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Gluten-free Baked Ziti

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Creamy, cheesy gluten-free baked ziti has always been a family favorite around here. With the flavors of lasagna, but much easier to make, this gluten-free cheesy baked ziti is a favorite casserole for me to make. This meal is so filling and the leftovers reheat well for lunch or dinner the next day. I’ve included tips for making this a healthier baked ziti recipe too!

Gluten-free Baked Ziti

This is one of my favorite “dinner in about an hour” kind of meals. I can swing these on weeknights where carpool doesn’t run too late and no one needs to get to practice. We used to have a weekly pasta night where I rotated between this gluten-free ziti recipe, my gluten-free skillet spaghetti, gluten-free lasagna, and gluten-free pasta alfredo – most of those recipes I need to add to the blog still!

I’m not sure why I hadn’t made this gluten-free ziti in a while, but it’s back in the rotation again because it’s always such a hit with the family. It’s not full of a lot of complicated ingredients, and is an easy one for kids to help cook with you!

Gluten-free Ziti

The best ziti recipes are always high in fat and calories. While keeping great flavor, I reduced the fat in this recipe by swapping the usual pork Italian sausage for a leaner meat, using part-skim ricotta cheese, and part-skim mozzarella cheese.

To bump up the nutrition, I chopped 2 handfuls of spinach and cooked it in with the turkey. The kids didn’t even notice it in there! Win!! I use my little one cup food chopper to make quick work of dicing it up. The one I have is discontinued but I just bought this new similar one from Amazon here. It’s got great ratings so I’m sure it’ll be just as good!

Chopped Spinach for Healthier Baked Ziti {gluten-free, lower fat}

I love this little food chopper!

Notes on ingredients and substitutions to make it a healthier baked ziti:

  • While you can make this with pork Italian sausage, I usually opt for turkey Italian sausage or chicken Italian sausage because they are much leaner. I use raw, uncooked sausage. If you do choose a seasoned pork, turkey, or chicken sausage, be sure to double-check the ingredients lists for gluten. You can also just use plain ground turkey.
  • To cut the fat a bit, you can use part-skim ricotta cheese in this without a noticeable difference, in my opinion, and that’s what I usually use.
  • To but the fat a bit, you can substitute part-skim mozzarella cheese.
  • Feel free to use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti sauce. I used Prego this time, but I rotate through a variety of brands. Feel free to use one that’s cheesy, or one that’s garlicky, or even one that’s chunky with mushrooms.

Ingredients for gluten-free baked ziti

Does Sausage have gluten?

Not usually – it can sneak in the seasonings sometimes, or there can be a risk of cross-contamination from other products. The gluten-free turkey or chicken sausage I usually use are:

  • Jennie-O – I’ve used their turkey sausage and now their ground turkey. All are labeled gluten-free.
  • Isernio’s – certified gluten-free, and now I see that they are nitrate free too!
  • Honeysuckle – most of their products are labeled gluten-free online so you can browse and check. These are unfortunately no longer available in my area which is a bummer as I liked them a lot!

Again, you can also just use lean ground turkey in place of sausage! That’s what I did this time since that’s what I had on hand!

Brands that make certified Gluten-free Penne Pasta:

  • I used penne noodles from one of my favorite brands of pasta, Jovial. This rice pasta still has a great texture after cooking and baking it. I buy it directly from the Amazon, Jovial website, or from my local Albertsons or Whole Foods stores. I just heard that some Walmart stores are carrying these now too!
  • Barilla is another hit with my family and they’re making penne noodles too! I can find these at several stores in my town, including Winco and Fred Meyer, or you can buy online at Amazon here
  • I used to use Le Veneziane pasta but I had to order it from Italy. Now it’s affordable on Amazon
  • Delallo makes this gluten-free penne pasta that I can’t find in my area but it’s available in bulk on Amazon.

Gluten-free Baked Ziti for dinner

While I’ve only ever made gluten-free baked ziti in the oven, I have it on my list to try in my Crock-pot after seeing this recipe for Crock Pot Baked Ziti. Let me know if you try that recipe with gluten-free noodles!

Serve this yummy baked ziti with a side salad like this Farmer’s Market Salad. Bake up some Brazilian cheese bread, gluten-free garlic rolls or gluten-free baguettes, and you’ve got a delicious family meal that everyone will enjoy! I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does!

Pan of Cheesy Gluten-free Baked Ziti

Yield: 12-15 servings

Gluten-free Baked Ziti

pan of Gluten-free Cheesy Baked Ziti

Cheesy gluten-free baked ziti is a family favorite dinner recipe! This is an easy gluten-free dinner for your kids to help with too!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. box of gluten-free penne noodles (I used Jovial)
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach (fresh, not frozen)
  • 1 lb. ground pork, turkey or chicken sausage, or plain ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. part-skim or whole milk Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 23.5 oz. jar* Prego pasta sauce (or your favorite gluten-free sauce)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Cook the gluten-free pasta according to instructions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, use a food processor, food chopper or knife to chop up two handfuls of fresh spinach.
  4. In a skillet, brown the ground turkey or sausage, adding in the clove of minced garlic and the chopped spinach about halfway through cooking sausage. When completely cooked, set aside.
  5. In a bowl, combine the Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and large egg. Stir in the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set bowl aside.
  6. To assemble the baked ziti, place half of the drained pasta in the bottom of the 9"x13" pan. Top with half of the marinara sauce. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture over the sauce and try to spread fairly evenly. Spoon half of the meat mixture for the next layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese over the meat.
  7. Repeat the layers once more in the same order.
  8. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and mozzarella is melted.
  9. Serve immediately.

Notes

Spaghetti sauce brands vary in size - just use something close to 24 oz.

If you would like your gluten-free baked ziti to be extra saucy, add another 1/2 jar of marinara sauce.

As always, be sure to double-check all of your ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free.

Please see blog post for information and recommendations on specific ingredients like sausage and penne noodles.

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Gluten-free Baked Ziti Recipe

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Lynn

Tuesday 14th of November 2017

Can you make this ahead and bake later?

Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen

Tuesday 14th of November 2017

Yes! Just cover and put in the fridge until ready to bake same day.

Tracy Wagner

Monday 1st of May 2017

This was so easy, healthy and delicious, thank you!!! I am not a big cook, my 9 year old daughter, who has Celiac, loved it and my husband said it was better than the restaurant!! This is a miracle for me, lol. We do not eat meat so I just put in a little extra spinach, sautéed in olive oil with three diced garlic cloves, it was so tasty. Jovial is also my favorite Gluten-Free pasta, sooooo good!! Thank you!!! ~Tracy

Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen

Tuesday 14th of November 2017

I'm so glad you liked this! I love your additions!

Laura B

Wednesday 21st of May 2014

Loved this recipe!... do you know the nutritional information?

Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen

Wednesday 21st of May 2014

Laura, So glad you loved this! We just had this again a few weeks ago - always a favorite! I haven't calculated the nutritional info, but I know there are a number of online websites where you can submit the recipe and it will calculate that for you. If you like to know that info, it might be worth checking one of those sites out so you can use it again and again.

Naomi

Wednesday 7th of May 2014

Going to love trying these recipecs

Gwen

Friday 3rd of January 2014

We recently found out my daughter has celiacs. I'm overwhelmed right now trying to find recipes she likes (texture a huge problem). I also need recipes I can make ahead of time. Would it work o freeze this?

Debra

Sunday 17th of May 2020

Question: We made 2 batches... is this ‘freezeable’?

Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen

Saturday 4th of January 2014

Gwen, Pasta can be finicky with freezing. The texture can get pretty soggy. I haven't tried it with this recipe in particular. If I did, I would bake it first, then freeze. Then to serve, I would thaw, and bake about 10 minutes, covered. I do have several freezer-friendly recipe on my blog. Click on the "freezer meals" tag on the right side of the blog.