Making baked ziti doesn’t need to take all day. As the name of this recipe suggests, this Quick and Easy Baked Ziti recipe gets dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. And it’s such a filling, comforting meal!
I usually keep a batch or two of my Bolognese sauce in the freezer. But when I don’t have it ready, this recipe is a really solid substitute and shortcut.
The key is to doctor a high-quality jarred tomato sauce, like Rao’s, with ground meat, onion, garlic and spices. From there, you fold in creamy fresh ricotta, shredded mozzarella and flavorful Parmesan. Once the noodles are boiled and the casserole is mixed together, everything bakes in the oven in about 15 minutes, making this an ideal weeknight dinner.
What Kind of Pasta To Use?
While the title of the recipe is “Baked Ziti” you can use penne, mostaccioli, shells, or even elbow macaroni. Any small tubular pasta that will catch the sauce and cheese will work. You can also substitute gluten free pasta; my favorite brand is Jovial.
What To Serve With Quick and Easy Baked Ziti?
This is a one dish complete meal so all you really need to add is a simple salad (and perhaps some garlic bread made with garlic confit!)
- Paleo Kale Caesar Salad
- 10-Minute Chopped Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 5-Ingredient Herb Vinaigrette
Check out my other favorite dinner recipes!
This quick and easy baked ziti recipe uses jarred pasta sauce so you can get dinner on the table in just over 30 minutes. Try it!
- 1 pound ziti or penne (standard or gluten-free)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 1 hot Italian sausage link
- 1 sweet Italian sausage link
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
- 24-ounce jar marinara sauce (I prefer Raos)
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded or fresh
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until it is just al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- While the pasta is boiling, add olive oil to a skillet. Saute onion and garlic until softened (2-3 minutes).
- Add ground meat, removing sausage from casing. Add crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning blend and salt & pepper. Cook over high heat for 3 – 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with a spoon.
- Add the marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour the meat sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to coat thoroughly. Add the ricotta cheese in dollops and stir gently. It does not need to be fully combined.
- Pour half of the ziti mixture into a casserole dish*.
- Top with half of the mozzarella and and Parmesan cheese. Repeat with the remaining ziti and cheeses.
- Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes until it is bubbling and slightly browned.
- You can make this recipe in a 9 x 13 casserole dish or split it into two smaller sized dishes (8 x 8 or 9 x 9″) depending on how many people you are feeding.
- This recipe can be prepared in advance (through step 8) and refrigerated or frozen. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- You can use ziti, penne, mostaccioli, shells, or even elblow macaroni. Any small tubular pasta that will catch the sauce and cheese will work. Feel free to substitute gluten-free pasta.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: recipe
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: italian
Keywords: baked ziti, baked pasta, italian food, weeknight dinner, pasta bake, baked penne