Dishes Baked with Love

Extra Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Baked Spaghetti Casserole is the perfect way to re-invent your classic spaghetti dinner. This recipe hits all the marks and telling you now… Best to consider doubling the recipe. Because this one goes fast and there won’t be leftovers.

pasta casserole with scoop missing

Easy To Make Baked Spaghetti Casserole

With a baked spaghetti casserole, you take advantage of combining the sauce and the noodles in the casserole dish, so it is easier to make than you might think.

Even better, when the spaghetti sauce and cheese sauce melts into the noodles, it bakes together. Then, you coax even more flavor out of all the ingredients.

Did you think it was even possible to make spaghetti even tastier? Well, time to find out for yourself!

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ingredients on a marble backdrop

Ingredients Needed

  • ground beef (you can sub Italian sausage or even ground pork)
  • diced tomatoes and tomato sauce (Your call if you like a bit of herbs and spice then use one of the seasoned tomato sauces)
  • cheese (ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella) If you don’t have any ricotta handy, then cottage cheese will do too.
  • pasta (any spaghetti noodle will work) Be sure and undercook the pasta since it will finish cooking during the bake time in the casserole dish.
  • spices (Italian seasoning) Classic blends include basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, sometimes sage, cilantro, and red pepper flakes if you want to mix your own.
  • onion, bell pepper, garlic Sure, you could use garlic powder, but it is ten times better if you use chopped garlic.
  • egg for binding – If you don’t want to use an egg for the binder then a quarter cup of applesauce will help bind things too. Surprising, but true!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

How to make Baked Spaghetti

  1. Make the Sauce: In a large pot or large skillet, brown the beef and onion along with the bell pepper over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the garlic, spices, tomatoes, and sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Cheese Mixture: In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper if desired.
  3. Cook the Spaghetti: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the noodles. Cook the spaghetti to al dente (according to package directions) and drain. Do not rinse. Combine the noodles with the meat sauce reserving 2 cups of sauce.
  1. Assemble the Casserole: Preheat oven to 375F. In a deep 9×13 oven safe baking dish, add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce to bottom of baking dish and spread. Place 1/3 of the spaghetti mixture in the bottom in an even layer. Add 1/2 the cheese mixture and spread in an even layer.
  2. Bake: Add another 1/3 of the spaghetti mixture and top with the remaining ricotta mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti. Pour remaining 1 cup sauce over the top. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake 30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes.
close up of baked spaghetti

How long do you bake spaghetti?

Since you under-cook the spaghetti in the first place, count on the extra baking time in the casserole dish to finish cooking the spaghetti. Typically, depending on ovens, the bake time for a spaghetti casserole runs about 25-30 minutes.

Since you are starting with al dente spaghetti, which is just slightly undercooked intentionally, the time in the oven sets the texture of the noodles perfectly. Even better, the sauce bakes into the noodles and makes them incredibly more flavorful.

Do you cover baked spaghetti?

To prevent too much moisture from escaping, and to help seal in the flavors even more, covering the spaghetti casserole with foil for the first 20 minutes of cooking time is a good idea.

When you pull the foil off, then you can add a bit more cheese mixture if you want, but the goal now is letting the cheese bubble and melt and form a bit of a crust over the top. When the cheese looks nice and melted, with a few browner spots and crusting at the edges, you have achieved spaghetti casserole perfection!

bowl of spaghetti with two forks

Leftover Spaghetti Casserole

You can store any leftovers covered in the fridge for a few days. If you transfer it to a tightly lidded container then you can store it in the freezer for up to three months. I recommend freezing it in easy to retrieve portion sizes too so you don’t have to heat it all up if you just need enough to serve one or two.

Another word about leftovers…

If you just have some leftover spaghetti handy, then you can just start with that as your casserole filling too. In that case, you wouldn’t need to cook any spaghetti separately.

Reheating Spaghetti Casserole

Reheating a baked spaghetti casserole you have options.

  • Put a serving size portion in a microwave safe dish and heat it on medium high for one to two minutes. If it is frozen, then it will take about 4 or 5 minutes.
  • If it is still in the casserole dish, then cover with foil and bake it at about 300 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it is heated throughout.
  • You can also add it to a stainless steel sauce pan and heat it on medium high until it is hot. That should take about 6 to 10 minutes. Avoid using cast iron because the acid in the tomato sauce will create a metallic taste if they are in contact for too long.
fork of spaghetti over a bowl

Best Casserole Tips

  • To avoid the pasta from becoming mushy, undercook it by a few minutes so it is still firm. Then add to the casserole. It will continue to cook while baking.
  • For cheese that melts the best, shred it yourself from a block.
  • Don’t like ricotta cheese? Use cream cheese or cottage cheese.
  • This will be a favorite so make a double batch and freeze one for later.
  • Spray the bottom of your casserole with a cooking oil spray like avocado or olive oil.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, pin this to your favorite casserole Pinterest board and share it on your favorite social media channels!

fork of spaghetti

Craving More Casseroles?

Yield: 12 servings

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

white pan of baked pasta

Baked Spaghetti Casserole is the perfect way to re-invent your classic spaghetti dinner.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 2 pounds ground beef, lean is best
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounces tomato sauce
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes

Ricotta Filling

  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

Prepare the spaghetti sauce

  1. In a large, deep skillet or pot, brown the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper until the beef is no longer pink and the onion and bell pepper are starting to soften.
  2. Add the garlic, spices, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let reduce in volume while you cook the spaghetti.

Cook the spaghetti

  1. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Add some salt and the spaghetti noodles.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta noodles are al dente (roughly 9-11 minutes or according to package directions).
  4. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Prepare the ricotta filling

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg.
  2. Mix to thoroughly combine.

Assemble the spaghetti casserole

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Add the spaghetti sauce to the pasta noodles, reserving 2 cups.
  3. Toss to combine the noodles and sauce.
  4. In a deep dish 9 x 13 baking dish, pour the 1 cup reserved sauce and spread around, covering the bottom of the dish.
  5. Add 1/3 of the spaghetti and sauce mixture, spreading it into a single, even layer.
  6. Add 1/2 the ricotta mixture over the noodles spreading to the edges.
  7. Top with another 1/3 of the spaghetti and sauce mixture.
  8. Add the remaining ricotta mixture and spread out.
  9. Top with the remaining spaghetti and sauce mixture and cup of sauce.
  10. Cover the casserole with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  11. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Notes

  • To avoid the pasta from becoming mushy, undercook it by a few minutes so it is still firm. Then add to the casserole. It will continue to cook while baking.
  • For cheese that melts the best, shred it yourself from a block.
  • Don't like ricotta cheese? Use cream cheese or cottage cheese.
  • This will be a favorite so make a double batch and freeze one for later.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 394Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 798mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 37g

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