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Baked Ziti

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overhead shot of a baking dish of baked ziti topped with cheese
Quick and easy baked ziti is a yummy pasta recipe packed with plenty of flavor.
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Table of Contents
  1. Baked Ziti Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Baked Ziti Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This easy baked ziti is the best family dinner recipe around and results in a delicious and comforting Italian-style meal. It is a classic pasta dish that is loaded with flavorful seasoned meat, rich sauce, and ooey-gooey melted cheese.

overhead shot of a baking dish of baked ziti topped with cheese

Baked Ziti Ingredients

You’ll need:

  • 1 (16-ounce) box of ziti
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar of spaghetti sauce (or use this homemade tomato sauce recipe)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 15 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • 1½ cups of mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

CHEESE: In addition to the ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, you might try adding Romano, provolone, fontina, cottage cheese, swiss cheese, or even cream cheese in this classic recipe.

VEGETABLES: Some like adding healthy veggies to this dish. The tomato pasta sauce does do something wonderful for fresh spinach, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes, or Portobello mushrooms.

GROUND MEAT: You could also use Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground pork in the meat sauce if you prefer.

SPICE: Spice up this pasta bake up with a dash of red pepper flakes along with the oregano.

PASTA: In place of the ziti pasta, you can choose any other tubed pasta. Penne pasta or rigatoni are both great choices.

How To Make This Baked Ziti Recipe

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.

STEP TWO: Cook ziti noodles to al dente in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain pasta and set aside.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Adding a pinch of salt enhances the flavor of the pasta.

STEP THREE: In a large skillet on medium heat, cook beef, onion, and garlic until the beef is browned.

ground beef, onion, and garlic being cooked in a skillet

STEP FOUR: Stir in the sauces and oregano and heat until the mixture starts to boil.

sauces and oregano added to the beef mixture

STEP FIVE: Combine 1 cup of the beef and sauce mixture with the cooked ziti.

sauce mixture added to the ziti in a bowl

STEP SIX: Spoon half of the ziti mixture into the large baking dish.

STEP SEVEN: Top with ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, and 1 cup of sauce.

ziti topped with cheeses and sauce in a baking dish

STEP EIGHT: Spoon in the rest of the ziti mixture and top with the rest of the sauce.

remaining ziti and pasta sauce added to the baking dish

STEP NINE: Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

PRO TIP:

Cover with foil for the first twenty minutes to give the final dish a luscious creaminess and also makes the casserole dish easier to clean. Removing the foil in the final ten minutes browns things just enough. If you prefer a crustier top, simply forego the aluminum foil.

STEP TEN: Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella.

ziti topped with cheeses in the baking dish

STEP ELEVEN: Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

PRO TIP:

If you want to brown your cheese slightly, you can turn your broiler on for the last minute of melting the cheese. Make sure to keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

How To Serve

While this great dish is baking, you’ll have time to make this simple Caesar salad. If you’re feeling like an overachiever, make sure you pair this meal with cheese biscuits, garlic bread, or beer bread.

Finish it off with this super easy blueberry cobbler for dessert!

If you are looking for options, check out my easy lasagna casserole. Another variation on this type of pasta dish is this baked spaghetti

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: This baked ziti can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave.

IN THE FREEZER: That is another reason why I absolutely love baked ziti. It freezes so well and makes it very easy to have on a later date. Cover with foil and throw it in the freezer. It is best if eaten within about 3 months.

close up shot of a plate of Baked Ziti garnished with parsley

Add this baked ziti recipe to your dinner menu repertoire. The simple ingredients are easy to keep on hand for busy nights. Layers of pasta, meaty tomato sauce, and plenty of cheese will be a hit with your whole family.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you prepare this dish in the morning and bake it later?

This is an easy dish to prepare ahead of time and bake later. Cover and store in the fridge until you are ready to pop it in the oven.

How do I know when my pasta is al dente?

To test your pasta for al dente, take a bite of the pasta a minute or two before the package instructions indicate it should be done. When you bite into it, and your teeth feel some resistance, but the pasta is still tender, your pasta is al dente.

Why is my baked ziti dry?

There are a few reasons your baked pasta dish is dry. First, there may not be enough sauce in the dish. Second, the noodles aren’t cooked until just al dente and end up overcooking while baking. Third, the noodles aren’t thoroughly and evenly coated with sauce. Finally, the edges of the noodles are exposed and may dry out.

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overhead shot of a baking dish of baked ziti topped with cheese

Baked Ziti

5 from 5 votes
Quick and easy baked ziti is a yummy pasta recipe packed with plenty of flavor.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces ziti
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 24 ounces spaghetti sauce
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • cups mozzarella cheese, divided

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Cook ziti and set aside.
  • On medium heat, cook beef, onion, and garlic until beef is browned.
  • Stir in sauces and oregano, and keep on heat until the mixture starts to boil.
  • Combine 1 cup of the beef and sauce mixture with the cooked ziti.
  • Spoon in ½ of the ziti mixture into a large baking dish.
  • Top with ricotta and 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup of sauce.
  • Spoon in the rest of the ziti mixture and top with the rest of the sauce.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • Adding a pinch of salt enhances the flavor of the pasta.
  • Cover with foil for the first twenty minutes to give the final dish a luscious creaminess and also makes the casserole dish easier to clean. Removing the foil in the final ten minutes browns things just enough. If you prefer a crustier top, simply forego the aluminum foil.
  • If you want to brown your cheese slightly, you can turn your broiler on for the last minute of melting the cheese. Make sure to keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Nutrition

Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 297mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 304mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Kristine says

    I love my ziti recipe, but I will definitely be trying this version! It looks a little bit more layered and rich. Thank you for sharing this – visiting from Waste Not Wednesday.

  2. Lynn says

    5 stars
    Delicious and very moist and hearty my family enjoyed this meal served with a side of Texas toast I recommend this meal to anyone with a busy schedule it is bonapetite 👌👌👌