Baked ziti casserole is a beloved dish for many families. It’s hearty, comforting, and perfect for feeding a crowd. Whether you’re a home cook looking to impress or a pasta lover seeking your next favorite recipe, this guide has got you covered!

Baked Ziti Casserole

Introduction to Baked Ziti Casserole

Baked ziti casserole is a classic Italian-American dish that brings together tender pasta, rich tomato sauce, and gooey cheese. It’s a versatile meal that can be customized to include your favorite meats, vegetables, and cheeses. This dish is perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or any occasion where you want to serve something delicious and satisfying.

Ingredients List

Here's what you'll need to make the perfect baked ziti casserole:

Basic Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage (optional)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Variations for Dietary Preferences:

  • Vegetarian: Substitute the meat with vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, or zucchini.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free ziti pasta.
  • Vegan: Use dairy-free cheese alternatives and skip the meat or use a plant-based substitute.

Preparation Steps

Cook the Ziti Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the ziti pasta and cook until al dente, following the package instructions (usually about 8-10 minutes).
  3. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Prepare the Pasta Sauce

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. If using meat, add the ground beef or Italian sausage. Cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.
  4. Stir in the marinara sauce, dried basil, and dried oregano. Simmer for about 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the Pasta and Sauce

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked ziti pasta with the sauce. If using vegetables, add them at this stage.
  2. Mix in the ricotta cheese until well combined.

Assemble the Casserole

Grease the Casserole Dish

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray or olive oil.

Layer the Pasta and Sauce Mixture

  1. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  2. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese over the pasta.
  3. Add the remaining pasta mixture on top.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese.

Baking Instructions

  1. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your baked ziti casserole hot, garnished with fresh basil or parsley if desired. It pairs wonderfully with:

  • A side salad with a light vinaigrette
  • Garlic bread or a crusty loaf
  • Steamed vegetables

Storage and Reheating


  • Allow the casserole to cool completely.
  • Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Place the leftover casserole in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil.
  • Reheat for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.


Baked ziti casserole is a delightful meal that brings comfort and joy to any table. We hope you enjoy making and sharing this dish with your loved ones. Ready to enhance your cooking skills even further? Book a call with one of our expert CloMo stylists who can help you refine your culinary style and choose the best recipes for every occasion!

Happy cooking!

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