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The Best Baked Ziti

This easy baked ziti is a huge family favorite. Creamy, cheesy alfredo pasta topped with a beefy spaghetti sauce! Then topped with melted cheese!

A DELICIOUSLY EASY BAKED ZITI RECIPE

This is one of my favorite comfort food pasta dishes. This one along with my Baked Spaghetti (Spasagna) is the ultimate comfort food for me. Serve it with some Garlic Bread and a salad and I am a happy camper!

Fully cooked pasta shown on a small white plate with extra sauce dolloped on top and a casserole dish in the background

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I have to use ziti pasta?

I usually use penne pasta because it has those little ridges in it. And those little ridges are really good at hanging onto the pasta sauce. But if you prefer the Ziti pasta, then use that instead of the Penne. This recipe is versatile and you can use almost any other pasta noodle you prefer.

What if I like a lot of spaghetti sauce?

When I make this, I usually purchase an extra jar of spaghetti sauce so we can pour extra sauce over the top when serving.

Can I make my own alfredo sauce?

Absolutely! Or you can try using different flavored alfredo sauces – like garlic or basil.

Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

Yes, of course. Whatever you prefer. Ground pork can also be used.
Want an extra kick? Try adding some ground Italian sausage to the mixture!

Can this be frozen?

Yes! Like most pasta dishes this freezes very well. Just cover properly to protect against freezer burn and it will jeep for up to 3 months.

How to store leftover Baked Ziti?

Allow it to cool fully then put it in a covered container and into the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 3 days.

a white plate topped with baked ziti and sauce.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • ground beef – you can use Italian sausage, ground pork or pretty much any ground meat you prefer.
  • spaghetti sauce – I really love Rao’s pasta sauce when I can get it on sale. It’s so good! As you can see below, I had to go with Prego here which is a good sauce as well. Use a sauce that you enjoy. Or you can make your own Homemade Marinara Sauce.
  • alfredo sauce – use your favorite storebosugh alfredo sauce or make your own from scratch. I have a delicious homemade alfredo sauce that I make for my Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo recipe.
  • penne, ziti or rigatoni pasta – you can use any pasta that is of similar size and you’ll want to use the same amount.
  • onion – if you also enjoy adding peppers to your sauces, you would add it in at the same time you add the onion.
  • shredded mozzarella – shred your own or use store bought pre-shredded cheese
ground beef, spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, penne pasta (or ziti or rigatoni), yellow onion, shredded mozzarella cheese

HOW TO MAKE BAKED ZITI

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Prepare pasta according to directions. In a medium sauce pan, brown ground beef with onion (if using.) After beef is browned and crumbled, drain excess grease.

cooked and crumbled ground beef in a skillet with a wooden spoon

Put back in pot and pour in one jar of spaghetti sauce. Keep mixture on low until pasta is done. 

spaghetti sauce added to cooked ground beef in a skillet

When pasta is finished, drain well. You want the pasta as dry as possible. Put pasta back in large pot (with heat off) and pour in jar of alfredo sauce. Combine until thoroughly coated.

alfredo sauce added to cooked pasta in a large copper colored pot

Pour pasta mixture into bottom of 9×13 dish.

alfredo sauce coated ziti pasta spread into a casserole dish

Cover pasta with spaghetti sauce mixture. 

ground beef spaghetti sauce evenly spread on top of pasta in casserole dish

Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese.

shredded mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top of spaghetti sauce and creamy pasta

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. I like to spray the inside of my foil with nonstick spray so the cheese doesn’t stick to it. Or you could use nonstick aluminum foilRemove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

baked penne pasta topped with melted cheese scooped up with a large spoon

Let rest for about 5 minutes after taking out of oven.

silver fork inserted into penne pasta and spaghetti sauce

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

The Best Baked Ziti recipe from The Country Cook

The Best Baked Ziti (+Video)

This easy baked ziti recipe is a huge family favorite. Creamy, cheesy alfredo pasta topped with a beefy spaghetti sauce! Topped with melted cheese!
4.67 from 181 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 32 ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 16 ounce jar alfredo sauce
  • 1 pound penne pasta (or ziti or rigatoni)
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9"x 13" baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Prepare pasta according to directions.
  • In a medium sauce pan, brown ground beef with onion (if using).
  • After beef is brown and crumbled, drain excess grease.
  • Put back in pot and pour in one jar of spaghetti sauce. Keep mixture on low until pasta is done.
  • When pasta is finished, drain excess water from pasta. You want the pasta as dry as possible.
  • Put pasta back in large pot (with heat off) and pour in jar of alfredo sauce. Combine until thoroughly coated.
  • Pour pasta mixture into bottom of 9"x 13" dish.
  • Cover pasta with spaghetti sauce mixture.
  • Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let rest for about 5 minutes after taking out of oven.
  • Serve portions onto plates, and pour additional paghetti sauce on top (optional)

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 287mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

Did you make this recipe?Share it on Instagram @thecountrycook and mention us #thecountrycook!

Originally published: May 2011
Updated and republished: February 2020

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Recipe Rating




214 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I found this recipe a few years ago and it is my most requested dish from my family and friends. It is my go-to when having people over for dinner. Thank you for posting this! It’s been a life saver several times.

  2. i accidentally bought a pound of rotini instead of rigatoni noodles would they still be okay to use or will i get a different result?

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!!! We love all Country Cook recipes but this one was a hit with everyone!! Great flavor and easy!!!

  4. 5 stars
    My family absolutely loved this! And my husband usually hates pasta, so that is a big win. Only changes I made were using mild Italian sausage instead or ground beef and I didn’t have any onion so I did a little onion power. So easy and so delicious! Thanks for the great recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    to make this gluten free I did the following changes. I used tinkyada rice spiraled pasta. cooked the pasta for 5 minutes. drained added the Alfredo sauce per the instructions. I did the meat mixture with one jar of pasta sauce. Topped with the meat mixture added a 2nd jar of pasta sauce. The extra sauce will help cook the pasta since it’s barely done. If you cook the pasta according to the package and it’s tender you will have a pile if glue like substance instead of baked ziti. I increased the baking time to 45 minutes. Pasta was tender and not a pile of mush.

  6. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Have made it several times. The last time I made it I substituted some frozen cheese ravioli (cooked it like you do the pasta before assembling) and it was great! Loved that little bit of extra cheese in the ravioli!

  7. Love this receipe! Do you have suggestions on how you would freeze this dish to make a freezer meal?

    1. Hi Julie! You sure can! Prepare as directed but don’t bake. Cover well with plastic wrap then cover well with aluminum foil. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Then when you’re ready to cook, remove the plastic wrap. Put the aluminum foil back on and back. You’ll probably have to add on an additional 10-20 minutes to the cooking time. 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was so good! I only add Italian seasoning and some garlic salt to it. So easy and delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious and will be my go-to Baked Ziti recipe from now on. My husband loved it and he doesn’t even like Alfredo sauce. LOL There’s just the two of us, so I cut everything in half and baked it in an 8″ x 8″ dish. It didn’t even need any extra sauce. Thanks for the recipe! I wouldn’t have thought to use the two sauces together.

  10. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe….easy, tasty and filling. My family of 5 loves it. It be challenging to find something everyone enjoys.

  11. 5 stars
    Fantastic! Rich and satisfying. I feel like a real Italian chef. A crowd pleaser. I have shared the recipe with all my friends! THANK YOU!

  12. I am going to make this tonight and I am so excited. My question is what is a serving considered? Would a serving be 1 cup? Thank you!

  13. I read the recipe ingredients and it states only 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, but in the recipe #12 it says to add in a second jar?????

  14. 5 stars
    Hello!

    I made this a while back based on your recipe and love it!! I came back and realized the picture is different now and there is only one spaghetti sauce jar instead of two? Also in the ingredients – but the instructions call for two as well. So I’m just confused and wondering if that has changed or are you just using a bigger jar of sauce? Wanting to make this for a crowd to trying to figure out exact measurements!!!

    Thank you!

    -Courtney

    1. Hey Courtney,

      I updated the photos and didn’t add that second can in there but I still kept it in the recipe because I like extra sauce but I know some people may not want it. So if you have always made it and enjoyed it with the two cans – keep doing that! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    This has replaced my family’s favorite ziti recipe that I’ve used for many years. It is so easy and filling. And the leftovers are even better! Thanks Brandie! Your recipes make up over half of the ones in my collection.