I love creating this meatless baked ziti as a make-ahead recipe, making it more convenient to have a delicious, filling meal on busy evenings. This fast and easy dish comes together in a few minutes and is perfect for picky eaters.
This yummy recipe includes chewy noodles, a tomato-forward sauce, and ooey, gooey mozzarella pieces throughout.
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This no-fuss meatless baked ziti is so easy to make – it only requires 10 minutes of prep time! You can hang out with family and friends the rest of the cook time while this vegetarian baked ziti gets a crispy, cheesy crust in the oven!
This baked ziti recipe (vegetarian-style) is a great option for those who want to eat less meat during the week. Keeping this veggie-baked ziti meatless also helps keep the cost per serving down.
I’ve packed this baked ziti no-meat dish with veggies, including aubergine and mushrooms. However, you can easily use other veg you prefer, like spinach and sweet peppers.
Bonus – This budget-friendly, easy weeknight dinner also makes for a great freezer meal. Once cooked and cooled, freeze the baked ziti in portions and defrost before eating them.
Baked ziti is an Italian-American dish made with noodles, pasta sauce, cheese, veggies, and meat (if you want). It’s bubbly, gooey, and has a crunchy cheese topping that makes it stand out from other pasta dishes.
A few differences exist between baked ziti (like this meatless baked ziti dish) and lasagna. Baked ziti ingredients are tossed together before baking in a pan. Lasagna ingredients are placed in a baking pan in layers. Additionally, the type of pasta each requires is different.
I love using fusilli noodles for this meatless baked ziti recipe since it bakes well. However, you can use other noodle varieties like ziti or rigatoni in this dish.
For this recipe, I love using canned plum tomatoes for a sauce since it’s easier to adjust the flavour to your preference. However, you can use marinara or another pasta sauce instead.
Avoid using pre-shredded mozzarella as it typically has an anti-clumping agent, which makes the cheese not melt as well. Instead, use freshly grated mozzarella cheese or mozzarella balls.
See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.
This yummy meatless baked ziti is quite versatile! You can use various noodles in this classic meatless baked ziti. Options like rigatoni, penne, shells, egg noodles, etc. work well in this recipe. Avoid long noodles, like spaghetti, as it makes it challenging to eat this dish.
You can also turn this vegetarian cooked pasta dish into a higher protein recipe by including meat or meat sauce. Ensure any meat you add is already cooked to avoid undercooked meat bits.
You can use cottage cheese or mascarpone instead if you don’t have ricotta cheese on hand for this meatless baked ziti with ricotta and mozzarella. Both options will provide an equally cheesy meatless baked ziti dish. However, the consistency will be slightly different when using these swaps.
Many meatless baked ziti recipes have an egg in them to help bind the pasta and other ingredients together. However, I’ve included mozzarella cheese instead. This swap helps keep the price per serving down. If you’re not as concerned about budget, you can always add an egg for a denser baked ziti.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving some pasta water. Combine a few ladles of tomato sauce with the pasta in the pasta saucepan. Loosen with a ladle or two of pasta water (Image 3).
4. Time to assemble the ziti! Add a ladle of the tomato sauce into your baking dish. Next add half of the pasta (Image 4).
5. Add a few ladles of sauce over the pasta (Image 5).
6. Then scatter small dollops of the ricotta (all of it) over this layer, add half of the mozzarella (the cubes) and half of the parmesan (Image 6).
7. Top the final layer with torn mozzarella scattered over the top (Image 7).
8. Place under the grill for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and crispy. Place under the grill for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and crispy (Image 8).
Other vegetarian pasta recipes you should try out …
Cook the pasta first
Unlike lasagna, this is one recipe where you’ll want to boil the noodles first. By boiling the noodles, you’ll ensure they are not crunchy or undercooked when ready to serve this meatless baked ziti. Ensure you slightly undercook them so they do not get mushy in the oven.
Bake the ziti uncovered
Make the best-baked ziti recipe (no meat) by leaving the ziti uncovered in the oven. This method will give you an ooey, gooey pasta mixture with a crispy mozzarella and parmesan cheese top layer.
Freeze the leftovers
Ensure you freeze any leftovers for later. Simply slice them into serving-sized pieces, then freeze them in airtight containers or baggies. Baked ziti can stay in the freezer for up to three months.
Turn this into a make-ahead recipe
If you know you won’t have time to make this baked ziti in the next few days, turn it into a make-ahead recipe. Follow the steps to prep the dish, but put the prepped recipe in the fridge instead of the oven. You can keep the make-ahead version of this dish in the fridge for up to two days before baking it.
Still in the mood for pasta after making this yummy meatless baked ziti? Try one of the following delicious vegetarian-friendly pasta recipes: Gigi Hadid Pasta, Easy Quorn Bolognese, or Cheesy Gnocchi Bake.
You can use nearly any type of short pasta noodles as a replacement for ziti in this meatless baked ziti dish. Try rigatoni, penne, or mostaccioli (similar to penne) in this vegetable ziti.
If you use a pasta sauce that is thinner and watery, you’ll likely have watery baked ziti. As the pasta sauce heats up, it typically thins out. Aim for thicker pasta sauce when making baked ziti to avoid this issue. Avoid using too much pasta water or not draining your noodles properly, as this can also cause overly watery baked ziti.
Every ziti recipe is different. Some baked ziti dishes have meat; some only have cheese. Others have quite a few veggies mixed in.
No, you do not need to rinse pasta for baked ziti. It’s best to avoid rinsing it so that the starch from the pasta can help bind the sauce.
It’s best to cook baked ziti uncovered. Since the pasta is already cooked, you do not need the dish to steam like it would if covered. Covering this meatless baked ziti recipe also means you won’t have the crispy cheesy crust.
Yes, you can put meat in baked ziti. Ensure you cook the meat before mixing it into the ziti to avoid undercooked/unevenly cooked meat.
No, ziti and penne are two different types of pasta. Both have tube-like shapes. However, ziti is ridge-less and cut with straight edges. In comparison, penne is cut on an angle and has ridges.
Make your meatless baked ziti meal more filling with the following recipes: Halloumi Caesar Salad, Viral Crispy Feta Eggs or Halloumi Kebabs with chilli sauce
If you tried this Easy Meatless Baked Ziti, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x