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Baked Ziti (Easy Pasta Casserole) VIDEO

Baked Ziti is an easy, saucy, and cheesy pasta casserole. This has all of the great flavors of Lasagna but is simple to prepare and serve as a pasta bake. 

Baked ziti recipe with serving spoon

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Baked Ziti Recipe Video:

Watch Natasha make this easy baked ziti pasta casserole. This is so easy and delicious. It also reheats so well and you will be excited about leftovers!

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What is Baked Ziti?

Ziti is a tubular-shaped pasta. Baked ziti is an Italian-American casserole of ziti noodles with Marinara Sauce, ricotta, and cheese. The combination of mozzarella and parmesan is our secret to making the BEST Baked Ziti!

Ingredients for baked ziti with ziti pasta, marinara, ground beef, mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheese

We love making baked ziti with meat sauce because it has all of the familiar flavors of classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce, but it comes together fast and is easy to serve as a pasta bake (without the fuss of layering lasagna noodles).

Meat sauce for baked ziti

How to Make Baked Ziti:

This is the easiest pasta casserole and the results are so satisfying. It’s no wonder Baked Ziti is such a popular dish. Watch the video tutorial above and you will be a pro in no time.

  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al-dente then drain.
  2. In a dutch oven, sautee ground beef and onion until cooked through. Add garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add Marinara Sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Ladle 1/2 cup sauce into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  4. Spoon in ricotta and basil and stir lightly. Stir in pasta, mixing just until noodles are coated.
  5. Add half the pasta mixture to the casserole, top with half the mozzarella and parmesan then repeat.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350˚f for 25 minutes then broil 2 minutes to brown the top.

step by step how to make and assemble baked ziti casserole

What Kind of Pasta Can I Use?

The classic pasta choice is ziti pasta. Ziti is a tube-shaped pasta, but you can also substitute with any short tubular shaped pasta, just be sure to cook until al-dente according to package instructions. If you aren’t able to find ziti noodles, try these instead:

  • Penne
  • Rigatoni
  • Mostaccioli

P.S. If you are looking for a spaghetti pasta Casserole, try our Chicken Tetrazzini.

Saucy ziti noodles in baked ziti casserole

Can I Substitute Ground Beef?

You can substitute with a variety of meats to change up your baked ziti. You can even make a vegetarian baked ziti and leave the meat out all together. Any of these options will work great in this pasta casserole:

  • Chicken – Baked Ziti is so easy using leftover rotisserie chicken
  • Italian Sausage – cook the sausage as you would ground beef
  • Ground Turkey – a leaner and tasty option
  • Meatballs – sauteed meatballs work great for this casserole

What Vegetables Can I add to Baked Ziti?

Adding veggies is a great way to turn this pasta casserole into a meal in itself. If you’re looking to make baked ziti without meat, you can use one or all of these veggies together to make the best Vegetarian Ziti.

  • Zucchini – dice and sautee with the onion until tender
  • Mushrooms – slice and saute with onion until soft
  • Cauliflower – roast cauliflower and add it to the sauce

Saucy cheesy ziti noodles on serving spoon

Can I Make this Pasta Casserole Ahead?

Refrigerate Overnight: You can assemble, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350˚F, covered with foil for 10 minutes until it comes to room temperature, then remove foil and bake as directed in the recipe.

To Freeze: Tightly cover and freeze unbaked casserole up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bake at 350˚F covered in foil for 10 minutes to bring it to temperature. Uncover and finish baking as directed in the recipe.

More Casserole Recipes:

We love casseroles for dinner because they can be made ahead and reheat really well so you get to enjoy leftovers for days. These are the top-rated casserole recipes on our blog. I hope you find many new favorites here.

Baked Ziti (Easy Pasta Casserole) VIDEO

5 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 57 minutes
Baked ziti in casserole dish
Baked Ziti is an easy, saucy, and cheesy pasta casserole. It has all of the great flavors of Lasagna but is simple to prepare and serve as a pasta bake. 
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $14-$16
Keyword: baked ziti, baked ziti recipe
Cuisine: American, Italian
Course: Main Course
Calories: 469 kcal
Servings: 10 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti pasta or penne pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef 85% lean
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 5 cups marinara sauce
  • 15 oz fresh ricotta
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese divided

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions until just aldente them drain (so not overcook since they will continue to cook in the oven).
  2. In a deep pan or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and onion, breaking up the beef with a spatula, until beef is fully cooked through and onions are softened (5-7 minutes). Add minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and sautee another minute. Add 5 cups marinara, bring to a simmer and continue cooking 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
  3. Spread a ladle of meat sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
  4. Into the remaining sauce, add chopped basil and spoon in ricotta. Add cooked pasta and stir just until noodles are coated (you want to keep that ricotta texture)

  5. Transfer half of the pasta to the casserole dish. Top with 1/2 of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 grated parmesan. Add remaining pasta and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  6. Clear the edges of the pan so the cheese doesn’t burn onto the dish. Bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes. Broil 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese. Let cool 5 minutes then garnish with basil if desired and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Baked Ziti (Easy Pasta Casserole) VIDEO
Amount Per Serving
Calories 469 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 80mg27%
Sodium 1307mg57%
Potassium 765mg22%
Carbohydrates 44g15%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 991IU20%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 498mg50%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Kiruthika Hariharan
    October 16, 2020

    We made this for lunch today and it was absolutely delicious!!!
    The whole family loved it!!!

    Reply

  • Susan Gruden
    October 6, 2020

    Hi Natasha, I’ve tried so many of your recipes, and loved them. Question baked Ziti can the sauce be switched with Alfredo my granddaughter docent like red sauces.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      Hello Susan, I’m glad you’re enjoying my recipes. I honestly haven’t tried using alfredo sauce to advise but I imagine that will work too. If you do an experiment, please share with us how it goes!

      Reply

  • Bill
    October 6, 2020

    Damn,this is really good, and I didn’t really expect it since I’m not much of a lasagna fan!! And simple is an under statement. If you make the sauce in advance, this is a week night throw together

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      Isn’t it so great! I’m happy you enjoyed this recipe Bill!

      Reply

  • Jyothi
    October 4, 2020

    Made ziti tonight based on your recipe. Except added a bit of hot sauce for the portion I did for my husband. He said this is the best ziti he ever had. And my kids loved the non spicy version. Thank you. Love your recipes!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 5, 2020

      Wow! That’s so great! Thank you for sharing this awesome feedback with us!

      Reply

  • Betty Anne
    October 4, 2020

    Hi Natasha, I would love to try this receipe but my family are not a fan of Ricotta cheese. Can I substitute another kind of cheese in its place?
    Thanks Betty Anne

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 5, 2020

      Hi Betty, cottage cheese may work also. I haven’t tested this but one of our readers also made this with cream cheese to substitute for ricotta.

      Reply

  • Melanie Hollingsworth
    October 3, 2020

    Hi Natasha! What casserole dish did you use?

    Reply

  • Glynis
    October 3, 2020

    Where is the link for the cheese grater please x

    Reply

  • Courtney Motz
    October 3, 2020

    I made the baked ziti last night and it was so delicious I’m having some for breakfast now. I love your recipes. Thank you so much!

    Reply

    • October 3, 2020

      Thank you for the glowing review, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve found myself having Ziti for breakfast.

      Reply

  • Christine
    October 2, 2020

    Hi Natasha! Ever since I came across your FB page I started loving your videos. You’re so cute making it entertaining and being funny I tried your lasagna and first time I made lasagna and my kid loves it! I used cream cheese though coz ricotta and cottage cheese is hard to find in supermarkets here in Phils. Would it be nice to add bechamel sauce on top? You have a recipe for it? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 2, 2020

      Hi Christine, I do not at this time but that is a great thought! Thank you for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Angelina Naumov
    October 1, 2020

    Made this tonight, it was such a hit with my family! My kids loved it! Thank you Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 1, 2020

      Aww! That’s so great! Thank you for the wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Shabana
    October 1, 2020

    I saw your recipe on your page. And went to see if I had everything and I actually! So I made baked ziti on Wednesday and it was a hit and family enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing 😊

    Reply

    • October 1, 2020

      That makes to so happy to hear, so glad your family enjoyed the recipe!

      Reply

    • Angelina Naumov
      October 1, 2020

      Made this tonight, it was such a hit with my family! My kids loved it! Thank you Natasha!

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        October 1, 2020

        You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed that!

        Reply

  • Lydia
    September 30, 2020

    Natasha, I love your recipes. I just copied the ZITI recipe. You said the recipe for the sauce would be with the recipe but I didn’t see it. I would love it and any other reference you made. Thank you

    Reply

  • Susan
    September 30, 2020

    Made this tonight. The flavour was very good but mine was a little dry. I used a box of 454g Barilla penne. I also used Kraft parmesan cheese rather than grated so that may have made a difference. I think next time I will half the recipe because it made so much.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 30, 2020

      Hello Susan, the cheese could have made the difference too. Maybe test it next time using less pasta and more sauce if you like.

      Reply

  • stephanie
    September 30, 2020

    The best baked ziti EVER!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 30, 2020

      Thank you for that, Stephanie. That is so sweet of you!

      Reply

  • Annette
    September 30, 2020

    Lovvveeedd your Baked Ziti recipe ..

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 30, 2020

      Awesome! Thanks for your excellent review, Annette.

      Reply

  • Julia Popov
    September 29, 2020

    I am going to try this recipe tomorrow night, I’m sure it will be delicious just as all of your recipes are! Only issue I have is finding fresh basil… can I skip this step or use a different herb? Dry basil maybe??

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 29, 2020

      Hi Julia, I haven’t tested this to advise on the outcome but dried basil make work! If you experiment I would love to know how you like that.

      Reply

  • samantha
    September 29, 2020

    Can you make without meat? If so do I add remaining ingredients? What’s the recipe ingredients with out meat
    Thanks

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 29, 2020

      Hi Samantha, I haven’t tested this without meat to advise. If you experiment I would love to know how you like that!

      Reply

  • Alexandra Gutin
    September 29, 2020

    This is a great recipe. Made it and it is sooooo good, Natasha!
    Thank you, so much!

    btw – where are those oven mitts are from, they are so cute!

    Reply

  • Brooke
    September 28, 2020

    Made this for my family tonight and it is a new favorite! Thank you for all of your recipes! Everything we have tried has been amazing! You’re the best!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 28, 2020

      You’re welcome Brooke! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  • Kristen
    September 28, 2020

    Making this tonight! Cannot wait to try it! Love all your videos

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 28, 2020

      I really hope you love this recipe, Kristen!

      Reply

  • Nancy Hewel
    September 27, 2020

    The best Ziti we have ever had. Love all of your recipes , Thank you so much !!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 27, 2020

      You’re welcome, Nancy! I’m so happy you’re enjoying our recipes!

      Reply

  • Alice
    September 26, 2020

    Omg i made this for my boyfriend and i and we loved it it was so creamy and good and i and i put it in my fridge so for dinner the next day we could have it again

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 26, 2020

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Alice! Thank you for the wonderful review!

      Reply

    • Judy St. Amour
      September 28, 2020

      I am getting your recipes and have saving them to try this fall. Your recipes are easy to understand and down to earth which I like very much. Thank you so much.

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        September 28, 2020

        You’re welcome, Judy! I’m so happy you’re enjoying our recipes!

        Reply

        • Dana
          October 5, 2020

          what can I use instead of ricotta?

          Reply

          • Natashas Kitchen
            October 5, 2020

            Hi Dana, cottage cheese may work. I haven’t tested this but one of our readers also made this with cream cheese to substitute for ricotta.

  • Carol
    September 26, 2020

    I love your casserole dish. Where can I find one?

    Reply

  • Gloria Cirelli
    September 26, 2020

    Can you freeze before its cooked.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      September 26, 2020

      Hi Gloria, yes, please see freezer ziti instructions in the post.

      Reply

  • Stephanie
    September 25, 2020

    So stink’n good! I substituted the ground beef for the turkey like you suggested and it was fantastic! Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 25, 2020

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that Stephanie!

      Reply

  • Sara Welch
    September 25, 2020

    This is my kind of comfort food! Adding this to my dinner line up next week; looks too good to pass up!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      September 26, 2020

      Hi Sara, I hope this pasta casserole becomes a new favorite for you!

      Reply

  • Tammy
    September 25, 2020

    Oh goodness this looks amazing…can’t wait to make it! Thanks for all of your yummy recipes and your hard work! Have a happy day

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 25, 2020

      I hope you love this recipe Tammy!

      Reply

  • Lily
    September 25, 2020

    This recipe was so easy and delicious it made for a perfect family dinner. We could not get enough of it!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 25, 2020

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this Lily!

      Reply

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