Meatless Baked Ziti Recipe

This meatless baked ziti recipe is a savory, delicious Italian casserole dish with a vegan twist. You’ll love the layers of ricotta-infused pasta, vegan provolone, veggie-sausage infused red sauce, all topped with vegan mozzarella. It’s a favorite go-to recipe for plant-based dinners.

Serve this vegan wedge salad on the side along with some vegan garlic bread for a perfectly tasty meal.

Two plates of meatless baked ziti and steamed broccoli with forks between them.

“This baked ziti may be my favorite vegan Italian dish.”

That’s what Shawn said to me after he reheated a batch stored in the freezer. Yes, people, I am a big fan of freezer-friendly dishes. I oftentimes will make several different meals at once and freeze half of them. That way we don’t have too many, “what’s for dinner — I dunno” moments.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Dairy-free ricotta is added to the noodles to make make a flavor-infused foundation
  • Vegan provolone cheese is added between the layers to add cheesiness to every bite
  • Veggie crumbles add plant-based protein, texture, and flavor, making this an irresistible weeknight casserole!

Ingredients

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients in this baked ziti recipe:

  • Ziti pasta — You can substitute penne pasta.
  • Olive oil — I use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Onion — My go-to favorite is a yellow onion.
  • Garlic — This quintessential Italian ingredient is important. You can use raw garlic or the tender cloves from garlic confit.
  • Extra-firm Tofu — We’ll use tofu to make the creamy provolone sauce.
  • Vegan Provolone — I find this at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, or the health food section of my local grocery store.
  • Mild Miso Paste — Having some mild miso paste is a vegan essential in my book because it adds a slightly salty umami flavor. You can substitute a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar and some salt if you can’t find it.
  • Fresh Basil — I grow fresh basil in a pot and bring it inside during the winter months. You can also buy fresh basil in the produce section too. Dried basil can be substituted if necessary.
  • Marinara — Use your favorite marinara; make sure it’s free of dairy and meat.
  • Veggie Crumbles — There are many crumbles to choose from these days, including Gardein Beyond Beef and many beef substitute crumbles, like Impossible Burger and Pure Farmland.
  • Vegan Mozzarella — We use either Daiya or Follow Your Heart vegan Mozzarella Shreds.

How to Make Meatless Baked Ziti

Every recipe you’ve seen to date may call for meat to make a decent baked ziti, but it’s actually easier to make baked ziti vegan! This meatless baked ziti uses veggie crumbles some of which are so good, many omnivores are fooled by them.

You know those taste tests where people who think they’re wine experts are fooled by cheap wine? That’s what I’m saying here.

Here are the steps to make it:

Step One: Cook the Pasta

Follow the package instructions to cook the pasta in a pot of water.

Step Two: Vegan Ricotta

While the pasta cooks, make the ricotta by combining the olive oil, onion, garlic, tofu, and miso paste in a food processor. Pulse until this mixture is smooth. Add half of the provolone slices and the fresh basil and pulse again.

Making vegan ricotta in a food processor.

It’s ok to have bits of the cheese and basil showing in the ricotta.

Step Three: Make “Meaty” Marinara

Combine the marinara sauce and veggie crumbles.

Marinara sauce in a bowl with veggie crumbles added.
Make baked ziti meatless by using veggie crumbles!

If you’re using a product like Gardein, you won’t need to precook the veggie crumbles. However, if you’re using a beef substitute that comes in a container looking like hamburger, you’ll need to precook it first. Follow the instructions on the package to cook it. Then add the cooked plant-based crumbles to the marinara.

You can also add some vegetarian pepperoni to the mix for even more flavor!

Step Four: Combine Pasta & Ricotta

By now your pasta should be done. Pour it into a colander and drain excess liquid. Run some cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Then, return it to the pan it was cooked in and add the vegan ricotta mixture. Stir gently, until all the pasta is coated.

Vegan ricotta has been poured over cooked ziti in a large pot.

Step Five: Assemble the Ziti Casserole

Imagine this ziti almost like a vegan lasagna, baked in layers.

Looking down on a 9X13 casserole dish with unbaked meatless ziti.
  • Layer one: Pour half of the ricotta pasta into the bottom of the baking dish. Top that with half of the “meaty” marinara sauce. Top that with remaining slices of the vegan provolone cheese. 
  • Layer two: Add the remaining pasta, followed by the remaining marinara sauce. Top it all with the vegan mozzarella shreds.

Step Six: Cover and Bake

Cover the dish with foil, place it in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Two hands reach in and cover an unbaked dish of meatless ziti with foil.

Use tongs to remove the foil and return it to the oven to bake for another 5–10 minutes, until the edges of the pasta are golden brown.

Serving Meatless Baked Ziti

When it’s done, remove it from the oven and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes to cool. Add additional chopped basil leaves for garnish.

Storage Tips

Refrigerate leftovers in sealed containers for up to 5 days or transfer leftovers to freezer-friendly containers and freeze for up to 2 months.

Can you make baked ziti without ricotta?

You can make baked ziti without dairy ricotta by using vegan creamy ricotta. You’ll combine tofu with onions, garlic, miso paste, and fresh basil to create a creamy mixture that is a perfect ricotta substitute.

Can you make baked ziti without meat?

You can make meatless baked ziti by using veggie crumbles. If you don’t have access to store-bought crumbles, you can make your homemade veggie sausage crumbles by adding the right spices to things like sweet potatoes or even oatmeal.

Can I freeze ziti bake?

So, after you’ve made a simple baked ziti, the big question is, can you freeze the leftovers? The answer is yes! Allow the baked ziti to come to room temperature and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and place it in the freezer.

What’s the difference between penne and ziti pasta?

There’s a lot in common between the penne and the ziti noodles, but the major difference is penne noodles are cut at a diagonal. This creates a pointed tip on the ends, kind of like a pen or scroll, thus the name penne. Ziti noodles are cut straight. Does it matter? Personally, I’ve found it difficult to find ziti noodles, especially if you’re looking for gluten-free or whole wheat noodles. You can easily substitute penne noodles in this meatless baked ziti.

A spatula holds meatless baked ziti over the rest of the casserole dish.

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

Do you love plant-based pasta recipes? Then be sure and check these out:

A plate full of meatless baked ziti in front of the rest of the casserole dish.

If you love this meatless baked ziti as much as we do, be sure and snap a photo and use #namelymarly on Instagram or Twitter. I love seeing your photos!

This Easy Vegan Garlic Pasta is a creamy, garlic pasta, covered in red sauce and dripping with delicious vegan cheese. It's easy to make and healthy too! We love to serve this on a Friday night and enjoy leftovers for the week. It's fancy enough to share as a family dinner, but simple enough so you can enjoy your guests too!

Meatless Baked Ziti

This Meatless Baked Ziti is a creamy, sauce-filled pasta dish, and it’s easy to make for a Tuesday night dinner, but yet dressy enough for company!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 316kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 box ziti pasta

Vegan Ricotta

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups extra firm tofu , cut into cubes
  • 12 slices vegan provolone cheese*
  • 1 tablespoon mild miso paste
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Meaty Marinara

  • 3 cups marinara sauce look at the ingredients and make sure it’s vegan
  • 2 cups veggie crumbles

Baked Ziti Assembly

  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella shreds

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 375°F. Spray the inside (bottom and sides) of a 9×13 baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.
  • Cook Pasta. Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta.

For the Vegan Ricotta

  • Make Vegan Ricotta. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, tofu, and miso paste to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add half of the provolone slices and the fresh basil and pulse again. It's ok to leave bits of the cheese and basil showing in the ricotta.  

For the Vegan Meaty Marinara

  • Make Vegan "Meaty" Marinara: In a bowl combine the marina sauce and veggie crumbles. Stir to combine. 

Baked Ziti Assembly

  • Combine Cooked Pasta & Ricotta. By now your pasta should be done. Add to a colander and drain excess liquid. Run some cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Return it to the pan it was cooked in and add the vegan ricotta mixture. Stir gently, until all the pasta is coated.
  • Assemble Ziti. Layer one: Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the "meaty" marinara sauce. Top that with remaining slices of the vegan provolone cheese.
    Layer two: Add remaining pasta, followed by the remaining marinara sauce. Top with vegan mozzarella.
  • Cover & Bake. Cover the dish with foil and place the baking dish in your heated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted. 
  • Remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for another 5–10 minutes, until the edges of the pasta are golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or so. 
  • Add additional chopped basil leaves for garnish. Serve warm.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in sealed containers for up to 5 days or transfer leftovers to freezer friendly containers and freeze for up to 2 months.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

*I can find vegan provolone cheese slices (Follow Your Heart brand) at Sprouts and Natural Grocers and other health food stores. 
For an alternative, you can use this vegan ricotta which also adds cashews.
Nutrition Facts
Meatless Baked Ziti
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Sodium 754mg31%
Potassium 387mg11%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 290IU6%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 53mg5%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

This post for meatless baked ziti was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new text in 2020.

8 Responses to Meatless Baked Ziti Recipe

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShawn Reply

    This is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever enjoyed. Yummy squared. 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      So glad you love this easy baked ziti recipe! ❤️

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAngelica Reply

    Hi there Marly, wondering how big the pasta package was? I have varying standard sizes of pasta, want to make sure the ratios turn out. Thanks

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Angelica! Great question! I used a 16 ounce package of pasta for this recipe. I don’t find it as easy to find ziti and so sometimes I’ll substitute penne pasta…and yet still call it baked ziti!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKathy Reply

    I have this in the oven now and am salivating from the smell! I used Tofutti Ricotta in place of the tofu, although it was difficult to find, but the sauce tastes great. This will be my guest casserole!!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Kathy! I just made this ziti bake too. It’s a favorite for me to make on the weekends so we can enjoy leftovers throughout the week. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyRosemary Reply

    What do you do with the other half of the marinara sauce with the veggie crumbles? I assumed it also goes on top of the second layer of pasta before adding the mozzarella.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Rosemary. Thanks for your comment! I added more clarification to the recipe steps to make this more clear. Thanks for your help!

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