five cheese ziti al forno recipe

Super Easy to Make Five Cheese Ziti al Forno Recipe

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I made this meal for 4 for under $10!

I’m super excited about this five cheese ziti al forno recipe. I’m obsessed with Olive Garden’s recipe and have always tried to replicate it.

Since the quarantine, I’ve had a better chance of experimenting with recipes since time is currently on my side. Without even trying, I think I came very close to recreating this all-time favorite dish.

I started by blaring my music to mute the sound of the kids. I wanted to get in the zone. A place where I could be carefree and could focus more on remembering the words to every 90’s R&B song than if I was messing up dinner.

I knew that if things went south, it wouldn’t matter. I had the time to simply fix it or worst case, cook something else.

five cheese ziti al forno

When you work full time, try to run a household, and raise two toddlers, your schedule can be quite mundane at times. It’s easier to follow a strict schedule to get everything done and keep some sense of order.

There usually is no time for mistakes, especially when it comes to mealtime. I tend to stick to what I know to keep things easy. I think I’m just in survival mode most of the time.

Let’s be real… parenting is exhausting!

The kids can really create a strain on your mental health at this age. Trying new recipes while they are running around screaming usually doesn’t happen. I usually just focus on surviving until bedtime.

I did want to share this recipe though because I was able to feed our family of 4 for under $10. I understand the importance of trying to find cheap recipes and ways to feed the family on a budget.

Spending less money on groceries is the ultimate goal. I love to cook with ingredients I can use in multiple recipes to save more money overall.

What is in the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno?

The five cheese ziti al forno recipe consists of:

  • ziti pasta
  • marinara
  • alfredo
  • 5 types of cheese
  • crispy panko topping

This dish is baked after being topped with panko bread crumbs to add a nice crisp and texture to the dish. I often times will skip the panko topping.

This recipe is in my top 3 favorite comfort foods and I’m sure you’ll agree once you try it.

Find more of my super easy recipes on a budget here!

What Five Cheeses are Used?

A traditional five cheese ziti al forno dish typically consists of parmesan, mozzarella, fontina, romano, and ricotta cheese.

I personally do not like ricotta cheese. So I substitute and use provolone. I wouldn’t be able to eat this dish if it consisted of ricotta.

Feel free to do the same and substitute one of the cheeses out if you are not a fan.

There’s no point in making this dish if you can’t truly enjoy it.

What Cheeses Can I Substitute Ricotta With?

Not everyone is a fan of Ricotta and often are looking for alternative options to replace it. Some of these options include:

  • Cream cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream (this would be a last resort in my opinion)
  • Neufchatel cheese
  • Goat cheese

Like I stated before I use provolone however Monterey Jack and Asiago are great alternatives too.

What are the Five Cheeses at Olive Garden?

The five cheese that Olive Garden uses include:

  • Mozarella
  • Fontina
  • Parmesan
  • Romano
  • Asiago
five cheese ziti al forno

What Does Pasta ‘Al Forno’ Mean?

This is simple. Al forno means ‘to the oven’ meaning food that has been baked in the oven.

Traditionally, most pasta dishes require the pasta to be served al dente. When pasta dishes call to be ‘al forno,’ this means that the pasta is meant to be served soft.

The reason for this is because the pasta is being double cooked. It is first cooked when it is boiled and then cooked a second time while being baked in the oven.

Make sure to follow me on Pinterest to find more yummy recipes like this.

Do Italians Eat Pasta Bakes?

Italians traditionally eat pasta bakes on Sundays and holidays. They are most like to be eaten for family get togethers or other special holidays because they take much more time ot make.

Otherwise, Italians typically eat pasta with lighter sauces and pastas that only require the pasta to be boiled instead of double cooked.

Five Cheese Ziti Recipe Below

The thing about this recipe is that it’s pretty much dummy-proof. The hardest part is not burning the butter and the garlic in the beginning steps. If you can succeed at that, you can’t really mess up the rest. Everything that comes next is a piece of cake.

This recipe is not only simple, but it makes you look like a better cook than you might be. My favorite part about this dish is that it tastes even better the next day. I a lot of times will make the sauce the night before and then serve the dinner the following night.

five cheese ziti al forno

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five cheese ziti recipe

Five Cheese Ziti al Forno

This has been one of my favorite dishes at Olive Garden for the longest time. I figured it was about time to try and mimic it myself. I came pretty dang close so be sure to try it out.
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people


Refrigerated and Dairy

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded

Baking, Spices & Condiments

  • 3 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 28 oz tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp red pepper, crushed
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 lb ziti
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Boil water and cook noodles to time listed on the box. Start making the sauce while the noodles are cooking.
  • Heat saucepan to low-medium heat. Add butter and garlic. Once butter is melted and garlic is browned, whisk in flour. Continually whisk until there are no clumps.
  • Whisk in heavy cream, let simmer for 3 minutes. While continually whisking, slowly add in Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses making sure to smooth out any clumps. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes until completed mixed. This will result in a pinkish color. Add in salt, pepper, onion powder, red pepper and paprika. Stir until fully mixed in. Taste and adjust seasoning to liking if desired. Remove from heat.
  • Place noodles in baking pan. Top with sauce covering all the noodles. Finish by topping with mozzarella, fontina and provolone cheese. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
  • Removed from oven and serve with your favorite bread.
Keyword Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno recipe, homemade dinner recipe, italian dishes

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