Easy Baked Ziti

Perfectly baked noodles, hearty meaty tomato sauce, and three different types of cheese all baked up together to make this classic dish. But just because it taste like a million bucks, doesn’t mean it should be difficult to make! We’re breaking it down to make the best Easy Baked Ziti for a hearty dinner tonight and leftovers for days.

Easy Baked Ziti recipe hot from the oven.Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

There is nothing more comforting than digging it to a giant tray of baked ziti! It’s cheesy, saucy and such a classic comfort food. It’s like an easier version of lasagna and It’s also a great way to make a large portion of food to feed a crowd, or to have a make-ahead meal for your family. We’re sharing all the tips for making this easy baked ziti and for optionally freezing and reheating!

Preparing a baked ziti recipe.Ingredients Needed

How to Make It

There are a few steps for making baked ziti, but nothing very complicated! We also take advantage of using a st0re-bought marinara sauce to save the time needed to make a from-scratch marinara.

Start by cooking the pasta! You want to make sure it’s cooked about 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain it and then toss it with a little olive oil so that it doesn’t stick together while you make the sauce.

Next make the meat sauce. Saute the onions and garlic first, and then cook the meat. Add in the marinara sauce and seasoning and let it simmer for  for 10 minutes. The longer you can let simmer, the better! Once the sauce is done combine it with the pasta.

Meanwhile mix together the ricotta mixture.

Then assemble the baked ziti and bake until bubbly!

Make Some Now and Some for Later

What I love about dishes like this is that they are easy meals to have some now and some later! This makes a huge portion of food. It’s perfect for parties but also perfect to prepare the baked ziti in two smaller containers (an 8×8 baking pan works well) and bake one for today and freeze the other for another day.

To reheat leftover baked ziti: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cover the baked ziti loosely with aluminum foil. Heat until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.

To prepare this for the freezer: assemble this dish up until the point of baking. Then let the dish cool entered, wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and then freeze. When ready to bake, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the middle of the pasta is hot, about 30-40 minutes.

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Easy Baked Ziti

Perfectly baked noodles, hearty meaty tomato sauce, and three different types of cheese all baked up together to make this classic dish. But just because it taste like a million bucks, doesn't mean it should be difficult to make! We're breaking it down to make the best Easy Baked Ziti for a hearty dinner tonight and leftovers for days.

Yield 8-10
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Author: Lexi's Clean Kitchen
Scale This Recipe



  1. Pre-heat oven to 400ºF and set a 9 x 13” baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Combine the cooked pasta and the meat sauce.
  6. 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. 
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden in spots.
  8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.


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Easy Baked Ziti

Flavored with Italian seasoning, with a touch of spinach added in, these Paleo Turkey Meatballs make for a great weeknight dinner or meal prep solution! Double or triple the batch and serve some for now and save some for later. Serve with your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara and spaghetti squash and you’ve got the perfect lightened-up dinner.

Paleo turkey meatballs in a bowl with marinara sauce.Paleo Turkey Meatballs with Spinach

This gluten-free and Paleo Turkey Meatballs are a classic LCK recipe you’ve been loving since 2013! We went ahead and gave the recipe and photos a little update. We are so glad we did as it reminded us of how amazing these meatballs are, especially for meal prep! Make a double or triple batch of these Italian flavored meatballs and use some right away and then save some for later. Meatballs are great to keep in the freezer because they’re quick and easy to pull out on a moments notice and reheat in your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara sauce.

Paleo turkey meatballs with spinach on a sheet pan.

Gluten Free Turkey Meatball Ingredients

Paleo meatballs made without dairy in a pan

Make Ahead Meatballs and Freezer Instructions

Meatballs are the perfect make-ahead meal! They can made a few days ahead and left in the refrigerator or they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

To freeze meatballs, let them fully cool at room temperature and then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let freeze for at least 1 hour, and then transfer them to a long term storage bag or container. Store for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or warm up in your favorite pasta sauce over low heat.

gluten free turkey meatballs over pasta

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If you like this meatball recipe, check out these others:

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Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs with Spinach

Looking for a flavor-packed dinner that’s going to be a hit? This healthy chopped antipasto salad recipe with chicken is loaded with fresh ingredients and is simple to make! It’s low-carb, paleo-friendly and kind of like eating an Italian sub without the bread (making it gluten-free, too)!

close up shot of antipasto salad recipe

Italian Antipasto Salad Recipe with Grilled Chicken

Let’s talk about what’s in this easy weeknight dinner! To begin, this antipasto salad has the best marinated and grilled chicken. Secondly, this salad has all of the best Italian meats. And finally it has crisp chopped lettuce, fresh veggies and an amazing basil balsamic dressing. Have I sold you yet on eating this salad, or what?! This salad is basically an Italian sub turned into a salad with dinner-worthy chicken added in to make this hearty and delicious. This is to say, this is the perfect salad to bring to potlucks, picnics or cookouts or make it for dinner tonight!

Italian dressing being poured onto antipasto salad

What is antipasto salad?

The word antipasto in Italian specifically refers to a pre-meal course. But in this instance I’m referring to the American style antipasto salad made up of cured meats and veggies. This antipasto salad recipe adds the extra addition of marinated grilled chicken to make it feel a little bit more like dinner. If you want an even easier meal you could skip the chicken and bulk up on the veggies for an even easier no-cook dinner recipe.

What kind of meats are in it?

The grilled chicken is the star of this dish along with classic Italian-American deli meats: pepperoni and salami! However, you can add any other Italian meats that you love. Some other great options are prosciutto, capicola or ham!

Can you make it ahead of time?

You can assemble everything for this salad about 2-3 days ahead of time, setting the dressing aside until ready to serve! Therefor, this hearty salad is a great meal prep option as well! You can make a big batch and pack some for the work week ahead.

what is antipasto salad with pepperoni, salami, onions and chicken

If you like this hearty salad, check out these others:

5.0 rating
2 reviews

Grilled Chicken Chopped Antipasto Salad

Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 10 min
Total Time 40 minutes

Author: Lexi
Scale This Recipe


    Marinated Grilled Chicken

    Everything else

    Basil Balsamic Dressing


  • Chop chicken and place into a plastic bag
  • Add all marinade ingredients into the bag, toss, and set in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer
  • While marinating, chop lettuce, roasted red peppers, tomato, salami, pepperoni, and onion
  • Arrange in your dish
  • Remove chicken and heat your grill to medium heat
  • Place chicken on the greased grill for 9-12 minutes, flipping halfway through
  • Remove chicken and add to your salad plate
  • Take the additional 1/2 tbsp of seasoning and sprinkle over salad
  • In a bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients
  • Pour over salad and enjoy

  • Nutrition

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    Chopped Antipasto Salad with Chicken

    The infamous Trader Joe’s Gnocchi package directions results in soggy gnocchi that nobody wants, so we’re going step-by-step for you on How to Make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! It’s a quick weeknight meal on a budget and is a great gluten-free alternative to a classic gnocchi. What has become an almost cult classic, is so good, and we’ve cracked the code on our favorite way to prepare it.

    Best way to cook Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

    How to Make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

    If you haven’t heard of the Trader Joe’s cult favorite Cauliflower Gnocchi, let us tell you a little bit about it! It’s inexpensive, sold for under $3, and made gluten-free with a hearty dose of veggie. Traditionally gnocchi is made with cooked potatoes that are bound together with egg and wheat flour. The TJ version is made with cauliflower and cassava flour, and a few other ingredients. To be clear, it’s not necessarily low-carb but it’s a healthier take with a classic flavor. The package directions produce a finished product that is a bit suspect so we’re going to go through step-by-step on How to Make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi into a quick weeknight Italian dinner!

    How do you cook cauliflower gnocchi?

    There are a few different ways to cook cauliflower gnocchi. But there is one way not to cook it, and that is do not cook it according to the package directions. We are looking for gnocchi that isn’t mushy and has a nice crispy coating so we’re using cooking methods that do just that!

    1. In the skillet: This is by far the easiest and simplest method (and our favorite)! The main directions in our recipe include the step-by-step for skillet cooking because it is our preferred method for the best tasting gnocchi. It also makes the meal a one-pan dinner which is always a plus.
    2. In the air fryer: This is a simple way to crispy up the gnocchi, but the downside is that this cooking gadget isn’t that common and it still means you have to use other pots and pans to make a complete meal.
    3. In the oven: We offer directions for cooking the gnocchi on a sheet pan, but in all honestly it is our least favorite method. In order to achieve crispy gnocchi it has to have a long cook time, and just isn’t very efficient. But will lend itself to crispy gnocchi if left in there long enough.

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi recipes

    What do you serve with Cauliflower Gnocchi:

    We serve this recipe with store-bought tomato sauce, spinach and cheese. It makes it a complete meal that is made in one pan and ready in under 30 minutes. Alternatively you could use a homemade tomato saucehomemade meat sauce, a pesto, a pumpkin sauce or really any sauce that tastes good with gnocchi!

    The TJ’s cauliflower gnocchi is also a hit when served alone as an appetizer with a dipping sauce!

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi cooking tips

    Tips on getting your hands on Cauliflower Gnocchi

    Admittedly there is a Cauliflower Gnocchi craze going on, coupled with a delay in getting shipments in to some stores. So we had trouble getting our hands on cauliflower gnocchi for a few weeks. Hopefully they’ll be producing more of this product now that they know it’s a hit. Follow these tips to get your hands on Cauliflower Gnocchi:

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi how to cook

    So jump on the Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi train and get to the store to get yours and make sure to post it to Instagram. Because with this one, if you didn’t post it to Instagram, did it even happen?

    Watch the video:

    If you like this weeknight Italian dinner, check out these others:

    4.8 rating
    13 reviews

    How to Make Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

    The package directions on this cult classic hit results in soggy gnocchi so we're going step-by-step on How to Make Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi! It's a quick weeknight meal on a budget and is a great gluten-free alternative to a classic gnocchi.

    Yield 2-4
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 20 minutes

    Author: Lexi
    Scale This Recipe


    • 2 - 12 ounce bags Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi
    • 2 tablespoons oil or butter
    • 1 heaping cup baby spinach
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
    • Pinch red pepper flakes
    • ½ cup marinara sauce of choice
    • ⅓ cup mozzarella cheese


    1. Ignore the package instructions.
    2. Defrost the gnocchi: You can either let thaw out on the counter for an hour or you can microwave the gnocchi on a plate for 2-4 minutes. Once thawed you want to pat dry any condensation. 
    3. In a large non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet heat 2 tablespoon oil until it’s hot add the gnocchi in an even layer. Let the gnocchi sit undisturbed for 3 minutes. Flip the gnocchi and repeat until they are a light brown and crispy.
    4. Add in spinach and stir until it is all wilted.
    5. Add in garlic powder, Italian seasoning, a pinch of red pepper flakes and marinara sauce and toss until combined.
    6. Sprinkle with cheese and cover for 3-5 amount of minutes, or until the cheese and sauce is hot and bubbly.
    7. Serve immediately.

    Recipe Notes

    1. Air-fryer instructions to cook the gnocchi:
      1. Pre-heat Air-fryer to 400ºF
      2. Partially defrost the gnocchi, about 2 minutes in the microwave, making sure to break apart any gnocchi stuck together.
      3. Spray the air-fryer basket with avocado spray.
      4. Lay 1/2 the gnocchi from one bag inside the basket and spray it once more.
      5. Cook for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
      6. Repeat with the remaining bag.
    2. Oven Directions:
      1. Preheat oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
      2. Place defrosted gnocchi on the baking sheet and spray with avocado oil spray or cooking spray of choice. Toss to coat.
      3. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the gnocchi is golden brown and crispy on the outside.


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    How to Make Trader Joe's Cauliflower GnocchiWhat is your favorite way to make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi?

    How to Make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

    The BEST Gluten Free Lasagna and truer words haven’t been spoken! We took my classic meat sauce recipe and stepped it up a notch for this easy and delicious gluten free lasagna recipe that everyone will love. We use our favorite gluten-free lasagna rice noodles and nobody knows the difference with this comfort food classic!

    Best Gluten Free Lasagna

    The BEST Gluten-Free Lasagna

    You are going to LOVE this lasagna. It’s great for a crowd, freezable, and so delicious. It’s also a great dish to make if cooking for others (meal train).

    How do you layer a lasagna?

    Easy Gluten Free Lasagna

    Our favorite gluten-free lasagna noodle brands are:

    You can find them both at any majory grocery store in the gluten-free section!

    Gluten-Free Meat Lasagna Recipe

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    If you don’t want to use meat sauce, and want to make this a meatless lasagna, you can use my homemade tomato sauce instead! 

    5.0 rating
    6 reviews

    The BEST Gluten-Free Lasagna

    Yield 8
    Prep Time 40 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

    Author: Lexi
    Scale This Recipe



    1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
    2. Add onion and carrots to saucepan. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until onions are translucent and the carrots begin to soften.
    3. Add meat to saucepan and let cook until brown and no pink remains, about 7 minutes.
    4. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pan and combine.
    5. Bring tomato sauce to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. The longer you can let simmer, the better! Taste and adjust spices as desired then remove from heat.
    6. Meanwhile prepare ricotta mixture in a medium bowl by combining ricotta, parmesan, garlic powder, 3/4 cup basil, parsley, eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
    7. Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
    8. Prepare gluten-free lasagna noodles 2 minutes less than instructed to cook on package. Drain well and immediately begin assembling lasagna.
    9. In a 9" x 13" oven-safe container begin layering lasagna starting with 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom. Then place one layer of noodles, 2/3 ricotta mixture, 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat for a total of 4 layers of noodles. Top with remaining meat sauce and mozzarella. (See note about alternative preparation)
    10. Cover with aluminum foil and place lasagna in oven on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and golden in spots.
    11. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

    Recipe Notes

    1. Alternatively, you can prepare this in two square 8" oven-safe dishes to have one to bake fresh and one for the freezer to bake for another day. You will have to use slightly less of the ricotta cheese mixture for each layer to get 4 layers for each 8" pan to get enough for both. To bake the frozen: defrost in the refrigerate overnight and bake as directed in step 10.


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    The BEST Gluten-Free Lasagna

    All things Italian-style are right up my alley. Bolognese, {zucchini} linguine, you name it. One hard transition for me when removing gluten and dairy from my diet was not being able to eat those hearty pasta dishes that I always loved. That was one of the big reasons I started and developed Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, to make those dishes you thought you could no longer eat, possible (and healthy)!
    Stuffed Zucchini Boats

    We loved these stuffed zucchinis because they are fun and easy to eat, yet hearty, filling, and delicious. I also love how you can get the zucchini as soft or as firm as you desire!

    Stuffed Zucchini BoatsStuffed Zucchini Boats

    These zucchini boats are…

    Soft but firm, packed with hearty Italian flavor, comforting, flavorful, and easy to eat!

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    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes. I was compensated  for the time spent developing this recipe. All opinions expressed on Lexi’s Clean Kitchen are always my own. My sponsors help make this blog possible!

    Stuffed Zucchini BoatsStuffed Zucchini BoatsWhat is your favorite Italian-style dinner? What dishes do you wish you could eat but aren’t sure how based on a new dietary restriction?

    0.0 rating

    Stuffed Zucchini Boats

    Prep Time 10 min
    Cook Time 30 min
    Total Time 40 minutes

    Author: Lexi
    Scale This Recipe



  • 1. Preheat oven to 375
  • 2. Clean and cut zucchinis in half down the middle so you have two boats
  • 3. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the center (you don't want it too too thin)
  • 4. Place zucchini on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes while preparing your filling
  • 5. In a large pan heat oil and garlic
  • 6. Add in onions, carrots, and peas (add in mushrooms if using them); cook for 5 minutes or until veggies are cooked down and soft
  • 7. Add in meat and cook until brown
  • 8. Add your tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, red pepper, cayenne, basil sea salt, and pepper- mix well to combine (if adding spinach, add it here)
  • 9. Let the flavors cook together for an additional 5–7 minutes, until mixture thickens, taste and adjust spices as desired
  • 10. Remove zucchini from the oven and spoon mixture into each boat
  • 11. Cover each boat filling with parmesan cheese and place back into the oven for 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked to your liking

  • Nutrition

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