Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce is an easy and delicious dinner recipe using ground beef and mozzarella cheese. The ultimate comfort food, you don’t want to miss this classic Italian recipe.

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Nothing brings people together like a delicious meal. This Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce fits the bill for sure! Easy to make and so tasty, it’s the perfect meal for a casual get together, Sunday supper, or weeknight dinner. Even my Italian grandmother approves of this dish!

The flavors of this Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce mimic lasagna, but is a lot easier to make. You can prepare the entire dish ahead of time and just bake before serving. The sauce is so delicious by itself you could could even make a double batch and freeze some for later to serve over spaghetti!

I like to serve this dish for brunches, birthday parties, and showers. I’ve also done this for baptisms since you could cook it and keep it warm in the oven while you are away.

Baked Ziti with meat sauce in a white baking dish.

Simple and delicious, try out this recipe and be sure to comment below!

How to Make Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

To make the sauce, cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat until cooked through. Use a wooden spoon or angled silicone spatula, like this Zyliss Silicone Stir Fry Spatula from Amazon, to break up the meat while it cooks. Add in the onions and cook until softened. Stir in the garlic and seasonings and cook for a minute longer.

ground beef cooking on stove.
ground beef cooking on stove

Pour in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. The sauce needs time to develop flavor, so the longer you let it cook the better! But if you are short on time, half an hour works great.

close up of sauce cooking on stovetop.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a separate pot, cook the ziti, penne, or rigatoni pasta. It doesn’t matter what specific type of pasta you use, any tube-shaped pasta works. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir in the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

baked ziti with meat sauce in a pot.

Pour into a large casserole dish or 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle on remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes covered. If desired, remove foil and broil for 2-3 minutes to get golden and bubbly. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Be sure to try these other delicious baked pasta recipes:

Baked Ziti with meat sauce in a white baking dish.

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Easy to make, this classic Italian recipe is the ultimate dinner comfort food. 
5 from 29 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 481kcal
Cost: 12


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onion about ½ an onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (like McCormick)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 28 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded


  • Heat in the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, using a spoon to break up the meat. Add in the onions and cook for another 5 minutes, until onions are softened. Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and bring to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • While the sauce cooks, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil the penne short of 2 minutes of the recommended cooking time so that it is very al dente. Drain the pasta. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, meat sauce, parmesan, and 1 ½ cups of mozzarella. Toss to combine and pour into casserole dish or 9 x 13 baking pan. Top with the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. 
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. If desired, broil for 2-3 minutes to brown top slightly. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 


Prepare ziti up to a day in advance and bake prior to serving. Add 10-20 minutes to baking time to ensure that the ziti is properly heated through. 


Calories: 481kcal
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!
baked ziti meat sauce pinterest pin.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hello,
    I’m planning on making this meal tonight but was wondering if the sauce really needs to cook for a full half hour? If everything is already cooked, shouldn’t it just need to heat through before cooking all together in the oven? Thanks!

  2. Actual cook time is 1 hour not 40 minutes. 30 minutes to cook meat sauce and 30 minutes in the oven plus 5 minutes to broil it and 5 to rest. Plan accordingly.
    I did not…

    1. The total time should be roughly an hour. I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you, time-wise. I hope it still tasted delicious!

  3. I used ground Italian Sausage in place of the ground beef. Also did not have can tomatoes so used an additional 28 ounces of tomato sauce. It was delicious. An excellent recipe!! Making tonight for guests.

  4. 5 stars
    Restaurant quality, my wife told me. I do all the cooking for the two of us. Excellent recipe. Thank you a ziti-million times – Jesus Saves. God bless the Peacemakers.

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent! I had some leftover homemade beef based spaghetti sauce and this was the perfect recipe to use it for ! 🙂 Thank you

      1. Transfer the ziti to an airtight container or freezer bag. You can split into smaller portions or freeze the entire 1/2 pan. When you want to serve, just place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake until warmed through.