This three-cheese baked ziti recipe is one of those recipes that evolved into perfection.
I never really followed a recipe for baked ziti… I just threw in this or that. Sometimes beef, sometimes sausage. Sometimes ricotta, sometimes cottage cheese.
But certain combinations really stood out, so I started measuring my ingredients and finally landed on this recipe.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that this has become their go-to for a hearty and easy Italian meal.
I hope my baked ziti finds a regular place on your homemade recipe roster too!
Three Cheese Baked Ziti
This baked ziti recipe is one of those recipes that has evolved into perfection.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage (I buy the patties, it’s easier to crumble them into the pan)
- 1 (14.5-oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (24.5-oz) jar of your favorite marinara or 3 cups homemade sauce
- 1 (14.5-oz) can petite diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb ziti, cooked al dente and drained
- 1 & 1/2 lbs grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 (15-oz) tub Ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- Heat the olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until they start to soften. (Don’t let the garlic burn or it will be bitter.) Add the sausage and ground beef, crumble, and cook until brown. Drain off the fat. Add the tomato sauce, marinara sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Take about half of the sauce and place it in a large bowl to cool. In a separate bowl, add 2 cups of the Mozzarella, all the Ricotta and Parmesan, as well as the eggs. Season with salt and pepper again, if desired. Stir gently together just a few times; do not completely combine. Add the drained pasta to the cheese mixture and toss lightly. Add the reserved cooled meat sauce to the pasta mixture and toss to combine.
- Add half of the pasta mixture to a deep casserole dish or 13″ x 9″ baker. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the pasta mixture in the pan, then top with half of the leftover Mozzarella. Add the remaining pasta mixture, follow with the remaining sauce, and end with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until bubbling. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Freezing Instructions: Bake as directed and let the dishes cool completely. Follow by covering the dish with a double layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat: Let the ziti thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then, bake at 350 F, covered, for about 35 minutes to warm through. Remove foil, add some additional shredded mozzarella (if you'd like!), then bake for an additional 10 minutes until the ziti is bubbling in the center and warmed through.
Pretty Casserole Baking Pans
Since this baked ziti recipe is definitely a take-to-the-table kind of casserole, make sure to bake and serve it in a pretty dish.
Remember not to use an aluminum pan when preparing a tomato sauce dish. The acidity from the tomato interacts with the metal and can leave a funny taste, ruining an otherwise delicious dish!
I love having pretty serving pieces to bring to the table, so I rounded up a collection down below for you to look through. Some are seasonal and others are just nice investments for your home kitchen.
Just click on any of the pictures if you want more information.
Don’t Forget Dessert!
When I serve this baked ziti recipe, I usually serve it with a nice green salad. The cool crunch of the salad is a nice compliment to the hearty pasta and cheese casserole.
But what about dessert? Since this recipe is rich and filling, I would suggest something refreshing as a way to end the meal.
The first recipe that comes to mind is my white chocolate key lime pie.
The other one is my no-bake lemon blueberry pie.
A sinful way to end a delicious meal!
Cozy Comfort Foods
I’m excited for you to try my baked ziti recipe and hope you’ll let me know how it turns out!
With the cool, crisp fall air, I know I really enjoy a good pasta bake or casserole. They’re easy, delicious, and usually provide leftovers for two days of eating!
As much as I enjoy cooking, it is nice to have a tasty leftover just waiting for you so you don’t HAVE to cook if you don’t want to. You’re with me on that one, right?
From my kitchen to yours,
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