Creamy Baked Ziti Recipe – How to Make it in 11 Simple Steps

Whether you need a popular recipe to serve to guests or to share with a good friend who is struggling, this recipe for Creamy Baked Ziti makes a large casserole dish that is filled with the flavor of luscious tangy tomato sauce, three creamy cheeses, and delicious, Italian style herbs.

If you need a recipe to take to someone who has just had a baby or is recovering from surgery, our recipe for Creamy Baked Ziti is a perfect choice. You can create this recipe and have enough for both your family and the family you are trying to assist. Alternately, if you are having company and need a recipe that can be mostly prepped ahead of time, this recipe is a great choice as well.

You can make the recipe up to the point where it should be baked. Then, put the unbaked casserole dish covered with aluminum foil in the refrigerator. Later in the day when you are almost ready for dinner, just pop the casserole in the oven to bake.

A serving of creamy baked ziti on a skillet.

Creamy Baked Ziti Recipe

April FreemanApril Freeman
With a creamy, tomato-based sauce, our Creamy Baked Ziti has a smooth, tangy flavor. The surface of the pasta dish is covered with lightly browned, melted mozzarella cheese that bakes up gooey and delicious. The hearty noodles are the perfect base for the beef and tomato sauce that holds this dish together.
Prep Time 20 mins
Baking Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 Servings

Equipment

  • Large Saucepan
  • Colander
  • Spatula
  • Stick Blender
  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • 9-Inch Baking Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces Ziti Pasta
  • 30 ounces Tomato Sauce from a can
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 4 ounces Cream Cheese at room temperature
  • cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pound Ground Beef browned and crumbled
  • 2 pcs Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsely
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cook the ziti in a large saucepan according to package instructions. Drain the ziti and keep it in the colander while you reuse the pot to create the pasta sauce.
  • Open the can of tomato sauce and mix it in the pasta pot with the Italian seasoning and onion powder. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and put it in the tomato sauce mixture.
  • Heat the sauce over medium heat, stirring until the cream cheese is melted and incorporated into the tomato sauce. If this takes too long, you can use a stick blender to blend the cream cheese into the sauce.
    The sauce is being cooked in a saucepan.
  • Stir the browned ground beef into this mixture until it is fully mixed. Take it off the heat and set it aside.
    The ground beef is then added into the mix.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the garlic, parsley, and eggs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
    The cheese and herbs are mixed in a separate bowl.
  • Stir the cooked and drained pasta into the tomato sauce in the pasta pot.
  • Spray a 9 by 13 pan with cooking spray.  Put half of the ziti and sauce mixture in the pan. Spread the garlic, parsley, Parmesan, and egg mixture on top of this layer.
  • Add the rest of the ziti on top of this layer. Sprinkle mozzarella on the top of the ziti.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the dish in the oven for fifteen minutes. Remove the foil and bake it for an additional ten to twenty minutes or until the cheese on top is lightly browned.
  • Remove the pasta from the oven and let it sit for about five minutes. Serve the pasta with a side salad and crusty bread.
    A fresh batch of creamy baked ziti with melted cheese on top.

Notes

Additionally, this pasta dish freezes very well. When you create the casserole, put it in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Then, wrap it in two layers of foil before placing the whole thing in the freezer. To bake the dish, place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw before you bake the Creamy Baked Ziti according to the instructions below. This casserole dish should keep in the freezer for up to three months if you wrap it well.
One nice thing about freezing this dish is that, if you divide it into two smaller dishes, you can eat one, and also freeze one. This way, you will have two dinners and only have to clean up the kitchen one time. On another night when you are too busy to cook supper, you can just pull your pre-made Creamy Baked Ziti out of the freezer.
Our recipe for Creamy Baked Ziti features three different kinds of cheese. The cream cheese is blended into the sauce to make a creamy, mildly flavored tomato sauce. Parmesan cheese is mixed with eggs to create another cheesy layer in the middle of the ziti. Atop the whole dish, is a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Sometimes when you bake a pasta dish, the mozzarella cheese can start getting browned too quickly in the baking, and the center of the pasta dish is still cold and unappealing. Here’s a hot kitchen tip: cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first fifteen to twenty minutes of baking time. Remove the foil and bake the pasta dish for the last fifteen or twenty minutes to allow the mozzarella to brown.
Our recipe features ground beef in the tomato-based sauce. If you have ground pork, ground chicken, or ground turkey on hand, feel free to substitute those meats in this recipe. The baked ziti will taste just as good as if you used the ground beef. Additionally, if you want to create a vegetarian version of the recipe, feel free to omit the meat altogether. With the inclusion of three kinds of cheese and eggs, the recipe has plenty of protein and fat even without the meat.
Keyword Creamy Baked Ziti, Recipe, Side Dish
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