DIY Homemade Spaghettio’s

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DIY Homemade SpaghettiosAre you a closet SpaghettiO’s fan?  Take it a step further by admitting you also like their meatball version…or (alas!) their hot dog one?  😉  Or, did I just lose a few of you from readership at the disgust that I would even mention this distasteful cheesy American canned “pasta”?  Whichever side you’re on, I have to take the leap and confess that I am a fan.  If you’re hating me now because of it, please keep reading.  Maybe I can win you back with my homemade version instead.

As much as I love heating up a can of Spaghettio’s, and eating the entire thing in one setting, I don’t love the thought of the preservatives and imitation ingredients involved.  Judah is now at the age where he will start getting hooked on these sort of kid fanatic foods, so I set out to create my own version that is much healthier.

DIY Homemade Spaghettios 2I say “much healthier” very lightly, though, as I tend to add probably more butter than you wish to handle (on your hips).  🙂  You can definitely use less, to your taste, with no tweaking of the other ingredients.  My version is below, and doesn’t taste exactly like the canned variety, but we love this one more!

DIY Homemade Spaghettio’s

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 adult servings, 6-8 child servings

DIY Homemade Spaghettio’s

  • 8 oz ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, to al dente (about 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saute' pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar and butter. Heat, while stirring, until the butter is melted. Slowly stir in the milk, then turn the heat to low. Simmer at low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir the shredded cheese into the soup until melted. Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour as much of the tomato sauce into the pasta as desired; stir to combine. (I don't like mine extremely soupy, so usually have about 1/3 cup of the sauce leftover.)


Looking for the convenience factor? Double the batch and freeze the rest for later. Heat on the stove top or in the microwave when you're ready for that quick lunch or dinner!

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  1. this made me giddy. however it won’t let me pin the images…

    good recipe, hope i find my way back to it to make it…

  2. We LOVE Spaghetti-os here!! My son loves the ones with meatballs, I love the plain ones. I have to have several slices of white wonder bread to dip in it though.

    • Oh my gosh! I’m glad someone else does the same as me! I won’t touch spaghetti-o’s unless I have my bread to dip in it! 😀

  3. I was JUST craving spaghetti-o’s the other day! this is tons better than the canned version, obviously! love it 🙂

  4. My son would love the spoon with the truck. Where did you find it?

    • Hi Janene,
      My mother-in-law bought that for Judah…I think from Whole Foods. It came with a matching fork and plate. 🙂

      • I can’t wait to make these for sure! Just wanted to let Janene know my son got a set of fork, spoon and doozer (to push around food)from a kids educational toy store. I have been in a few different educational toy stores and every one so far has them.

  5. LOVE IT!!! I have been known to indulge in an occasional can. Takes me back to my college dorm days!

  6. I’m not a fan of Spaghettio’s…however I’m sure my kids and daycare kids will be! Thanks for posting this…can’t wait to try it for them 🙂

  7. Laurie F says:

    I am also a closet Spaghettio’s fan. Once a year, I purchase a can and eat it cold — yes, I love it best cold. And, it has to be the plain ones. Purest at heart. 🙂 However, your recipe looks great and it is on my “to make” list! YUM!

  8. I have no shame admitting I just bought a can of the ones with hot dogs this past weekend! I’m saving them for a time when my husband is not around and I want a quick meal for myself.

    I’ll have to try this recipe. I always have ditalini on hand, it’s my favorite small shaped pasta, as well as the other ingredients.

  9. Mmm what a yummy treat!

  10. I love that you just posted this because I just bought a can of spaghettios for my daughter to try, but haven’t opened them yet because I can’t bring myself to give her all the sodium and preservatives! However every kid needs to try spaghettios, right? I will defintely be trying your make at home version.

  11. I used to love spaghetti-os but I am sure this at home version is so much better!! Especially because I love ditalini so much!:) looks fabulous and comforting!

  12. Love it! Now what I want to know is how to replicate the convience factor. Is there a way to can or freeze this so I can microwave it and have it ready in one minute??

    • YES! You can definitely freeze it. I would just freeze batches in a ziplock bag and heat on the stovetop. (But, it’ll probably take more than one minute.) 🙂

  13. This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing your recipe, can’t wait to try it out.

    I featured your recipe on my blog, feel free to come check it out 🙂

  14. Oh no, I am not a closet Spaghetti-O’s fan; I will proudly admit my love for them any day! I grew up eating them with a slice of American cheese melted on top. Delicious. It makes me so happy to see your homemade version!

  15. A heads up on freezing the pasta…cook it a hair before al dente. Just because when I was pregnant we froze a lot of dinners and leftovers and the pasta seemed to fall apart, especially in a tomato sauce during the reheat. Try to under cook the pasta to make a “freezer” batch then cook it right for your “fresh” batch. Just an idea 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  16. Where did you get the awesome truck spoon?

    • Hi Geri, My mother in law bought it for Judah. I believe she got it at Whole Foods Market. It came with a matching plate and fork. 🙂

  17. This is delicious!

  18. I just made this for dinner and it was really good! I added capers, you could add any vegetable and it would taste great. Great basic recipe, definitely better then spaghettio’s

  19. I made this for my student staff tonight and they LOVED it! I tripled the recipe and it made a lot more sauce than I would need. I would think the sauce recipe is definitely enough for a pound of pasta. But it was darn tasty!! They were literally licking the bowl.

  20. winner!winner! This was way better then the chicken dinner 🙂 God bless you…this saved me a TON of time! I doubled the batch…( which left me with several cups of the sauce to spare) and I par-cooked the noodles to just before al dente and then ladeled the sauce over and put on the “keep warm” of my crockpot! YUM! and thank you!

  21. This was delicious! Definitely hit that “spaghetti o’s” spot minus the metallic can taste. Definitely going to make this all of the time!

  22. Love the recipe. I’m eating it right now and had to take a sec to thank you. So thanks!

  23. WOW! I am so excited to try this! My kids have never once had spaghetti-os! I feel bad sometimes for the things they miss out on. I am trying this in my lunch meal plan next week! Thanks!

  24. Holy Moly this is FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC!! I have made this twice now and my family of 6 gobbles it up!! The kids ask for seconds!! I have doubled the recipe both times, and it re-heats great! Love it! Thanks!

  25. I made this today for lunch!! It was delicious. My picky husband even loved it!

  26. Tried this for lunch today – it tasted fabulous!!!! Unfortunately, I didn’t share it with my girls because my sauce was gritty (they have complained about the texture when I tried to make my own mac ‘n cheese). I followed the directions, but it was still gritty after 15 minutes of stirring the shredded cheese into the warm tomato sauce mixture. What am I doing wrong? Do I just need to be more patient? do I need to turn the temp up/down? This tasted too good not to try again…I’d just like the sauce to be smoother.

    • Hi Debbie,
      Not sure what made yours gritty as mine has never turns out that way. I usually use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe, but maybe try using block cheese and then shredding that. It usually melts better and might not end up gritty for you. 🙂 Glad you liked the taste anyway! Maybe it’s better to have an excuse to keep it all for yourself and not share with the kids anyway. haha! 🙂

  27. jkincolorado says:

    Made these tonight – LOVE THEM!!!!! Sooo much better than the canned O’s. Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

  28. made this last night – sooo sooooo good! my husband was literally licking the bowl! can’t thank you enough for sharing this recipe 🙂 and can’t wait to eat the leftovers!!!

  29. I made this recipe last night and it was amazing! I almost ended up eating the whole batch. Haha. Thank you so much. I’ve been telling everyone about it, hopefully you’ll get even more exposure and love.

  30. I’ve made these a few times now and it’s a pretty tasty recipe! I read the ingredients on my can of Annie’s Allstars and found that it has paprika and onion powder in it, but your recipe does not. I added a bit of paprika and pressed a couple of chunks of onion through a garlic press for my version and it comes out absolutely divine! Thanks for taking the time to make this recipe and post it!

  31. Made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! Highlighting it on my blog today with links to you of course!:)

  32. If you choose to freeze it, you could put it in muffin pans so you have quick, and easy portions ready to go.

  33. Shannon M. says:

    Just made these for my me and my kids for lunch and I am impressed! It was easy, fairly quick and super delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I WILL make this again! 🙂

  34. Yum! I just made this for lunch and my 18-month-old and I are enjoying it! :o) I made half of the sauce (I used an 8 oz can of tomato sauce) and cooked 6 oz of pasta and it was a good ratio for me. :o) Thanks for a quick and yummy recipe!

  35. Yum! I just made this for dinner and it was enjoyed by all! Definitely gives you the Spaghetti Os experience! My 3yo (who has never had the canned version) especially enjoyed them! I loved that it was so easy to put together and the ingredients will be easy to keep on hand for quick lunches/dinners in the future. My husband asked me to double the recipe next time. I’ll have to experiment, but I wonder if making 1.5x the sauce recipe would be enough sauce for 16oz of pasta? I did have sauce leftover, but I’m sure everyone has a different preference as to how much sauce:pasta they have.

    Thanks for sharing!

  36. I saw this on Pinterest today and happened to have all of the ingredients on-hand. Except that I had macaroni, not ditalini. Using the macaroni, even doubling the recipe, there wasn’t quite enough sauce to make it “soup.” That being said, the flavor was amazing! This is definitely a keeper! Even my picky toddler asked for more.

  37. Can’t wait to try this. My son has always loved spaghetti o’s. Since he was little, I would add cottage cheese to it, trying to health it up a bit. (lasagna recipe calls for cottage cheese, why not?) Anyways, he won’t eat it any other way and all of his friends think its so strange 😉 (he’s 17 now).

  38. Just made this, and had to say it was delicious!

  39. Courtney says:

    I’ve made this twice now and it’s a huge hit!! We make ours with gluten free brown rice elbows and its great! My oldest likes the tomato sauce as tomato soup. So I keep the sauce and noodles separate and make everyone’s bowl individually. Great recipe!!!

    • Thanks, Courtney! Wonderful that it’s good with the gluten free rice elbows, too!! And, great idea to serve them separate!

  40. Just wanted to stop (back) by… For about the billionth time! I was indeed a closet Spaghettio’s fan; I had been avoiding them because of the high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. Now I would rather have your version than theirs any day! I make these at least 3x per month. By the way, they really do freeze perfectly for a quick lunch 🙂 Thank you so much!

  41. This is absolutely wonderful. Perfect recipe as is. I doubled it and actually did not have any sauce leftover – we like it soupy! I did cut the butter by half (4 T for the double recipe), and it was still creamy and good. Finally I could give my little organic/natural/low-sugar 2 year old some spaghettios! 🙂

  42. I made this and it is pretty good. But what kind of meat could I add to it so that maybe my husband will eat it?

    • You can always try a meatballs variety like the canned version. If you have a favorite homemade meatball recipe, just add it to the finished pasta. 🙂

  43. I’m eating this now! My boys love spaghettios but I don’t buy them. They are gobbling this up! I don’t like spaghettios but I’m loving this! I added pepperonis, not healthy but it is yummy!

  44. Going to try this and add white beans!

  45. Made this today and added turkey sausage. It was so good!!

  46. I’m 26 and I loved spaghetti-o’s! Even the kinds with franks, haha. I saw this and thought I had to try it, and I’m glad I did! I only made a half batch because I didn’t have enough tomato sauce, but it came out perfectly! I didn’t add the red pepper flakes because I don’t like much spice, and I was a but worried they would come out bland but they were great! I might try it with deli American cheese next time instead of cheddar so it comes out a bit creamier. But either way it was delicious and I’m so glad I found this! I can’t wait to share it with my niece and nephew 🙂

  47. Oh. My. Goodness. I have made this several times now with a variety of pastas. It is soooo easy and we all LOVE it. I usually sub some heavy cream in place of the milk and butter. I love the kick the red pepper gives this dish. Amazing and so much better and more economical than the alternative!

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Thanks, Hannah! I love that your using a variety of pastas. 🙂 Have you tried ABC pasta? I think I’m going to do that for the kids next!

  48. I substituted hunts spaghetti sauce (was out of tomato sauce) and it was great! Little thicker than the picture but very good. Daughter asked me to make it again before finishing her plate and my son hasn’t come up for a breath!

  49. I have been making this for my daughter for 3 years and she loves it, now my 1 year old son devours it! Best homemade spaghetti-o recipe. I even like it!!

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Yay, Jenni! I’m so glad! Hard to believe it’s been just about 3 years since posting this recipe! 🙂 We’ve been enjoying it that long, too!

  50. Everyone loved this at dinner. I puréed a large handful of spinach and a bell pepper and added it to the sauce to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge, and it worked well. The color was a little darker, but it still tasted great.

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