Meatless Baked Ziti is an Italian inspired dinner recipe that will please the whole family! Easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner and delicious enough to serve for company on the weekend! This version has no meat and uses jarred marinara sauce to help save you time in the kitchen!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- 1 box (16 ounces) ziti or other short pasta noodle such as bowties, penne, or macaroni
- 1 jar (24 ounces) jarred marinara sauce or your favorite homemade spaghetti sauce. If you prefer a meat sauce, here's a link to a great Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
- 1 can (14 ounces) petite diced tomatoes undrained. Regular (non petite) will work as well. I just prefer the petite size. You can also use fire roasted, or a flavored variety of canned tomatoes, such as garlic and basil.
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened in microwave. Low fat will work as well. I don't recommend using non-fat.
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning--you can substitute with any combination of dried Italian herbs such as basil and oregano and parsley. You can also use fresh herbs, just chop them finely and increase amount to 2 tablespoons.
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup sour cream-substitute with ricotta or cottage cheese, if desired. You can leave out the sour cream if you don't like it. You can use low fat sour cream, if preferred.
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Substitute with provolone or use a mixture of mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, Romano or fontina. You can also used thinly sliced cheese from the deli or fresh mozzarella. The choice is yours! I prefer shredded mozzarella because it melts perfectly!
How to make the recipe
Printable recipe card below!
Gather all your ingredients.
Heat the oven to 375º F and cook pasta according to package directions.
White pasta cooks, combine marinara sauce, undrained canned diced tomatoes, softened cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder in a very large bowl. Stir until well combined. To soften cream cheese, cook unwrapped block in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds.
When pasta is cooked, drain then place in the bowl with marinara sauce. Stir gently until pasta is well coated.
Pour half the pasta mixture in the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Spread the sour cream (or ricotta or cottage cheese) over the pasta. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
Pour remaining pasta mixture in the pan then sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the top.
Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is completely melted.
What equipment is needed to make the recipe?
- Large pot for boiling pasta.
- Oven proof, 9 x 13 inch casserole dish for baking.
- Any 2.5 to 3 quart oven proof dish can be used in place of the 9x13 inch casserole dish.
Add 1 pound ground beef, Italian sausage, or turkey to the dish. Simply brown the meat, drain it if it is fatty, then add it to the sauce.
If vegetables are more your thing, sauté sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, and sliced red onion in some olive oil until softened. Add to the sauce for a ziti primavera!
How about a pizza version of the recipe? Chop 8 ounces of pepperoni and add to the sauce. Sauté chopped pizza veggies like green peppers, mushrooms, and red onions in olive oil until softened and add that to the sauce along with the pepperoni.
How to make ahead and store leftovers
To make ahead, prepare recipe then cover with foil and store in refrigerator until ready to bake (up to one day ahead). Add about 30 minutes to baking time.
To make ahead to freeze for longer storage: use a freezer/oven safe container. Wrap unbaked dish with plastic wrap (2 layers) as tightly as possible. Then cover with heavy duty foil as tightly as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. Be sure to write the date on foil for reference.
For best results thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 375º F for about 60-75 minutes. You can also use the microwave to defrost the dish. Since appliances vary, it's best to check your owner's manual for defrosting instructions.
Store leftovers covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. To freeze leftovers, place in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or use your microwave. Never thaw food at room temperature! Once thawed, cook and serve immediately.
Learn more about the foods we eat from the USDA!
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Meatless Baked Ziti
- 16 ounces ziti or other short pasta noodle
- 24 ounces jarred marinara sauce any brand, or homemade
- 14 ounces petite diced tomatoes undrained
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup sour cream regular or low fat, ricotta or cottage cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- Heat oven to 375º F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in heavily salted water.
- White pasta cooks, combine marinara sauce, undrained canned diced tomatoes, softened cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder in a very large bowl. Stir until well combined. To soften cream cheese, cook unwrapped block in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds.
- When pasta is cooked, drain then add it to the bowl with marinara sauce. Stir gently until pasta is well coated.
- Pour half the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Spread the sour cream (or ricotta or cottage cheese) over the pasta. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
- Layer the remaining pasta mixture in the pan then sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the top.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is completely melted.