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5-Ingredient Baked Ziti (Gluten Free Option)

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You only need one hand to count the number of ingredients you’ll need to make this easy and delicious Baked Ziti Recipe. In fact, you likely already have everything you need to bring this nutritious and popular Italian meal to your table tonight. Read on for our quick suggestions to customize this weeknight Baked Ziti to make it just right for your family, including our hot tip for how to get two meals out of one.

This post was created in partnership with Primal Kitchen.

Overhead view of 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti in a speckled bowl topped with a layer of melted mozzarella cheese and fresh herbs.

This recipe was originally published Feb 22, 2018; Updated Feb 6, 2022.

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baked ziti takes the stress out of weeknight dinners

Everyone needs a simple and reliable homemade meal they can turn to when schedules get busy. This Baked Ziti with Meat is perfectly designed to make your life easier because it’s made from just a few everyday real-food ingredients, it takes minimal prep time, and it’s a recipe that everyone loves to eat, kids included.

5-Ingredient Baked Ziti in a white casserole dish topped with a layer of melted mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of black pepper, and fresh basil.

ingredients to make baked ziti with meat

Here’s the short list of five ingredients that come together in this delicious Ziti Recipe you can assemble in just 20 minutes.

  • uncooked pasta – we prefer a tubed pasta, such as ziti or penne, but you can use any pasta shape; use gluten-free, if needed
  • ground meat – we love the taste of this Baked Ziti when made with a mix of 1/2 lb of ground beef and 1/2 lb of ground mild Italian sausage, but you can make it with 1 lb of either type of those meat, or use ground turkey, ground pork, ground bison, ground venison, or any ground meat you have on hand
  • pasta sauce – our go-to pasta sauce for this recipe is the Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce. We love it because it’s made with a base of organic California-grown tomatoes and basil plus avocado oil, and contains no added sugars, gluten, canola oil, or soybean oil. We also love to tweak the flavor a little by using the Primal Kitchen Roasted Garlic Marinara Sauce; both are great options!
  • mozzarella – use pre-shredded mozzarella to keep things fast, or shred your own from a block of mozzarella, which is classic for Baked Ziti. However, if you don’t have mozz, you could sub in another shredded cheese you have on hand, such as Cheddar, Colby Jack, Havarti, mild Gouda, or Fontina
  • Italian seasoning

Want more veggies? Read below for our suggestions for great veggies to add even more nutrition and flavor to this Baked Ziti Recipe (or to use in place of the meat).

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All ingredients for 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti arranged together in small bowls with the marinara sauce in a Primal Kitchen jar.

how to make baked ziti with meat

Follow these 4 easy steps to make our 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti pronto:

  1. Brown the meat: Saute the ground beef and sausage until browned, using a spatula to break up the meat. If adding chopped vegetables, add them to the pan now with the meat.
  2. Cook the pasta: While the meat is cooking, cook the pasta until al dente (the pasta should still be slightly firm and have some “chew” to it or it will get too soft when baked). Drain the pasta and pour into a greased 9×13 pan.
  3. Assemble the baked ziti: To the pan with the pasta, add the cooked meat, marinara sauce, 1 cup of the cheese, and the Italian seasoning. Stir gently until well incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Bake the casserole: Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, until hot and bubbly, and the cheese on top is melted. 

It’s really that simple!



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