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
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!
- Pasta (If gluten-free, we recommend Tinkyada and Jovial)
- Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
- Store-Bought Marinara Sauce
- Cheese (Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan)
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.
If you like this Italian classic, check out these others:
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Gluten Free Lasagna Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Parm Soup
- Gluten Free Lasagna Soup
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.
- 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 16oz. 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.