Baked Ziti is one of my favorite comfort foods. It tastes amazing, especially the next day. It is an excellent dish to make in advance and freeze or eat immediately. Better yet, make two batches and eat one and freeze the other for later.
Rich, flavorful marinara sauce coats the ziti pasta (or in this case penne pasta) and ground beef and italian sausage. It is mixed with cream cheese and mozzarella and parmesan for a creamy, cheesy, beefy, pasta-y, yum fest. Yes. A Yum Fest is an accurate description. Try it and you will understand what I am talking about.
In addition to being a delicious, make ahead dish, it is budget friendly and can really feed a crowd, making it perfect for large gatherings or potlucks.
Many people layer meat, cheese, and pasta. Not me! I mix everything together and just top with cheese. It is all going to get mixed together anyway. Besides, I think it tastes better mixed together. Plus I’m lazy. It is just easier to mix everything together.
Can I just say how much I love this dish? I made it on Sunday, and ate it for lunch and dinner on Monday and lunch on Tuesday and never got tired of it. I could live off this stuff. You have got to try this dish. It is the ultimate comfort food.
Here are some other Ground Beef and Pasta recipes you may love!
Ground Beef Stroganoff – This easy 30-minute recipe omits the cream of mushroom soup and uses ground beef for an awesome comfort food dinner!
Taco Lasagna – Taco Lasagna is a traditional lasagna casserole with lasagna noodles but adds Mexican taco seasoning, enchilada sauce, and Mexican and Cheddar cheese that is sure to be a family favorite.
Cheesy Tortellini Skillet Lasagna – Perfect when you want lasagna but don’t have the time to make it from scratch. By using tortellini, this one-pot tortellini lasagna can be ready in 20 minutes!
Spicy Cheeseburger Pasta Casserole – Spicy Cheeseburger pasta casserole is a delicious, budget-friendly cheesy skillet dinner that is one of our family’s favorite weekday suppers.
- 16 ounces dry ziti or penne
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground italian sausage
- 2 teaspoons dried italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper adjust to taste
- 1 28-ounce jar your favorite marinara sauce ( I use Newman's Own)
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened and cubed
- 1-1/2 cups mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup parmesan shredded or grated
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Prepare pasta according to package direction, drain, set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet, over medium heat, cook onion for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir for about one minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Add ground beef and ground sausage to the skillet and cook until it is browned and no longer pink. Add marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and diced tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Add in cubes of softened cream cheese. Stir until melted.
- Add the pasta into a baking dish.
- Spoon meat mixture over the pasta in the baking dish. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake covered for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
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Marion@Life Tastes Good says
Yummmmy! I bet the addition of the cream cheese makes it extra creamy and cheesey!! Love that idea 🙂
I will have to try this! I haven’t seen baked ziti with cream cheese before, sounds like it would be super creamy and yummy!
Bonnie Thomas says
I made this Baked Ziti recipe for dinner tonight. It is absolutely fabulous! I know I’ll be making this at least monthly for my family! Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe!
I’m so excited about this recipe! I’m kinda sad I’m not eating it tonight! I made a double recipe to freeze and it was so much food I was able to split among 3 aluminum pans (2- 8 inch pans and one 9×13). That’s 3 dinners that are done!! And it looks so creamy with that cream cheese in it. Thank you!! Can’t wait to try some more freezer meals from this site!
I’m so happy you like it. Thanks for the reminder. I think I may make this dish this week!
So the cream cheese does ok with freezing? And do you bake first then freeze or freeze unbaked?
Hi Sara, you could do this either way. If you freeze unbaked, let it thaw completely before baking.
After freezing, approximately what temperature and how long should I cook it? Should it be thawed first?
Hi Katie, after freezing remove from freezer and bake covered at 350 for an hour and then uncover and bake for 15 minutes. It can go directly from freezer to oven to reheat.
I think you forgot the part about adding the pasta back into the recipe. Besides that, looks great!!
A few questions for If I cook this then freeze it .
1. What would you suggest the cooking time/temp to reheat.
2. How long do you think this can be in the freezer for?
I’m trying to come up with easy pre-made meals to make for my sister when she gives birth.
Pull it out of the freezer, if frozen, 24 hours before you want to serve. Then reheat for 45 minutes in a preheated 350-degree F oven. Also, according to stilltasty.com, Beef Stew will last 4 – 6 months in the freezer.
Sooo delicious and ridiculously easy! Thank you for this recipe.
I’m so glad you liked it. If you like this one, be sure to check out my Tortellini Skillet Lasagna recipe. I bet you’ll like it. Thanks for the nice comment.
Truly the best ziti I have ever tasted!