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You don’t even have to boil the pasta for this quick and easy Dump-and-Bake 3-Cheese Baked Ziti! Just stir all of the uncooked ingredients together in the dish, cover it with foil, and pop it in the oven. Weeknight dinners just got a whole lot easier!

A side shot of baked ziti in a blue baking dish

I’m raising a family of pasta lovers! I swear, my husband and my 3 boys could eat some variety of spaghetti, pesto rotelle, or fettuccini Alfredo every single night of the week. But you know what? Baked Ziti has never been on my go-to list…until now.

I just always assumed that Baked Ziti was kind of like lasagna — a lot of prep work, multiple steps involved, and a ton of dirty dishes at the end. WRONG!

At least, not with my dump-and-bake version!

An overhead shot of baked ziti in a baking dish with serving spoons

When I decided that I wanted to create a quick-prep twist on the classic 3-Cheese Baked Ziti, I knew that I was stepping out of my comfort zone.

I wasn’t sure how the cheese mixture would set up in the oven as the pasta baked in the marinara sauce, and I was fully prepared to trash the final product and try again if it wasn’t an initial success.

A side shot of baked ziti in a casserole dish

Easy Dump and Bake Dinners

I’m happy to report, however, that I have apparently become a Dump-and-Bake Dinner Pro. Is that a “thing?” Because if it’s a “thing,” then I’m definitely one of them.

I just can’t get enough of these ultra-easy meals that cook in one dish without any pre-boiling the pasta, washing pots and pans, or slaving over a hot stove. You might just call me lazy? Or busy? Yes and yes!

A close up of baked ziti in a baking dish topped with a herb garnish

This hearty, soul-satisfying vegetarian one-dish meal comes together in a matter of minutes and my job is done! It’s delicious served with a green salad and some garlic bread if you have the time or desire, but it’s certainly not necessary.

This Dump-and-Bake 3-Cheese Baked Ziti is a new way to prepare an old favorite — and there’s no going back to the original once you’ve had a taste!

Cooking Just for Two?

You can cut all of the ingredients in half and prepare one smaller casserole. Just bake in an 8-inch square pan. The cooking instructions remain the same.

A close up of baked ziti in a baking dish

Extra Tips For Making Baked Ziti

  • Don’t have mozzarella? Use cheddar instead or another good melting cheese
  • Try adding red pepper flakes for a spicy kick
  • Store this baked ziti in the fridge for a few days it makes great leftovers
  • Feel free to add extra fresh or dried herbs such as basil or parsley
  • You could also try adding cooked sausage, chicken or bacon

More Pasta Recipes You Might Like;

A close up of baked ziti

Dump-and-Bake 3-Cheese Baked Ziti

4.58 from 14 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 370 kcal
A foolproof easy dinner all made in one dish, you don't even need to boil the pasta!


  • 1 16 ounce package uncooked ziti pasta
  • 1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 16 ounces 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Spray a large baking dish (about 9 x 13-inches) with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together uncooked ziti, marinara sauce, and water. Ladle half of the ziti mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Pour cottage cheese mixture over the pasta in an even layer.
  • Top with remaining pasta and sauce mixture.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Uncover and stir gently. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.
  • Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).


Cooking Just for Two? You can cut all of the ingredients in half and prepare one smaller casserole. Just bake in an 8-inch square pan. The cooking instructions remain the same.


Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 370kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 22.4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4.3gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 710mgFiber: 6.6gSugar: 5.4g
Keyword: baked ziti, Pasta Bake
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: The Seasoned Mom

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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  1. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says:

    I made baked ziti a few months back, but this version is even easier! Love your dump-and-bake recipes, Blair! You can’t beat comfort food like this, especially when the weather gets cooler!

    1. Blair says:

      I agree — this type of comfort food is THE BEST at this time of year. Love it! 🙂

  2. Joanne says:

    I love your version of baked ziti! So much quicker to getting the pan in the oven.

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you, Joanne! 🙂

  3. Angelina says:

    Oh Blair, this sounds super easy & yummy, so I’ll be making it tonight. I always use whole grain pasta(s) & low fat (2%) dairy products, so I’ll use what I have on hand. That being said, I’m sure that the flavor of this dish will not be compromised in any way. I plan to serve this with a huge tossed green salad. I love easy (yet tasty) recipes on a busy day, and this dish surely fits the bill. Thanks, Blair!

    1. Blair says:

      Great, Angelina! Let me know how the whole grain pasta works! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      1. Elisabeth says:

        I’m not Angelina, but I tried this with whole wheat pasta yesterday and it came out great. 🙂

        1. Blair says:

          Perfect! So glad to hear that, Elisabeth! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  4. Marsha says:

    Can you use ricotta in place of the cottage cheese? Thanks!

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Marsha! Yes — you can absolutely use an equal amount of ricotta!

      1. Marsha says:

        Thank you! Trying it tonight!

        1. Blair says:

          Great! Enjoy!

      2. Evelyn Quick says:

        That’s what I plan to do!

        1. Blair says:

          Perfect. Enjoy, Evelyn!

  5. Holly says:

    This was fantastic. So easy and good. I don’t think I’ll ever make ziti the traditional way again. I might even try adding some cooked ground beef, sausage or chicken the next time. We got 10 servings from the recipe. I’m freezing leftovers in single portion sizes for easy lunches to take to work. Thank you Blair!

    1. Blair says:

      Yay! I’m so glad that you liked it, Holly! I agree — I doubt I’ll ever make ziti another way again. And yes — adding some meat would work well, too!

  6. fred says:

    I’ve been making this yummy stuff for a few years. I use ricotta cheese, but that’s not a big difference. One of the things I love about this is that, since it’s to much food for us, I can mix everything but the pasta, divide it, dump half back into the cheese tub and freeze for another day’s super easy dinner.

    1. Blair says:

      Perfect, Fred! You’re right — it’s a great meal to assemble in advance, and then just add the pasta at the last minute. 🙂

  7. Betty Anne says:

    Can you add 1 lb cooked ground pork/sausage to this recipe. If so where in recipe?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Betty Anne! Yes! I think that would be a great addition. I would spread the cooked meat in an even layer on top of the cottage cheese mixture (just before adding that second layer of remaining pasta and sauce mixture). Enjoy!

  8. Julie says:

    Can I mix this and then bake it tomorrow night? I am taking to a family for dinner and want to mix it tonight but didn’t know if I should bake it tonight and then they would reheat it, or if I can still make it up and then they bake tomorrow night.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Julie! With these dump-and-bake recipes that use dry pasta, I generally do not recommend mixing the raw ingredients ahead of time. I think it’s OKAY and it can work, but it just might not yield the best texture for the pasta since it will likely absorb some liquid as it sits. Again, not a disaster, just not idea. 🙂 Please let me know if you do give it a try — I’m always curious to hear if the prep-ahead method works! 🙂

  9. Emily says:

    5 stars
    I LOVE baked pasta and I can’t wait to try this especially since I don’t have to boil the pasta first!

    1. Blair says:

      It’s the easiest way to cook! 🙂 Thanks, Emily!

  10. HappyMom says:

    I made your recipe with brown rice pasta and it came out great !

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  11. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been simmering the sauce in the crockpot for several hours.
    Should I cool that down before dumping into the uncooked pasta?
    Thanks! Sounds really good!
    Perfect for a cool fall evening ????

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Cheryl! That’s fancy — homemade sauce! 🙂

      I wouldn’t worry about cooling down the sauce too much first. Since it’s already hot, you might just need to decrease the baking time by a few minutes. Keep an eye on your pasta towards the end and just pull it out of the oven when it’s tender. Enjoy!

  12. Hilary says:

    Hi there! Looks delicious. Is there a way to make this dairy free? Any substitutes you know of?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Hilary! Since the primary ingredient (cheese) is not dairy-free, I’m not sure that this is a good candidate for a dairy-free version. You can certainly try using dairy-free cheeses, but I’ve honestly never thought they tasted very good or melted very well. 🙂

  13. Cynthia says:

    Hi Blair!
    This looks great. I should give my son some protein so was wondering if you ever add Italian sausage links in with the sauce to cook with everything?
    Also, ever cooked a dump dish lower and slower?
    Thanks…cannot wait to make!

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Cynthia! I haven’t tried adding the Italian sausage. If I was going to use sausage, I would brown it in a skillet first, and then add it to the baked ziti. Otherwise you won’t be able to drain the oil drippings from the meat as it cooks, which could leave your Ziti greasy.

      I haven’t tested this recipe in a slow cooker, so I can’t give you a specific cooking time. It would probably work just fine, so long as you can keep an eye on it to make sure that the pasta doesn’t get overcooked and mushy.

      1. Cynthia says:

        5 stars
        Thanks for the tips! I couldn’t wait to make it since I had the ingredients and was super busy. I added a bit more cheese as this was no meat and used ricotta, which I had. It was fantastic!! It is gone…whole casserole dish worth! This Dump & Bake recipe is a genuine keeper!. ???? Can’t wait to read more of your recipes.
        Thank you!

        1. Blair says:

          Awesome! So glad that you enjoyed it, Cynthia! Let me know if you try it with the sausage! 🙂

  14. Christine @ myblissfulmess says:

    5 stars
    Very delicious and so easy to make. A little trick I like to do in recipes like this that call for both pasta sauce and some water (so you can cook the noodles), I like to add the water to the pasta sauce jar, put the lid on and shake it to get ALL of that pasta sauce. Then add it to the recipe. This dish comes together quickly and easily. The oven does all the work and I love it! These recipes are perfect when you’re just too tired to cook dinner and a heck of a lot better than turning to fast food. Better for you, and tastes better. I served it with a simple green salad to round out the meal. So yummy! Thank you again Blair, for yet another wonderful meal! PS. For whatever reason, it won’t let me click on the stars for rating, but know that I give it a million stars!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks so much, Christine! I love the tip to shake the sauce and water together in the jar!

  15. Carly says:

    I was interested in making 1/2 the baked ziti recipe, but how do you do 1/2 of an egg? Will a whole egg be too much for half the recipe?

    1. Blair says:

      Hey, Carly! I’ve done the exact same thing. Just cut all of the ingredients in half but use 1 whole egg. It works great! 🙂

      1. Jessica says:

        Can I make this without the egg?

        1. Blair says:

          Hi, Jessica! The egg helps the cottage cheese (or ricotta if you use that instead) set up so that it’s not runny in the casserole. You can definitely make the dish without the egg, but it will have a different texture.

          1. Jessica says:

            Thank you!

  16. April says:

    Hi throwing this together for my family while I am at work this evening, I don’t trust them to uncover and stir. How do I alter this if I cook the noodles first?

    1. Blair says:

      Hey, April! I would try just omitting the water called for in the recipe. If you’re using pre-cooked pasta, it will not absorb the water like the dry pasta does. Hope that helps!

  17. MELANIE HARRIS says:

    5 stars
    Substituted cottage cheese for pesto alfredo sauce. It took about 15 minutes more to thicken and cook completely, but it turned out AMAZING! This is my ne go to pasta recipe!! Love love love

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Melanie! Great tip!

  18. natalie says:

    This was amazing! Love the little chunks of cheese that the cottage cheese gives. I needed about 15 minutes longer for my ziti to bake, but I had the time, so it was no biggy

  19. Hailey says:

    5 stars
    I didn’t have ziti so I tried with penne. Yummy, but my noodles were a bit overdone so next time I will shorten baking time if I use the same noodles. For reference, my penne recommended 6-8 min of booking, I believe. Yummy and I liked how I could clean up and make a salad while it baked.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Hailey!

  20. Andrea says:

    5 stars
    Thanks so much for an awesome and easy recipe! My entire family loved it! I assembled it and refrigerated it so it would be ready to be baked for the next night’s dinner and hadn’t read the comments about you advising against that until afterwards and it was still amazing! I think it may have been a little bit “soupier” that yours appear in your photos, but everyone raved about it! I didn’t have Parmesan, so I subbed grated cheddar and I used gluten free rice pasta, so that may have caused it to be a little “soupier” too. I wanted to let you know that this is definitely a keeper and to let you and your readers know that it still worked to prepare it ahead of time. Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      That’s wonderful, Andrea! Thank you so much for letting me know. I appreciate it!!

  21. Sandra says:

    5 stars
    Loved the ziti. My first attempt turned out the best I’ve ever ate. Simple to make. I did add half a pound of Italian sausage (cooked and drained) in the sauce and pasta

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Sandra! I’m so glad that it worked well for you. The Italian sausage is a perfect addition!

  22. Louise Forman says:

    4 stars
    Very good but a couple of suggestions –
    – Use ricotta instead of cottage cheese
    – Use a second jar of sauce instead of water, for more flavor
    – No need to mix the uncooked ziti with the sauce/water. Easier to add the ziti and pour half the sauce over them.
    – Mix half the mozzarella with the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture

    1. Barbara Rainear says:

      I am going to try the recipe Sunday. Since I am an WW I always have fat free shredded cheeses on hand for cauliflower pizza. Is it ok to use that or should I pick up full fat? My cottage cheese and ricotta are FF too

      1. Blair says:

        Hi, Barbara! If you don’t mind the taste/texture of the fat-free versions, they will work fine in this dish. Enjoy!

  23. Doris says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for a tasty, laborless recipe! I like Italian dishes to be very tomatoy so I added a generous tablespoon of tomato paste to the water. I also added an envelope of dry onion soup to the water. Otherwise, cooked as directed and it was fantastic! Thanks again for your yummy and quick recipes. I tend to put off cooking until I am starving, then just make a sandwich or something. With your “dump” recipes I will quickly put them together and let the oven do the rest. You are a cooking phenom!

    1. Blair says:

      Wonderful! I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found the easy recipes helpful and tasty. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice note, Doris!

  24. Bonnie C says:

    4 stars
    This had nice flavor and was super easy to prepare. Followed recipe using whole wheat pasta and added some vegetarian crumbles to the sauce. Mine came out a bit on the dry side – easily remedied with ladling sauce over each serving; but, I would definitely add more sauce or water to the original mix next time.

  25. Sierra Gwinn says:

    Are there any adjustments I need to make if I double this recipe? Need to cook for about 15 people. Thank you!

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Sierra! No, you shouldn’t need to adjust anything. Just double all of the ingredients and bake in two separate dishes or one HUGE dish. If you bake it all in one huge dish, you might need to increase the baking time slightly, but I’d just check it and see. Enjoy!

  26. Linda says:

    5 stars
    I only had spaghetti so I broke it in three pieces. Didn’t quite have the body but was not dry. I added one shallot and it was delicious

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thanks, Linda! I’m glad that it worked okay with the spaghetti, too!

  27. Sidney says:

    1 star
    Way too watery.. cottage cheese was chunky. I threw it away

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re sorry this didn’t turn out well for you, Sidney. We recommend using small curd cottage cheese, if you didn’t and measuring very carefully. We hope you give this or another one of our dump-and-bake recipes a shot.

  28. Christopher says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I have five kids and it’s hard to find a meal they all agree on. This is one of them. I’ve made it a few times now and they still love it. I usually use 24oz of cottage since that’s the container I find. I sometimes use meat sauce instead of marinara. That really depends on what I have on hand. They love it either way!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      That’s wonderful, Christopher. I’m so glad that the kids approve! 🙂

  29. Renee Andree Vangogh says:

    5 stars
    You are brilliant in creating tasty, nutritious meals with very little time and steps. Thank you sooo much. And please keep posting.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you for such kind words, Renee! We’re so glad you enjoy the recipes and appreciate you taking the time to leave a review.