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Craving a comforting bowl of baked ziti but worried about leftovers? This single serving recipe solves that problem! It takes the classic flavors of traditional baked ziti, scales them down for one, and delivers a rich, cheesy, Italian goodness all baked to perfection in a small dish.

If you’re in search of additional single serving Italian-inspired pasta dishes, we’ve got just what you need. Experience the richly flavored Mushroom Pasta, savor the golden, cheesy goodness of our Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, and enjoy the heartwarming taste of our mini Lasagna. Also, if you have a pound of ground meat, you can make this Baked Ziti recipe as well as 3 other meals as shown in 4 Single Serving Meals from One Pound of Ground Meat.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make: This recipe is simple to follow, even for beginner cooks.
  • Quick: Takes less than an hour from start to finish.
  • Balanced: A perfect mix of pasta, sauce, and cheese that hits all the comfort food notes.
  • Perfectly portioned: This recipe makes one serving, so it’s perfect for a quick and easy meal for one.

Watch How To Make Baked Ziti

What Is Baked Ziti?

Baked Ziti is a classic Italian-American pasta dish that’s typically made with ziti noodles, marinara sauce, and multiple kinds of cheese, all baked to gooey, crispy perfection.

A forkful of a baked ziti casserole with melted cheese hanging from the fork.

Ingredient Notes

If you have any ingredients leftover from this single serve baked ziti recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Pasta: The recipe features ziti, a tube-shaped pasta ideal for baked dishes as it clings to sauces effectively. However, penne makes an excellent substitute if ziti isn’t available. Consider using leftover pasta in Penne alla Vodka, Hamburger Casserole, and Pasta Primavera.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is the go-to in this dish for its minimal processing and rich, authentic olive flavor. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a high-quality choice. If you prefer, a lighter olive oil can also be used.
  • Onions and garlic: These are your flavor powerhouses, offering a depth of taste to the baked ziti. Don’t skip them if you’re looking for a full-flavored dish.
  • Ground beef: For those watching their caloric intake, ground turkey serves as a great lighter alternative without sacrificing taste. If you’ve got a small amount of leftover ground beef, try it in Lasagna Soup or Stuffed Peppers.
  • Marinara sauce: One cup of your favorite marinara sauce will do the trick. If you’re inclined, homemade tomato sauce also works beautifully. Got leftovers? They have multiple uses, from Pizza Bowl to a dipping sauce for Chicken Parmesan Tenders.
  • Cheese: A trio of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses contributes to the creamy, cheesy texture of the dish. No one type of cheese can replicate this mix. This is the same combo of cheeses we use in Stuffed Shells, Spinach Manicotti, and Lasagna Rollups.
  • Salt: Essential for seasoning the ground beef.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Variations

Baked ziti already has a lot going for it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up a bit. Here are some variation ideas to add a twist to your next dish.

  • Gluten-Free Baked Ziti: Replace traditional ziti with gluten-free pasta for those with dietary restrictions.
  • Vegetarian Baked Ziti: Skip the meat entirely for a vegetarian version. Add extra cooked veggies like bell peppers and zucchini instead.
  • Spicy Version: Introduce a hint of heat by adding some crushed red pepper flakes to the meat sauce.
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How To Make Baked Ziti For One

See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Sauté Ground Beef, Onions, and Garlic: Cook the ground beef together with chopped onions and garlic in a skillet. If excess oil is left after cooking, transfer the beef to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the grease. Then, dispose of the extra oil from the skillet before proceeding.
  2. Mix in Sauce and Pasta: Incorporate the marinara sauce into the skillet, blending it well with the cooked pasta.
  3. Prepare Cheese Mixture: In a separate small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, a portion of the mozzarella cheese, and salt. Gently fold this cheese blend into the ground beef and pasta in the skillet.
  4. Layer Initial Ingredients in Baking Dish: Lightly grease a small 5×5-inch baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce at the bottom, followed by half of your beef and pasta mix. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella over the top.
  5. Complete the Layers: Pour in the remaining beef, pasta, and sauce mix. Top off with an additional 2 tablespoons each of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake: Cover the baking dish and bake in a preheated 350°F (177°C) oven for a duration of 20 minutes.

Expert Tips

  • Try Alternative Proteins: Ground turkey, ground pork, or a blend of both can easily replace ground beef in this baked ziti recipe, offering a unique flavor twist.
  • Explore Pasta Choices: While this recipe calls for ziti, other similarly shaped pastas like penne or rigatoni are excellent alternatives. However, feel free to get creative with the type of pasta you use.
  • Cheese Variations: Elevate your individual baked ziti by experimenting with different cheeses. For a richer, cheesier experience, consider adding creamy fontina, smoked gouda, or sharp cheddar to the mix.
  • Incorporate Extra Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value and flavor by adding a handful of fresh spinach or sliced mushrooms to your meat sauce mixture.
  • Go Vegetarian: Create a meatless version of this classic dish by omitting the ground beef and adding vegetable substitutes, such as chopped zucchini, to your pasta.

Serving Suggestions

Elevate your single serving baked ziti meal with these serving suggestions. Each pairs wonderfully with the dish, offering you a complete and satisfying meal.

  • Side Salad: A crisp green Italian Chopped Salad with a light vinaigrette can cut through the richness of the baked ziti, balancing your meal perfectly.
  • Garlic Bread: Toast some slices of homemade French bread with garlic butter for a classic Italian accompaniment.
  • Sautéed Veggies: Green beans sautéed in garlic and butter offer a light, nutritious side that complements the baked ziti.
  • Red Wine: A glass of Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon pairs excellently, enhancing the flavors of the meat and cheese.
  • Fresh Fruit: End your meal on a refreshing note with a simple fruit salad or a bowl of Ambrosia for a palate cleanser.
An overhead view of a small baked ziti casserole baked in a small baking dish on a metal tray with a glass and bottle of red wine and parsley.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Baked Ziti ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time. Assemble the dish according to the recipe directions. Then, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake the ziti, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then, bake the ziti according to the recipe directions.

Can I freeze Baked Ziti?

You can definitely freeze this baked ziti dish. To do so, follow the recipe and bake as directed. Once it cools down completely, wrap the baking dish in two layers of aluminum foil. Store it in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, first thaw it overnight in the fridge. After that, reheat the dish in a 350°F oven for around 15 minutes, or until the center is hot and bubbly.

How does Baked Ziti differ from Lasagna?

While both baked ziti and lasagna feature similar ingredients like pasta, meat, and cheese, baked ziti is simpler to assemble. Unlike lasagna, which requires layering the noodles, baked ziti combines all the ingredients in a single mix. This mixture is then transferred to a baking dish and generously topped with cheese before baking.

What’s the ideal baking dish size for single serving Baked Ziti?

For this scaled-down baked ziti recipe, a 10-inch skillet is optimal for cooking the meat and sauce. The baking portion takes place in a 5×5-inch baking dish with a surface area of 25 square inches. To achieve the best results, it’s advisable to use a dish of comparable size.
For more details on recommended cooking and baking dishes for single serving recipes, feel free to check out our FAQ section.
For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

Baked ziti topped with melted mozzarella cheese in a small baking dish garnished with parsley on a metal tray with a glass and a bottle of red wine.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

If you’ve tried out this single serving baked ziti recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please rate the recipe and share your experience in the comments below. And if you snap a photo, feel free to tag us on Instagram! (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Baked Ziti For One

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Indulge in comforting baked ziti scaled down to one perfect serving. Rich, cheesy, and satisfying, this dish is a quick yet decadent dinner solution.

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 ounces dried ziti or penne pasta. (⅔ cup dry pasta = 1 ¼ cup cooked ziti pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 4 ounces ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt , divided
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes –optional
  • 1 cup marinara Sauce or tomato sauce, plus 2 tablespoons for the bottom of the dish.
  • cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese –divided
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese –divided
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). While it heats, boil a pot of water for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente (slightly firm). Drain and set aside.
  • Sauté the Veggies and Meat: In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ground beef, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook, breaking up the meat, for 8 minutes, or until browned.
  • Simmer the Sauce: Stir in marinara sauce and simmer briefly. Remove from heat and fold in the cooked pasta.
  • Creamy Cheese Mixture: In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella cheese, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Fold this creamy mixture into the pasta/meat sauce mixture.
  • Assemble and Bake: In a small (5×5-inch) greased baking dish, spread 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce. Top with half the pasta mixture, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese. Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  • Bake and Enjoy! Cover the dish and bake in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before digging in.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Try Alternative Proteins: Ground turkey, ground pork, or a blend of both can easily replace ground beef in this baked ziti recipe, offering a unique flavor twist.
  • Explore Pasta Choices: While this recipe calls for ziti, other similarly shaped pastas like penne or rigatoni are excellent alternatives. However, feel free to get creative with the type of pasta you use.
  • Cheese Variations: Elevate the dish by experimenting with different cheeses. For a richer, cheesier experience, consider adding creamy fontina, smoked gouda, or sharp cheddar to the mix.
  • Incorporate Extra Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value and flavor by adding a handful of fresh spinach or sliced mushrooms to your meat sauce mixture.
  • Go Vegetarian: Create a meatless version of this classic dish by omitting the ground beef and adding vegetable substitutes, such as chopped zucchini, to your pasta.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 703kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 62g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 2176mg, Potassium: 1362mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 1908IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 862mg, Iron: 6mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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I’m Joanie and I’m incredibly happy you’re here! Our aim is to inspire individuals with access to single serving recipes, education, and a supportive community that will enable them to enjoy the preparation of a meal that will nourish both body and soul.

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Recipe Rating




31 Comments

  1. J. MacKenzie says:

    Hi Joanie, can I use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Absolutely, you can use cottage cheese as a substitute for ricotta in the baked ziti recipe.

  2. cindy frain says:

    This baked ziti dish was delicious I highly recommend it, I served it with Creamed coleslaw & Sourdough bread. My husband and I will be having the leftovers this evening I did double it… make sure to add the red pepper flakes gives it a little zip!

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed the baked ziti, Cindy. Thank you so much for your feedback.

  3. Paul Kirker says:

    If you double the recipe and put it in two dishes should both be baked using one for now and one for later. Or should the second on not be baked but frozned unbaked?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      It’s best to freeze unbaked ziti. Freeze for up to a month in a tightly sealed dish. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Bake as directed in the recipe.

  4. Lorna says:

    I have just had this for my tea.. It was absolutely delish… I made it with your recipe for tomato sauce…
    I used rigatoni pasta& when I weighed out the 2oz, I honestly thought it wouldn’t be enough.. but it’s very decieving..
    I baked it in my Ninja Foodi health grill, & lowered the cooking temp by 10° but raised temp back up to brown the top when I removed the foil..
    Baking in my Ninja was great.. It saved having to preheat my normal oven, so was much more economical as we, here in the U.K. have been facing ENORMOUS Gas& electricity price hikes..
    Again Joanie, I have to say I absolutely love your recipes.. Now I just need to decide what to have tomorrow night!!😊🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Thank you so much, Lorna. I appreciate your feedback and know that the instructions for cooking this in your Ninja will be helpful to many.

  5. Hildy says:

    Super delicious and easy to prepare. “If” there are any leftovers can it be frozen?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Yes, freeze for up to a month in a tightly sealed dish. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Bake as directed in the recipe.

  6. TeriseD says:

    Excellent dish! After 20 minutes baking covered with foil the cheese was barely melted and not browning at all. I took off the foil and cooked another 5 minutes at which point the sauce was bubbling over, otherwise I may have left it in the oven a couple more minutes to slightly brown the cheese. Overall a wonderful tasty addition to my dinners for one.

  7. Pat S says:

    This was very good and not difficult to make. It’s definitely enough for two meals.

  8. V says:

    Just came out of the oven and had a small taste. Yummy. Am so glad I found your site. I cook for one now and am still getting used to it. Love the single or double servings. I figured out I don’t like making food and eating leftovers all the time.
    would rather make a single dish or make a couple of servings and freeze one and enjoy the variety. Love your cooking style and the seasoning of your dishes.