There’s nothing we love more than a hearty casserole dinner that’s quick to make and is incredibly delicious. This baked ziti with ricotta makes for the best comfort meal your family will ask for on repeat. Baked pasta with ground beef in a flavorful marinara sauce is saucy and cheesy, just like our baked stuffed shells.

Baked ziti in a white casserole dish topped with fresh chopped greens and black pepper.

This baked pasta dish is made up of noodles layered with cheese and meat sauce, just like in our meaty spaghetti recipe. The cheesiness alone makes this dish incredible! Serve with buttery baked breadsticks, and dip them into that delicious sauce! 

The flavors of this easy-baked ziti recipe are similar to our homemade cheesy lasagna and our classic bolognese recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Make ahead. This dish can be assembled and stored in the fridge until you can bake it! 
  • Simple ingredients. This recipe requires just a few ingredients, most of which are staple products you may already have. 
  • Great leftovers. If you have any leftovers, this dish is easy to reheat and enjoy the next day. 
A spoon full of baked ziti with ground beef, cheese and sauce.

Ingredients for Baked Ziti with Ricotta

  • Ziti pasta – a long tubular pasta shape allows the sauce and beef to absorb into every corner. You can also use penne or rigatoni. 
  • Ground beef – lean ground beef is best for this recipe. 
  • Tomato sauce – a combination of marinara sauce and crushed tomatoes. 
  • Cheese – a mix of ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.

See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients and quantities.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Protein: Swap out the ground beef for your favorite choice of meat. Some great options include ground chicken, ground turkey, Italian sausage, and even ground pork!
  • Vegetables: Make this dish more nutritious by adding chopped carrots to the sauce, or even sauté some finely chopped mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers! 
  • Sauce: If you aren’t the biggest fan of marinara sauce, you can recreate this dish using homemade alfredo sauce

Expert Tip for the Perfect Pasta:

Boil the pasta to al dente as it will continue cooking in the oven.

How to Make Baked Ziti 

Step-by-step instructions on this easy, oven-baked ziti: 

A skillet with ground beef and onion.

1 – Add the beef and chopped onion to a large, large hot pan, and break up the meat as it cooks.

Cooked beef in a skillet now with added garlic.

2 – Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant-season meat with salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings.

A skillet containing cooked ground beef with marinara sauce.

3 – Add marinara sauce and crushed tomatoes, and bring to a light simmer. 

A skillet containing meat sauce with cooked pasta on top of it.

4 – Stir in cooked pasta until everything is well combined. 

The meaty pasta arranged in a casserole dish.

5 – Put into a casserole dish, and add in half the pasta mixture. Top with a layer of all cheese. 

The ziti casserole topped with cheese.

6 – Top with remaining pasta and finish with a layer of cheese. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. 

Elevate Your Dish!!

  • Fresh Herbs: Infuse the marina sauce by adding fresh basil or thyme to give your dish some delicious flavors.
  • Cheese it up! Add an extra layer of cheese to the top and broil on high for a few minutes after baking to get a crispy, cheesy crust! 
Baked ziti with ricotta cheese in a white casserole dish.

Serving Suggestions

Recipe FAQs

Can I use 80/20 ground beef?

Yes, you can use 80/20 beef in place of lean ground beef. You will need to drain the excess fat when the meat is cooking. 

What can I use instead of ricotta? 

Skip out on the ricotta and substitute with additional cheese of your choice or use cream cheese. 

What other cheeses can I use? 

Use any of your favorite combination of cheeses! Some other great options are cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, and provolone! 

Store & Reheat 

  • Storage. Store leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, or Tupperware for up to 3 days. 
  • Reheat: Warm leftovers in the microwave or the oven at a low temperature. 
  • Freeze. Assemble the ziti in a freezer-safe casserole dish and let it cool before freezing. Store for up to 2 months. Reheat: Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as usual. 

Expert Tip for Meal Prep:

Assemble the ziti in a casserole dish the morning before dinner and refrigerate. Then pop into the oven right before dinner for a less hectic prep! 

More Pasta Recipes

If you enjoyed this baked ziti recipe, be sure to try our other popular pasta recipes; here are some of our favorites:

If you tried this Baked Ziti with Ricotta Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below – we appreciate it!

Baked Ziti Recipe (with Ricotta)

Author: Valentina
Print
5 from 31 votes
This baked ziti with ricotta dish makes the perfect meal when you’re looking for something filling, tasty, and accessible. Tender pasta in a rich marinara with cheese baked until bubbly. This is the best make-ahead casserole.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded shredded
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions.
  • Add ground beef and onion into a large skillet. Over medium-high heat, brown meat, breaking it up as it cooks.
  • Once the meat is mostly cooked, add garlic and seasoning.
  • Add the marinara sauce and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a light simmer, and then add in the pasta.
  • Into a 9×13 casserole dish, pour a layer of the pasta mixture. Add half the ricotta in an even layer. Then sprinkle half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  • Add the remaining pasta and finish with a layer of the remaining cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.
  • Serve, and enjoy friends!

Notes

  • Pasta: Boil pasta to Al dente for the best texture. 
  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze: Assemble the pasta in a freezer-safe dish, and don’t bake. Freeze and store for up to 2 months. When you are ready to cook, thaw overnight in the fridge and bake as usual.

Nutrition

695kcal Calories58g Carbs40g Protein34g Fat17g Saturated Fat2g Polyunsaturated Fat11g Monounsaturated Fat1g Trans Fat118mg Cholesterol1448mg Sodium905mg Potassium5g Fiber9g Sugar1276IU Vitamin A14mg Vitamin C514mg Calcium4mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Baked Ziti Recipe (with Ricotta)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 695 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34g52%
Saturated Fat 17g106%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 118mg39%
Sodium 1448mg63%
Potassium 905mg26%
Carbohydrates 58g19%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 40g80%
Vitamin A 1276IU26%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Calcium 514mg51%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
(The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)