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This is seriously the Best Baked Ziti Ever. Your family is going to love the homemade meat sauce, and that ricotta and cream cheese topping takes it to the next level!

Baked ziti in a white deep baking dish with a spoon

Baked pasta dishes are something special; they are in their own classification of comfort food, because they are just that dang good. Ziti has been a tradition since the Renaissance, served commonly at special gatherings, weddings, and celebrations. Also known as Ziti al Forno, this traditional oven-baked pasta is more of a method than an exact science. Depending on the region of Italy, it could be a veggie heavy meal, or it could be loaded in hearty meats and fat. 

This classic Baked Ziti is all about the simple, whole ingredients. Ziti can be hard to find in stores, but there is something special about the history of Ziti pasta. Made from scratch meat sauce might seem tedious and unnecessary, but make no mistake, your time and effort will be worth it once you take that first bite. Go ahead and serve this up with some garlic bread, and you have yourself a feast!

  • Does baked ziti need mushrooms?

    Not Necessarily. We love the added flavor and texture from the mushrooms, but you can absolutely omit them if you don’t love them.

  • Can I use low-fat cheese?

    There are some things that just shouldn’t be messed with, and whole-fat cheese is one of them. In all seriousness, do what you need to do in regards to cheese, but the flavor and texture of whole milk cheese can’t be beat!

  • Pasta Options:

    Ziti is the traditional pasta that’s been used for this dish, but we know how difficult it can be to find! If you need to substitute, head for the Penne pasta or rigatoni. They are both a similar shape and size, and will work well in this dish. 

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other amazing pasta recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

A serving of baked ziti sprinkled with parsley on a white plate
A serving of baked ziti sprinkled with parsley on a white plate
This is seriously the Best Baked Ziti Ever. Your family is going to love the homemade meat sauce, and that ricotta and cream cheese topping takes it to the next level!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion , diced
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Baked Ziti

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Pour olive oil into a large, deep skillet, over medium-high heat. Add in ground beef and brown, 5 minutes. Add in diced onions, and mushrooms (optional). Saute for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are soft and translucent, and ground beef is cooked through.
  • Add in garlic and tomato paste and toast for 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in basil, oregano, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until pasta is ready.
  • Cook pasta in boiling water, according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare the cheese topping in a small mixing bowl by combining cream cheese, ricotta, and parmesan. Mix together until smooth.
  • Once the pasta is done, add it into the meat sauce and stir to combine. Pour it into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Spread cheese mixture on top of the pasta.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.


Calories: 657kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 1026mg | Potassium: 1244mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1304IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Baked Ziti
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Jessie Elliott
May 5, 2020 8:30 am

5 stars
Girl. Is there something you can’t make!? Lol. Everything you do is amazing. I made this but i only had a lasagna pan so i took everything and layered it like you did the lasagna! I put the noodle mixture down 1st, and then sliced mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan, and just repeated the layers till i was done! THE BEST EVER. I loved this and so did everyone else. I am so glad i have you to look forward to when it comes to dinner cause I cook your dishes!

Gail Eirikis
May 9, 2020 12:51 pm

OMG I could not believe my husband said this was the best baked Ziti he has ever had and he is a very critical person about food it made me very happy to hear him say that and I had fun making it it was awesome. Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes. Next I am gong to tackle your chicken marsella. Thank you again.Gail

April 21, 2020 5:48 pm

5 stars
Just made this. Sure smells good! Can’t wait for it to get out of the oven

April 20, 2020 1:15 am

5 stars
I love this recipe, trying new things while during the lockdown and the kids devoured it. So happy I always double up recipes so I have a freezer one. Honestly, I’ve made it twice (to see if the excitement wear off after first attempt) and even my pickiest of eaters who won’t eat spaghetti, will still eat 2 servings of your ziti. Thank you-all the way from Belgium ❤

April 19, 2020 6:34 pm

5 stars
My brother told me about this sites. I have cooked the mozzarella stuffed meatloaf (delicious) and made the Ziti tonight. Loved it! I’ll be trying a lot more of your recipes in the very near future.

Thanks for sharing your amazing recipes!

October 4, 2020 3:42 pm

I drained the grease off the hamburger. Otherwise it was great.

Sheri Heidrich
August 18, 2020 3:46 pm

5 stars
Love your recipes! This is SO good! I made this recipe as written and it was delicious. I did need to make a fast meal once and used jarred pasta sauce – sorry. It was good also.

Christine Horsman
May 5, 2020 8:20 am

It is delicious and easy to make. Thumbs up!!!

April 17, 2020 6:32 pm

5 stars
Very good! I am a garlic lover so I would always added more garlic. I will make this again

Virginia McNamara
October 13, 2020 3:14 pm

5 stars
Excellent recipe. I used ground mild Italian sausage with lean ground beef. I added fresh Mozzarella to the ziti noodles and fresh mushrooms. I also put fresh mozzarella on top. Thank you for this recipe

October 26, 2020 2:01 pm

5 stars
It’s amazingly delicious.. at first I was like no way it’s this going to be good.. than I made it, and boom! My life was turned up side down..

October 7, 2020 7:10 pm

5 stars
Just got done and we sat and ate it…. VERY, VERY good!!! Thanks so much for another wonderful recipe💖

Patricia Mason
September 14, 2020 10:59 am

This looks so easy. I will make soon then we can kiss Mr G’s adieu! Thanks for making this look so easy! Bon Appetite!

Blue Skies
August 30, 2020 7:21 pm

5 stars
Can I simmer the meat sauce in a slow cooker with the lid on? Or should I simmer it with the lid off? It looks absolutely delicious!

July 18, 2020 10:17 am

5 stars
Made this recipe and loved it! Thank you for sharing it!

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