How To Make Baked Spaghetti

updated Feb 3, 2020
Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Step-by-step instructions for making the best-ever baked spaghetti.

Serves10 to 12

Prep35 minutes

Cook1 hour

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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)

Why Baked Spaghetti Is the Cheap & Easy Meal You Need

Baked spaghetti casserole 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)

Step-by-Step Baked Spaghetti

  • Cook the pasta and coat with eggs and Parmesan. Arguably the weirdest step of this whole endeavor is cooking the spaghetti and then tossing it with raw eggs and Parmesan cheese, but this ensures that the spaghetti, meat sauce, and ricotta layers hold together when baked. Then, after it comes out of the oven, you’ll be able to cut the casserole into perfect squares for serving.
  • Brown the beef and coat with sauce. While the water for the pasta is coming to a boil, you’ll brown the beef in a skillet and then stir in the jarred marinara. Coating the browned beef in the sauce before assembling the casserole keeps the beef moist and tender while it bakes.
  • Amp up ricotta with garlic and herbs. This simple step can be done at anytime. You’ll mix a clove of minced garlic and a few dashes of Italian seasoning into the whole-milk ricotta, which is an easy way to boost its flavor.
  • Layer and bake until set. Here’s how you’re going to do it: spaghetti, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, and repeat! This part is fun, and a great way to get the kids involved in the dinner-making process.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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.

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Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Step-by-step instructions for making the best-ever baked spaghetti.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.