Cheesy baked spaghetti is the perfect meal for when you can’t decide between pasta or a casserole! Spaghetti noodles are combined with a meaty tomato sauce and three types of cheese, then baked in the oven for a kid-friendly dinner.
I love stuffed shells, manicotti, and lasagna, but let’s be real—sometimes it’s a hectic weeknight, you’re tired, and you just don’t want to be stuffing pasta or fussing with lasagna noodles that are sticking together and tearing instead of cooperating. These are the nights when you pull out this baked spaghetti recipe and make an easy baked pasta dinner. It’s packed with carbs and cheese, which I think we can all agree are the two most essential food groups, right? And even better, your kids will love it. It’s like spaghetti and meatballs in casserole form! With cheese!
Easy Baked Spaghetti Recipe
The other thing I love about baked spaghetti is that it’s a full meal in a single casserole dish. If you want, you can round things out by adding a side salad, roasted vegetables, or some garlic bread (you can never go wrong with garlic bread), but you don’t really have to because this is so filling on its own.
Even without serving something on the side, you’re likely to have leftovers because this makes a lot of food. You can have the rest the next day and give yourself a break from cooking, or you can pop it in the freezer and give your future self a break! Like most pasta bake recipes, baked spaghetti freezes beautifully.
- Spaghetti – Use a regular spaghetti, not one of the alternative types made with beans or other ingredients. I’ve found that those don’t always hold up well to baking.
- Ground beef – You can use ground turkey or a plant-based ground to make this vegetarian.
- Onion – A yellow or white onion will do.
- Pasta sauce – You’ll be adding meat to it, so don’t buy a meat sauce! Marinara is perfect, or one with added veggies.
- Seasoned salt
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Cottage cheese – You can use ricotta if you prefer. Or, if you don’t like the curds in cottage cheese, you can give it a whirl in your blender until it’s smooth.
- Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese – Or use an Italian blend.
- Fresh basil – Parsley works too if you happen to have that on hand!
How to Make Baked Spaghetti
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 13×9-inch or 3-quart baking dish. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions for al dente.
2. Make the Sauce
In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook the beef and onion until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is tender, 6 to 8 minutes. As the beef cooks, use a wooden spoon to break it into crumbles. Drain, then stir in in pasta sauce and seasoned salt.
3. Prep the Spaghetti
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the Parmesan cheese and butter. Add the drained spaghetti to the egg mixture and toss to coat.
Place half of the spaghetti mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top this with half of the cottage cheese, followed by the meat sauce and mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of each, then place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and continue to bake until the baked spaghetti is heated through, 20-25 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving and garnish with basil, if desired.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Baked Spaghetti
You can keep leftover baked spaghetti in the original baking dish and cover it with foil, or you can transfer it to an airtight storage container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat it in a 350ºF oven until it’s warmed through (keep it covered with foil to prevent it from drying out), or in the microwave. If you freeze it, I recommend letting it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Do you cook pasta before making pasta bake?
Although there are some recipes that include water in the dish to eliminate the need for boiling the pasta first, this isn’t one of them! You do need to cook the spaghetti before making baked spaghetti. This eliminates the potential for ending up with under- or over-cooked pasta.
How do you keep baked spaghetti from getting soggy?
Four words: cook it al dente. When the pasta is slightly under-cooked before using it in a pasta bake, it will soften up a little bit more in the oven and end up perfect.
How do you keep pasta from getting hard in pasta bake?
Baking it covered helps; it’s also important to make sure the sauce completely covers the pasta layer, without bare spots along the edges.
More Easy Pasta Dinners
- Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta with Chicken
- One Skillet Pasta Primavera with Meatballs
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Baked Ziti
- 16 ounces spaghetti
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 24 ounces pasta sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 tablespoons butter melted
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Chopped fresh basil optional
- Preheat oven to 350°. Cook spaghetti according to package directions for al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, 6-8 minutes, breaking beef into crumbles; drain. Stir in pasta sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.
- Place half the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13×9-in. or 3-qt. baking dish. Top with half the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, 20-25 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with basil.