Vegan Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight meal! This comforting pasta dish is made with cooked ziti noodles, marinara sauce, cashew cheese and optional vegan “meat”. Gluten free & Nut free options.

plate with serving of baked ziti on it, blue towel in background

This recipe was one of the first I ever posted to my website nearly 3 years ago. It remains one of my most popular recipes for a reason, and always receives rave reviews from everyone who tries it!

I decided to give it a fresh look with new photos, as well as improved instructions, but the recipe itself is unchanged from the original.

You’re going to love this Vegan Baked Ziti! It’s perfect to make when company comes over, a holiday dinner, or just a busy weeknight because it’s SO EASY.

Plus! It can be made gluten free if needed, whole grain or nut free. You can top the whole thing with some non-dairy cheese shreds, and add vegan ground “meat” to the dish if desired.

close up of vegan baked ziti on plate with a fork

How to make Vegan Baked Ziti, step by step

  1. Add cooked ziti noodles to a lightly greased casserole dish, then pour a jar of marinara sauce over the noodles. If adding vegan ground “meat”, add it now as well. Stir a little bit.
  2. Make the cashew cheese, then add it to the pasta. Stir lightly, but not too much, leaving pockets of cheese throughout.
  3. Optional: Top with a bag of non-dairy cheese shreds, I used Daiya mozzarella.
  4. Bake, uncovered for 25 minutes until hot. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

collage of how to make vegan baked ziti

Special Tips & Substitutions

  • Gluten Free: Use gluten free pasta. You might not be able to find ziti, but a similar shape will work just fine.
  • Nut Free: For a totally nut free option, use a bag of non-dairy cheese shreds instead of the homemade cashew cheese. Make sure your cheese isn’t made of nuts though! I do this sometimes just to save time.
  • Vegan “Meat”: Use a few cups (2-2 1/2 cups, or one bag) of vegan ground “beef” such as Gardein, Beyond Beef or another brand. You could also add a few sliced vegan italian sausages (I love Field Roast brand). I don’t cook them first, just add to the pasta and sauce frozen or cold.
  • Instead of topping with mozzarella non-dairy cheese, sprinkle with Vegan Parmesan instead.

casserole dish of vegan baked ziti with spoon in it.

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close up of vegan baked ziti on plate with a fork
4.98 stars (89 ratings)

Vegan Baked Ziti

Vegan Baked Ziti is an easy weeknight meal! This comforting pasta dish is made with cooked ziti noodles, marinara sauce, cashew cheese and optional vegan "meat". Gluten free & Nut free options.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 
 

Cashew Cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • juice from 1 large lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The Rest

  • 1 pound ziti noodles gluten free if needed
  • 25 ounces marinara sauce ( 1 jar)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegan ground "beef" OR 2-3 sliced vegan sausages, optional
  • 1 bag non-dairy mozzarella cheese shreds, optional for topping
  • Optional: Vegan Parmesan

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.
  • Make the Cashew Cheese sauce: Soak the cashews in boiling hot water for at least 5 minutes. Drain the cashews and add them to a high powered blender along with the water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides down as needed. Set aside.
  • Prepare pasta according to package instructions. You can cook the pasta while your cashews are soaking to save time. Drain the noodles and add to casserole dish.
  • Pour the marinara sauce and "meat", if using, on top of the noodles and stir to combine.
  • Spoon the cashew cheese on top of noodle/sauce mixture and stir gently, leaving pockets of cheese intact.
  • Sprinkle with non-dairy mozzarella cheese shreds OR about 1/2 cup of Vegan Parmesan.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes until hot throughout.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten Free: Use gluten free noodles that are a similar shape to ziti, such as Penne. 
  2. Nut Free: Substitute a bag of non-dairy cheese shreds (check ingredients to ensure nut free) for the Cashew Cheese. 
  3. If you don't care for nutritional yeast, you may leave it out of the cheese.
  4. My favorite brands of vegan ground beef are Gardein or Beyond Beef crumbles. I like Field Roast brand Italian sausages for this recipe as well.
  5. This dish can be frozen. Once cooked, let it cool completely, then cover tightly with foil and freeze. When ready to serve, bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until warm.
  6. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days, making it a great meal prep for lunches.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 863mg | Potassium: 660mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 432IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. I made this for a vegan friend for a holiday dinner. As a meat eating person myself, I was happily stunned to find it to be absolutely delicious and far better than the meat lasagna I had made for non-vegan guests. As suggested in some reviews, I added a can of diced tomatoes and used the Raos Arrabbiata sauce. My new fave pasta dish for sure!!!

    1. I am so thrilled that you love the ziti! It is definitely a comforting and delicious meal! Thank you for sharing your amazing feedback and review!

  2. Could this be made in a crockpot? Not sure how to adjust cooking times and maybe double the recipe? I’d love to bring this to my office Christmas party. Any suggestions? Thank you!!

    1. I haven’t tried this recipe in a slow cooker so I can’t say for sure if it will work or not. If you try it, you may need to add extra liquid/water to the pot to ensure the pasta cooks evenly.

  3. I LOVE this recipe! Have made it so many times! Just wondering if anyone has made the cashew cheese sauce ahead of time? I’m hoping to store it in the fridge for a few days before serving but I am nervous to try it.

    1. The sauce can be made ahead of time! It will keep a few days in the fridge. You can also put the dish together, and freeze until ready to use.

  4. This is super yummy! Something even picky little kids are sure to love as well! The store was out of ziti so I used penne instead and it still turned out great 🙂

  5. Wow is this Great!
    Such flavors! We really like the cashew sauce. Beyond Meat, pan sautéed, and Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce were perfect (as they were the 1st we made it). Planning to make this for non-vegan friends

    1. Raw slivered almonds would probably work quite well, I’m not sure about whole almonds because of the brown outer layer.

  6. I made this today. I used my own homemade marinara (I used 32 ounces instead of 28) I used impossible meat and vegan mozzarella. I served a friend and my husband and they both went nuts for it! I also used a half of a large onion to sauté with the faux meat.
    I like how quick and easy it was to throw together. And it’s a very rich dish that I think that even non-vegans would enjoy! Definitely a keeper for special occasions where we don’t mind the extra calories and a good potluck meal! 

  7. This is definitely a keeper! I made this for a dinner party which included non-vegan friends and family and they absolutely raved about it. I made 1.5 x the recipe since there were 13 of us and still had enough to serve for lunch the next day for seven of us so the portions are generous but I also had several side dishes as well. I sautéed veggies with onions and garlic along with impossible burger for our meat-eaters and it went down a treat. I then added everything to the marinara before stirring it into the prepped pasta. This is creamy, cheesy deliciousness while being completely dairy-free – bliss! The cashew cream sauce is the star of the show! I used Daiya shredded “mozza” on top. Plant-based has come a long way! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

    1. Hi Hazel. You are welcome! Yes, plant based has come a long way! I’m thrilled to hear that you and your guests love the ziti! It’s a great dish to serve at a large gathering! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback and ideas! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  8. This is by far the best baked pasta recipe I have ever had and I’ve been vegan for 8years and was vegetarian for 4years before that. This has been my go-to recipe any time I host non-vegans, or go to a potluck, or as t least once a month for lunch food prep for the week. I like to add petite diced tomatoes and fresh basil and my husband loves it with Beyond Meat Spicy Sausages. Love serving with a side of roasted broccoli and garlic bread! It’s so easy and so friggin delish. All I need now is other recipes to use the amazing cheese sauce in!!!!

    1. Wow, that’s so wonderful to hear! Thank you SO much for using my recipe, and for your amazing feedback and review!

  9. This was honestly THE BEST ziti I’ve ever made. I make it almost every other week. It’s so rich and cheesy I dont even add the shredded cheese. Wonderful recipe!

  10. This was really delicious. I also sauteed a bunch of veggies (onions, mushrooms, bell pepper and zucchini) and stirred them into the pasta. I’ll definitely be making this again!

    1. Hi Annette. Your veggies sound delicious! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! I’m glad you love the baked ziti!

  11. We have tried many of Nora’s recipes and this one did Not fail! Super quick, super tasty. Room for experimentation…we will try Field Roast sausage and/or zucchini.
    One thing was we didn’t know exactly how much mozzarella to put on top, so the whole bag went on!!

    1. Hi Cara. I am thrilled that you loved the baked ziti recipe! Thanks for your positive review and feedback! I appreciate you using my recipes! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  12. Oh my goodness! I’ve been vegan for 5+ years and have longed for a delicious baked pasta.  Something I have not been successful in recreating.  Thank you, Nora—this is THE baked ziti recipe I’ve been wanting!    I followed directions exactly and used beyond sausage.  My husband’s comment “It’s so rich and cheesy!  Will be a regular in the rotation.  Thank you so much!, Nora! ??

    1. Hi Lucy. You are welcome! I am so thrilled that you and your husband loved the baked ziti, and it has become part of your meal rotation! Thank you for sharing your feedback and ideas! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  13. I love this recipe. I’ve made it many, many times. I’m just now leaving a review. Sorry it took so long. I use frozen beefless ground and about 1/2 of what the recipe calls for. I also add a can of diced tomatoes and add a little more garlic and spices to my sauce. My family loves it. This is one of my go to recipes to take over to non vegan friends, when they need a meal brought in. Thank you for the great recipe

    1. I am so glad that you are enjoying the baked ziti! Thank you for taking time to share your review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  14. Delicious and so easy to make. I didn’t use any meat/meat substitute and it was very filling. I used violife shredded mozzarella. Loved by all!! 

  15. Nut Free: Substitute a bag of non-dairy cheese shreds (check ingredients to ensure nut free) for the Cashew Cheese.

    What size bag? what type of cheese ? mozzarella? I am making this for my vegan son so very new to this.

    Thanks.

    1. Most bags of shredded vegan cheese hold about 2 1/2 cups. It can be a little more or less as well. The brand depends on what you like and is available to you, but I love Violife mozzarella shreds and Daiya mozzarella. Hope that helps!

  16. Hi! This looks amazing and I cannot wait to make it! I plan to use gardein beef less grounds for my “meat”. Should I cook it first? I know you said you don’t for the field roast sausages, but does that apply to the gardein product as well?

    1. Hi there! If you are using frozen crumbles, I would probably cook them a bit first. Just so the ziti doesn’t take longer to cook. Hope you enjoy it!

  17. This was delicious. I added chopped kale for a bit of green. The cashew sauce was wonderful. I used a whole lemon – to cut the the cashew. a bit more. This is a rich dish, so a little goes a long way, which makes for leftovers to look forward to. I used two packages of Yves regular ground, one package of Daiya mozzarella and a bit of their vegan parm on top. Creamy, with a nice browned crust on top. A great source of protein and with a salad it was a prefect comfort meal.

    1. Hi Joan. I’m glad you enjoyed the Ziti! Thank you for taking time to share your great review, comments, and ideas! Your additions sound delicious! Happy cooking!

  18. I have a family member coming at Christmas who is vegan. Could this recipe be made ahead of time and frozen before baking it?

    1. You could, yes. I do think it’s better fresh, but freezing then baking will work. The noodles just may be a bit more mushy. Thanks!

  19. One of my favorite weeknight dishes ever! My husband is a pasta lover, so we make this recipe at least 2 or 3 times a month. So easy, quick, and filling, plus we have left overs for lunch the next day!

    1. Thank you for sharing your great review and comments! I’m thrilled this recipe is part of your meal rotation! I love leftovers of baked ziti! Happy cooking!

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