels on flat surface and place wire cooling rack over paper towels. Set aside.
  • Place large skillet on stovetop over medium heat. Add enough neutral oil to skillet to create ½-inch-thick layer of oil across entire skillet. Heat skillet until oil is between 325° and 375° Fahrenheit (see Notes).
  • Use slotted spoon to gently add 5 or 6 breaded ziti to skillet. Fry ziti 1 minute, then flip ziti over and fry ziti until golden brown, approximately 1 to 2 minutes more.
  • Transfer fried ziti to wire cooling rack and repeat process until all breaded ziti have been fried.

To Serve

  • Once all ziti have been fried, transfer ziti to serving plates or platter. If desired, sprinkle finely chopped parsley over ziti and serve warm with alfredo sauce and/or marinara.

Notes

  • Ziti vs. Rigatoni: Ziti is more authentic to the Olive Garden dish, but rigatoni is larger and easier to fill with the cheese mixture. Use whichever you prefer – the process and cook times will be the same!
  • Cheeses: You can use grated or shredded parmesan and mozzarella, but finely grated cheese will be easier to pipe! Large shreds of cheese can clog the tip of your piping bag.
  • Oil Temperature: If you don’t have a deep fry thermometer, you can use a wooden spoon to test the temperature of your oil. Just insert the handle end of the spoon into the hot oil and look for tiny, rapid bubbles to form around the handle. If there are no or very few bubbles, the oil isn’t hot enough. If the oil bubbles violently, it’s too hot – turn down the heat and let it cool off.

Recipe costs provided are approximate. Actual cost per recipe & serving will vary by location, store, brand, etc. Approximate cost shown does not include costs for any optional ingredients.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 496kcal | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1099mg | Potassium: 257mg | Total Carbs: 73g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Net Carbs: 69g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 212mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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Recipe by Cheryl Malik

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