Baked Ziti is a deliciously comforting dish made with melty mozzarella, creamy ricotta, zesty marinara, and tender ziti noodles. It’s easy to make in about 35 minutes — just toss everything together, bake, and enjoy!
Serve it with Garlic Bread for a complete meal! It’s hearty enough for company but simple enough for any weeknight, and you can even freeze it for later. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how!
Does your family love pasta too? This is the BEST Baked Ziti Recipe and it can be on the table in about 35 minutes — and that includes baking time!
What is Baked Ziti?
This Baked Ziti with ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and tomato sauce is the epitome of comfort food with an Italian twist. It also freezes well so it’s the perfect dish to make for later or to bring to loved ones in need of a homecooked meal.
Ingredients for Baked Ziti
- Ziti Pasta – These little tubes of pasta are ideal for savoring all that zesty cheese and sauce!
- Fresh Mozzarella – There’s nothing like fresh mozz – the thick slices get brown and bubbly in the oven.
- Ricotta – Adds creamy richness to the dish!
- Dried Basil – I opt for dried basil in the pasta/sauce/cheese mix because it’s easier to blend.
- Parmesan – For the best taste, use fresh parmesan. Grate it on top of each plate before diving in!
- Pasta Sauce – Try using my Homemade Marinara Sauce, which is simple but so good! You’ll use a whole batch in this recipe.
- Fresh Parsley – This is optional but it adds a little color to the plate.
Baked Ziti Recipe Easy variations
- Other types of pasta like penne or rigatoni may also be used.
- If you love fresh basil, this makes a fragrant garnish in place of parsley.
- You can add ground beef (or Italian sausage) and onion if you wish. Cook them together in a pan until the beef is browned and cooked through. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce and other ingredients. This will add to cooking time.
- You can use a jarred marinara sauce in a pinch, but I think homemade is better!
How to make Baked Ziti (Simple Recipe)
- Cook your pasta according to package directions for al dente. While pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and combine marinara sauce, salt, pepper, basil, ricotta cheese, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.
- Once pasta is cooked, drain (do not rinse) and add to the sauce mixture and toss to coat.
- Transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish.
- Top it with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is melty and starting to brown. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley when serving.
How long to cook Baked Ziti at 350
Since all the components are actually precooked – the ziti only needs about 20 to 25 minutes in the oven for the dish to come together.
I just made this for dinner and everyone loved it. It was so simple to make, yet my family thought I was cooking for hours. Thank you for this recipe. It will definitely be added to my dinner rotation.
How to serve Easy Baked Ziti
How to store the Best Baked Ziti
Can you freeze Ziti?
This is a great dish to freeze for later or bring over to a loved one’s house if they don’t feel well or are busy with a new baby!
To successfully freeze, make the recipe according to the recipe directions other than baking. And make sure the pan is completely cooled before putting it in the freezer. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap.
To reheat, bake at 350 degrees F until hot. This will probably take about 30 to 40 minutes to heat through
If going straight from the freezer to the oven, make sure that you prep the baked ziti in a disposable pan, since a glass or ceramic one could crack, if frozen.
Baked Ziti Recipe Easy FAQs
No, this pasta dish does not need to be covered.
Yes, I think so. You’ll basically be preparing two components and mixing them together before baking – easy peasy! With Lasagna, you have the noodles to precook, the sauce to make, the cheese mixture to prepare and then there’s the layering. Don’t get me wrong, I love my classic homemade lasagna but dishes like this baked ziti or this sheet pan lasagna are much easier to make!
Make sure you drain the pasta well but DON’T rinse it! Rinsing can make the pasta wet and remove the starch from the pasta that it needs so the sauce can cling to it. Watery ziti can also be the result of watery marinara, so use my homemade pasta sauce recipe or us a good quality store bought variety like Classico or Rao’s!
More Pasta Recipes:
- Baked Spaghetti Pie – One of the best ways to use up all that dried spaghetti in your pantry!
- Turkey Florentine Pasta Bake – A nice change from chicken. Also, a creative way to enjoy leftover holiday turkey!
- One Pan Tomato Ricotta Pasta Bake – This low-maintenance dinner calls for garlic and its own special tomato sauce.
- Shrimp Alfredo Pasta – A delicious seafood twist on your favorite Italian American classic!
- Antipasti Pasta Salad – Perfect for summer and always a hit!
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Baked Ziti Recipe (Easy!)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain when finished, do not rinse. About 10 minutes.1 pound ziti pasta
- While pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Add marinara, salt, pepper, basil, ricotta, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.1 batch Marinara Sauce1, ½ teaspoons kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried basil, 1½ cups ricotta cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese2
- Once pasta is finished cooking, add it to the mixing bowl and toss to coat with the sauce mixture, then add to a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese2
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
- Serve with grated cheese and garnish with parsley, if desired.Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley
- 4 cups of storebought marinara sauce may be used instead of the homemade recipe.
- The dish can also be topped with sliced fresh mozzarella instead of shredded.
- You can add 1lb of ground beef and 1 small onion (diced), if you’d like. Cook them together in a pan until the beef is browned and cooked through. Drain and add in with the sauce and other ingredients. This will add to cook time.
- Shelf Life: Up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- To Freeze: Make the recipe according to recipe directions other than baking. And make sure the pan is completely cooled before putting in the freezer. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap. To reheat, bake at 350 degrees F until hot. This will probably take about 30 to 40 minutes to heat through. If going straight from freezer to oven, make sure that you prep the dish in a disposable pan, since a glass or ceramic one could crack, if frozen. Baking time could take up to one hour if cooking from frozen.