Olive Garden is clearly one of my favorite restaurants and this Stuffed Ziti Fritta is my favorite appetizer! Cheese filled noodles fried and dipped in alfredo & marinara – yum!
Stuffed Ziti Fritta is really easy to make too! It’s like mini manicotti – which is one of my favorites! I made sure to fill these little guys with FIVE cheeses and I have instructions for you to make it fried on the stove or in the air fryer! (healthier!)
What’s in Stuffed Ziti Fritta?
Olive Garden has five cheeses in their Stuffed Ziti Fritta – so I do too! I stuffed these pasta tubes with ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheeses. I also added fresh basil into the cheese mixture. I bought a little basil plant in May and have managed to keep it alive! (Woohoo!) So this makes it easy to grab a few leaves and chiffonade them (fancy word for finely sliced).
How do you make Copycat Stuffed Ziti Fritta?
Copycat Olive Garden Stuffed Ziti Fritta has a few steps – but they’re easy peasy! First the pasta – you can use Ziti or Rigatoni for this – the main thing is you want to find a short pasta tube but you want it to have as large an opening as possible – you can’t fill macaroni! Then cook the pasta according to the directions on box. Take them out on the low end of the cook time so they’re al dente. You’re going to be cooking them again for a few minutes so you don’t want them to fall apart.
While your noodles are cooking, mix together your cheeses with a little basil using a fork into a smooth mixture. Spoon the cheese mixture into a piping bag or ziploc bag (trim a tiny corner off to make it a piping bag).
Once the pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and make them easy to handle. Next, pipe the cheese mixture into each noodle and set them onto a cutting board.
After that – prep your two breading trays – one with two beaten eggs and the other with breadcrumbs (panko or crackers work too), Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning (or basil & oregano). Then roll the pasta tubes into the egg and then coat with the breading mixture and set back on your cutting board.
The final step is the “frying” – I tried it both ways – in vegetable oil and in my air fryer. They tasted about the same. The oil version browned a bit more – but you also had 1/2 cup of oil in the pan vs. a spritz. So if you have an air fryer- I would use that!
Then serve your fried cheesy goodness with marinara and alfredo sauce! Everybody will love it!
What goes with Stuffed Ziti Fritta?
Stuffed Ziti Fritta is great as an appetizer or even a main dish! If you want to make it a main dish – it would be complete with my favorite Olive Garden Salad recipe. I’d love to have it on the side with the Olive Garden Minestrone as well. Or have it along side grilled chicken – these Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs are a favorite in my house!
Copycat Olive Garden Stuffed Ziti Fritta
- 1/4 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup Parmesan & Romano shredded
- 1/4 cup cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 tbsp basil chopped
Making the Pasta
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for about 12 minutes (1-2 min less than box directions).
- Drain and rinse the noodles to cool them down and set aside.
Make the cheese filling
- While pasta is cooking, mix together ricotta cheese, parmesan, romano, cream cheese, shredded mozzarella and chopped basil until mixed together
- Place in a ziplock bag and set inside refrigerator
Stuffing & Breading the Noodles
- In one bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the Italian seasoning. In another bowl, combine the Italian breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese.
- Remove the cheese mixture from the refrigerator. Snip the very end of the ziploc bag (or use a piping tool) and squeeze the cheese mixture into the noodles. Set each stuffed noodle on a cutting board.
- Roll each stuffed noodle in the egg wash and then move to the breadcrumb mix and coat thoroughly. Set noodles back on cutting board.
Frying the Pasta in Oil
- Preheat the oil to 375 degrees F – bubbles will start to form – if you sprinkle a drop of water in the oil – it will pop
- Fry stuffed & breaded noodles for about 3 minutes or until they become dark golden brown – flipping halfway through. You'll want to keep them a couple inches apart – do not crowd them.
Frying the Pasta in the Air Fryer
- Lay out breaded pasta tubes in air fryer so they are not touching
- Spritz generously with olive oil spray
- Air fry at 375 for 5 minutes – flipping halfway through. Spritz again with olive oil when you flip.
Serving the Ziti Fritta
- Serve with sides of alfredo and marina for dipping
- You can use Ziti or Rigatoni – just get the one with the largest opening. I found Rigatoni at the grocery store that worked great.
- Be sure to soften the cream cheese so it mixes together more easily.