Vegetarian Baked Ziti is perfect for a cozy and hearty vegetarian dinner when you want something that is easy to throw together and will be a crowd-pleaser! This baked ziti recipe is customizable and can be made gluten-free if needed.

Baked ziti in an oval dish with a striped napkin on the side

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Ricotta

I’m not usually a bit fan of baked pasta but this Vegetarian Baked Ziti completely changed my outlook on baked pasta. I’ve always loved and sauciness of pasta cooked in a pot, and find baked pasta can often be a bit dry.

But not this baked ziti!

This baked ziti recipe is creamy, saucy, cheesy and has the perfect texture.

What is baked ziti called in Italian?

Baked Ziti is known as “pasta al forno” or is sometimes called “Ziti al forno” in Italian. “Al forno” translates to “baked.”

Baked ziti is often made with ground beef or Italian sausage, but this Vegetarian Baked Ziti is made with ricotta cheese for baked ziti with no meat.

What is Baked Ziti?

Baked Ziti is similar to lasagna since they are both baked pasta dishes, but lasagna has more distinct layers and sheets of pasta.

Vegetarian Baked Ziti is made with ziti noodles, tomato sauce, cheese and sometimes vegetables or meat. It is an Italian-American pasta dish that gets baked in the oven.

Why you’ll love this Ziti Pasta

  • Ready in 30 minutes. Who doesn’t want to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes? This baked ziti comes together quickly and uses simple ingredients to help you save time in the kitchen.
  • Easy to make. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make Vegetarian Baked Ziti with a few simple ingredients.
  • Customizable. If you like vegetable-baked ziti, you can add any of your favourite vegetables to this baked pasta! This dish can also be made gluten-free if needed.

All about Ziti Pasta

What type of pasta is ziti?

Ziti is a medium-sized tubular pasta, meaning it is hollow in the center like a tube. This makes it a great pasta shape for sauces since the sauce will go into the hollow center.

Is Ziti the same as Penne?

Ziti and Penne are similar types of pasta with a few distinct differences.

Ziti is a straight tube pasta with a smooth texture on the exterior. Penne is also a tube pasta, but with the ends cut on a diagonal and ridges on the exterior.

Both are delicious and work well in baked ziti. I personally love to use either Penne or Rigatoni and love that the exterior ridges hold onto the sauce and cheese.

Is rigatoni the same as ziti?

Rigatoni is slightly wider and shorter than ziti or penne and has small ridges on the outside. If you don’t have ziti, rigatoni is another great shape of pasta you can use in this baked pasta dish.

What is the difference between ziti and baked ziti?

Ziti refers to the shape of pasta. Baked ziti refers to a pasta dish made by baking the ziti pasta with sauce and cheese in the oven.

Baked Ziti Recipe Ingredients

  • Ziti noodles: ziti is a tube-shaped pasta that is similar to penne or rigatoni. If you can’t find ziti noodles you can substitute them with penne or rigatoni.
  • Olive oil: make sure to use high-quality olive oil for the best taste.
  • Garlic: fresh garlic will help flavour the baked ziti sauce to make it delicious!
  • Tomato sauce: you can use any can or jar of your favourite tomato sauce.
  • Ricotta cheese: fresh ricotta cheese from a cheese store is the best here.
  • Parmesan cheese: make sure to use fresh parmesan cheese, not the “fake” kind.
  • Shredded mozzarella: this is optional, but is used to coat the baked ziti so it becomes nice and cheesy once baked.
  • Salt & pepper: to season.

How to Make Vegetarian Baked Ziti

Step 1

Add the garlic to a pot with some olive oil on medium-high heat and let saute for just a minute. Then add in a jar of tomato sauce, mix together and reduce the heat to low, letting the sauce simmer on the stove for 10 minutes.

Step 2

In a mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper until well combined.

Step 3

Boil the pasta according to the package directions in a large pot then add the cooked pasta to the pot of tomato sauce and stir together until the noodles are evenly coated.

Tip: you want to cook the pasta to be al dente (with a slight bite to it) as it will continue to cook in the tomato sauce and when it’s baked.

Step 4

Now it’s time to layer our baked ziti! Grab a 9×13 inch baking dish and layer some pasta into the dish, followed by dollops of the ricotta mixture.

Step 5

Add more pasta over the ricotta filling and then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Step 6

Bake in the oven at 425 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Top with some fresh basil and serve immediately.

Vegetables you can add to this Baked Ziti recipe

If you want to make this recipe into a Vegetable Baked Ziti, there are many different types of vegetables you can add. Here are some great options:

  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Red pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach

You’ll want to cut the vegetables into small pieces and cook the vegetables before adding them to the pasta bake. There are a couple of different ways you can cook them.

The first option is to toss the vegetables with some olive oil and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. The second option is to sautee the vegetables in a skillet with some oil on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until tender.

Then you can add the vegetables to the pot of pasta and tomato sauce and proceed with the recipe.

Expert tips for making baked ziti

  • Cook the pasta to al dente. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t want to overcook it in the pot.
  • Salt the pasta water. Salting pasta water helps to add flavour to the noodles and will result in a super flavourful baked ziti.
  • Use good quality cheese. Parmesano Reggiano and a creamy ricotta work best.
  • Use a good quality tomato sauce or marinara sauce. Pick up a jar of your favourite pasta sauce to make this recipe with!

How to Store and Reheat Baked Ziti

Baked pasta will store well in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’s best reheated in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or in the microwave. This recipe does not freeze well. While some people do freeze pasta, I find it makes the pasta mushy.

Vegetarian Baked Ziti FAQ

What can I substitute for ricotta cheese in baked ziti?

You can substitute ricotta cheese for cottage cheese, or mascarpone cheese or for a dairy-free option a vegan creamy cheese. (I recommend the Kite Hill brand.)

What is the difference between lasagna and baked ziti?

Lasagna is a baked pasta dish that is made with flat sheets of pasta that are layered with sauce, cheese and sometimes meat. Baked ziti is also a baked pasta dish, but is made with ziti noodles. The flavour of Lasagna and baked ziti can be similar, but the texture is completely different.

Should baked ziti be covered or uncovered?

When baking pasta for a long time, you usually cover it with foil to prevent it from drying out. Since this baked ziti only goes in the oven for 10 minutes, there is no need to cover it up.

How do you keep baked pasta from drying out?

Covering your baked pasta with foil will help prevent it from drying out in the oven when cooking it for a long time. You also want to make sure to be using enough sauce to keep the noodles moist.

What pasta can I substitute ziti with?

You can substitute ziti with penne or rigatoni for a similar shape and texture.

Should I undercook pasta for baked ziti?

For this baked ziti recipe you should cook the pasta al dente (with a slight bite to it.) This recipe is baked in the oven for just 10 minutes, so there’s no need to drastically undercook the pasta like with some other recipes where the ziti is baked much longer

What type of dish should I bake my ziti in?

Any casserole dish or baking dish will work. For this recipe, I recommend one sized about 9×13, however, using slightly different sizes will work too.

Should I rinse baked ziti pasta?

No! You don’t want to rinse the ziti pasta after cooking as this will rinse all the starches off the noodles. These starches are important to help the sauce cling onto each ziti noodle.

What to Serve with Baked Ziti Pasta

Baked ziti pasta makes a great vegetarian main dish. I like to serve this dish with a side of salad. Here are a few of my favourites:

A close up of baked ziti topped with cheese and basil leaves

If you tried this Vegetarian Baked Ziti or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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A close up of baked ziti topped with cheese and basil leaves

Vegetarian Baked Ziti

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Vegetarian Baked Ziti is made with layers of pasta, tomato sauce and ricotta for a delicious comforting meal!


Units Scale
  • 810 ounces of ziti(can sub penne or rigatoni)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 12-14 oz jar tomato sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozerella cheese
  • fresh basil or parsley to top


  1. Cook the pasta: add the pasta to a large pot according to package directions. While the pasta cooks prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  2. Prepare the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and mix together. Then lower the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. Add pasta to the sauce: add the cooked ziti noodles to the pot of tomato sauce and mix together. 
  4. Make the ricotta filling: Mix the ricotta, parmesan, basil, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl to combine. 
  5. Assemble the baked ziti: To assemble the baked ziti, start by layering the pasta in a 9×13 baking tray, followed by dollops of the ricotta filling. Add more pasta on top then top it all off with shredded mozerella cheese.
  6. Bake: Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Serve: optionally top with more fresh basil and serve immediately. 


Cook the pasta to al dente. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t want to overcook it in the pot.

Salt the pasta water. Salting pasta water helps to add flavour to the noodles and will result in a super flavourful baked ziti.

Use good quality cheese. Parmesano Reggiano and a creamy ricotta work best. If you don’t want to make homemade sauce, you can use a jar of your favourite pre-made pasta sauce.


  • Serving Size: 1/6th recipe
  • Calories: 340
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 300mg
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 18g

Keywords: vegetarian baked ziti recipe, healthy baked ziti, vegetable baked ziti