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This Easy Gluten Free Baked Ziti is the perfect gluten-free comfort food meal. It’s made with perfectly cooked noodles drenched in a hearty tomato sauce and layered with three kinds of cheese.
Gluten-Free Baked Ziti with Ricotta
There is nothing more comforting than digging into a giant tray of baked ziti. I mean, it’s cheesy, saucy, beefy, flavorful, and so hearty. It really doesn’t get better than that!
This Gluten-Free Baked Ziti is a family favorite. This recipe makes a ton and can easily be prepped ahead of time for an easy meal prep option.
Just a few basic ingredients and 15 minutes to prep!
- Pasta: We like to use Tinkyada or Jovial for gluten-free, but feel free to use whatever brand you prefer.
- Ground Beef: If you’d rather, use ground turkey for a lower-fat option.
- Store-bought Marinara Sauce: Grabbing a store bought marinara saves time
- Cheeses: You’ll need ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Seasonings: We spice our dish up with a blend of Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.
- Olive Oil: To enhance the texture and flavor of the sauce. We use it to sauté the aromatics and brown the beef before assembling the sauce.
- Aromatics: We use freshly minced garlic and finely chopped onion to create a flavor base for the sauce.
- Eggs: To help bind the ricotta mixture.
Can I Use Penne Instead of Ziti for Baked Ziti?
You sure can, except then it wouldn’t be called baked ziti. 😉
You can really swap in any short pasta shape you like! Keep in mind that different pasta shapes require different cook times.
How To Make Baked Ziti
This hearty dinner takes a quick 15 minutes to prep!
- Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook al dente according to box directions. Drain, then add back into the pot with a splash of oil.
- Make the sauce: In a large dutch oven, heat oil, then add onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in ground beef and cook until no pink remains. Add in the marinara and seasonings, then simmer for at least 10 minutes.
- Prep the ricotta: In a bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, garlic powder, eggs, salt, and black pepper.
- Assemble: Combine the pasta and sauce, then transfer half to a 9×13” baking pan. Layer on a scoop of ricotta, top that with mozzarella, then repeat the layers. Finish with parmesan cheese.
- Bake: Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake at 400ºF until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Do You Cover Baked Ziti While Baking?
Nope! Leaving the dish uncovered is what allows the cheese to get deliciously golden.
If you do notice the cheese burning before the casserole is cooked through, cover the top with foil and continue to cook.
How Do I Make Ziti Not Dry?
Just use plenty of sauce! While baked pasta is sometimes at risk of drying out, we never have an issue with this recipe. The pasta to sauce ratio is perfect!
Tips and Notes
- Cook the pasta al dente. When you boil the pasta, cook it for 1-2 minutes less than what’s listed on the box. If you cook it fully, it can become overcooked in the oven.
- Simmer the sauce longer. I list just 10 minutes of simmering time, but the longer the better! More time gives the flavors time to really come out.
- Add veggies. Bulk your baked pasta up by sautéing more veggies with the onion and garlic. Try chopped bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, you name it.
- Swap the pasta. Ziti is great, but you can also use another short pasta shape you like—gluten-free or not.
- Use another protein. Swap the ground beef out for ground turkey or make it vegetarian with crumbled tempeh or a meatless variety of ground beef.
- Make it eggless. While the eggs do help bind the ricotta mixture together, you can leave them out if preferred. The texture will just be slightly different.
Baked ziti is delicious on its own, but we love to round out our meal with a couple of side dishes. Here are a few favorites:
- Gluten Free Garlic Bread
- Oven-Roasted Vegetables
- Restaurant Worthy Caesar Salad Recipe
- Garlicky Blistered Green Beans
- The Best Spring Mix Salad Ever
Making Ahead of Time (Some For Now, Some For Later!)
Baked ziti is a great make-ahead meal! It can easily be stored in the fridge or freezer.
To prepare ahead of time for the freezer:
Assemble the casserole up until the point of baking. Cool completely, then wrap in two layers of plastic wrap. Store overnight in the fridge or for 1-2 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake:
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight if frozen, then bake for 30-35 minutes or until hot all the way through.
How to Store
Leftover baked ziti will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Once it’s baked, I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the cheese won’t hold up when thawed.
To reheat, cover with foil, then bake at 350ºF in the oven until heated through (about 15-20 minutes).
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
- The BEST Gluten Free Lasagna
- Pizza Burrata Pasta
- Easy Vodka Sauce (For Pasta Alla Vodka)
- Pumpkin Lasagna Roll Ups
- Creamy Mushroom Ricotta Pasta
Watch The Video
Gluten Free Baked Ziti
- 24 ounces ziti or penne gluten-free or not
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 pound grass-fed ground beef or ground turkey
- 2-24 oz. jars good quality marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 16 oz. container ricotta
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese divided
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 400ºF and set a 9 x 13” baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente—about 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions state. Drain the pasta through a colander and return to the pot and mix together with a splash of olive oil.
- Make the meat sauce: Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Once hot add onions and garlic cook for 3-4 minutes. Add meat and cook until no pink remains, about 7 minutes. Add marinara sauce, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pan and combine. Bring sauce to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. The longer you can let simmer, the better! Taste and adjust spices as desired then remove from heat.
- Prepare ricotta mixture: in a medium bowl by combining ricotta, ¼ cup parmesan, garlic powder, eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- Combine the cooked pasta and the meat sauce.
- Transfer half of the ziti in the 9x13 pan. Then dollop in scoops of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle over 1 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat another layer with the pasta, followed by the ricotta and then the reamaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden in spots.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired