Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti

Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
543 Calories
15g Fat
71g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 543
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 152mg 51%
Sodium 300mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 30g
Calcium 353mg 27%
*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.)

Baked ziti is one of those incredibly adaptable recipes you can change to suit your mood, your family's tastes, or the ingredients you have on hand. This is a vegetarian version with spaghetti sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and, if you like, a generous amount of fresh basil. In baked pasta dishes like this, cooking the pasta only until al dente is important because otherwise it will be overcooked.

You can easily turn this into meat-based ziti by adding browned ground beef, or add roasted vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, or bell peppers, to this easy
pasta dish
. For a full meal, serve it up as an entrée with garlic bread and a green salad.

Baked ziti lends itself as a family dinner to be made ahead. You can boil the ziti and assemble all the ingredients, then refrigerate it for a few hours or until the next day when you are ready to bake it. Just make sure that you cover the pan well so the top won’t dry out. If you transfer the pan goes straight from the fridge to the oven, the baking time might be longer. 

When the ziti comes out of the oven, it will be very hot and the sauce is usually still a bit runny, that's why it needs to rest about 10 minutes before serving.

If you’ve ever wondered why ziti—and not rigatoni or penne—is the first choice for saucy, cheese casseroles like this, it is that the hollow, narrow shape of the pasta works especially well here. It is also interesting to note that baked ziti, called Ziti al forno in Italian, is a dish with a long history going back to the Middle Ages in Italy although it has gained special popularity in Italian-American cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ziti pasta
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (homemade or from a jar)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions for "al dente." Drain.

    cooked pasta in a colander

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. In a large bowl, beat egg. Add ricotta cheese garlic powder, basil and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Mix well.

    ricotta cheese, garlic powder, basil, egg, and mozzarella in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Add cooked pasta and 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce.

    ziti with tomato sauce and ricotta mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Pour 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce in a 9 x 13 pan.

    tomato sauce in a caserole dish

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Top with the ziti mixture. Top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the sauce.

    ziti with tomato sauce and cheese sauce in a baking pan

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes.

    ziti pan covered in aluminum foil

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Remove foil and bake another 10 to 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let the pasta rest 10 minutes before serving.

    Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack