Stuffed ziti fritta is an Olive Garden restaurant copycat recipe where pasta shells are stuffed with a blend of cheeses, rolled in breadcrumbs, and fried until golden brown. They make the best appetizers and are even better when served with your favorite marinara or a side of alfredo sauce.
If you are anything like me, when you hear never-ending pasta bowl and breadsticks, it makes you want to run to a restaurant immediately! Lately, we’ve been making our own Italian-inspired recipes, and not only are they delicious, but they are also fun! Last time we whipped up this homemade gnocchi recipe for soup, while we sipped on red wine sangria and it was an entertaining date night while staying in!
Go full-blow Italian by starting with fritta or fried ravioli, followed by a simple salad (just like OG), and a side of pull apart garlic bread. Sometimes we even make a batch of chicken gnocchi soup to kick the evening off. For the main course, we love fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken or giant cheese stuffed shells. Don’t forget the dessert! End the night with thick Italian hot chocolate or a homemade cannoli!
Why You’ll Love This Pasta Fritta Recipe
- The stuffed pasta has a cheesy filling and hand-breaded outside that is absolutely delicious!
- Tastes just like Olive Garden and you don’t have to leave the house.
- They make a great appetizer for those hungry guests.
What Ingredients do I Need for Olive Garden’s Stuffed Ziti Fritta?
- ziti pasta
- cream cheese – allow time for it to soften so it’s easy to mix and pipe.
- ricotta cheese
- mozzarella cheese
- Italian cheese blend (Parmesan cheese, Romano, Asiago)
- all-purpose flour
- vegetable or canola oil (for frying)
- Sauce for dipping – alfredo or homemade marinara sauce is delicious, but you can also go with store-bought for ease.
Pro Tip: Boil the pasta so it’s al dente. It will cook again when deep frying.
How to Make the Best Stuffed Ziti Fritta Recipe
PREP: Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain and run it under cold water, then set it aside. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, and Italian cheese blend together. Transfer to a piping bag with a filling tube.
FILL THE PASTA: Insert the tube into each pasta shell and fill it with the cheese mixture.
BREAD AND FREEZE: Create a dredging station by filling three bowls. One with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with breadcrumbs. Roll the ziti in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip into the eggs, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
FRY: Fill a deep pan with several inches of oil and heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees. Fry several pieces at a time, using a slotted spoon to flip and transfer to a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Repeat until all of the pasta has been fried.
SERVE: Serve hot with marinara sauce or alfredo!
- The piping tips we used works great to fill the narrow tube ziti.
- Rigatoni pasta can also be used. These are best if you are using a Ziploc bag without the tip.
- The cream cheese and ricotta can be microwaved for 20-30 seconds so it mixes easier.
- Finely grated cheese is a must! You want to avoid large chunks or else it cannot go through the tip into the pasta.
- These taste very similar to mozzarella sticks. While the cheese is hot and gooey, the crispy breaded pasta adds a nice crunch.
- While you don’t have to place the pasta on a cookie sheet and freeze it, it keeps the filling firm so it doesn’t leak out while frying. If you are short on time you can place them directly in the oil. We only had a couple where the cheese oozed out.
Did you know that the exterior of Olive Garden restaurants is modeled on a farmhouse in Tuscany?
- For the main dish, top with a couple of scoops of meat sauce.
This dish is best eaten right away while it’s hot. Once it’s stuffed and breaded it can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months and cooked directly from the freezer.
If you wanted to reheat leftovers, it would be best to do so in the air fryer or oven so it’s a little crispy.
It’s ziti pasta that is stuffed with 3 different types of cheeses then rolled in a breadcrumb mixture and deep fried.
More Mouthwatering Pasta Recipes
Stuffed Ziti Fritta
- ½ pound ziti pasta cooked and drained (about ½ of a standard package)
- 2 oz. cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Italian cheese blend Parmesan, Roman, Asiago
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 5-6 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Drain pasta and run cold water over it to cool and prevent it from sticking together.
- In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, and Italian cheeses.
- Transfer cheese mixture to a piping bag fitted with a filling tube tip (such as this: https://amzn.to/3FeS74y). Alternately, place cheese mixture in a Ziploc freezer bag and snip the corner off to make a piping bag.
- Place the tip of the piping bag into the tube of the pasta and fill with cheese mixture. Fill as many pieces of pasta as you can until the cheese mixture is used up.
- Set up a dredging station by setting out three bowls and filling one with flour, one with eggs (beaten), and one with the breadcrumbs.
- Roll the filled ziti in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into the beaten eggs, and then roll with breadcrumbs to fully coat each piece of pasta.
- Spread breaded pasta on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes while heating the oil.
- Fill a deep frying pan or pot with several inches of oil. Heat over medium high heat, until the oil temperature reaches 350°F. Maintain the oil temperature between 350° and 375°F.
- Remove breaded ziti from the freezer and transfer several pieces at a time into the hot oil. Use a slotted spoon to turn the pasta so that the pieces cook evenly on all sides and then lift from the oil when the pieces are golden brown on all sides (less than 1 minute).
- Transfer cooked ziti to several layers of paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Serve hot with marinara sauce for dipping.
- Storage: Stuffed ziti fritta is best eaten right away while hot. Stuffed and breaded pasta can be prepared and stored in the freezer (in an airtight container) up to 3 months. Cook in hot oil straight out of the freezer.
- The piping tips we used here work especially well to fill the narrow tube of ziti. Rigatoni can alternately be used, particularly if you’re using a Ziploc bag to fill the pasta without a piping tip.
- You can microwave the cream cheese and ricotta for 20-30 seconds so that it mixes smoothly and easily with the other cheeses.
- Use finely grated cheese so that it is easy to pipe it into the pasta.
- These taste almost like eating fried mozzarella sticks. The cheese filling is hot and gooey. The crispy breaded pasta has a little crunch.
- Freezing the breaded pasta is not mandatory. It firms up the cheese enough that it is less likely to leak out of the breaded pasta while frying. Even when frozen going into the hot oil, the cheese inside is hot and melty after just a quick minute of cooking. If you’re short on time and have already heated the oil, you can transfer the breaded ziti right into the oil. During testing, there was only one piece of a handful that started to seep out the cheese filling.