This super easy Baked Ziti is packed with three kinds of delicious cheese and is a must-have recipe for any pasta lover!
Meaty, cheesy, and huge on flavor, this hearty Baked Ziti is a pasta lover’s dream! This easy pasta bake is sure to please even your pickiest eaters and can be on the table in just 45 minutes!
SKIP THE TAKEOUT
You could take the family out for an overpriced dinner, or you could save the money and make this amazing Baked Ziti that they’re guaranteed to love way more!
OTHER RECIPES TO SERVE WITH BAKED ZITI
- Roasted Asparagus – If you’re looking for a little green to serve with this pasta dish, this asparagus recipe is the perfect sidekick!
- Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup – On colder days, I love to pair a bowl of soup with this Baked Ziti recipe.
- Pizza Dough Breadsticks – Another fail-proof recipe to serve with any pasta are these amazing and simple breadsticks.
Pasta: You will need 16 ounces of uncooked ziti pasta noodles. This is typically one box of pasta.
Meat: This recipe calls for 16 ounces of ground beef or pork but you can also make this Baked Ziti with no meat. I like to use a mixture and do half beef and half pork for extra flavor. Baked Ziti with sausage is also delicious!
Cheese: When it comes to cheese, you can never have enough! I make this Baked Ziti with a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses… and lots of them!
Sauce: For the Baked Ziti sauce, you will need 32 ounces, or 4 cups, of marinara or spaghetti sauce. Any sauce works, so pick your favorite! Make sure to also have a large onion and one cup of strained tomatoes on hand to add to the sauce.
Seasoning: You’ll need a variety of ingredients from your pantry including extra virgin olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning. You can also grab some chili flakes for an optional bit of spice.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED ZITI
STEP ONE: In a large pot of boiling water, cook your ziti until it is al dente. Once your pasta is perfect, strain it and return it to the pot. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil into the pasta and set it aside.
STEP TWO: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and brown your meat of choice for about 5 minutes. Once the meat is cooked, pour in the sauce and tomato puree and add in the Italian seasoning. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Allow the sauce to cook for about 10 minutes.
STEP THREE: Combine the sauce and pasta. Next mix in two cups of the shredded mozzarella and the ricotta and parmesan cheese. Stir the ingredients until combined.
STEP FOUR: Transfer the pasta mixture to a 9-inch x13-inch pan and top it with the remaining two cups of mozzarella. Place it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. This easy Baked Ziti can be topped with fresh parsley, red chili flakes, and, you guessed it- more parmesan cheese if desired!
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- When cooking your pasta, always check the noodles a couple minutes before the recommended cook time on the packaging. Pasta can go from perfect to mushy is a matter of seconds!
- Allow the Baked Ziti to cool slightly prior to serving. You can taste all of the flavors much better once it has cooled down a bit.
WHAT IS BAKED ZITI
I like to think of baked ziti as having all the flavor of your favorite lasagna, only deconstructed! Not having to worry about meticulous layers of noodles and cheese and sauce is a game-changer! Just throw everything together, cover it with cheese, and bake it like a casserole!
HOW TO REHEAT BAKED ZITI
You can reheat Baked Ziti in the oven or the microwave. If you have a large portion of ziti leftover, I recommend reheating it in the oven to retain the moisture of the pasta. If you’re reheating a single serving, the microwave is just as effective. Just be sure to use a microwave-safe dish and cover the pasta to keep it from drying out.
OTHER AWESOME PASTA RECIPES
- Spinach Parmesan Pasta with Chicken
- Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti
- One Pot Alfredo Pasta
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Pasta Carbonara
- 16 ounces ziti pasta (or other short pasta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 ound ground beef or italian sausage
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and chopped
- 4 cups marinara sauce (32 ounces)
- 8 ounces tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- Chili flakes for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.
- To a large skillet over medium-high, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and then brown the beef or Italian sausage for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onions and cook for another 5 minutes until the onions are soft.
- Pour the marinara, tomato puree, and Italian seasoning into the skillet. Stir and bring to a simmer, then reduce to low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the sauce to the pot with pasta and mix in 2 cups of mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheese and stir it all together. Transfer the pasta to a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, or more if you desire.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Allow the pasta to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with more parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, or chili flakes for some heat.