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This Baked Ziti is comfort food at its very finest. Cheesy, gooey, with a tasty meat sauce, pasta, cheese and sour cream. Freezer friendly – this dish is a winner!
Step by step photos and instructions below!
This is a great meal to have hanging about for when you want to help another family out with a meal (we have given out a big pan to our neighbors when they have babies, surgery or other life events), or to have as back-up in the freezer for when you need something delicious for dinner yourself.
This is a huge hit with pretty much anyone who has ever eaten this delicious recipe!
Leftovers are even better, if you have any. Reheat the next day for a yummy meal.
I use sour cream instead of ricotta cheese in my recipe, but you can use ricotta if you prefer. Cottage cheese can also be used. I like to use whatever I have at the time, with no need for a trip to the grocery store.
It’s as simple as 1,2,3
1) Pasta. We cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente (which means “to the bite”).
2) Sauce. We make the sauce using garlic, onion, ground beef, pasta sauce and seasonings.
3) Assembly. Layer it all together half of each ingredient (pasta, sauce, cheese, then repeat with the pasta, cheese and remaining sauce) and it’s good to go!
How to freeze Baked Ziti
- This freezes amazingly well, and reheats perfectly with no loss of quality.
- I use a half size steam table pan (affiliate) for this – measurements are 12.5″ L x 10.25″ W x 2.5” H.
- Wrap the pan in aluminum foil, then wrap with plastic wrap.
- ALWAYS label your containers. No one likes a mystery meal!
- Double, triple or quadruple this easily, or do an assembly line with a friend!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- This is a great recipe to scale up.
- Simple ingredients that you can find in your local grocery store.
- Easy to make.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lasagna has more layers and uses flat sheets of pasta, whereas ziti is a short pasta.
I never cover my ziti, because it’s already cooked and I want the top to get golden and brown.
Yes! You can use any kind of short pasta shape you have on hand.
ridges! Rigatoni has ridges, ziti does not. Both are about the same shape (tubed pasta) and size otherwise. I use use rigatoni mostly.
What to serve with Baked Ziti
Make some garlic bread or garlic knots and a big salad to go along with this. I like Caesar Salad (from Simply Recipes) as well as simple arugula salad with this.
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Olive Oil. You’ll use this to sauté the onion and garlic. I like to use a light olive oil for this
- Onion. Dice it up finely, it adds flavor to the meat sauce!
- Garlic Cloves. This recipe uses a LOT of garlic. Garlic is something I don’t skimp on, and double it often!
- Ground beef. I use a reasonably low fat version of ground beef. The 97/3 blend is great, as there is plenty of flavor/fat in the other ingredients.
- Pasta Sauce. Use your favorite kind! I make my own homemade marinara sauce but if I’m out, a good quality jarred sauce is just fine
- Salt and Pepper, Italian seasoning. These are to your own personal taste. Do taste your sauce before assembling your dishes, so you know it’s seasoned well!
- Pasta. This can actually be made with any kind of pasta. I use rigatoni, ziti, penne. those kinds of shapes work best
- Provolone Cheese. I get this pre sliced from the grocery or warehouse store, it makes life easier!
- Mozzarella Cheese. Stock up!! You’ll need a lot. And, like garlic, more is always better!
- Sour Cream. Don’t be weirded out!! This makes a wonderfully creamy consistency in the middle of the pasta and is not to be missed!!
- Parmesan Cheese. Pre shredded is okay (I used it in the pics below), but fresh grated is always better!
- Dutch Oven
- 9×13 baking dish or casserole dish
How to make this recipe
Scroll for Recipe
The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Dice the onion, mince the garlic and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a a Dutch oven or large sauté pan cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground beef, and brown.
Add the pasta sauce and seasonings – bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Test for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
In a 9×13 pan, layer ingredients in order (see pictures):
Half the pasta, half the provolone and half the mozzarella.
Half the meat sauce, all of the sour cream. Dollop over the meat, and smooth the surface.
Add the the rest of the pasta, provolone, and remaining mozzarella.
Then the rest of the sauce. The final layer is the parmesan.
To eat immediately
Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) on the middle rack for about 30 minutes, or until it bubbles around the top/sides.
Garnish with fresh basil or fresh parsley.
Cool completely, and top with foil. Wrap with plastic wrap.
Cooking from frozen:
Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for an hour, or until fully heated through.
Kylee’s Notes & FAQs
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat to piping hot!
You can use any type of short pasta.
Mild or spicy Italian sausage can be used in place of half of the ground beef, or you could do half ground beef and half sausage. Any ground meat will work in this recipe. Ground chicken or ground turkey both perform well here.
If using chicken or turkey, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the tomato sauce for a flavor boost.
I use sour cream instead of ricotta cheese in my recipe, but you can use ricotta if you prefer. Cottage cheese can also be used!
Fresh mozzarella can be used in between the layers for a thick, gooey cheesy center.
Want more pasta recipes? Of course you do!
Want more Easy Pasta Recipes?
Chili Mac with Turkey. We’re bringing childhood back! Lightened-up with turkey vs beef, and made in one pan – this one is a family favorite!
Skillet Mac & Cheese. Comfort food at its finest, this skillet mac & cheese is so easy! Just the skillet and a pasta pot, the and a quick broil, and this is ready FAST!
Florentine Chicken Lasagna Rolls Spinach, garlic, and cheese are all winners for this weeknight dinner! Delicious homemade Alfredo sauce is the key to these!
Ham Tetrazzini. A super-fast weeknight dinner, this Ham Tetrazzini is a spin on the traditional version and is sure to please the whole family.
If you have tried this recipe or any other recipe on Kylee Cooks, leave a comment and rating – I truly love to hear from you!
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Baked Ziti (Freezer Friendly)
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 large onions diced finely
- 8 cloves garlic (large minced)
- 2 lb ground beef
- 48 oz marinara sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Italian seasoning to taste
- 1 lb dry ziti pasta
- 12 slices provolone cheese
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese grated
- 8 oz sour cream
- 4 oz parmesan cheese grated
- In a dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the ground beef, and brown.
- Add the pasta sauce and seasonings, mix well.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Test for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Set aside for assembly.
- In a 9×13 pan, layer ingredients in order
- Meat sauce
- Sour cream
- Then repeat:
- Meat sauce
To eat immediately
- Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 30 minutes, or until it bubbles around the top/sides.
- Cool completely, and top with foil. Wrap with plastic wrap.
- Cooking from frozen
- Thaw, bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly around the top/sides.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This recipe was originally published in October of 2014. It was republished with updated photos in March of 2022.
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