This is the BEST Cheesy Baked Spaghetti recipe! Perfect for the whole family with homemade meat sauce, spaghetti noodles and gooey cheese layers.

Every good Midwesterner needs a few good casserole recipes they can make to serve a crowd! I made this easy baked spaghetti recipe with the idea of masking a casserole recipe that was a mix between between lasagna and spaghetti pie.

In this easy recipe, I made a homemade meat sauce using simple ingredients. But, you can absolutely use jarred pasta sauce! The meat sauce is tossed with cooked spaghetti to coat it, and then added to a baking dish.

a photo of a baked spaghetti casserole in a white dish

There are two layers to this dish! In between the layers of spaghetti and meaty sauce, you’ll add melty cheeses. This does two things for the dish! First, of course it adds delicious, rich flavor.

a horizontal photo of a spaghetti casserole

Second, as the cheese melts, it forms a seal. This helps keep the spaghetti layers nice and moist. One of my main gripes about spaghetti pie is that it can get a bit dry. Adding these layers of cheese keeps your spaghetti casserole from drying out.

a photo of a slice of cheesy baked spaghetti on a white plate

You can prep this recipe ahead of time, and bake it the next day! Just be sure to cover it, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

a photo of a cheesy baked spaghetti casserole with a slice cut out

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Ingredient Substitutions 

The best recipes are the ones that use the ingredients you already have on hand!  I have several substitutions suggestions below for this baked pasta dish. 

  • Substitute cream cheese for the ricotta cheese. 
  • Substitute marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce for the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. You will need to halve the Italian seasoning if you do this. I also recommend omitting the salt as this will have already been added to the jarred sauce. You can also use canned diced tomatoes. 
  • Substitute ground chicken meat to make an easy baked chicken spaghetti.  
  • Have some fun with the cheeses! You can substitute cheddar cheese, fontina cheese, or provolone cheese for the mozzarella. 
  • Substitute spicy Italian sausage for a little heat! 
  • Use lean ground turkey for a lower fat dish! 
  • Substitute any other variety of pasta noodles for the classic spaghetti noodles. 

For added protein, consider using chickpea pasta! 

Ingredient Addition Ideas

  • Add 1/2 cup diced green pepper or red pepper when you add the onions for extra flavor! 
  • Add a hearty pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce for extra spice

Serving Suggestions

I recommend serving this baked pasta recipe with a simple salad and garlic bread! Or, you could serve it alongside some crusty bread and this Olive Oil Bread Dip.

For dessert, you could try these sweet and salty Cheese Bars, or my Loaded Brownie Mix Cookies. I think this casserole makes a great weeknight meal or it can work as a dish for larger family gatherings! 

It is also a great recipe to make for a meal train or family member in need. 

Storing Leftover Spaghetti Bake

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat your leftover baked spaghetti in the oven or microwave.

I think this dish is even better the next day! 

a close up photo of a baked spaghetti casserole
a photo of a baked spaghetti casserole in a white dish

The Best Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Casserole with Meat Sauce

Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This is the BEST Cheesy Baked Spaghetti recipe! Perfect for the whole family with homemade meat sauce, spaghetti noodles and gooey cheese layers.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

For the cheesy layer:

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

For topping:

  • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Remove ricotta cheese from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature. This will make it easier to spread!
  3. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water, following package directions until al dente. Do not overcook. Drain spaghetti and set aside. You can toss the cooked spaghetti in olive oil to keep it from clumping. 
  4. In a large skillet, brown ground beef or Italian sausage over medium heat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If there is a lot of grease, drain the meat on a paper-towel lined plate, then return to the skillet. Add the chopped onion to the crumbled meat and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
  5. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and heavy cream. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 5-10 minutes, letting the flavors meld together.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet with the creamy sausage mixture. Toss everything together with tongs until the spaghetti is evenly coated with the creamy sauce
  7. Transfer half of the spaghetti mixture to the prepared baking dish. Layer half of the mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses in an even layer over the spaghetti.
  8. Add the remaining spaghetti on top of the cheese layer. Pour the rest of the sauce as well. Evenly spread or sprinkle the remaining mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses over the top.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheesy top layer is melted and bubbly, and the edges are golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired. Slice and serve warm.

Notes

This recipe makes a heaping amount of spaghetti! It will fill your 9x13'' casserole pan. If you have a larger pan, use it! 

To save time, use jarred pasta sauce! You will need about 3 jars of sauce to substitute for the canned tomatoes and seasonings in the recipe above.

Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 355Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 80mgSodium 366mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 22g

The nutrition for this recipe is calculated by an app and may be incorrect.

Did you make this recipe?

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