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Creamy Baked Ziti

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If you love one pan dinner dishes that are easy to make, this Creamy Baked Ziti will fit the bill!

My family loves easy pasta dishes. If you have been on this site for any length of time, then you know my love of all things one pan related — like my One Pan Cheeseburger pasta.

This recipe on its own is like a Copycat Hamburger Helper (but tastes so much better). And now — we have another great one pan dish with this Creamy Baked Ziti recipe.

This recipe is extra creamy and oh so cheesy which makes it the perfect comfort food on a super cold evening. While it is not a TRUE one pan dinner (because it needs 2 pans actually), you can still consider this a one pan recipe — at least I do.

What Makes This Pasta Dish So Creamy?

Most of the time this dish is made as a Creamy Baked Ziti with ricotta but we've swapped out the ricotta for cream cheese which has totally made it into the creamiest pasta you will ever taste.

After you brown your ground beef, mix an entire block of cream cheese in with the meat to let it melt together.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make This Dish?

This recipe is so simple — you really only need a few pantry ingredients —


  • Ziti
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Cream Cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Basil

Can I use penne pasta instead of ziti?

You can substitute penne in this recipe if you don’t have ziti, although it shouldn’t be hard to find.

I prefer ziti instead of penne because the ziti expands to make a bigger noodle while the penne noodle stays smaller.

They have the same basic shape, so it won’t make too much of a difference. Penne is typically smaller than ziti.

I love serving this in my Lodge Cast Iron Enamel Casserole dish that I bought on Amazon.

Can I Make This Ahead of Time?

Of course you can! This is a great dish to make ahead of time — for either the fridge or the freezer.

To make ahead of time and keep in the fridge — just follow the recipe as is, but don’t bake it yet.

Once you get it all assembled, cover the dish and refrigerate it until ready to serve. It can be made up to 2 days ahead of baking. 

When you want to serve it, let the ziti sit out while the oven preheats. Then just follow the rest of the baking instructions.

To make ahead of time and freeze, do the same as above but do not bake it. Cover with foil and place in the freezer. When ready to cook, move to the fridge and let it thaw, and then bake as directed below.

Looking for other delicious pasta recipes? Check these out

Yield: 8 servings

Creamy Baked Ziti

Creamy Baked Ziti

Creamy Baked Ziti is a simple and delicious baked pasta dish that my family loves so much. This recipe is extra creamy and cheesy!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 pound uncooked ziti
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 32 ounce jar Marinara sauce
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil


  1. In a skillet on medium high heat, brown your ground beef. Drain and set aside.
  2. Take your softened cream cheese and mix in with your ground beef.
  3. Heat oven to 375°F and spray an 13x9 baking dish or a cast iron enamel casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. In a large pasta pot, cook the pasta until it is al dente (meaning it is not cooked all the way through yet) and then drain.
  5. Now, mix the ground beef, the pasta, and the marinara sauce together.
  6. In your casserole dish, pour half the mixture in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half the mozzarella and half the Parmesan cheeses.
  7. Sprinkle the cheeses with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil.
  8. Layer the remaining mixture over the cheese and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  9. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the cover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the baked ziti is bubbly and cheese is golden.
  11. Garnish with the remaining chopped basil and serve with garlic bread and a salad.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 608Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 1218mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 37g

Did you make this recipe?

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Krystel | Frugal Living

Monday 23rd of December 2019

Wow this looks so amazing. I’ve been craving baked ziti too

Myrah Duque

Thursday 19th of December 2019

You had me at "creamy"! I love baked ziti and was thinking of making it for the holidays. I will follow this recipe and get the creamy feel.

Claudia Krusch

Wednesday 18th of December 2019

It looks amazing! I can hardly wait to try it over the weekend! We love a great pasta dish!


Wednesday 18th of December 2019

This looks like the perfect weeknight dinner during the holidays. Simple and delicious

katrina Kroeplin

Wednesday 18th of December 2019

oh my goodness this looks amazing. i must make this. saving for after the holidays.

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