Baked Ziti is a simple and delicious baked pasta dish that never fails to please. This easy baked ziti recipe is extra meaty and cheesy!
Ziti is a great, comforting dinner option and tastes great served with a side salad or garlic bread! Let’s be honest, there are days when you’re running around like a crazy person and can’t even fathom spending time in the kitchen… and on those days you make Baked Ziti. I absolutely love baked ziti, well any pasta for that matter. I remember when I first tried baked ziti, I was in high school at one of my friend’s house and her mother made us ziti and I fell in love! From that day ziti was pretty much my go to dish and I knew I had to come up with my own version of it to share with my loved ones. Baked Ziti is an American classic pasta dish that’s typically made with a tomato-based meat sauce similar to Bolognese. Some people like to use all beef, pork, and some use Italian sausages. People use different cheeses, some even make it meatless!
CAN I USE PENNE NOODLES INSTEAD OF ZITI?
Absolutely! I actually always prefer to use penne noodles because of the texture and size. Trust me, using ziti vs penne in baked “ziti” is not something to stress over. Use what’s available to you.
CAN I MAKE BAKED ZITI AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes! You can prepare the meat sauce, then let it cool before assembling the Baked Ziti wih the noodles and cheese. Top with more cheese then refrigerate or freeze, then bake when you want to serve it!
DO I HAVE TO USE SAUSAGE?
Nope, it’s just what I personally like best. I love to load my ziti up with all the good stuff. You can just use ground beef, pork, or you can even make a meatless dish by using chopped mushrooms in place of the sausage or beef.
- 1 lb Penne noodles
- 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Cup Yellow onion, chopped
- ½ Cup Green pepper, chopped
- 1½ Tablespoon Fresh basil, chopped
- 1½ Tablespoon Oregano
- Garlic poweder, as needed
- Kosher salt and black pepper, as needed
- ½ Tablespoon Onion powder
- 2 Dry bay leaves
- ½ Tablespoon Paprika
- 1½ lb Ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1 Cup Mozarella cheese, shredded
- 1 Cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 Jars Pasta sauce (I use Raos Homemade)
- Cook penne noodles according to package instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and cook for about 2- 3 minutes until onions are translucent and peppers are tender.
- Add sausage and beef and cook, breaking it up as you go. Half way through cooking the meat, start to add in your spices including salt and pepper and continue to cook until the meat is completely cooked through and no longer pink. Be sure to start with a little salt and add more later on if needed.
- Add pasta sauce and bring to simmer. Add in fresh chopped basil and bay leaves.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed.
- Remove bay leaves and layer cooked noodles and meat sauce in an oven safe dish and mix in mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Layer cheddar cheese on the top.
- Bake 20-25 minutes uncovered until cheese is golden and bubbly. Enjoy!