Baked Ziti Recipe

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This baked ziti recipe is a quick and easy casserole you can put together last minute and the whole family will love it! It’s a no-fail crowd pleaser regardless of who I’m serving.

It’s a very versatile dish. Add veggies, different meats, and even change up the spices if you like. You can, of course, also use other cheese as well. I’ve made this with mozzarella several times and it’s delicious. But I try not to get carried away with the cheese as often as I’d like, so I stick with the parmesan the majority of the time. Either way, it’s pretty darn tasty and doesn’t take too long to assemble either!

Baked Italian Ziti Recipe, finished baking, topped with fresh, cherry tomatoes, and ready to serve.

What Is Ziti?

Ziti is an actual shape of pasta. It’s similar to penne but has straight edges instead of the edges being cut at an angle.

What Is Baked Ziti?

In case you’re wondering, baked ziti is a casserole dish (like this one! Ta-da!!!) using ziti pasta. It is a version of pasta al forno. (In a pinch, you can also use penne pasta.)

What Does Baked Ziti Taste Like?

Baked ziti is somewhat similar in flavor to a simple lasagna. It’s far more budget-friendly than lasagna and uses far fewer ingredients. It’s the same idea as lasagna in many ways but is a much easier, time-sparing dish to make. Think of it as the “poor man’s lasagna”. You can bake it in just about any type of oven-safe dish. Try different cheeses, veggies, and meats, as mentioned above. Basically, you can purchase what’s on sale and use it to put this together.

Traditional baked ziti is very heavy on cheese. If you google it, you’ll find plenty of photos showing ooey-gooey, cheesy potions of pasta. But I don’t like to go hog-wild on the fat content of my recipes, so I cut back by using parmesan. While there will obviously be a difference between using parmesan instead of something like mozzarella or jack cheese, I find it to be just as tasty and far more friendly to my hips.

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

This recipe cooks up fast and easy! All you have to do is mix the tomato sauce and spices in one bowl, while you cook the pasta in a pot and saute the meat in a skillet. Put them all together, top with cheese, and bake! You can even make a salad to go with it while it bakes in the oven. This dish comes together in minutes!

Meatless Baked Ziti

If you prefer a meatless version of this recipe, simply omit the meat! Cook your pasta, mix your spices and tomato sauce together, and then toss your pasta into the sauce, mixing well. Pour into a  casserole dish and top with cheese, then bake to perfection!

More Healthy Pasta Recipes

Baked Ziti Recipe Card

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Baked Italian Ziti Recipe, finished baking, topped with fresh, cherry tomatoes, and ready to serve.

Baked Italian Ziti

This delicious dish is sure to become a family favorite! Serve with a green salad or a side of veggies.
4.13 from 8 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley


  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta (cooked to package directions)
  • lb. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce (low sodium, no sugar)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work too – chopped)


  • Set pasta to cook to package directions.
    Add pasta to tomato sauce mixture.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, honey, vinegar, water and tomato sauce.
    Combining the tomato sauce and spices in a mixing bowl.
  • In a large skillet, cook the turkey meat in the olive oil. Add salt during cooking.
    Add the cooked meat to the pasta and tomato sauce.
  • Add the cooked pasta and the cooked meat to the bowl of tomato sauce and mix well.
    Mix everything in the bowl until well combined.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and top with chopped, grape tomatoes.
    Pour mixture into a casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle your cheese over the whole thing.
    Top everything with parmesan cheese or cheese of your liking.
  • Bake at 350 F. for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
    Bake, cool slightly and serve.


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 506mg | Potassium: 421mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 368IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 3mg

This recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 10/12/12.

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I'm Tiffany, a cookbook author, food lover, mom, and writer for MSN and the AP Newswire.
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  1. graciouspantry says:

    My pleasure :0)

  2. graciouspantry says:

    Ya, when you eat 5-6 times per day, the serving sizes are smaller. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

    1. Julijana Gircyte says:

      if I usually eat 3-4 times, should I increase serving size? I prefer to eat until satisfaction, don’t like small meals idea. I would rather eat more (but not overeat) and wait for like 3-4 hours. And I bet my boyfriend could eat half of the whole meal in one go as he eats loads.

      1. graciouspantry says:

        Sure, you can do that.

  3. graciouspantry says:

    My pleasure :0)

  4. Very good however mine turned out a little on the dry side 🙁

    1. graciouspantry says:

      You can always add more sauce.

  5. Pingback: 90/10 Nutrition Challenge weekly meal plan
  6. Jennifer Kavanagh says:

    What kinds of veggies would you add?

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Anything, really. Spinach, broccoli, carrots, peas… the possibilities are pretty endless.

      1. graciouspantry says:

        I beg to differ. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary (scientific evidence) and my body tends to know the difference as well.

  7. Maria E. Delgado says:

    Can I have this now?!

  8. Pingback: Clean Eating Recipes | Clean Eating Vegetarian Lasagna
  9. I cooked this tonight and it was a big hit. My 6 yr old asked for more when she was done and said it was the best thing she had ever eaten 🙂

  10. I LOVE your website! I’ve tried a few of your recipes, this one included and all have been great! My son gobbled this dish right up! Thank you!!

  11. just wondering if I could put the pasta in uncooked and then bake it covered?

    1. Jen – I don’t recommend it. Not enough liquid to cook the pasta and the meat would turn into rubber because you’d have to cook it longer.

  12. Bridgette says:

    Hi! Love your site, do you have a list of pastas that are safe to buy or what not to buy?

    1. Bridgette – Not specifically. But if you purchase 100% whole wheat pasta, you should be fine. Unless you are trying to avoid wheat, then opt for something like 100% brown rice pasta, or even quinoa pasta.

  13. I was wondering what kind if tomato sauce you used? I am new to clean eating so any tips you have are very much needed!

    Thank you!

  14. Question: If I am cooking ahead, should I complete every step except number 5 in the directions? That way it would be fresher for the day I was eating it… Also, how would you suggest freezing it (air-tight/how long will it freeze)? Thanks for this recipe, this was one of the first clean recipes I tried and I got an extremely positive response from the husband 🙂 After that recipe, he was all for me cooking clean!

    1. Bekah – Haha! That’s great! 😀 Yes, I would do it just as you described. It definitely needs to be air tight and it will freeze up to about 3 or 4 months.

  15. Made this one the other night…I had some doubts, honestly, my baked pastas always come out dry and not enough sauce. But this baked ziti was so good and the spices covered every inch of the ziti so even if it wasnt saucy, it was definitely tasty. My kids and grandmother loved it as well and had plenty leftovers for lunch the next day.

  16. Gloria Coady says:

    Made this tonight, we both loved it. I used 2 cloves of garlic instead of powder and half a sweet onion instead of powder. Deeeelicious 😀

  17. Thank you so much for your AMAZING recipes! I am fairly new to clean eating, been doing it for a month and feel so amazing. Some recipes can be bland in the clean eating world, but yours aren’t. I haven’t found a recipe I don’t like yet! This is my families favorite so far, SO easy and SO delicious!

  18. Did you use a 13×9 for this? Looks delicious 🙂

  19. Hi, could you tell me the nutrition facts without the turkey included? Or tell me how to deduct the turkey myself?


    1. Leanne – Not off hand, but if you google a recipe calculator, you can enter the recipe without the turkey. I use

  20. Deanna Paine says:

    This was a HUGE hit! Even my husband loved it and he’s usually not big on clean-eating. 🙂 I added a bit of salt and used half Mozzarella and half Parmesan. I even made it with GF Penne pasta and it was just soooo awesome! Thank you!

  21. If I don’t have that vinegar could I leave it out or substitute it with red wine vinegar? Thanks!

    1. Chelsea – I would just leave it out. I think the red wine vinegar would be a bit more “tangy” than most people would like.

  22. Sounds great! What kind of baking dish did you use?

    1. It was just a small casserole dish. The size doesn’t really matter too much. As long as the pasta fits, you’re good to go!

  23. Is there no sugar in the pasta ?
    Stupid question just started clean eating

  24. Is the 1 lb of pasta measured before or after cooking?

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