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Ground Chicken Baked Ziti

Creamy and Cheesy Ground Chicken Baked Ziti has layers of pasta, jarred marinara sauce and three types of melty cheese, all cooked together to a golden perfection. It is perfect for feeding a crowd or the recipe can be easily halved for a small family.

red handled casserole dish with chicken baked ziti and garnished with fresh basil

Baked ziti is an Italian American Classic for a reason. It is loads of carbs, tomato sauce and cheese! How can that be not good, right?

Chicken baked ziti is very similar to the original, made with ground chicken instead of ground beef and jarred marinara sauce for convenience. It is perfect for entertaining or just a weeknight dinner with leftovers for another day in the week.

Ground Chicken Baked Ziti is:

  • Cozy
  • Comforting
  • Cheesy
  • Creamy
  • Feeds a crowd
  • Recipe can be easily halved for a small family
  • Freezer friendly meal

Main ingredients:

Pasta – The classic Ziti pasta but penne can be used instead

Chicken – Ground chicken

Marinara sauce – I used Prego, tomato basil and garlic

Cheese – Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan

Aromatics – Onion, Garlic and Basil

Seasonings – Italian seasoning, Salt, Pepper, Red pepper flakes and Sugar

How to make baked ziti with chicken?

Cook pasta – Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain.

Make meat sauce – Saute ground chicken, chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil, until chicken is no longer pink (make sure to break lumps with the spoon when stirring). Stir in marinara sauce, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add dollops of ricotta cheese and give a couple of gentle stir (making sure that ricotta is not fully combined). Stir in pasta and chopped fresh basil.

Assemble and bake – Spread half the pasta into a large casserole dish, top with half the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Repeat process for the remaining half pasta and cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes (you can broil for an additional 2 minutes, to give a charred look). Serve after few minutes.

Expert tips:

Use a different pasta shape : Penne pasta or Rigatoni can be used instead of ziti pasta.

We found that 1 and 1/2 pounds of ground chicken was perfect for this chicken ziti pasta. However, one pound works just as well.

Broil for the last couple of minutes. This gives a slightly charred look to the cheese and is more of presentation purposes.

Can I make baked ziti ahead of time? Absolutely! After pasta is tossed with the sauce, let cool completely. Assemble as instructed, cover well with foil, refrigerate and bake when you want to serve (add an additional 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time).

Can I freeze this baked ziti?

Absolutely! After pasta is tossed with the sauce, let cool completely. Assemble as instructed, cover well with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake when you want to serve (add an additional 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time).

How to make half the recipe?

Ingredients:

1/2 pound (or 8 ounces) ziti pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chicken

1/2 cup onion

1 garlic clove

2 and 1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/2 teaspoon each salt and Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and sugar

7 ounces ricotta cheese

1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

6 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Proceed as per the recipe instructions and use a 9×9 square baking dish to make the recipe.

What should I serve with ground chicken baked ziti?

Here are a few suggestions to serve along with baked ziti with ground chicken for dinner:

Storage instructions:

The dish can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. For convenience, I like to divide the leftovers into smaller portions and store in seperate containers. I can simple re heat one or two portions in the microwave (adding a sprinkling of mozzarella on top before re heating freshens it a bit – a little extra cheese ain’t gonna hurt!) when needed.

FAQS

Is baked ziti cooked covered or uncovered?

The casserole is baked uncovered, until the cheeses have melted.

Is ziti the same as penne?

Ziti and penne are both tubular pastas. However penne is a little narrower and the ends are cut diagonally when compared to ziti which is broader with the ends cut straight.

Can I make baked ziti without ricotta?

Absolutely! Just skip the ricotta cheese in the recipe and proceed as per instructions. However, the creaminess that ricotta offers to the dish is hard to beat!

Can I use leftover rotisserie chicken instead of ground chicken?

Yes! Saute chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil. then stir in marinara sauce and all seasoning ingredients, cook for about 4 minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly. Stir in ricotta and then followed by 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, cooked pasta and basil. Assemble and bake.

red handled casserole dish with ground chicken baked ziti and garnished with fresh basil

More cheesy pasta recipes:

Meatless Baked Ziti <—- made in Instant Pot

Mac and Cheese

Leftover Pasta Pizza

Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta <—- Reader favorite

or more pasta recipes

Yield: 10 Servings

Ground Chicken Baked Ziti

Ground Chicken Baked Ziti

Creamy and Cheesy Ground Chicken Baked Ziti has layers of pasta, jarred marinara sauce and three types of melty cheese, all cooked together to a golden perfection. It is perfect for feeding a crowd or the recipe can be easily halved for a small family.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ziti pasta, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 cups marinara sauce (I used Prego, tomato basil & garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 15 ounce ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Make sauce


1. Add olive oil into a large saute pan and place over high heat. When hot, stir in ground chicken, onion and garlic.

2. Saute, breaking up the ground chicken with a spatula, until chicken is fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

3. Reduce heat to medium-high, add marinara sauce, salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, black pepper and sugar. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Take off heat.

4. Spoon in ricotta and give a gentle stir couple of times (we don't want the ricotta to completely mix in). Stir in cooked pasta and chopped basil leaves, just until pasta is coated with the sauce (don't over mix).

Assemble and Bake


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Spread half the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, sprinkle half the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Add remaining pasta, followed by remaining mozzarella and then finish of with remaining parmesan.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese has melted and pale golden.

(Optional step - Switch the oven to broil and let cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes for a more charred look).

4. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack and cool for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Chicken - We found that 1 and 1/2 pounds of ground chicken was perfect for this chicken ziti pasta. However, one pound works just as well.

Pasta - Penne pasta or Rigatoni can be used instead of ziti pasta.

To use leftover rotisserie chicken instead of ground chicken:

Yes! Saute chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil. then stir in marinara sauce and all seasoning ingredients, cook for about 4 minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly. Stir in ricotta and then followed by 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, cooked pasta and basil. Assemble and bake.

Storage instructions:

The dish can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. For convenience, I like to divide the leftovers into smaller portions and store in seperate containers. I can simple re heat one or two portions in the microwave (adding a sprinkling of mozzarella on top before re heating freshens it a bit – a little extra cheese ain’t gonna hurt!) when needed.

Freezing instructions:

After pasta is tossed with the sauce, let cool completely. Assemble as instructed, cover well with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake when you want to serve (add an additional 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time).

Make baked ziti ahead of time:

After pasta is tossed with the sauce, let cool completely. Assemble as instructed, cover well with foil, refrigerate and bake when you want to serve (add an additional 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time).

To make Half the recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 pound (or 8 ounces) ziti pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chicken

1/2 cup onion

1 garlic clove

2 and 1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/2 teaspoon each salt and Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and sugar

7 ounces ricotta cheese

1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

6 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Proceed as per the recipe instructions and use a 9×9 square baking dish to make the recipe.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 464Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 1336mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 29g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com.. Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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