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Beefy, Cheesy Baked Ziti Recipe

Difficulty: Intermediate
Serves: 6
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Resting Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 50 mins


Satisfy your lasagna cravings with this beefy, cheesy baked ziti recipe. The pasta is coated in a rich cheese mixture and layered with a savory meat sauce, then baked to perfection, creating a dish that’s both comforting and delicious.


  • Salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound ground beef (substitutions: ground turkey, Italian sausage, or a mix)
  • Pinch of dried basil
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste (Aleppo pepper is recommended)
  • 1 to 2 (24-ounce) jars of marinara (based on sauce preference)
  • 1 pound uncooked ziti pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 to 5 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil, chopped (for garnish)
Beefy, Cheesy Baked Ziti Recipe


  1. Meat Sauce Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Boil a pot of salted water.
  • Smash and chop garlic cloves.
  • Brown the meat in a skillet, breaking it into crumbles. Add garlic in the last 1-2 minutes.
  • Drain the excess fat. Mix in basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  • Stir in marinara. Swirl water in each jar to gather any residual sauce and pour it into the skillet. Let it simmer as you prepare other components.

2. Pasta Preparation:

  • Once the water boils, add ziti. Stir regularly and cook until it’s nearly al dente (around 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.

3. Cheese Mixture:

  • In a large bowl, mix ricotta, half of the mozzarella, and parmesan.
  • Season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Mix well.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Incorporate the whisked egg.
  • Mix the pasta into the cheese mixture to coat well.

4. Assembling and Baking:

  • In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread a layer of meat sauce.
  • Layer half of the pasta mixture, followed by half of the meat sauce.
  • Repeat the layers.
  • Top with the remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese turns golden brown in some areas.
  • Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley or basil.

Pro Tips:

  • If you desire a zestier sauce, increase the amount of spices and garlic according to taste.
  • This dish pairs wonderfully with a light salad or garlic bread.

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