Cheesy baked spaghetti is the perfect comfort dish for any pasta lover. This easy baked pasta recipe includes layers of noodles, Ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and meaty sauce.
Not many things are more comforting than baked pasta. Our baked spaghetti casserole is a dish you can serve at your dinner table or bring to a family in need. It may not be as pretty as our Italian pasta bake, but it certainly is delicious.
This baked spaghetti recipe is one I received years ago when I was a part of an email recipe chain. We were young moms who were looking for freezer friendly recipes and this was one of the favorites shared.
Over the years we changed it up a little to our liking. And, although it is a good one to freeze, I rarely do because it's just so easy to throw together.
This recipe requires familiar pasta dish items you find in spaghetti and lasagna. Below is a list of ingredients you need to make this spaghetti casserole.
Grocery List for Baked Spaghetti:
- Spaghetti noodles - You can experiment with other shaped pasta, but we love this baked casserole with spaghetti. You need an entire 16 oz. box.
- Unsalted butter - This creates the buttery pasta goodness we all love.
- Grated Parmesan - I cheat and use the Kraft kind already grated, but freshly grated is wonderful if you have time!
- Ground beef - I prefer 85/15 but any will do. Grab 1 lb.
- Pasta sauce - Use your favorite 24 oz jar. If you like really saucy baked spaghetti, grab more sauce.
- Whole milk Ricotta - 15 oz. tub, do not get skim or low fat.
- Egg - 1 large
- Shredded mozzarella - I also cheat here for convenience and buy pre-shredded but you can shred your own block too. You need 1 1/2 cups, or 12 oz block.
Click here or scroll to the bottom of this post for the full recipe ingredients and instructions.
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the step-by-step on how to make baked spaghetti with cheese. The general steps are as follows:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x13 pan.
- Cook spaghetti, drain and mix with butter and half of Parmesan; set aside.
- Brown beef in skillet, drain grease.
- Stir pasta sauce into skillet with beef and heat 5 minutes.
- In medium bowl, combine Ricotta, egg and remaining half of Parmesan; set aside.
- Layer half cup sauce into 9x13 pan, then spaghetti.
- Spread Ricotta even over the noodles in the pan.
- Top with shredded mozzarella.
- Cover with foil, bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 10 more minutes.
Pasta: Our favorite is spaghetti, but you can use other pasta shapes in the recipe like rigatoni, rotini, ziti, etc.
Sauce: Instead of layering the meat sauce, try mixing it into the noodles if you prefer a more even coating on the spaghetti. If you like your baked spaghetti saucy, add even more sauce. I sometimes add up to 32 ounces.
Veggies: Saute veggies like bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, and zucchini with the meat for added heartiness. Or, stir in fresh spinach leaves to the meat sauce.
Meat: Lighten this dish with ground turkey instead of beef. Or, mix up the flavor with Italian sausage or pepperoni!
Cheese: Not a fan of Ricotta? Try cottage cheese! Want to mix up the mozzarella? Try provolone or fontina instead!
Halve: Feeding a smaller family? Make two 9x9's or 8x8's instead of one big 9x13 so you can freeze one for later.
Top Tips and Tricks
- When cooking the spaghetti, break the dry noodles into thirds before adding to the boiling water. This makes it easier for serving the baked pasta.
- If you have the time, shred the mozzarella instead of using pre-shredded because it will melt better. (Although I admit I typically use pre-shredded in this recipe.)
- Add any other Italian seasonings you like to the meat sauce for your preferred taste.
- Add more sauce if you want it super saucy. There are a dozen ways to make baked spaghetti, so do what you want to make it your own!
Your Questions Answered
Do you bake pasta covered or uncovered?
To ensure the pasta bakes evenly without drying out, we cover the pasta bake for the first 30 minutes. Then, to get that golden cheese bubbly on top, we bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered.
What temperature should pasta be cooked in the oven?
We bake this pasta in the oven at 350°F temperature to ensure it is evenly heated through without burning and drying out.
Why bake the pasta when I can just cook it?
Yes, spaghetti cooked over the stove is delicious, but when you layer it into a casserole dish and bake it with additional ingredients like cheese, it becomes even more flavorful. Plus, if you love casseroles, baked pasta is a great way to feed the family with ease.
Storage and Leftovers
Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Freeze: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw 24 hours in the fridge, then reheat in oven.
What to Serve with Baked Spaghetti
Photography by Marie Roffey.
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- 16 oz. dry spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 lb ground beef
- 24 oz. pasta sauce
- 15 oz. whole milk Ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Stir in the butter until melted, add 1/2 cup Parmesan and stir until noodles are coated.
- Meanwhile, as the spaghetti is boiling, brown the beef in a large skillet over medium heat, crumbling as it cooks; drain excess grease. Stir in pasta sauce and heat 5 more minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine the Ricotta, egg and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan; set aside.
- To assemble the casserole, spread 1/2 cup of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the cheese coated spaghetti into the pan, pushing to all corners. Layer Ricotta mixture evenly over the spaghetti and then top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake 10 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Pasta: Our favorite is spaghetti, but you can use other pasta shapes in the recipe like rigatoni, rotini, ziti, etc.
- Sauce: Instead of layering the meat sauce, try mixing it into the noodles if you prefer a more even coating on the spaghetti. If you like your baked spaghetti saucy, add even more sauce. I sometimes add up to 32 ounces.
- Veggies: Saute veggies like bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, and zucchini with the meat for added heartiness. Or, stir in fresh spinach leaves to the meat sauce.
- Meat: Lighten this dish with ground turkey instead of beef. Or, mix up the flavor with Italian sausage or pepperoni!
- Cheese: Not a fan of Ricotta? Try cottage cheese! Want to mix up the mozzarella? Try provolone or fontina instead!
- Halve: Feeding a smaller family? Make two 9x9's or 8x8's instead of one big 9x13 so you can freeze one for later.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only based on 1 serving = 1/8th of pan.