Easy Skillet Baked Ziti made in just 30 minutes with beef, ricotta and mozzarella cheese is an easy, hearty, cheesy dish your family will love!
Easy Skillet Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti without the long baking time and in an easy skillet recipe is basically the weeknight answer to your “whoops I didn’t meal prep this week” dilemma!
We love Baked Ziti and we love prepping it ahead of time but we find that no matter how much extra liquid we add in the hopes that when we bake it later it will be cheesy and saucy we always end up with somewhat dry pasta. This ends now.
How to Reheat Ziti Leftovers
This skillet pasta is easy, full of delicious baked ziti flavors and totally kid friendly. Plus when you pack up leftovers for later you can just add ¼ cup of pasta sauce into the container first, top with the pasta and when you microwave it just add a wet paper towel over the top of the pasta.
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What to serve with Baked Ziti:
We love serving this baked ziti with garlic bread, caesar salad and steamed vegetables like broccoli and carrots.
Baked Ziti Ground Beef Substitutes:
We love ground beef and use 85/15 to minimize fat, but you can use ground chicken or turkey with no issues. You can also substitute a leaner game meat but be sure to add some type of fat to the pan before browning.
Once the ground meat is added to the marinara sauce you’ll find the lower fat content won’t negatively affect the recipe.
Substitutes for Ricotta Cheese:
The ricotta cheese in the ziti is a flavorful addition we LOVE but if you simply aren’t a fan of it you can substitute fresh mozzarella, cream cheese or even cottage cheese. If you do use cottage cheese just use a small food processor to create a smooth texture before adding it to the pasta.
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Baked Ziti Recipe:
If you’d like to bake this recipe to make a traditional baked ziti I would suggest doubling the marinara sauce and adding 2 cups of shredded mozzarella between the layers, 1 cup of sour cream and instead of the cubed mozzarella in the skillet version.
Put a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan, add half the pasta, half the meat sauce, half the ricotta, sour cream, half the mozzarella and then repeat with the top layer (a copy of the first layer except no sour cream).
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until the top is browned and bubbly.
What sauce is best for Baked Ziti:
We love using Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce but you can use and pasta sauce you like for the recipe. Some other popular sauces include Alfredo Sauce, Vodka Sauce, Ragu Sauce (not to be confused with the brand ragu, a ragu sauce includes a slow cooked meat that’s shredded) and even fresh tomato sauces that are not cooked for a long time on the stovetop.
- Add the beef and onions to a large heavy cast iron skillet and cook until browned and the onions (about 5-6 minutes) are translucent before adding in the garlic and stirring.
- Add in the marinara sauce, tomato paste, water, oregano, basil and pasta and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer and cooking, covered, for 18-20 minutes.
- Uncover, dot with mozzarella and ricotta cheese before serving.