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Baked Ziti

Comforting family food
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Resting time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: beef, pasta
Servings: 6 bowls


  • 1 large pot
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 cheese grater
  • 1 kitchen scale
  • 1 colander
  • 2 small bowls
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 9×13" baking dish


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 10 oz ziti pasta (substitute with penne in a pinch)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 oz garlic cloves (about 3 garlic cloves)
  • 4 oz onion (1 small onion)
  • 24 oz tomato puree (not tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz creamy ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese
  • 10 cups water for pasta
  • ½ cup water for sauce
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt for pasta water
  • 1 tsp salt for sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper


Prep work & boil pasta (20 minutes)

  • Get the large pot, medium bowl, 2 small bowls, cutting board, grater, and colander
  • Put the large pot on an oven burner and turn it on to it's highest setting
  • Put the pasta water (but not the pasta) in the large pot
    10 cups water for pasta
  • Add the salt for the pasta water to the pot
    Continue with the steps below while the salty water is coming to a rolling boil, in about 10 minutes
    2 tsp salt for pasta water
  • Weigh out the ziti in the medium bowl on the kitchen scale
    10 oz ziti pasta
  • Mince the garlic and put it in the 1st small bowl
    You should end up with about 0.5 (dry) oz or 3 tsp of minced garlic.
    1 oz garlic cloves
  • Cut the ends of the onion and discard.
    4 oz onion
  • Dice the onion and add it to the 1st small bowl
    You should end up with about 2.5 (dry) oz or ½ cup of diced onion.
  • Grate the mozzarella cheese into the 2nd small bowl
    4 oz mozzarella cheese
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese into the 2nd small bowl also
    4 oz Parmesan cheese
  • Once the pasta water is boiling, stir in the ziti
    10 oz ziti pasta
  • Let the water return to a boil
  • Stir the ziti every minute or so, while it's cooking uncovered for 8 minutes
    Go back and finish any remaining steps from above while that's happening
  • Put the colander in the sink
  • Leaving the oven burner on the highest setting, transfer the ziti to the colander and let it drain well.
    Keep the large pot nearby though, as we'll need it again.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF

Make the sauce (30 minutes)

  • Get the large skillet and put it on the oven burner that's already on the highest setting
  • Put the oil in it and let it heat up for about a minute
    1 tbsp olive oil
  • Get the 1st small bowl, with the onion you diced and garlic you minced earlier, and stir it into the skillet with a wooden spoon
    1 oz garlic cloves, 4 oz onion
  • Stir occasionally while letting it cook for about 2 minutes, until the onion is translucent
  • Add the ground beef, breaking it up as you go
    1 lb ground beef
  • Stir frequently while letting it cook for about 8 minutes, until the beef is brown
  • Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, sauce salt, and pepper
    2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt for sauce, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Stir while cooking for another 2 minutes
  • Add the water, tomato puree, basil, oregano, and sugar
    24 oz tomato puree, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp oregano, ½ cup water for sauce, 1 tsp sugar
  • Stir it well and then let the liquid come to a simmer
  • Turn the heat to low and let it cook for 10 minutes
  • While that's happening, transfer the ziti from the colander back into the large pot
  • Once the sauce timer is up, remove the skillet with the sauce from the oven burner
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper if you want

Bake the ziti (50 minutes)

  • Get the baking dish and a panel of aluminum foil big enough to cover it
  • Take only 2 cups of the sauce for now, pour it into the large pot with the ziti, and mix it all about with the wooden spoon
  • Pour the saucy pasta from the pot into the baking dish
  • Cover it with dollops of the ricotta cheese
    8 oz creamy ricotta cheese
  • Pour the remaining sauce on top
  • Get the 2nd small bowl, with the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses you grated earlier, and spread it on top of the sauce
  • Cover loosely with the aluminum foil
  • Put it in the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove the foil, then let it back for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is golden
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes, and serve


Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats.
Curious why this recipe uses weights for dry measures? See the Weights page.