Beef/ Casseroles

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

Here’s a relatively easy baked ziti for the weekend with lots of helpings to go around. It has three types of cheeses, a couple of very beefy meaty layers and a golden brown cheesy top. What more could you ask for? Well, maaaybe some extra Parmesan cheese on top.

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

You can follow this recipe to the tee or simplify it with less ingredients. It all depends on how much work you feel like putting in and how picky you are about flavor! It takes its flavor cues from my slow cooker beef and cheese pasta, with added beef bouillon cubes and Worcestershire sauce for extra beefy flavor and a bit of sugar to balance out the tartness of marinara sauce. It’s been really popular for family meals and with the kids so this should work just as well!

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

This will be the second time I’ve attempted baked ziti. The first time a year or so ago gave me this soggy mess of noodles which lead to me refining my technique with pasta bakes in general and this recipe. So one year later and lotsa baked pasta experiences later (chicken Alfredo pasta bake!), I’m trying it again.

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

No more soggy pasta this time. I took several precautions. I did end up cooking the pasta until al dente but rinsed it under cold water to stop the cooking process after. I figured it’ll cook more in the oven leading to that dreaded soggy pasta so putting a stop on the cooking whenever possible helps.  It’s the same reason we’ll be baking it uncovered, so the contents don’t steam while baking.

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

Your beef layer on top will get slightly crisp and crunchy because it’s not covered but I actually liked the added texture of it. Yummy ricotta, cheesy strings of mozzarella, chewy noodles, mmm beefy beef and oh, there’s some crunchy beef too! It worked out well.

Since all of the stuff was pre-cooked before baking, the baking part is just to cook up that egg you added to the ricotta mixture. Thirty minutes or so is fine. Then you top the pasta bake with more mozzarella cheese and broil it for a couple of minutes until browned.

Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

And that’s about it.  Happy cooking!

Simplify it: Leave out the onions and garlic and just use ground beef. Leave out the Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, beef bouillon cubes for a basic marinara sauce.

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Baked Ziti is a great family meal to bring to the table with 3 kinds of cheese, a hearty meat sauce and a cheesy browned top!

Baked Ziti


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. ziti, cooked al dente
  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process
  2. Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked through. Drain any excess fat
  3. Remove beef and set aside. Saute onions and garlic until onions are soft, about 5 minutes
  4. Add in beef, marinara sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, bouillon cubes, sugar and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine eggs, ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
  6. Add the pasta to the cheese mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined
  7. Spoon 1/3 of the meat sauce into a 9×13 casserole dish
  8. Top with half the pasta mixture
  9. Repeat layers once more and finish with a final layer of meat sauce
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F
  11. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  12. Broil at 450 degrees F for 3-5 minutes or until cheese has browned
  13. Dish and serve hot

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Karen K
    March 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    This looks good, but i would sub sliced, sauteed mushrooms for the beef. Do you think I should still add the beef bouillon cubes? I’m not vegetarian; I just prefer mushrooms over ground beef in most recipes. Thanks.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 11, 2015 at 2:33 PM

      You can skip the beef bouillon cubes when you’re going for mushrooms. I usually add that and Worcestershire sauce to beef up the flavor a little but mushrooms work better with a nice smoky flavor. Maybe some smoked paprika?

  • Reply
    Dorothy Dunton
    March 11, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    Hi Farah! You are seriously “cheesy” lately and I love it!! I’m gaining weight just looking at this dish, but that won’t stop me from chowing down! Do you have “cheese” stock? 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 16, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      I’m totally working on patenting my home-made cheese stock! 😉

  • Reply
    Thao @ In Good Flavor
    March 12, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    This is a great looking baked ziti. I love all the wonderful brown bits on top. Yum!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM

      Oh yeah, I didn’t plan for it but it worked out quite well. Love crunchy bits!

  • Reply
    Carolyne
    April 26, 2015 at 8:33 PM

    Looks delicious! Do you think you could make it and Leave it in the fridge Overnight?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 27, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      I don’t see why not, Carolyne! Happy cooking! 🙂

  • Reply
    Calie
    May 31, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    It looks so good and delicious. I love beef and I really want to try it. It will be listed in my new dish menu, thanks.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      June 1, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      Thanks, Calie! Good luck trying it out and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply
    Melissa @ Oil Diffuser
    July 6, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    I tried first time, and ended up messing the whole dish, (just like the blogger) and next time too, the noodles were over cooked. I got it right after fifth trial, and now I love this lovely dish.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 7, 2015 at 8:16 PM

      I’m sorry you had to try it a couple of times before getting it the way you like it, Melissa. Good baked ziti is tricky, isn’t it? Especially if you don’t like soggy pasta. But I’m glad you worked it out and kept on trying. Congrats!

  • Reply
    Julie
    October 2, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    It looks so good and delicious. I love beef and I really want to try it. It will be listed in my new dish menu, thanks.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 2, 2015 at 11:31 PM

      Good luck with the cooking and I hope you enjoy the flavors, Julie.

  • Reply
    Jess
    March 19, 2016 at 7:35 PM

    Just ran into your site while perusing Pinterest. Your recipe looks so delish my meal plan has changed! I’m curious about the onion and garlic.. I generally cook mine right in with the beef, but is there something a rookie like myself doesn’t know? I feel that the lazy in me will battle this at times, although I am doing as you suggest this time..

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out, thank you!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 20, 2016 at 6:02 PM

      Well to be honest, it’s something I was brought up to do but I never questioned the why. I just knew it made everything taste better. So I did a little researching after you asked the question (and it’s a good question!). I found a pretty good article from Food Lab over at Serious Eats, one of the sites I trust to know their stuff. It’s a pretty good read and it explains it down to the chemical process! But long story short (TL:DR), sauteeing the onions and garlic in oil instead of adding it with everything gives you a fuller flavor overall. It’s a good thing and well worth the extra time! Also, I cook the beef separate because fat tends to render from ground beef after it’s cooked and it makes it easier to spoon away and remove the rendered fat from just the beef rather than beef and chunks of garlic and onion.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    March 24, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I love mild sausage in my ziti, so do you think I could go with a lb each of the ground beef and sausage? Would I need to adjust the recipe at all? Thank you!!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 29, 2016 at 4:54 PM

      Absolutely! In fact, that’s how I made my Italian meatballs recipe. Half Italian sausage and half ground beef. There’s no need to adjust anything except subbing the ground beef for sausage pound for pound. Just brown the beef with the Italian sausage.

  • Reply
    Jane
    February 12, 2017 at 10:39 AM

    I sometimes do things like this, only simpler. The same with cheese, it is important to choose the right kind of cheese, it gives a lot of their flavor.

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