Who doesn't love a good pasta recipe, especially one that's as classic as a baked ziti? This satisfying, timeless and easy baked ziti recipe is made with the simplest ingredients, no frills, and can be prepped ahead of time and heated before serving. I don't think it gets any better than that.
Pasta is perfect for any season, any time of day, and day of the week!
This pasta dish pairs perfectly with a cocktail like my citrus spritz or a dessert like my kitchen sink skillet cookie, or simply as a meal prep! No matter how you serve or pair this, I can guarantee utter satisfaction!
What are the ingredients for this recipe?
This dish only requires the basics: pasta, sauce, cheese, and ricotta. A few seasonings too help with the flavors, but you've got all you need in your house and pantry!
- Pasta - I like using a rigatoni, ziti, or penne. Feel free to swap for gluten free if you need
- Ricotta Cheese - whole milk ricotta is the way to go!
- Marinara Sauce - I prefer Rao's, Primal Kitchen, or a simple tomato sauce from Cento, Delallo, or Tuttorosso
- Dried Basil
- Dried Oregano
See the recipe card below for more details and specific quantities.
How do I make this baked ziti?
This recipe is made in a few basic steps, with no complications!
Start by preheating the oven to 350º and taking out an oven-safe baking dish. Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Once the water boils, add salt and stir in your pasta of choice. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the directions suggests, drain and set aside.
Take an oven-safe baking dish and pour a few drops of marinara at the bottom. Pour in the pasta and mix the pasta in with the marinara. Add more marinara, spices, salt, pepper, and a few dollops of the ricotta cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure to coat all of the pasta. Pour in a little more sauce and ricotta as desired.
Top the pasta with a layer of mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Once the pasta is finished baking, turn the oven to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the pasta is slightly crispy on the sides.
HINT: Broil, or bake on top rack to get that cheese nice and browned, crispy, and bubbly.
Pasta Swaps and Substitutions
I would be remiss if I didn't offer you some substitution and swap options for this recipe, so that you can fully enjoy it, regardless of any dietary needs.
- Pasta - instead of using durum or regular flour penne, you can easily use gluten free penne, rigatoni, or ziti.
- Cheese - swap the regular mozzarella for dairy-free.
- Ricotta - you can find dairy-free versions of ricotta cheese in some stores.
One of the benefits of making a pasta recipe is that there are a bunch of ways to vary how you serve and make this dish. Here's a few ideas:
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes to the pasta as you mix in the ricotta and marinara.
- Veggies - add some spinach, broccoli, or peas if you want to make this a veggie-friendly recipe.
- Meat - you can add in some ground beef or ground turkey to this dish for some added protein.
Kitchen Equipment and Tools
For this recipe, we'll need pretty standard tools and kitchen equipment when it comes to making the pasta and baking it. One of the tools I highly recommend using is a spider skimmer or spatula. This spatula is circular, and has tiny holes in it. I find it's a lot easier to make pasta recipes when it calls for straining and baking pasta to just use the spider spatula and move the pasta from the water and pot directly to the dish. Less mess and less things to dirty.
Otherwise, here's other common tools you'll need:
- Strainer - if you're not using the spider skimmer/spatula
- Oven-safe baking dish or casserole dish
- Wooden spoons - for mixing the pasta and ricotta
- Large pot
How do I store this recipe? Can I freeze it?
All leftovers can be placed in a tightly sealed tupperware and placed directly in the fridge. This recipe is also freeze friendly, so if you want to make this dish for another day, simply prep the veggies and pasta, place into a tupperware and into the freezer it goes. When ready, you can defrost the pasta, top with the cheese and bake according to instructions.
Baked pasta dishes tend to dry out if it's not well sauced. Make sure to use enough marinara and ricotta cheese when mixing so that the pasta is kept moist.
Hungry for More?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
- 1 large pot
- 1 strainer
- 1 oven safe baking dish
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 pint ricotta cheese
- 1 pkg short pasta
- 24 oz jar marinara sauce
- 2 cups mozzarella shredded
- 2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoon dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 350º.
- Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Once the water boils, add salt and stir in your pasta of choice.
- Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the directions suggests, drain and set aside.
- Take an oven-safe baking dish and pour a few drops of marinara at the bottom. Pour in the pasta and mix the pasta in with the marinara.
- Add more marinara, spices, salt, pepper, and a few dollops of the ricotta cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure to coat all of the pasta.
- Pour in a little more sauce and ricotta as desired. Top the pasta with a layer of mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
- Once the pasta is finished baking, turn the oven to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the pasta is slightly crispy on the sides.