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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Baked Lemon Ziti

Baked Lemon Ziti



Prep Time

35 minutes

Cook Time

55 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Baked Lemon Ziti


  • Butter for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces pancetta (sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices, chopped)
  • For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk (at room temperature)
  • Zest of 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • For the Topping:

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels.
  4. For the sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the lemon zest. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, salt and pepper.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sauce, cooked pancetta, pasta, basil, and thyme. Toss until the ingredients are coated. Stir in the lemon juice. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
  6. For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
  7. Sprinkle the topping over the pasta mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.



Nutrition Serving Size
per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
22 grams
13 grams
20 grams
Saturated Fat
9 grams
45 milligrams
379 milligrams
1 grams
3 grams
nut free

6 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image
    Christina Stopes

    This was delicious! Another winning pasta recipe from Giada. The lemon flavor is perfect and unique with the gooey creamy sauce and breadcrumb topping. Super easy to make and perfect for a family Sunday dinner meal. Brava!

  • Author's avatar image
    Jennifer Anthony

    I made this for a potluck. There was WAY too much food. I didn't get any leftovers, I think that says it all! It is really easy, delicious and yummy.

  • Author's avatar image
    The Giadzy Kitchen

    Yep! Make the base and sauce, then cover it with foil in the baking dish in your fridge. Add the topping right before baking!

  • Author's avatar image
    Lydia M. Gordon

    When I was in Sicily, I had a pasta dish made with sardines. I was told that it was a traditional Sicilian dish. I loved it and have been looking for a recipe ever since. Even my Italian cookbooks do not offer a recipe for such a dish. Do you know the dish and can you give me a recipe for it. Many thanks. Lydia M. Gordon

  • Author's avatar image
    Blair V

    Can this be made ahead of time ?

  • Author's avatar image
    The Giadzy Kitchen

    So glad you loved it! It really is an amazing indulgence.

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