Easy Baked Ziti

Easy Baked Ziti

I call it “lazy lasagna” because it tastes like lasagna but without all the work. Using the leanest beef and part skim cheeses makes this easy casserole light and healthy. There are many different brands of sauce so taste your meat sauce and add salt or spices if you like. - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Makes: 6 servings

Easy Baked Ziti


  • 10 ounces ziti pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup copped onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 24-ounce jar marinara sauce (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces part skim mozzarella, shredded by hand
  • 6 teaspoons grated parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Start the water for pasta.
  3. In a big pan sauté onion & garlic in oil over med-high heat for 2 min.
  4. Add meat, stirring to break it up. Cook for 3 min. until the pink is gone.
  5. Add sauce & pour 1/4 cup water into the jar, cover & shake, and pour the rest of the sauce into the pan. (meantime, start the pasta)
  6. Cook sauce for 10 minutes. Taste for salt & add extra spices if you like.
  7. Drain pasta, return to pasta cooking pot & stir in ricotta.
  8. Spread 1/2 cup sauce into a large baking pan (2 1/2 qt).
  9. Add 3 layers as follows: 1/3 of the ziti, 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the mozarella, and 1/3 of the parmesan.
  10. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Notes: For more on this recipe in my blog click here.

Easy Baked Ziti

91 Comments on "Easy Baked Ziti"

  1. Jacqueline

    When do I add the ricotta?

  2. Jeanie Manser

    This sounds like an awesome recipe! I’ve never had baked ziti before, but my friend had it at a restaurant yesterday and told me about it and it sounds SO GOOD. We’ve been getting our kitchen renovated and our cabinets refaced over the last few days, so I think it’d be good to have a nice, homemade meal once the kitchen is back in order! Thank you for sharing this! I think my family is going to love it!

  3. Cesse47

    LOVE IT!! Have excess cans of tomato sauce so used it instead of marina. Also used large can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies. I did heavily salt pasta water. Missed step to stir ricotta into pasta … just dolloped onto each layer.

    Came out of oven looking and smelling scrumptious! I did not use any salt or pepper during cooking process except in the pasta water. I did add S&P onto my plated portion. Sooooo Gooooood!!!

  4. Karen

    Wonderful dish. Love Jenny Jone’s recipes. Keep them coming Jenny.

  5. June

    The next day: Cleanup a breeze. Actually saved the aluminum foil throw-away 3-qt pan; it was baked in. I simply soaked it a few minutes, then brushed it out–good to go again!

  6. June

    I think it needs a little salt in thd pasta water. My son can’t eat garlic so I used plain pureed tomatoes with herbs instead of pasta sauce. Turned out really good after I added a bit of salt to the final dish. A great new kind of “lasagna.”

  7. Ingrid

    Thank you! Another easy good recipe. We really appreciate you Jenny.
    P.S. My daughter’s name is Jenny.

  8. Anh

    Hi everyone, just so you know, 10 ounces of penne is about 2 1/2 cups of uncooked

  9. Anh

    Hi Jenny, I’ve made this so many times and my family has always enjoyed it tremendously! I usually make a big pot of spaghetti sauce for spaghetti one night then make ziti a few days later. It’s like killing 2 birds with one stone! My son in law even shared it with his boss and his boss loved it!
    Thank you!

  10. Tammy

    FYI-The recipe says to use a 2 1/ 2 quart pan and the video says to use a 4 quart pan. By the looks of it, a 4 quart pan is correct unless you said 4 quart and it is really a 2 1/ 2 quart.

    • Jenny Can Cook

      I didn’t realize I did that. Actually, any size large casserole dish will work. I see that I used a 4-quart pan in the video but at home, I usually use my 2 1/2 quart Pyrex.

  11. Ryan

    Me and my boyfriend make this a few times a year and I’m fresh out of the spaghetti slammer

  12. John

    Still lovin’ this dish!

  13. Lisa S

    Just made the Easy Baked Ziti. It was so good! Made it with mild Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Can’t wait to make it again.

  14. angie santarossa

    Hi Jenny
    i love your recipes i have made 90 percent of them and love them all!!
    curious i don’t like marinara sauce can i substitute for plain tomato sauce or use a tomato spaghetti sauce that i have made

    • Helena

      I would use any kind of sauce with this recipe with those kind of ingredients even a cheese sauce. Yummy Yummy

  15. Holley

    Gosh Jenny I don’t even use Google anymore; I just come here for ideas! Thank you for another hit!

    • June

      Yes, I know what you mean. My little shelf of basic and not-so-basic cookbooks goes untouched for weeks. Jenny’s recipes are practical, delicious and, best of all, adaptable. I go, “why didn’t I think of that? But I didn’t, and Jenny did. Then I often take off and substitute ingredients; but Jenny has the proportions right so the food turns out fine. You don’t have to comb several markets to get rare ingredients you’ll only use once; you don’t have to contend with a family member whose delicate throat can’t take hot stuff or whose palate rejects strange tastes. Yet there is plenty of variety even using mostly familiar ingredients and treating them differently. I just can’t thank you enough.

  16. Lot miranda

    Tried this recipe last night, it was really good. Do not omit the real mozzarella , do not buy the pre shred mozzarella and only 10 ounces of ziti, I also use a good brand lean ground beef. My 10 and 12 year old loved it, they are picky eaters. I also use a ready made jarred marinara, follow the instructions and your family will ask for seconds.

  17. Alexis

    Love love love this dish! It’s become a family favorite. I’m getting ready to make it tonight and I just had to watch your video again because it makes me so happy and excited to cook!
    Thanks for all the recipes, Jenny!

  18. Debra Cembrinski

    Love you and your videos..please dont stop …EVER !! 🙂

  19. Fina

    What’s the size (width, length and depth) of the pan to bake? Metric would be great! Thanks! Can’t wait to try

    • Jenny Can Cook

      I use a 2.8 liter Corningware pan (about 7 x 9 inches – 2.5 quart). I added this to the recipe so thank you for asking.

  20. Barbara

    How long do you need to cook the pasta


    Hi Jenny,

    Just made the Baked Ziti and loved everything about it! I followed the directions exactly and am so glad I did–it was perfect. I just found your
    site and made your No Knead Bread yesterday. It was a huge success.
    I can’t wait to make another of your recipes tomorrow! Thanks for a wonderful website.

  22. Vickie

    Has anyone made this in a crockpot? I have a casserole shaped one and I would like to try it. Wondering how long it would take to cook and on what heat. I made it as written and loved it. But I thought with a crockpot it would make a great potluck dish. Thanks Jenny, I’m working my way through all your recipes.

  23. Vickie

    Has anyone made this in a crockpot? I have a casserole shaped one and I would like to try it. Wondering how long it would take to cook and on what heat. I made it as written and loved it. But I thought with a crockpot it would make a great potluck dish. Thanks Jenny, can’t stop making your no knead bread.

  24. Gloria

    Thank you for another delicious receipe.I made a spaghetti sauce with vegetables (no meat).This receipe is alot easier to make instead of lasagna. Going to make your dark choc.fudge brownies soon.Thank You!!

  25. Judy

    Jenny, I made your baked ziti yesterday and it was really delicious! Thank you for the perfect quarantine comfort food. (Yes, my state is still staying home for the month of May.) Hard to believe this is a ‘lighter’ version, but so many recipes use a lot more cheese for the amount of pasta, which is totally unnecessary because this casserole was so creamy and cheesy. I admit to a few cheats that maybe added a few small calories, but I’d like to think it’s all about portion size :). For anyone interested, I substituted 1/4 pound of ground pork for the beef but drained the fat from the meat before adding the sauce, so I don’t think it added much extra fat. Also, I used whole milk ricotta because that’s what I had, and since ricotta and mozzarella are both very mild, I substituted 1 oz of sharp white cheddar for 1 oz of the mozzarella. I think that enhanced the depth of flavor. I added lots of Italian seasoning to the meat, as well as some garlic powder and dried basil to the pasta and ricotta cheese mix. I saved some of the starchy pasta water for the sauce jar ‘trick’, since I normally add some of that when blending sauce with pasta and oil to serve fresh. It is a great emulsifier, making everything more creamy. (It also came in handy to get my pasta unstuck, since I mixed it up in advance.) And you are right that the extra moisture prevents the casserole from drying out as it bakes. The dish I used was full to the brim so I put a flat pan underneath to catch any bubbling over, and it turned out perfectly. That seemed like a better idea than using an overly large baking dish as far as staying moist. I can’t wait to try this again with some spinach or maybe mushrooms in the sauce for variation. It really is the ultimate comfort food.

  26. Debra

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks so much for your baked ziti recipe! I made it last night and it was delicious ?. I followed your recipe exactly and was very happy with the results. It makes quite a bit…probably 2.5 servings for my husband & I.

    The next recipe I’m thinking about making are your granola bars, as I have all the ingredients.

    Love your videos too! Thanks again,
    Debra (from BC, Canada)

  27. Linda Funa

    Hi Jenny, Thank you for all your recipes, so far I made the chocolate cake, chocolate muffin, and I’m going to make the bake ziti tonight for dinner, I’m not a cook or baker but your recipes are very simple, even I can do it.

  28. Donna

    In the video it is recommended to use a 4 quart baking dish. I followed the recipe exactly, and it does not even fill half of this size dish – had to transfer to a much smaller dish. ???

    • Jenny Can Cook

      Sorry, my mistake. I used a 3-quart dish but they do not allow video editing so I can’t change what’s on the video. I hope you liked the casserole – I’m having it tonight!

      • Jeanine

        Hi Jenny. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your recipes and videos! I recently discovered your videos during the pandemic. Your calming, sweet voice and playful style puts a smile on my face. Thank you for sharing your talent!

  29. Alan

    Tried the baked ziti tonight. It was wonderful! I didn’t have ricotta cheese, but I did have reduced fat cream cheese. It worked well. Thanks for all the recipes you have provided online.

  30. Anna

    This was easy and really good. I added a little Italian spice. Moist and filling. I really like your simple down to earth recipes and presentation. When you say it’s gonna be good, it is.

  31. KaciNC

    Baked this the first time and it was amazing. The second time, I didn’t follow the measurements and just threw things together..turned out bland. The third time I followed her recipe exactly and it was once again wonderful. Make sure you’re measuring the noodles dry before cooking, and use GOOD mozzarella.

  32. B.A.F.

    Jenny every one of your recipes are the best. Healthier and every bit as good as the high fat recipes. We’re polish and those recipes are very similar to our Babcia.
    Most importantly they’re free and printable. Thanks Jenny Jones for your time. I found you on YouTube.

  33. Irene Reynolds

    Jenny, I was reading all of the comments and seeing as I only wanted a recipe for two, I reduced the pasta ingredients to 8 oz and left the remainder of the recipe the same… this way you don’t have to increase the sauce ingredients. I also like to add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of red pepper flakes to any of my tomato sauce recipes.

  34. Jenny Can Cook

    I tried Eva’s idea below and added spinach and loved it. I used about 3/4 ounce of baby spinach and put some in each layer on top of the meat sauce. Thank you for sharing, Eva.

  35. Eva

    I make this but I add Spinach on each layer so so good.

  36. pat from Canada

    HI Jenny…well, its ready for the oven…..I had to use Rigatoni ( hope you don’t mind..lol..), did use my home made sauce….I was interested and loved your idea in adding the Ricotta cheese to the hot pasta…and the smaller pasta will be a great change….I can make lasagna so know your version will be great. Enjoy being in your kitchen. Thanks….Pat from Canada…..

  37. Betty

    Today I cook baked ziti, so easy to make..it was delicious. .thank you ?

  38. Gerri

    All is good with printing the recipes (am still learning how to use this computer —
    Reading the comments helps.
    Am anxious to try your recipes.
    I love their simplicity.

    • Gerri

      Made the baked ziti for dinner.
      It was dry – had to substitute as ziti was not available.
      Made too much pasta.
      Needs more sauce.
      Not sure about making it again.
      I don’ think it saves that much time compared to lasagna.
      Want to try some of your other recipes.

      • Jeff

        Try making it according to the recipe and it won’t be dry.

  39. Jenny

    Best ziti I’ve ever tasted!! So good and easy!

    Thank you!

  40. Marcia

    Can this recipe be doubled?

  41. Antonia

    Hi Jenny,
    Can you make this dish in advance??

    • pat from Canada

      why not, I will even freeze my leftovers….

  42. Mel

    I have tried to print off several of your recipes by clicking the “print” button that appears next to the recipe name- but all that appears is a blank page. I did copy & paste the ingredients & instructions section & made the ziti (YUM) but I am wondering if I am missing out on cute recipe print-outs?

    • Jenny

      Please see the FAQs.

      • Mel

        Thank you! Trying it a second time worked. Thank you for all your yummy recipes & love your humor-infused videos. If I am having a bad day, all I have to do is watch a Jenny recipe video & laugh & feel better!

  43. Sage Hanson

    Hi I’m 12 years old and the first time I made this Ziti and my family love this dish (I’m still 12 years old)

    • Jenny

      Good for you! Keep me posted next time you make one of my recipes. Your family must be really proud of you!

  44. Cloth

    YUMMY!!! This was soo good, absolutely delish. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  45. Jane Lloyd

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it, and it was delicious! Big hit with my landlord (crucial in SF, Ca) ?.
    Ricotta mixed in with pasta? Genius!
    Can’t wait to tackle your Manicotti!
    Thanks again.

  46. Kris

    Jenny, what brand of marinara sauce did you use? Thank you!

  47. Sharon

    This was delicious! I followed recipe exactly and the ratio of pasta to sauce is perfect.

  48. Ann

    Hi Jenny, what size pan can I use please. Thank you!

    • Jenny

      I use a Corning 2.8 liter (3-quart) pan that measures about 8 by 10 inches.

  49. FoodLoveCritic

    That was an awesome recipe. It will be a regular my house. DELICIOUS!
    Thanks Jenny

  50. Sarah Vermilya

    Ran across this recipe. ( Love your recipes, thank you so much.) I followed your recipe with a few changes. Wanted to share with you what I did. First of all, I am vegetarian so I left the meat out. I did not have any ziti but I did have a box of lasgna noodles. I took the lasagna noodles and randomly broke them into approximately 2×2 inch pieces. No need to be exact. Followed the recipe as you wrote it. Lasagna noodles instead of ziti…..made it a truly lazy lasagna. Turned out wonderful.
    Thank You again,
    Sarah, upstate new york

  51. Reenie

    Just made this tonight and it was really good!!!! I used about three cups of sauce altogether and only did two layers. Will be making this again; Thanks Jenny for a quick, easy and tasty recipe.

    • Reenie

      Forgot to mention I also used italian chicken sausage and it came out perfect.

  52. Brad

    I just made this last night and it was fantastic! It really does give you all the flavors of lasagne while keeping it easy and lighter in fat and calories. I made it with hot Italian chicken sausage which was delicious and gave it a spicy kick. When I was making it, it didn’t seem like enough pasta, but it cooks up really well and was awesome! I agree with Jenny in the video, don’t let the sauce cook down too much. You really need it to be a juicy sauce for it to not turn out too dry.

  53. Jo

    Just found your site and have been experimenting with your recipes…
    Your recipes are fantastic!

    What would you suggest serving with the Baked Ziti?

    • Jenny

      I always serve a salad with it and sometimes I add some steamed broccoli on the side. I always try to eat fresh and cooked veggies at every meal.

  54. Joyce

    Could u use spicy chicken sausages in place of the hamburger I would cut the sausages up & brown in place of hamburger. What do u think? My son &a daughter in law don’t eat hardly any beef.

    • Jenny

      It’s hard to answer questions about changing my recipes since I usually only make them the way I post them. I have only made baked ziti with beef so I’m sorry I don’t know if you can use sausage. I’m just a home cook and not a trained chef so I don’t always have the answer. I guess you would have to try or look for a ziti recipe made with sausage. Sorry I can’t help here.

      • Mikey

        A little late to the FAQs, but I have made this recipe at least a dozen times and often, for parties, with ground mild Italian sausage in one dish and beef in another. Delicious both ways. Thank you, Jenny.
        My only wish is that I had calorie information since I try to keep track of my daily intake. 🙂

    • Brad

      Yes you can! I did it last night with chicken italian sausage and it was delicious!

  55. Alice Fong

    May I know 10 oz of pasta is how many cup or grams? 1 lb of meat isn”t 450g? The sauce can I use Italian sauce or pasta sauce? I can”t find ricotta cheese in my country can use cheddar cheese to replace it? 6 oz mozzarella is how many cup or grams?

    • Jenny

      The metric conversion chart in my blog (https://www.jennycancook.com/category/a-metric-conversion-chart/) will help you get through all my recipes. You can use any Italian-style tomato-based red sauce in this recipe, like marinara, spaghetti sauce, or pasta sauce. Cheddar cheese can not be used to replace ricotta cheese. Ricotta is a white cheese similar to cottage cheese so that would be a closer replacement. Good luck with it!

  56. Dave

    This Easy Baked Ziti was the best I have ever eaten. Thanks Jenny

  57. Rich

    Great. Recipe, but was a little bland so we added Italian Seasoning and added a little more marinara sauce.

  58. denise

    Awesome meal. It was really delicious. Tasted just like lasagna but not all the work. It’s a keeper! Thank you for sharing.

  59. Cheryl Adam

    Hi Jenny,
    I just made the ‘Easy Baked Ziti’ for dinner last night. Wow, was it ever good! This will be a regular dish in our household from now on. My husband commented how light it was, which is something that’s important to him in a comfort-style meal. And I just enjoyed my second helping as a quick work lunch.
    Thanks, Jenny.

  60. tricia

    It looks delicious!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe… can’t wait to make it during the weekends

  61. Aunt Saucey

    Another delicious recipe Jenny, big hit with my family 🙂

  62. Martha

    I made this last night and it was great. My guys really loved this meal. I did add some squash to get some vegetables in, but no one could tell and we almost ate the whole dish. Thanks Jenny.

  63. Linda

    This was excellent! Loved it more than my traditional lasagna and much less work. This is a keeper! Thank you <3

  64. Ewa

    I did it. Very good. And easy. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  65. Eva

    Wonderful recipe, I will most certainly be making that, since my lasagnas don’t always have the texture and consistency I like. Thank you Jenny.

  66. Ewa

    Looks delicious. I have couple of technical questions. 1. The pasta needs to be cooked, first, right? 2. First layer ( “1/2 cup of sauce”)- you mean the meat sauce, right? And the last question: I understand that you repeat the layers 3 times ending with the parmesan. Am I correct? I will be grateful for the answers. Thanks again for your recepies. I love them.

    • Jenny

      1. The pasta DOES need to be cooked per package directions and drained first.
      2. The first layer is the meat sauce but I try to use more of the juice and less meat for the bottom layer.
      3. All three layers are the same so the last layer is pasta + sauce + mozzarella + parmesan.
      *p.s. my How-To video is coming soon…

  67. Ethan

    Been waiting for a baked ziti dish from you, Jenny–it’s possibly my favorite comfort food. And the meats make it sound even more delicious. Will there be a video tutorial for this one?

    • Jenny

      In response to reader requests, I will be doing a video soon.

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