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MiMi’s Baked Ziti Casserole

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Baked ziti is a perfect family friendly fill them up kind of meal.  It can be made ahead and baked to creamy, cheesy perfection.

plate of cheesy baked ziti in front of casserole dish

        Nothing says delicious quite like baked pasta. This baked ziti is always popular at our dinner table and those of our friends as well. 

It can be assembled ahead of time if you’d like, making it a great make and take.  So it’s perfect for bringing to families with new babies as well! 

Of course you can also make and bake it all in one foul swoop, then dinner is ready in under an hour.  It is a great way to fill everyone’s belly and enjoy every bite.

        After taking a bite of this baked ziti, Little Dude’s first reaction was this is a lot like lasagna. In a lot of ways that is true.

     Of course it is a layered baked pasta fish with lots of sauce and cheese. Plus there are so many different ways to make this Italian-american classic.

      Most likely the way your mom made it is how you would like for it to be. This recipe is how my mom made it, so it is perfect as far as my family is concerned.

close up of baked ziti on dinner plate with garlic bread and zucchini

      There are a few things about it that were surprising to me the first time I made it. The first was that it is difficult to find actual ziti at my grocery.

     They have a thousand shapes of pasta, everything from the spaghetti rings to make spaghettios to the classics. But somehow despite baked ziti being such a popular recipe, there is no ziti to be found.

    Ziti is a smooth tubular pasta. Though the dish very specifically mentions it, don’t despair if you can’t find it either.

     I actually ordered some just so I could show you the correct pasta in the pictures, but have made the recipe tons of time with other pasta shapes. Usually I stick to larger tubular pasta, but you can use whatever you’d like.

dinner plate with helping of baked ziti made with rigatoni, salad and garlic bread.

     Rigatoni is my usual fallback and last time I shared this recipe that is what I used.  Penne is another great tube shaped pasta option.

     The second big surprise with the recipe was the use of sour cream.  Not ricotta, not cottage cheese… sour cream.

     It sounds so strange and still throws me off a little because I don’t put sour cream in any other Italian inspired pasta recipe that I can think of. Somehow it just works though, so you should give it a try.

Make it for now or make it ahead

    One of the reasons I love this recipe is how easy it is to put together.  Even better, it is almost no more work to make two of them at once.

      That is one of the many reasons it is a favorite of mine to bring to friends who are new moms.  Or you can just make one for now and freeze one for later.

   It can be assembled ahead, covered and refrigerated until it’s time to eat. Then just let it sit at room temperature while the oven preheats and add ten to fifteen minutes to the bake time.

     There is no work other than popping it in the oven. Give them some garlic bread and a bag of salad and dinner is done.

first serving of baked ziti on plate with remaining past in background

     To avoid drying the pasta out, I would bake it covered for the first half hour.  Then remove the foil and let it finish baking open to help brown the cheese.

    Eating it one handed is easy enough too. You can stab a noodle and eat it while comforting baby.

     You can also make it meatless easily enough.  Just leave the ground beef out.

     I have made it for Catholic friends during Lent and it was still a hit. It is easy to customize to your needs and tastes.

     You could also make an extra and freeze it for later. Just place the frozen casserole in the refrigerator the night before you plan to eat it to let it thaw.

ziti and zucchini on plate

    Again, you will want to let it sit at room temperature while the oven preheats and let it bake a little longer than you would if you made it fresh.  Much like the refrigerated version, I would cover it with some aluminum foil for the first half hour of bake time.

      Once the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted it should be done.  Give it a few minutes of rest and it is ready to serve and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite make and take meal?  Or maybe a comfort food specialty that you love to make during the cold weather?

You may also like:

If you love baked pasta recipes, creamy beef and noodle casserole is another great option. It would be a great take and bake meal as well. 

Or if you love baked pasta dishes, but hate the prep, check out my no boil pasta casserole.  You don’t have to boil the noodles or brown the sausage. Just layer it all in the pan and let it bake to perfection. 

All the Ziti

This is our absolute favorite baked ziti recipe. It is easy, creamy, cheesy and delicious.

It’s is a great make and take for new moms or you can make it ahead for your own family. Or make it, bake it and enjoy it in under an hour at home!

You can also make baked ziti without boiling the pasta or browning the meat. No boil baked ziti is another option for when you are too tired for the prep.

Yield: 12 Servings

MiMi's Baked Ziti

Plate of creamy baked ziti next to casserole dish.

Baked ziti is a perfect family friendly fill them up kind of meal.  It can be made ahead and baked to creamy, cheesy perfection.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta (ziti was surprisingly hard to find here, but rigatoni or penne works fine)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 (24 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook ziti until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 of sauce mixture, provolone cheese, sour cream,  remaining ziti, remaining sauce mixture, then mozzarella cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted. (If you made it ahead of time, pull casserole out of the refrigerator while the oven preheats and bake 40 minutes or so or until heated through and bubbly.)

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 514mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 21g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

Baked ziti is a perfect family friendly fill them up kind of meal. It can be made ahead and baked to creamy, cheesy perfection.

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juliepollitt

Saturday 3rd of February 2018

I love this ingredient list! Looks delicious!

Carlee

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

Thank you so much!

Joanne

Sunday 21st of January 2018

I have never tried sour cream in my baked ziti; this sounds like an amazing dish. Pinned.

Carlee

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

I thought it was a little strange when MiMi shared her recipe with me as well, but it's soooo good!

Unknown

Sunday 21st of January 2018

Definitely a meal the whole family would love! Thanks for linking up at Friday Frenzy Link Party! PINNED!

Carlee

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

It's a hit with our clan, that's for sure! Thank you!

Lazy Gastronome

Sunday 21st of January 2018

Delicious!! This is what I like eating during the week - simple and tasty! Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party!

Carlee

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

That's how we like to eat too! Not too fancy, but super delicious!

Andrea Nine

Friday 19th of January 2018

I realize I replied before but I have since made this and soooo good! I love that Mimi kind of rhymes with Ziti!!! All over this! Happy weekend beautiful!

Carlee

Saturday 20th of January 2018

YAYAYAY! I am glad you liked it, that makes my heart smile <3

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