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over head view of cheesy baked ziti on white plate.

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

This baked ziti recipe is rich, hearty, and loaded with cheese and beef. It has more steps than most of our recipes, but it's absolutely worth the effort and time. Nothing is overly complicated as long as you have a bit of time to spend in the kitchen.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 666kcal


  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 20 ounces marinara jarred or homemade
  • 15 ounces Ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces mozzarella freshly shredded


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Boil the pasta for 3 minutes less than the package directs.
  • While the pasta boils, brown the ground beef in a medium skillet. Drain the fat. Stir in the marinara sauce and warm through over medium heat.
    meat sauce in skillet.
  • In a small pot melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook until hot and bubbly. Whisk in the milk and cream and cook 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to a gravy consistency. Stir in the pepper and nutmeg.
    bechamel sauce in saucepan.
  • In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
    ricotta cheese in glass bowl.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Pour in half of the ziti and spread it out. Pour on half of the meat sauce and spread it over the ziti. Spread half of the bechamel over the meat sauce.
    woman spreading bechamel sauce over pasta.
  • Drop dollops of the ricotta mixture over the meat sauce and then sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.
    mozzarella being sprinkled over the casserole.
  • Repeat the layers of ziti and meat sauce. Pour the remaining bechamel evenly over the top. Place the remaining cheese on top and sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
    cheese on top of casserole.
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Let set for 10 minutes before serving.



To save time, you can swap the béchamel sauce for a jar of Alfredo sauce. 


Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 729mg | Potassium: 645mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1134IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 357mg | Iron: 3mg