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Baked spaghetti is an easy and tasty casserole meal that’s requires little prep for a delicious weeknight meal. Made with pantry staples, this simple meal is perfect for the whole family and it’s great for make ahead meals.
I grew up with my mom making “macarona bil furun” which is Arabic for spaghetti in the oven or spaghetti casserole. And basically the recipe entailed cooking spaghetti, making a chunky meat sauce on the stovetop and then mixing them together and baking in the oven. This Easy Baked Spaghetti is a variation of that hearty comforting recipe from my childhood but more simplified!
Easy Baked Spaghetti is a one pan meal
It turns out you really don’t need to cook the spaghetti before baking it in the oven. I know a lot of people will disagree with this method of cooking pasta. But if you toss the pasta with olive oil, and the right amount of marinara and water, it bakes just fine! And the best part is that it’s a one-pan meal that’s all literally tossed together and baked together.
How do you make baked spaghetti
To make a traditional spaghetti casserole, you would prepare the meat sauce and vegetables and cook the spaghetti. Then mix everything together in a baking dish, top with cheese and bake until bubbly.
In my version of this easy baked spaghetti recipe, I’m making it simpler to prepare with less dishes involved. Simply throw everything in a baking dish, cover with cheese and then bake. No really, it’s that easy!
Start with a pound of spaghetti and add some olive oil and any aromatics. I would definitely recommend onions, garlic and some type of seasoning, like Italian seasoning. Then mix all those ingredients well together by hand.
Next, add the vegetables, marinara and water. I like to use at least 1 cup of liquid for every 4 ounces of pasta. So in this case, I add 3 cups of water and 2 cups of marinara. Give everything a really good toss to incorporate all the flavors and make sure the spaghetti is coated with the olive oil and sauce.
Now, top it with cheese and bake it in the oven until the spaghetti is tender and the cheese is bubbly. It is a totally hands-off approach so you don’t need to mix the spaghetti halfway or cover it or anything. If you want to though, you could give it a toss halfway through the baking process. But it’s completely not necessary.
When you remove it from the oven, you can top it with fresh herbs and dig in! It doesn’t get easier than this easy baked spaghetti! And the best part is you can really adapt it to include any vegetables you like, different cheeses and even meat or chicken.
Tips for making baked spaghetti
- Coat the spaghetti with the olive oil. Since you will not cook the spaghetti before placing it in the baking dish, it’s important to coat the spaghetti with the olive oil to make sure it doesn’t stick together while baking in the oven.
- Salt the spaghetti before it bakes. Just as it’s important to add salt when cooking spaghetti traditionally, it’s the same idea when baking spaghetti. Add the salt right to the pasta in the beginning for best flavor.
- Make sure to use enough liquid for the spaghetti. These one pan meals can be tricky to measure the right amount of liquid for pasta. But in general 4 ounces of pasta will take about 1 cup of liquid. I like it a little more saucy, so I use 5 cups of liquid for 16 ounces of pasta. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is enough liquid to cover the pasta in the baking dish.
- Don’t cover the baked spaghetti in the oven. It may seem necessary to cover the dish so that the cheese doesn’t burn or the spaghetti doesn’t dry out, but it’s not important to do this. And I would recommend against it because you’ll miss out on the bubbly crusty cheesy top.
Ways to customize baked spaghetti
The great thing about this recipe is that you can literally make it a different way every time without exact measurements really needed. You can use whatever you have leftover, change it up every time and top with any shredded cheese.
Here are some fun ways to change it up:
- Add meat. I made this vegetarian so that it’s all literally baked in one pan. But you can add some ground beef, ground turkey or chicken to the recipe. You can cook them on the stovetop or use leftovers.
- Incorporate more vegetables. I only used onions and peppers, but mushrooms work really well in this recipe, as well as spinach, zucchini, eggplant or even olives.
- Change up the sauce. Instead of marinara, you can certainly use a creamy alfredo sauce or even a pesto sauce.
- Mix up the herbs. I kept it simple with Italian seasoning and basil, but you can also use fresh orengo, rosemary or thyme.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze baked spaghetti?
If you are planning ahead for meals, you can freeze the dish before you bake it. Wrap it securely and then simply thaw it in the fridge overnight and bake as per the instructions.You can also freeze the baked spaghetti for up to 3 months.
How long will these easy baked spaghetti recipe keep?
I always make a double batch of this meal and then store the leftovers in an airtight container and pop in the fridge. It will keep well for 4 or 5 days, for an easy meal later in the week or as lunches. Just heat it up through in the oven.
What do you serve with this spaghetti casserole?
This pasta bake is a great meal within itself, but for some extra goodness it can be served alongside a side of veggies or a fresh salad. If your feeling indulgent, serve with some garlic bread. Check out these recipes for side dish options:
This is a perfect meal in a pan that the whole family will love and so easy to feed a crowd. The great thing about it is that there’s no big planning needed and you can really use whatever you have leftover in your fridge or pantry. It’s a cheesy, comforting delicious recipe that is sure to make it to the weekly dinner rotation!
For more pasta dishes, check out:
- Pesto Spaghetti
- Baked Feta Pasta
- Homemade Lasagna
- Pasta Bolognese
- One Pan Pasta
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Cheese Stuffed Shells
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Easy Baked Spaghetti recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Easy Baked Spaghetti
- 1 pound spaghetti not cooked
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
- ½ cup sliced green pepper
- ½ cup sliced red pepper
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups marinara
- 2 sprigs basil plus torn leaves for garnish
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place the uncooked spaghetti in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Add the olive oil, garlic, onions, Italian seasoning and salt. Uses your hands to gently toss and evenly distribute the ingredients.
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, water, marinara and basil on top of the spaghetti, and toss it again using tongs to evenly coat the spaghetti with the sauce and vegetables.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top to cover the spaghetti.
- Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 45 – 55 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbly; stirring once halfway through.
- Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve