Easy Baked Ziti With Ground Beef and Cheese

Baked Ziti
The Spruce
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
488 Calories
22g Fat
36g Carbs
36g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 488
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 620mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 36g
Calcium 246mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This ziti casserole is a simple combination of a seasoned tomato sauce and ground beef, baked to perfection with a melty mozzarella cheese topping. You might want to use macaroni in the recipe, or use a mini penne or a similar tubular pasta.

All you need to make this baked ziti dish a spectacular meal is some garlic bread and a simple tossed salad. A Caesar salad would be fabulous as well. This is an excellent dish to take along to a potluck dinner. Or make two casseroles and freeze one for another day.

You can vary the cheese in this. Feel free to add some Parmesan cheese to the casserole mixture and the topping.


  • 8 ounces ziti pasta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (ground chuck or ground round)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese shredded, divided

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Baked ziti with ground beef and cheese ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Cook the ziti in boiling salted water following the package directions. Drain well and set aside.

    Boiling ziti
    The Spruce
  3. Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4). Lightly butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.

  4. While the ziti is cooking, drizzle the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground beef, onion, and green bell pepper. Cook, stirring until the onion is tender and the beef is no longer pink.

    Ground beef with peppers and onions in a frying pan
    The Spruce
  5. Drain off the excess fat and then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

    Ground beef, tomatoes, onions and green peppers in a pan
    The Spruce
  6. Add the cooked pasta and half of the mozzarella cheese.

    Tomato sauce, ground beef and ziti in a pan
    The Spruce
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

    Ziti, tomato sauce and ground beef in a baking dish
    The Spruce
  8. Top the casserole with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

    unbaked ziti with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese
    The Spruce
  9. Bake the ziti casserole for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

    Baked Ziti With Ground Beef and Cheese
    The Spruce


  • To make it ahead, prepare the casserole, cover it tightly with foil, and refrigerate. Take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Bake as directed, until hot and bubbly.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the ziti with elbow macaroni, penne pasta, or mini penne, or use a similar pasta shape.
  • Add an extra 8-ounce can of tomato sauce for a saucier casserole.
  • Replace the ground beef with 1 pound of bulk Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground venison. Brown with the onion and bell pepper.
  • Add an extra 1/2 pound of ground beef or Italian sausage for a meatier casserole.
  • Replace the mozzarella cheese with a pizza cheese blend, an Italian cheese blend, or cheddar and mozzarella. Add extra mozzarella cheese to the topping if you like.