Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

How To Make Baked Spaghetti

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Grease a baking dish and heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook the pasta. Add the spaghetti and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook according to package directions until the spaghetti is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Brown the beef and make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the beef and use a stiff spatula to break it up into large pieces. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and let the meat brown undisturbed 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces with the spatula and and continue to cook until the beef is mostly browned with no pink showing, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the marinara.

Make the ricotta layer. When the pasta is ready, drain but do not rinse. Let cool for 5 minutes, just long enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling. While the pasta is cooling, stir the ricotta, Italian seasoning, and garlic together in a small bowl.

Whisk together the egg and Parmesan cheese. Place the eggs and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the drained and cooled spaghetti and toss to coat.

Layer the spaghetti, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella. Place 1/2 of the pasta mixture in the baking dish in an even layer. Dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, the spread with a spatula. Spoon 1/2 of the meat sauce over the ricotta, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients.

Bake covered 30 minutes, then 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until the edges are bubbling and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Baked spaghetti is pretty much a mash-up of all the best qualities of classic spaghetti and a cheesy baked lasagna. The hearty casserole consists of spaghetti noodles and meat sauce layered with creamy ricotta and melty mozzarella cheese, which, needless to say, makes it just the kind of meal you want to tuck into mid-winter. Plus you can easily make it ahead of time, and if you're not serving it to a crowd, you can keep leftovers and enjoy for days to come.

We're going to walk you through the steps of making baked spaghetti, so that you're ready to go anytime the craving strikes.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Why Baked Spaghetti Is the Cheap & Easy Meal You Need

Baked spaghetti is beloved for its ability to feed a hungry crowd both easily and cheaply. Basic spaghetti and meat sauce (ground beef and jarred sauce, no less) are mixed with two eggs and three types of cheese before heading to the oven to bake and bubble. Rest assured, the process is easier than making lasagna, but the results are just as satisfying.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Step-by-Step Baked Spaghetti

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Baking and Serving Baked Spaghetti

The spaghetti bakes for 30 minutes covered, which keeps things moist while the eggs set. You'll then uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the whole thing is bubbly and the cheese is browned. Just after baking, let the casserole cool for five minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

Grease a baking dish and heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook the pasta. Add the spaghetti and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook according to package directions until the spaghetti is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Brown the beef and make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the beef and use a stiff spatula to break it up into large pieces. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and let the meat brown undisturbed 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces with the spatula and and continue to cook until the beef is mostly browned with no pink showing, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the marinara.

Make the ricotta layer. When the pasta is ready, drain but do not rinse. Let cool for 5 minutes, just long enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling. While the pasta is cooling, stir the ricotta, Italian seasoning, and garlic together in a small bowl.

Whisk together the egg and Parmesan cheese. Place the eggs and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the drained and cooled spaghetti and toss to coat.

Layer the spaghetti, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella. Place 1/2 of the pasta mixture in the baking dish in an even layer. Dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, the spread with a spatula. Spoon 1/2 of the meat sauce over the ricotta, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients.

Bake covered 30 minutes, then 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until the edges are bubbling and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Serves 10 to 12

Prep time: 35 minutes ; cooking time: 1 hour

  • Cooking spray

  • 16 ounces

    dried spaghetti, such as Barilla

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 (24-ounce) jar

    marinara sauce

  • 1 (15-ounce) container

    full-fat ricotta cheese

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried Italian seasoning

  • 1 clove

    garlic, minced

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

  • 4 cups

    shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (16 ounces)

  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for serving (optional)

Grease a baking dish and heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook the pasta. Add the spaghetti and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook according to package directions until the spaghetti is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Brown the beef and make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the beef and use a stiff spatula to break it up into large pieces. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and let the meat brown undisturbed 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces with the spatula and continue to cook until the beef is mostly browned with no pink showing, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the marinara.

Drain the pasta and cool slightly. When the pasta is ready, drain but do not rinse. Let cool for 5 minutes, just long enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Make the ricotta layer. While the pasta is cooling, stir the ricotta, Italian seasoning, and garlic together in a small bowl.

Whisk together the egg and Parmesan cheese. Place the eggs and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the drained and cooled spaghetti and toss to coat.

Layer the spaghetti, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella. Place 1/2 of the pasta mixture in the baking dish in an even layer. Dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, then spread with a spatula. Spoon 1/2 of the meat sauce over the ricotta, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients.

Bake covered 30 minutes, then 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until the edges are bubbling and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes more. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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