This delicious, cheesy vegan baked ziti with sausage 'mushrooms' is a hearty, cozy dinner that your family is going to love!
Baked ziti is a childhood favorite, and I'm so excited to share this vegan baked ziti recipe with you! It's just as decadent as it's dairy- and meat-laden cousin.
Vegan baked ziti is a great potluck dish or holiday entree. It also works as a regular weeknight meal. You are going to absolutely love it!
Start by cooking your ziti and pressing your tofu while you prep the rest of the casserole ingredients.
I like to press my tofu in the EZ Tofu Press. It gets the water out, so your tofu will be super firm, which is perfect for this recipe.
This vegan baked ziti actually has three different cheeses: a homemade, tofu ricotta, homemade vegan Parmesan sprinkles, and store-bought vegan mozzarella shreds.
While the ziti cooks and the tofu presses, you have plenty of time to make the first cheese: vegan Parmesan sprinkles (aka Magical Fairy Dust). If you don't want to make this cheese, that's ok! You can use vegan Parmesan shreds instead.
If you haven't whipped up a batch of my Fairy Dust yet, though, I highly recommend that you drop what you are doing and DO THAT. It packs a big flavor punch, and we put it on everything! Pasta, rice, potatoes, veggies, tofu, and on top of this vegan baked ziti.
When the tofu finished pressing, it's ricotta time! It takes approximately three minutes to make the tofu ricotta for this vegan baked ziti.
Add the tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and spices to your food processor. Run it until you have a creamy vegan ricotta.
Alternately, you can crumble the ricotta together by hand, but I find that the food processor makes things creamier.
Now, it's time to make those sausage mushrooms. I originally created these for a cheesy grits casserole, and they are perfect in a ziti!
To make the mushrooms, you just sauté sliced button mushrooms in sausage-y spices until they're browned. Easy peasy!
Now, it's time to assemble your baked ziti.
You can do this in layers, but I prefer a dump-and-done method, since it's much easier. Add the ziti, tomato sauce, and mushrooms to your pan.
Stir them together, then top with dollops of the tofu ricotta, using a spoon to press the ricotta into the sauce.
Top everything off with the mozzarella and vegan parmesan and bake!
You can make this recipe gluten-free by simply using gluten-free ziti.
For oil-free, omit the oil in the ricotta and add water by the teaspoon, as needed, instead. Water- or broth-fry the mushrooms in a nonstick pan. And use cashew cream in place of the vegan mozzarella.
For nut-free, use sunflower or pumpkin seeds to make the Fairy Dust. Or you can use store-bought vegan Parmesan shreds.
You're welcome to add more veggies to this vegan baked ziti! Sautéed spinach, kale, zucchini, or bell pepper are all great additions. Just stir them in when you mix up the pasta and sauce.
How to serve and store vegan baked ziti
This dish is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but it's also lovely with a green salad or my warm Brussels sprout salad on the side.
You can also whip up vegan garlic bread to go with!
Store leftovers in a covered container. You can reheat in the microwave or in the oven.
This dish also freezes well! Bake the ziti, then leave it covered until cooled completely. Pop it into the freezer for up to three months, then reheat at 350° F for one hour.
Vegan Baked Ziti Recipe
For the tofu ricotta
- 1 block extra firm tofu - pressed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the mushroom 'sausage'
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 8-ounce package sliced button mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika - or 2 teaspoons chili powder and ¾ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the vegan baked ziti casserole
- 2 cups good tomato sauce - You can use jarred or from scratch. See notes.
- 2 cups dry ziti - Cooked according to package directions. See note.
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella - See note.
- 2 tablespoons Magical Fairy Dust - or use vegan Parmesan shreds
Make the tofu ricotta while the ziti cooks
- Add all of the tofu ricotta ingredients to a food processor, and run it until it's nice and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed. If you prefer, you can crumble the ricotta in a bowl by hand instead.
Make the mushroom sausage
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and all of the spices and cook, stirring, for about 7-9 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Assembling the vegan baked ziti
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a 9x12" pan, combine the ziti, tomato sauce, and mushrooms. Stir to combine, the drop dollops of the ricotta all over, using the back of a spoon to press it into the casserole. Top with the mozzarella and sprinkle on the Fairy Dust. Bake for 30 minutes, then let the pan sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Frequently asked questions
If making the vegan ricotta isn't your thing, you can use more mozzarella instead. Just stir about a cup of vegan mozzarella into the pasta before topping and baking.
Yes, boil the ziti until it's cooked through. You want it on the firm side, so it won't go mushy during baking.
Some baked ziti recipes do use egg, but it's not necessary. This vegan baked ziti is egg-free and just as decadent!
If you don't want to use any processed vegan cheese, that's fine! Use a cup or so of my garlic cashew cream on top instead. If you do that, don't cover the pan when you bake.
You can! Just use gluten-free ziti, and you're good to go.
Yes! Let the pan cool, then pop it right into the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the oven at 350° F for one hour or until warmed through.
This is a great make-ahead recipe! Assemble the vegan baked ziti casserole, cover in foil, and stick it in the fridge up to overnight. When you're ready to cook, remove the pan from the fridge before you preheat the oven. Uncover and bake as directed.