Families will love this easy one dish baked ziti with ricotta three-cheese filling! Everything gets mixed together and cooked all in one dish (no pre-cooking the pasta!)! And it’s so easy, five minutes to prep and dinner is on the table in an hour!
Super Easy Dinner
My husband and I were talking the other day about how much we don’t want to cook these days. After six months straight of cooking pretty much all our meals at home, we’re just over it.
So we’re constantly looking for weeknight dinner ideas! It doesn’t get much easier than this easy baked ziti recipe.
Literally you mix all the ingredients together in one dish, pop it in the oven, and bake! Five minutes of prep time means a delicious dinner on the table an hour later – an hour that you don’t have to do anything other than enjoy the yummy smells coming from your oven!
Plus, kids and adults will love this baked ziti with ricotta because of the amazing flavor! And who doesn’t like pasta with lots of cheese? There’s a reason this sweet meat sauce with pasta is so popular!
- Half and Half – I recommend using half and half in this dish so that there’s enough liquid to cook the pasta and enough fat to add the creaminess you want from the dish. If you absolutely must use a substitute, milk can be used but the dish won’t be as creamy.
- Ziti – do not pre-cook the pasta, it will cook in the dish. I’ve made this with ziti and other tubed pastas like rigatoni and it’s been yummy every time!
- Diced tomatoes – don’t drain your tomatoes, you want all of that extra liquid to help cook the pasta correctly
- Garlic – you can either use garlic paste or minced garlic. The photos in this post show garlic paste, but minced garlic works great as well!
- Red pepper flakes – you can add these if you want a little heat. The photos show them, but they aren’t listed in the ingredients above because I personally don’t use them if I’m making this for kids.
Alright now let’s talk about how to make this. You’re going to love how easy it is!
First up, you need to prep your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The dish will be ready to bake quickly so you likely want to have the oven preheated before you even really start making the baked ziti.
When you’re ready, add the garlic and spices to a 9×13 baking dish and mix them together to get a spice mix going.
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, ricotta cheese, and half and half to the spice mix.
And p.s., does anyone else think of Giada when you say the word ricotta – I can’t say it the American way anymore, only the Italian way ri-coat-a.
Mix all of that together well until it’s formed into a nice creamy sauce of sorts. Then you’re going to add in your uncooked pasta.
Use a rubber spatula to gently press it down and cover all of the pasta with the sauce.
This is one of the reasons why heavy cream wouldn’t work as well – the sauce will be thicker and it’ll be tougher to cover all of the pasta. And it needs to cover the pasta to cook it!
Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses then put back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot right out of the oven with a side of bread and a salad.
Cover leftovers with aluminum foil and reheat the entire dish or individual portions in an oven safe dish.
Don’t drain the tomatoes, the extra juice with the tomatoes is essential to cooking the pasta to al dente.
Do not pre-cook the pasta, it will fully cook in the pan. If you pre-cook, you’ll end up with baked pasta that’s dried out rather than perfectly cooked.
Keep refrigerated and eat within three days for the best leftovers flavor.
Yes, you should cover baked ziti for the first portion of cooking. This will help keep the ziti from browning too much while trapping in heat needed to cook everything completely.
They’re similar but not quite the same. Ziti is a tube pasta with its ends cut in a straight line compared to penne’s diagonal line. They also are a bit wider, which makes them great in this baked ziti recipe!
If you can’t find ziti, you can substitute penne or rigatoni in this dish, they may just not hold the sauce as well as the ziti.
This dish is so fast that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to prepare it ahead of time unless you want to make it, store it, and reheat it to serve. In that case, simply do just that – make the recipe and reheat in the oven until fully warmed.
Baked ziti makes a great frozen meal just like lasagna. Freeze it in an airtight freezer safe container for up to six months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and heat up in the oven.
This easy baked ziti doesn’t include any meat but it does include lots of glorious cheese including parmesan cheese, which according to the Vegetarian Society’s page about cheese, is not vegetarian. That’s a pretty minimal part of this so you could totally omit it and still have a yummy dish!
More Easy Pasta Recipe
- Ground turkey pasta
- Instant Pot fettuccine alfredo
- Garlic butter sauce for ravioli
- Spinach artichoke pasta
Easy Baked Ziti with Ricotta
- 1 TBS garlic paste or minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 lb ziti uncooked
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese finely grated
- parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a 9×13 baking dish, add garlic, spices, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, ricotta, and half and half. Mix together until well combined.
- Add pasta to mixture and stir until pasta is all coated. Use a rubber spatula to gently press pasta down into the dish so it is mostly covered.
- Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.
- Remove from oven and uncover.
- Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and place back in the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh parsley
- Serve immediately warm.