Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

[donotprint]Baked Ziti with Mini MeatballsIs there anything better in life than a hot, bubbly pan of baked ziti coming out of the oven for dinner?!!  Me thinks NOT!!

Baked Ziti has to be one of the greatest pasta dishes of ALL time.  It’s Italian family comfort food at it’s best and a perennial favorite at our house.  I’ve tried many recipes over the years, some good and some just okay.  This recipe from Giada is the one that has become my absolute favorite!  She’s added homemade mini meatballs and taken the dish to a whole new level.  These little babies really rock!

Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

Her original recipe calls for tomato sauce.  I wanted to up the flavor a bit so I used an easy to make Marinara. Use your favorite Marinara recipe or a ready made works out well.  I also add 1-1 1/2 cups of julienned basil to the dish for even more deliciousness. This is one Killa Baked Ziti!!!

Serves 6-8


Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

By February 15, 2011


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2.  In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.
    3.  In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti.
    4.  In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.
    5.  In a large bowl, combine the Marinara sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti , fresh basil and meatballs and toss gently.
    6.  In a large greased baking dish (mine was 9 x 13 x 2 1/2inch), pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top.  Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.


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    Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

    [donotprint]Source: Adapted From Giada De Laurentiis  [/donotprint]

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    Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

    42 Responses to Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

    1. That Girl

      Ziti! Now there's a pasta I haven't had recently. I need to add that in to a meal plan soon.

    2. Rambling Tart

      Wow! That looks absolutely fantastic. :-) I love the idea of the mini meatballs. They're so cute. :-) And all that wonderful fresh basil must be splendid!

    3. Holly

      Mmmmm looks delish! Mini meatballs! Too cute!

    4. Melanie

      I love a good baked ziti – but with meatballs? I'm sure it would be the only meal I would want to eat every day for the rest of my life. Delicious!

    5. Ann

      That looks great. I love baked ziti, mini meatballs would just bring it up a level. I would love this!

    6. Eliana

      Baked ziti IS the best pasta dishes of all time. And you just elevated this dish here. This looks amazing.

    7. Amanda @ Serenity Now

      That looks ah-mazing!!! I don't get to cook cheesy dishes often b/c my husband doesn't like cheese (he is a freak). Your recipe looks fantastic! Visiting from Tasty Tuesday. Hope you'll stop by my blog to say hi. :)

    8. Raina

      I love baked ziti. Yours sounds great. Love the idea of the little meatballs:)

    9. Taylor

      One of my boyfriends favorite dishes is baked ziti…I think he would love it with the meatballs too! Thanks for the idea!

    10. smalltownoven

      Giada never disappoints me with her Italian dishes. This looks amazing!

    11. baking.serendipity

      Love baked ziti! Adding the mini meatballs is such a good idea :) My husband would go crazy for this one for sure!

    12. Kim

      I'm totally won over by the mini meatballs. I know this would be a real family pleaser.

    13. Coleen's Recipes

      I think I'll make this with mini ziti to go along with the mini meatballs!!!

    14. Susi

      Ziti Casserole is always a hit in our house. This looks like a great version with the mini meatballs, that would go over well with my crew :o)

    15. Biren

      This sounds wonderful! I seldom do a baked pasta dish but I have got to try this soon :)

    16. Tammy

      looks yummy! come visit my new blog! daybydaysunshine.blogspot

    17. Barbara

      That's a killer recipe, Kathleen. I love those mini meatballs. Cheese and more cheese is how I love my baked ziti!

    18. Monet

      I must agree…I first tried baked ziti when I was 13, and I fell in love. I may have to make this tomorrow night! Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I hope you have a great Friday. I'm so ready for the weekend!

    19. Amy

      wow, your baked ziti looks absolutely delicious! What a beautiful looking dish that's also comforting and satisfying.


    20. Rocky Mountain Woman

      I'm totally into this for the weekend..

      cook three times!


    21. From the Kitchen

      Be still my heart! This looks delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe.

      Have a wonderful weekend filled with good food.


    22. Leslie

      Giada does rock! I am loving this Ziti. The mini meatballs are just perfect

    23. Southerncook

      I love a good Baked Ziti and this one sounds fabulous. I have all of Giada's books but may not have noticed this one. I will definitely try this very soon.

      Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

    24. Megan

      Oooh, I love all that cheese on top, it looks delicious!

    25. Christina

      I love love baked ziti! I usually make mine with italian sausage- so good! That picture with all the cheese melted on top is gorgeous!

    26. Chris

      Look at that cheese goodness! It makes me want to dive in and eat it from the inside out. Excellent post.

    27. Jackie


      In your headnotes you mentioned that you used 11/2 cups of basil in this recipe, but you only have 1 cup of basil listed in the ingredient's list, what happened to the last 1/2 cup of basil.

    28. LH

      What is your marinara recipe? Mind sharing?

    29. Susan Devries

      Your recipe is missing how much milk to use for the meatballs…

      • Kathleen

        Thanks Susan! I’ve fixed the recipe. I appreciate you letting me know 😉

    30. Susan Devries

      No problem, can’t wait to try this, look soooo good:)

    31. Naomi

      I saw this recipe from your homepage slider… YUM! Anything with tomato sauce and baked cheese gets my attention immediately.

      I’ve never made ziti, but I love cooking Italian food and I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    32. Pingback: Baked Ziti with Meatballs « Brahms and Cupcakes

    33. Kelly

      Picture shows penne not ziti, but still sound awesome!

    34. Carol Wilton

      i am not a fan a ricotta cheese, is there another cheese I can use?

      • Kathleen

        Hi Carol you could use cottage cheese 😉

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