This cauliflower baked ziti is a low carb twist on a classic recipe. You’ll love how cheesy and savory this casserole is – made with meat sauce, roasted cauliflower, and a creamy, cheesy filling!
My family LOVES pasta, which can be a bit tricky for me sometimes.
Sure, I make them pasta every now and then, but I usually stick to my favorite pasta substitutes to keep dinner a little healthier and more low carb.
Cauliflower is my go to swap for so many things and it works beautifully in our keto baked ziti! No, it’s not going to taste or feel just like the original made with actual pasta, but it’s a great substitute that tastes so darn good!
Besides, when it comes to pasta, I’m mostly interested in the sauce and alllllllll the cheese – which we definitely didn’t skimp on in in this cauliflower baked ziti recipe!
Not a fan of cauliflower? Give our keto lasagna a try! You won’t believe what we used as noodles.
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For the cauliflower:
Cauliflower – I’d recommend using fresh cauliflower florets for this recipe. While frozen cauliflower florets would work too but they won’t roast as nicely. Fresh is definitely best in this case!
Olive Oil – For roasting the cauliflower florets.
Italian Seasoning – You’ll sprinkle this on the cauliflower along with some salt before roasting. We want to season every bit of this keto casserole.
For the meat sauce:
Ground Beef – We’re going for a nice, hearty meat sauce. We prefer ground beef, but ground pork or turkey would work as well.
Sugar-Free Marinara – We love Rao’s Marinara! It’s perfect for using as a spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or dipping sauce! There are no added sugars, and it tastes great! You can use any sugar free brand of marinara for this recipe, but I’m definitely a Rao’s fan girl.
Garlic – A minced clove of garlic will add some extra flavor to the ground beef and the sauce.
Red Pepper Flakes – Just a pinch to give the sauce a little more depth. If you’d like your sauce spicy, add extra!
Ricotta Cheese – Not a fan of ricotta? Blitz some cottage cheese in a blender until smooth!
Parmesan Cheese – You’ll mix the ricotta with some shredded Parmesan cheese. Hello, flavor.
Egg – This helps the ricotta cheese bind together and it adds extra protein to the dish.
Mozzarella Cheese – Some mozzarella will add even more melty, cheesy goodness to this casserole. You’ll add the shredded mozzarella in a couple of layers so there is cheese all throughout the dish.
Garlic – More flavor!
We use Thrive Market for a lot of our specialty ingredients and keto snacks or products. Their prices tend to be cheaper than the local stores and I love that you can so easily sort products by diet.
Like Costco, this is a membership site, but we find that it’s more than worth it based on the amount we save over the regular grocery store.
They have monthly or yearly plans. Check it out here.
- Casseroles make weeknight dinners easy and this one is full of all the good stuff.
- There may not be any actual pasta in there but this definitely has baked ziti vibes!
- You can easily adjust this recipe to suit your tastes – skip the meat for a meatless meal, use Alfredo sauce in place of the ricotta mixture, add red pepper flakes for a spicy marinara, etc.
Roast the Cauliflower:
- Prepare – To get started you’ll chop the cauliflower into small florets and add them to a large bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the cauliflower.
- Seasoning – Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the cauliflower and stir it all up to coat it in the seasoning and oil.
- Roast – Spread the cauliflower out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You will probably need two sheets to fit it all! Start roasting the cauliflower for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring it halfway through cooking, until it has browned around the edges.
How To Make Meat Sauce:
- Beef – To prepare the meat sauce you’ll start by adding the ground beef to a large skillet and cooking over medium heat until it has browned through. Drain the grease from the skillet.
- Garlic – Add in the minced garlic along with the red pepper flakes and continue cooking for another minute.
- Sauce – You can now pour in the marinara sauce and stir it up well with the ground beef and garlic. Let it cook over low heat until the sauce has warmed through.
- Combine – Add the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, parsley, and garlic to a small bowl and stir well to combine.
Assemble the Casserole:
- Cauliflower – To start assembling the casserole first reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Next, add half of the roasted cauliflower florets to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Meat Sauce – After adding the cauliflower top it with half of the prepared meat sauce.
- Cheese – Dollop the ricotta mixture over the meat sauce and spread it out. Sprinkle on half of the mozzarella.
- Finish – Add another layer of the roasted cauliflower and the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle the remaining half of the shredded mozzarella over that to finish assembling all the layers of the cauliflower ziti casserole!
- Bake – Place the baking dish into the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Finally, sprinkle on some parsley and serve it hot along with a side salad topped with my homemade Italian dressing!
Get creative and adjust this casserole to suit your tastes by using your favorite brand of marinara (or make it homemade!), adding in whatever type of ground meat you like (pork and veal are great options), and add as much cheese as your heart desires!
Just like the classic baked ziti, this ‘pasta’ dish is going to go great with a green salad and garlic bread!
If you have leftovers you can keep them stored in the fridge in a covered or airtight container for about 3 to 4 days.
More Low Carb Italian Recipes:
- Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
- Keto Zuppa Toscana
- Lasagna Stuffed Chicken
- Air Fryer Pepperoni Chips
- Italian Cauliflower Rice Skillet
- Italian Stuffed Peppers
Cauliflower Baked Ziti
For the cauliflower:
- 2 small heads of cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the meat sauce:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups sugar free marinara
- 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
To make the cauliflower:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Chop the cauliflower into small florets and add to a large bowl.
- Drizzle the cauliflower with oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and salt. Stir to coat.
- Spread cauliflower in an even layer onto a rimmed baking sheet. You will likely need two baking sheets to fit it all.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking, until cauliflower is browned around the edges.
To make the meat sauce:
- Add the beef to a large skillet over medium heat and cook, crumblin the beef as it cooks. Drain grease.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the beef and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the marinara and let cook over low heat until warmed through.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Add half of the roasted cauliflower to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Top with half of the meat sauce.
- Add the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, parsley, and garlic to a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over the meat sauce. Spread to cover the sauce. Top with half of the mozzarella.
- Add another layer of cauliflower and marinara sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving, if desired.