Hearty Baked Ziti Recipe

This easy Baked Ziti recipe has all the delicious layers of your favorite Italian dish. Perfect crowd pleaser, you’ll love the hearty sauce and cheesy filling!

Baked Ziti on plates with parmesan cheese and parsley

There’s something about Baked Ziti that speaks to our souls as the perfect comfort food. From the hearty sauce filled with beef and sausage, to the layers of cheese and sauce filling, this is one dinner you need to make soon.

When you think about it, except for the type of noodle, a GOOD baked ziti recipe should resemble lasagna

Except, it’s much less work because you don’t have to hand all the individual lasagna noodles.

But, back to this baked ziti recipe. It’s a crowd pleaser without a lot of work. Shall we get to it?

How to make Baked Ziti

STEP 1: Cook ziti pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside. 

STEP 2: While ziti pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Saute garlic and onions in hot skillet for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and Italian sausage and continue cooking until browned. Drain off excess fat and return meat to the skillet.

STEP 3: To the skillet, add marinara sauce. Use your favorite pasta sauce or make your own! Add Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on low heat until pasta noodles are done cooking. When noodles are done cooking add half of the meat sauce to the noodles. Reserve the remaining sauce for layering.

STEP 4: In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp of fresh parsley, pepper, and eggs. Mix until combined.

FAQ: Did you know eggs are added to the ricotta mixture to help bind the cheese? This keeps the ricotta creamy and not crumbly!

STEP 5: Assemble the baked ziti in a large 13×9 baking dish. First pour in half of the meat covered noodles in the bottom. Dollop half of the cheese mixture over the top, spreading evenly,  followed by 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and half of the reserved meat sauce.

Repeat with the remaining pasta noodles, cheese mixture, meat sauce. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.

STEP 6: Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with 1 Tbsp of fresh parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Baked Ziti in a 13x9 baking dish, cooked with cheese on top

What you’ll need to make Ziti Pasta

If you want a quick glance at what’s needed for today’s recipe, look no further. For the printable recipe with measurements, scroll all the way down!

Ingredients:

  • Ziti Pasta Noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic, pressed
  • Yellow onion, diced
  • Ground beef
  • Mild Italian sausage
  • Marinara sauce
  • Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Large eggs

Tools:

  • Large sauce pan – for boiling water for pasta
  • Large skillet- for making meat sauce
  • Small mixing bowl- for cheese mixture
  • Spoon
  • 13×9 baking dish

Can Easy Baked Ziti be made in advance?

Yes! Prepare up to 24 hours in advance, cover, and refrigerate.

Remove casserole from refrigerator and bake as directed. You may need to add on some extra time to the baking time because of the chilled dish.

Can Baked Ziti Recipe be frozen?

Yes! If freezing the entire casserole, I suggest using disposable foil pans. That way there is no danger of broken glass in your freezer (I know from experience dropping a frozen pan out of the freezer can be a disaster).

Cover casserole with foil and freeze. When ready to enjoy, thaw casserole in refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed, adding on several minutes for chill factor. 

Baked ziti can be frozen before baking or after!

What to serve with Baked Ziti with sausage

When it comes to baked ziti, finding the perfect side dish is quite easy. Ziti is a hearty dish to begin with, so serving it up with this perfect Italian Salad (like Olive Garden) is almost always my go-to side dish.

My kids prefer when I make a batch of homemade applesauce, as they love a little sweet with their pasta.

Love salads? This delicious autumn salad recipe is one of my family’s favorites. Packed with flavor, it’s the perfect side to a pasta dinner!

Tips for making Baked Ziti

  • Do not skimp on the meat. The combination of ground beef and Italian Sausage gives this baked ziti recipe a hearty base
  • Be generous with the sauce. There is nothing worse than dry baked ziti.
  • You can substitute penne pasta if you desire. Both work great in this recipe, trapping sauce and cheese in the tubes of pasta.
  • Cheese. Be sure to spread the cheese mixture after dolloping onto the pasta layer. You want to have even layers and not bite into a mouthful of ricotta!
  • You can also make Instant Pot Ziti for a quick weeknight meal, without sacrificing any of the flavor!

Spoonful of baked ziti with cheese pull

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Yield: 12 servings

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

This easy Baked Ziti recipe has all the delicious layers of your favorite Italian dish. Perfect crowd pleaser, you'll love the hearty sauce and cheesy filling!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage
  • 5 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  1. Cook ziti pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Saute garlic and onions in hot skillet for 2 minutes. Add beef and sausage and continue cooking until browned. Drain off excess fat and return meat to the skillet.
  3. To the skillet, add marinara sauce. Use your favorite pasta sauce or make your own! Add Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on low heat until pasta noodles are done cooking. When noodles are done cooking add half of the meat sauce to the noodles. Reserve the remaining sauce for layering.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp of fresh parsley, pepper, and eggs. Mix until combined.
  5. Assemble the baked ziti in a 13x9 baking dish. First pour in half of the meat covered noodles in the bottom. Dollop half of the cheese mixture over the top, spreading evenly, followed by 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and half of the reserved meat sauce.
  6. Repeat with the remaining pasta noodles, cheese mixture, meat sauce. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.
  7. Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with 1 Tbsp of fresh parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 482 Total Fat: 29g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 112mg Sodium: 1193mg Carbohydrates: 25g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 29g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.
This easy Baked Ziti recipe has all the delicious layers of your favorite Italian dish. Perfect crowd pleaser, you'll love the hearty sauce and cheesy filling!

This hearty Baked Ziti recipe is made easy with all the delicious layers of your favorite Italian dish. Perfect crowd pleaser!

**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

8 comments on “Hearty Baked Ziti Recipe”

  1. Alli

    This is such an easy delicious weeknight dinner. Everyone loved it. 

  2. Sandra

    Made this for dinner last night it was absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it! I had plenty to freeze for another dinner.❤️❤️

  3. Made this for dinner last night it was the Bomb! Absolutely delicious everyone loved it! I even have more to freeze for another day. ❤️🆓

  4. Absolutely our cup of tea. Grazie milla !

  5. Taylor

    So delicious! My whole family loved it, thank you!

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