Baked Ziti With Meat Sauce

Baked ziti is an easy week night dinner that easily replaces your lasagna craving. Penne noodles combined with a fragrant tomato based meat sauce is topped with a heaping pile of shredded mozzarella cheese and baked until oozing. Get the recipe for this delicious baked penne pasta.
Baked Ziti with Meat sauce Ingredients Price Breakdown.jpg

Lasagna - Work = Baked Ziti

If you’re ever feeling like lasagna, but not in the mood for all the work, baked ziti is your babe. It’s very similar but without all the assembly necessary and it doesn’t need ricotta, al though you could put a few dollops to get that creamy factor in this dish. 

Though this recipe is technically baked penne, it’s the same concept. Kind of.. I mean penne and ziti noodles are both designed to hold as much meat sauce as possible. I got these noodles on sale, could you blame me for making the switch? I didn’t think so. You know how it is! In fact, I would even use macaroni elbows if I didn’t have another option.

The Pasta

For a baked ziti you’re “supposed” to use ziti noodles. In it’s essence, you just need a noodle that’s going to cradle that meat sauce. I’ve used macaroni in a pinch, so I wouldn’t stress having ziti on hand. In fact, this time I used penne noodles because it was only a $1.

The Cheese

You can get pretty flexible with what cheese you use on top. It’s usually cheaper to buy blocks of cheese and shred it yourself, but sometimes that’s not the case. If you store has something on sale, give it a shot! I’ve tried this recipe with monetary jack and pepper check cheese and it tasted great! In a pinch, I would consider using parmesan cheese if I didn’t have anything els, just don’t expect that awesome ooey gooey cheese pull texture.

The Sauce

I don’t typically make my recipes really very saucy. I tend to go light on tomato sauce because I’m prone to getting acid reflux. You should always feel free to add more or less sauce. If you do add more sauce, be sure to taste for salt levels. You may need to add more salt and a bit more sugar to cut the acidity of the tomato sauce. You could also use pre-made seasoned sauce and forget about adding the Italian seasoning.

Baked Ziti with meat sauce

Total Time: 1 hour o minutes

Servings: 6 Servings.

Total Price: $8.40

Price Per Serving: $1.40


  • Large Pot
  • Large Pan
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board


  • 1 (16 oz) penne pasta
  • 1 Tbspn olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion (1 1/2 cup, diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tspn kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 Tbspn complete seasoning
  • 2 Tbspn Italian seasoning
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbspn granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tspn coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated


  1. Set a large pot of water to boil and season with enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean. Add penne pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 400ºF.
  3. Add olive oil to a large pan at medium heat and then sauté diced onions for 5-7 minutes until tender and translucent. Add minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in ground beef and complete seasoning and stir occasionally until the ground beef is cooked through and you can no longer see any pink. Add in the Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, sugar, and 1/2 tspn of kosher salt and black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Combine the meat sauce and pasta and add into a baking or casserole dish, I used two loaf pans. Top with mozzarella cheese and leave in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted. I like to leave it int he oven until the cheese starts getting those little bubbly brown spots, about 10-15 minutes.


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