Baked Ziti

This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES, and I’m sure it will become yours too!   

baked ziti @createdbydiane


Baked Ziti


Everyone in my family declares this a favorite and for good reason:

it’s easy to make


and perfect for all occasions!

It has been a favorite since I was young.

I have served this at NUMEROUS parties and it’s always a huge hit!

I can remember my mom making it often and I just loved how the Mozzarella Cheese would stretch out long,

like on pizza! Oh, how I love delicious stringy cheese.

I baked this in a 13×9 pan, but it can also be made into individual dishes (not small dishes but, in white porcelain boat like dishes) which is how I remember my mom making it. Either way, this recipe is a keeper.

This is my go-to meal for bringing to someone as well, it travels well and doesn’t take long to make.

You can mix it up by adding sausage, and if you are a “peppers and onion” fan, you can add some of those, even mushrooms are yummy. Most often I keep it simple and make it just how the recipe is written.

It’s an easy dish to make and is great to serve a crowd, I’ve made it when we’ve had parties of 20+ guests and it’s just PERFECT Doubled of course.

If you’re into FAVORITES you may like THIS, THIS and THIS although they are not food-related,  they are some of my favorites, and here are more of my FOODIE FAVORITES right here.

Italian-Baked-Ziti Recipe @createdbydiane


Simple ingredients make a fantastic meal

  • Pasta
  • Meat 
  • Cheese
  • Sauce
  • see it’s that simple and more delicious than you can imagine!

This is a great meal to make for the family, there are sure to be some leftovers and they reheat beautifully!

This is the meal I make for Pot Luck Dinners, as a Thank You, yes I make dinner as a thank you… everyone loves comfort food as a thank you.

I have MANY Baked Ziti Recipes… take a look at my


Hot and cheesy and oh so yummy…


Cook pasta until it’s al dente (do not overcook the pasta).

When baking pasta undercooking the pasta for a minute is so much better than overcooking it for a second.

While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef in a pan until it’s thoroughly cooked.

baked ziti pasta-ground beef-sauce-cheese @createdbydiane


In large bowl place pasta, marinara sauce.

baked ziti pasta-ground beef-sauce-cheese @createdbydiane


Add to it the ground beef, salt, and pepper to taste along with oregano.

baked ziti pasta-ground beef-sauce-cheese @createdbydiane


Mix well.

baked ziti pasta-ground beef-sauce-cheese @createdbydiane


In a 13×9 pan create 2 layers of the pasta mixture topping each with a cup of grated Mozzarella Cheese.

Put this recipe in an aluminum foil pan for easy cleanup or to take to a party or to drop off at someone’s house for dinner, they’ll LOVE IT!

It’s the perfect dinner to bring somewhere!

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly and the food is fully heated.


baked ziti pasta-ground beef-sauce-cheese @createdbydiane


This dish is great for parties, you can bake it in disposable aluminum dishes for easy cleanup.

  • You can add 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese to the sauce for a cheesier baked ziti.
  • Top dish with grated parmesan cheese if you want the cheese to brown on top
  • Cover the baked ziti with non-stick foil or foil sprayed with an oil spray so it doesn’t’ stick to the cheese, remove foil last 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese a bit.


I often make two trays of Baked Ziti and allow one to cool completely, wrap it well and put it in the freezer.

It’s wonderful to have a tray of Ziti all prepared, just thaw and reheat.

If I’m unable to find ZITI noodles, I have used penne instead, but I really love ziti noodles and prefer them since the dish is baked, ziti noodles are thicker than penne.

Here is my recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

This is a great dish if you like baked ziti, you’ll LOVE this cheesy broccoli dish too!

An easy Go-To Casserole Dinner

this is great for easy filling weeknight dinner

perfect for bringing to a friend as a covered dish, great for a hello, a thank you, and to bring when someone needs cheering up.

baked ziti recipe

Is there ricotta cheese in baked ziti?

I grew up that ricotta cheese was in lasagna and not in baked ziti, but some restaurants put ricotta cheese in both. Feel free to add ricotta cheese if you prefer your baked ziti with ricotta.

If I want ricotta cheese in my baked ziti, how much should I add?

Mix 16 of ricotta cheese with 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Layer it by alternating in between the sauced pasta. 

Should the sauce completely cover the noodles or should the sauce be layered in baked ziti?

The sauce is mixed to coat all the pasta in baked ziti.

How should I reheat baked ziti?

You can reheat it in the microwave with a paper towel on top so it doesn’t spatter. You can reheat it in the oven at 350° for 20+ minutes until it’s hot. You can reheat it in a skillet over medium heat until hot.

What pasta can I use instead of ziti noodles?

Penne pasta works well as a replacement as you can see, I’ve had to use them when ziti is not available. I do prefer ziti noodles, they are thicker and don’t swell when baked in the sauce, they hold up and don’t fall apart when reheating. Be sure to cook your pasta, just to al dente so they don’t get too soft or mushy when being baked.

Baked Ziti


  • 1 pound ziti noodles or penne
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper


  • Cook pasta until it's al dente (do not overcook the pasta)
  • When baking pasta undercooking the pasta for a minute is so much better than overcooking it for a second.
  • While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef in a pan until it's thoroughly cooked.
  • In a large bowl place pasta, and marinara sauce.
  • Add to it the ground beef, salt, and pepper to taste along with oregano, and mix well.
  • In a 13x9 pan create 2 layers of the pasta mixture topping each with a cup of grated Mozzarella Cheese.
  • Cover the baked ziti with non-stick foil, or foil sprayed with oil so it doesn't stick to the cheese.
  • Remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
  • (If the pasta, sauce, and meat are hot going into the dish it will only take 15-20 minutes to bake)
  • If the pasta is made a bit ahead of time and has cooled off if the sauce is cold, or room temperature it will take longer to cook 30-45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and when you stick a knife into the center of the dish, the food is hot.



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These recipes are easy and delicious and are crowd pleasers!

Baked Ziti from @createdbydiane


  1. This looks delicious. We have pasta night every week, and this recipe will definitely be added to the menu very soon!

  2. I’ve been wanting to find an easy recipe for this & here it is! Your photos are making me SO hungry, haha. Thanks for posting.

  3. I just got back from the gym and am pretty sure I shouldn’t have clicked on this link. Now I’m so hungry for this!! Looks delicious, Diane!

  4. This recipe was good, but I only cooked it for 35 mins and I think that was too long. The cheese was burned, it was still good but not stringy like picture. I will try cooking for 20 mins next time. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. If the sauce is cold it takes longer, if you’ve heated the sauce before adding it, it will take less time, also a shallow pan will cook faster than a slightly smaller deeper pan. Oven temperature plays a roll here too. Yes by all means cook it until the cheese is bubbly and hot, no need to cook food to the time mentioned if you oven runs hot or if the food is finished quicker, especially when the meat portion of it is precooked. I do find when I bake it in a metal pan it cooks faster than a ceramic dish too.

  5. Hi Diane – this looks perfect as a side dish for a group weekend get-away we’re attending next weekend and I’m trying to figure out how many servings this recipe will stretch to. It will only be one of many other side dishes for a a group of around 65 people. Can you give me a sense of the servings per recipe?


    Best – Tina

  6. When cooking for 15 people (as the main dish) would one serving be enough? Or do I need to prepare two 13×9 pans?

    1. I would most likely depend on what you are serving with it. But I don’t think 1 lb of pasta and 1 1/2 lbs of beef would be enough for 15 even if you served a small portion. I’d double the recipe and bake 2 dishes like you mentioned. That way if someone wants more there will be plenty, leftovers are great and served with garlic bread and a salad makes a complete meal that is easy and always well received. I’ve served it to parties of 30+. Enjoy!

  7. Hi Diane,
    If I make this dish a day ahead of time and put it in the frig overnight, how would you suggest warming it the next night??

    1. You can either assemble the dish and do the baking an hour before you serve it after taking it out of the fridge (which is what I would do). If you bake the dish the day ahead, you can reheat it, either by placing each serving in the microwave, or reheating the entire dish in a low oven 300-325°until it’s hot in the center. If you decide to rebake it do that covered with foil so it doesn’t dry out.

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