If you’re ever feeling like lasagna but not in the mood for all the work, this baked ziti with meat sauce is your babe. It’s very similar but without all the assembly necessary, and it doesn’t need ricotta, although you could put a few dollops to get that creamy factor in this dish.
Though this baked ziti with meat sauce recipe is technically baked penne, it’s the same concept—kind of. I mean, penne and ziti noodles are both designed to hold as much sauce as possible. In fact, I would even use macaroni elbows if I didn’t have another option.
Easy Baked Ziti With Meat Sauce
- 16 ounce penne pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large white onion - diced
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt - divided
- 1 ½ pound ground beef (minced beef)
- 2 tablespoons Italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sometimes basil and parsley)
- 16- ounce ketchup (tomato sauce Australia and UK)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (white sugar) - granulated
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese - shredded
- Set a large pot of water to boil and season with enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean. Add penne pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Add olive oil to a large pan at medium heat and then sauté diced onions for 5-7 minutes until tender and translucent. Add minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in ground beef and complete seasoning and occasionally stir until the ground beef cooks through and you can no longer see any pink. Add in the Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Combine the meat sauce and pasta and add them into a baking or casserole dish. I used two loaf pans. Top with mozzarella cheese and leave in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted. I like to leave it in the oven until the cheese starts getting those little bubbly brown spots, about 10-15 minutes.