This cheesy quick baked ziti recipe without meat is the ultimate comfort food that’s easy to whip up on a busy weeknight or sophisticated enough for Sunday dinner.
Back to school is just a few short weeks away for us which means our slow, relaxing days of summer will come to end and our schedules will become more hectic. A busy schedule means this mom has less time to think about what’s for dinner and even less time to prepare it!
One of my favorite ways to get an easy, satisfying dinner on the table any night of the week is with my meatless baked ziti. This recipe is cheesy and comforting with just a few simple ingredients. It’s loaded with flavor and has many of the same elements as lasagna but without all the work.
Cheesy baked ziti is an easy dinner to make and is even better as leftovers (yes, that is a true statement!).
You’re going to want to save this best baked ziti recipe. It has become a family favorite in our home and I think it will become one in your home too!
Meatless Baked Ziti Ingredients
- Ziti Pasta: Is a hollow tube-shaped pasta that is a little longer than penne but is not cut on an angle. Ziti can either be smooth or have ridges. I prefer the smooth version for this recipe but either will work.
- Marinara Sauce: Any store bought or homemade marinara sauce can be used in this recipe. I use Rao’s Homemade Marinara, and highly recommend! This tomato sauce is expensive (at least double the cost of other sauces) however, the taste is authentic and is made with premium ingredients without added preservatives or coloring.
- Ricotta Cheese: Adds a creamy texture. I like to use whole milk ricotta for best results.
- Parmesan & Mozzarella Cheese: The combination of these cheeses will create an irresistible melty, cheesy topping.
- Salt & Black Pepper
- Parsley: Fresh parsley adds an earthy, grassy note to this rich recipe. I prefer fresh parsley over dried. Other fresh herbs can be used as well such as basil or oregano.
How to Make This Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
This is easiest and quickest recipe to prepare!
To start, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook ziti noodles in a large pot of salted water to al dente (follow package directions). The pasta should have a little bit to it as it will continue to cook when baking in the oven.
Once pasta is cooked, drain pasta and return it to the hot pot. Adding the pasta back to the hot pot will help to evaporate any water still left on the pasta.
Add the marinara sauce (reserving about 1 cup for the top of the dish), ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the parsley, and salt & pepper to the cooked pasta. Mix until well combined.
Transfer the pasta mixture into a large casserole dish. Spread the remaining sauce over the top of the layers of pasta (this will help to keep the pasta from drying out). Then sprinkle the mozzarella & remaining parmesan cheese on top.
Cover dish with tin foil and bake in the oven until the entire casserole is bubbly and heated through. Remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Sprinkle remaining chopped parsley on top.
Let stand for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!
Can you prepare this cheesy baked ziti ahead of time?
Prepare this pasta dish according to the directions up until the baking step. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remember to add additional baking time when baking a dish that is cold.
Meatless Ziti Recipe Variations
There are a million ways to customize this meatless baked ziti recipe to make it your own. Here are just a few ideas.
- Can’t find ziti? Use rigatoni or penne pasta instead.
- Switch up your pasta sauce. Instead of using any plain old marinara sauce; use an arrabbiata, Bolognese, or vodka sauce.
- Add protein to your baked ziti with the addition of cooked ground beef or ground turkey, sausage, or chicken. You could even add cooked diced chicken for a twist on chicken parmesan.
- Stir in vegetables. Eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, or zucchini would be great additions to this casserole.
- Omit the ricotta cheese. Or use mascarpone, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream instead.
How to Store Baked Ziti Leftovers
Store leftover baked ziti in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. Leftovers can also be frozen in covered containers for up to 6 months.
Reheat leftovers in the oven or the microwave until heated through.
What to Serve With Quick Baked Ziti Casserole
- A fresh garden salad is a great light side dish.
- We love to have garlic bread with our ziti to wipe every last drop of sauce from the plate.
- Meatballs with marinara sauce is a great side dish option.
- We love to have grilled eggplant alongside our baked ziti for an all vegetarian meal.
You Might Also Enjoy
If you enjoyed this blog post, here are a few more comforting recipes that you might be interested in!
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Cheesy Quick & Easy Baked Ziti Recipe Without Meat
- 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley chopped
- 32 oz Rao's Marinara Sauce
- 16 oz Ziti
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Dash of Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook pasta in salted water to al dente (follow package directions). The pasta should have a little bit to it as it will continue to cook when baking in the oven.
- Once pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the hot pot. Adding the pasta back to the hot pot will help to evaporate any water still left on the pasta.
- Add the marinara sauce (reserving about 1 cup for the top of the dish), ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the parsley, and salt & pepper to the cooked pasta. Mix until well combined.
- Transfer the pasta mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top of the dish (this will help to keep the pasta from drying out).
- Sprinkle the mozzarella & remaining parmesan cheese on top.
- Cover dish with tin foil and bake in the oven until meatless baked ziti is bubbly and heated through.
- Remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.
- Sprinkle remaining chopped parsley on top.
- Let stand for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!