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penne pasta casserole with ground beef in a white baking dish
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4.75 from 8 votes

Easy Cheesy Baked Ziti

This Easy Baked Ziti recipe is classic Italian comfort food. It has tender ziti pasta, the most perfectly seasoned ground beef, tomato sauce, and three types of ooey gooey cheese!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: best baked ziti recipe, easy baked ziti, how to make baked ziti
Servings: 8
Calories: 534kcal


  • 12 ounces ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups tomato sauce 2 cans
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh chopped basil for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and return to the pot. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
  • Add ground beef to the skillet; season with paprika, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook ground beef for 5 minutes, or until browned, breaking it up as you go.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce. Stir in the water and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper.
  • Add about 2 cups of the beef sauce to the cooked pasta; stir to combine. Transfer pasta to previously prepared baking dish. Add several tablespoons of ricotta over the pasta. The mounds of ricotta shouldn’t be bigger than a tablespoon because if they are, they will not melt during baking. Pour remaining beef sauce over the pasta. Top with cheeses.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil and serve.


Calories: 534kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 1368mg | Potassium: 674mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1398IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 382mg | Iron: 3mg