Hot and bubbly, this Baked Spaghetti Casserole is total comfort food like lasagna but so much easier to make.
What is baked spaghetti?
Think of this dish as a very close cousin to lasagna. The principles are the same, layers of pasta, sauce, and cheese all baked together.
Why do you use eggs in baked spaghetti?
Eggs act as a binder, keeping the pasta together and slice-able. As you can imagine, trying to lift a piece of this baked cheesy goodness constructed for a bunch of this wobbly noodles might be a mess in the waiting. By mixing the eggs and Parmesan cheese into the pasta, once it bakes it is nice and firm.
- Cooked spaghetti — cook the pasta according to package directions but stop cooking at least one minute short of the indicated time or once the spaghetti is tender. It will finish cooking in the oven.
- Ground beef — we used lean beef.
- Pasta or spaghetti sauce — homemade or jarred are perfectly acceptable; use your favorite.
- Eggs — use large or extra large eggs.
- Cheeses — ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan (you can use the green can Parm if you like too.)
- The rest — onions, garlic (fresh or granulated), olive oil, fresh basil, salt, and pepper.
Step by step directions
Step 1 — Brown the ground beef, garlic, and onions in the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Once cooked, drain any renderings.
Step 2 — Add the sauce to the meat and heat through.
Step 3 — Toss your cooked, drained, and slightly cooled noodles into a large bowl and coat with the olive oil.
Step 4 — Add the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and eggs to the pasta and toss (or stir) until fully coated.
Step 5 — Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the skillet.
Step 6 — Add half of the pasta to the skillet, smooth it out and filling in any large gaps or holes.
Step 7 — Spread half of the meat sauce over the spaghetti, making sure it makes it all the way to the sides.
Step 8 — Sprinkle freshly chopped basil over the sauce.
Step 9 — Add half of the ricotta cheese in dollops and then smooth out with the back of the spoon.
Step 10 — Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella over the ricotta and add more freshly chopped basil. Repeat steps 6-10: another layer of pasta, sauce, and ricotta cheese.
Step 11 — Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and basil. Cover and bake for about an hour.
Step 12 — After the pasta has cooked for about an hour, uncover it and allow it to bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly browning. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Adaptations and variations
- Meats — use ground Italian sausage instead of ground beef, or half and half. Unseasoned ground pork, chicken, or turkey could be used as well.
- Go meatless — Omit the meat completely and use a hearty sauce. Or finely chop up to a pound and half of mushrooms and sauce them with the onions and garlic.
- More veggies — add carrots, bell pepper, celery, mushroom, and zucchini while cooking the meat and allow to soften before adding the sauce.
- Pasta — use a different noodle, mix it up, just don’t use lasagna noodles to keep it fun.
What to serve with baked spaghetti
- Garlic bread, you can never go wrong with this classic pasta sidekick.
- Fresh green salad. Pasta and cheese are delicious but lightening your meal with a hearty green salad is a great idea.
- Vegetable side dishes. For the same reasons as the green salad, a veggie side dish won’t steer you wrong. We love these Parmesan zucchini chips.
Yes you can. Swap in equal amounts of cottage cheese for the ricotta.
Yes you can. We love our cast iron, but use what you need to use.
Absolutely. You can make this up to two days before baking. Once assembled, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Yes, before and after cooking. Before: assemble and pack in an air tight container. Freeze up to 3 months for maximum flavor retention. Allow to thaw in the fridge before baking and add an additional 10 minutes cooking time since it will be cooking from a colder temperature. If you’ve frozen this in a freezer to oven safe dish, add an hour baking time.
Freezing after it’s baked is fine too, again in an air tight container for about a month.
For the best flavor, reheat in the oven at 350° for about 30 minutes or until warmed through. Conversely, you can always warm it up in the microwave.
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- 12-inch cast iron skillet
- 12 oz. spaghetti cooked
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1/2 tbsp granulated garlic (3 minced fresh cloves)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. pepper divided
- 24 oz. pasta sauce
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup ricotta
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese grated
- fresh basil optional
- In a salted pot of boiling water, cook the spaghetti according to package directions, stopping one minute before indicated cooking time. Drain once cooked.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Brown the ground beef, garlic, and onions in the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Once cooked, drain any renderings.
- Add the sauce to the meat, mix well, and heat through. Remove from heat once cooked.
- Toss the cooked, drained, and slightly cooled noodles into a large bowl and coat with the olive oil. Then add the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and eggs to the pasta and toss (or stir) until fully coated.
- Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the skillet and half of the pasta to the skillet, smooth it out and filling in any large gaps or holes.
- Spread half of the meat sauce over the spaghetti, making sure it makes it all the way to the sides and sprinkle freshly chopped basil over the sauce.
- Add half of the ricotta cheese in dollops and then smooth out with the back of the spoon and then sprinkle the mozzarella over the ricotta and add more freshly chopped basil.
- Repeat the layers: pasta, sauce, cheeses. Garnish with a bit more fresh basil and cover with foil and bake for an hour.
- After the pasta has cooked for about an hour, uncover it and allow it to bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly browning. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Dutch Oven Daddy is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.