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Baked Ziti (Easy Recipe)

If you’re a pasta lover, you have to try baked ziti!

Ooey-gooey cheese and savory pasta are all nestled in a deliciously rich meat sauce. It’s like a big warm hug for your stomach!

Baked Ziti Made With Ground Beef, Spaghetti Sauce, And Ooey Gooey Mozzarella Cheese
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Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is one of those classic Italian comfort foods that hits the spot. There are many variations, but I love this recipe the best. 

Ziti pasta gets drenched in ground beef sauce, sour cream, and a triple threat of cheeses. 

Rich, cozy, and utterly satisfying, it’s a hearty family-favorite. It also super easy to make and it feeds a crowd.

Ideal for those chilly winter nights, laid-back Sunday dinners, or casual get-togethers with friends. 

Grab your fork and let’s dig in!

Baked Ziti Pasta Spread with Cream


Here are the ingredients you need to make this baked ziti recipe: 

  • Ziti Pasta – This is a type of long, narrow, tube-shaped pasta. It holds the sauce well and it has a great texture. .
  • Onion – Onions add flavor and a slight sweetness to the dish. 
  • Lean Ground Beef – Ground beef adds protein and a rich, savory flavor. For less fat, use lean ground beef. 
  • Spaghetti Sauce – A classic choice for baked ziti. It’s a flavorful, tomato-based sauce that goes well with pasta and meat. You could also use a homemade marinara sauce or a meat-based sauce.
  • Cheese – Use a combo of provolone, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Provolone adds creaminess and mozzarella creates a gooey top layer. Parmesan adds a nutty, salty flavor and a golden crust.
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream balances acidity and adds a rich creamy layer.
Cooked Ziti Pasta in a Coriander

How to Make Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is an easy pasta recipe that any home cook can make. Just follow these steps for this comforting meal:

1. Cook the pasta. Bring a big pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add your ziti. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Brown the ground beef and onion. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion over medium heat. 

3. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Let the sauce simmer with the ground beef and onion for 15 minutes.

4. Assemble. In a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, spread half of the cooked ziti on the bottom. Next, layer sliced provolone cheese, sour cream, half of the meat sauce, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese, and the remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

5. Bake. Bake the ziti in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve and enjoy!

Tips for the Best Baked Ziti

Want to impress the family? Follow these tips for the best baked ziti: 

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  • Avoid dry ziti. Nobody likes a dry baked ziti! So be sure to use plenty of sauce. You can also lightly toss the ziti in olive oil before assembly.
  • Add more texture. If you want a little extra crunch, top your baked ziti with breadcrumbs. They create a nice crispy layer for added texture.
  • Top with herbs. Fresh herbs like basil or parsley add a burst of flavor and color. Sprinkle your herb of choice on top right before serving.
  • Cover with foil. Are the edges browning too fast? Loosely cover the top with foil. Don’t let it touch the cheese, though. Otherwise, it will stick.

Substitutions and Variations

The great thing about this easy baked pasta is that it’s versatile. You can customize the recipe to suit your taste.

Here are some ideas:

  • Substitute the ground beef. Swap out the ground beef for another meat of your choice. Ground turkey, Italian sausage, or meatballs are all great ideas. 
  • Try other types of pasta. Can’t find ziti at the store? Use penne or rigatoni. Rigatoni is the closest to ziti. It has ridges and is slightly shorter and wider.
  • Doctor up the sauce. Add Italian seasoning, fresh garlic, or other seasonings for a flavor boost. For a creamier version, add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the simmering tomato sauce.
  • Add vegetables. Sometimes, I sneak in fresh spinach by stirring it into the sauce. Roasted broccoli, zucchini, or eggplant taste delicious too.
  • Swap out the sour cream. Not a big fan of sour cream? Use ricotta cheese instead. Cottage cheese mixed with one egg also works for a creamy layer.
  • Make it spicy. Feeling adventurous? Add a dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne for a little heat. Trust me, it’ll take your taste buds on a wild ride!
    Cheesy Baked Ziti Scooped With a Spoon From a Casserole Dish

    What to Serve with Baked Ziti

    Looking for the perfect side dish to go with baked ziti? I’ve got you covered!

    Here are some of my favorites:

    • Homemade Garlic Bread – Warm, freshly baked garlic bread and ziti is the best!
    • Oven-roasted Veggies – If you’re in the mood for something a little healthier, you can try oven-roasted veggies. It’s easy and complementary.

    How to Store

    Want to enjoy your baked ziti at a later time? No problem!

    You can prepare the dish ahead of time. Then, store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Same thing goes for leftovers.

    To Store: For leftover baked ziti, wrap tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. For make ahead unbaked ziti, assemble and cover with foil. Pop the dish in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

    To Freeze: Wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. For make ahead unbaked ziti, assemble the ziti, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze it. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.

    To Reheat: To reheat the leftover baked ziti, remove the wrap and cover it with foil. Then, bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To bake frozen unbaked ziti, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the plastic wrap, then bake.

    Baked Ziti (Easy Recipe)



    Prep time


    Cooking time





    Nothing quite beats a classic baked ziti! Made with ground beef, pasta, spaghetti sauce, and loads of cheese, it’s the ultimate comfort food dish!


    • 1 pound dry ziti pasta

    • 1 onion, diced

    • 1 pound lean ground beef

    • 2 jars spaghetti sauce (26 ounces each)

    • 6 ounces sliced provolone cheese

    • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

    • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ziti pasta in it until it is al dente, for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
    • In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and diced onion over medium heat. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
    • Spread half of the cooked ziti in the bottom of the baking dish. Top it with the sliced provolone cheese, sour cream, half of the meat sauce, remaining ziti, shredded mozzarella cheese, and the remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top.
    • Bake in the preheated oven until it is heated through and the cheese has melted, for about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
    Baked Ziti

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    author avatar
    Kim - InsanelyGood
    Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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