This Baked Spaghetti is easy, hearty, comfort food that will instantly become a family favorite and go-to make-ahead dinner! Thin spaghetti is swaddled in a DIVINE tomato cream meat sauce blanketed with buttery mozzarella and nutty Parmesan with a bonus layer of melty cheese in the middle! The spaghetti is combined with the sauce instead of layering so it stays extra saucy, perfect for a fabulous freezer meal for yourself or for a friend!
Watch How to Make Baked Spaghetti Casserole
FAQs about Baked Spaghetti
It’s totally personally preference or what you’re in the mood for! We love Baked Spaghetti when we’re in the mood for pure comfort food. The tomato cream sauce is utterly divine with subtle creaminess and less acidity than traditional spaghetti sauce. The baked spaghetti casserole is extra cheesy with with a hidden layer in the middle of the casserole and then generously sprinkled on top.
The key to preventing Baked Spaghetti from drying out is to use enough sauce and to not overbake. This recipe uses two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes in puree plus heavy cream to ensure extra sauciness!
Baked Spaghetti is easy to tell when it’s done by watching the cheese. The spaghetti and the sausage are already cooked and should be warmed from the stove, so the casserole is done with the blanket of mozzarella cheese is melted on top,
Yes, pasta should be cooked in boiling salted water before baking because it will not fully bake in the oven. Take care that you cook the pasta al dente, meaning it still has a little bite to it, so it’s the perfect texture (not soggy) after it’s baked.
Yes, cover the spaghetti casserole while it bakes to melt the cheese, then uncover and let it bake a few more minutes to create a golden crust.
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Baked Spaghetti Recipe
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SPAGHETTI AND CHEESE
- 1 lb. thin spaghetti
- 3 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- fresh parsley (optional for garnish)
TOMATO CREAM SAUCE
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed (see notes for substitutions)
- 1 small onion (may sub 2 tsps. onion powder)
- 1 carrot (optional)
- 1 stalk celery (optional)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch-1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional for more heat)
- 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes in puree
- 2 teaspoons beef bouillons base, crushed cubes or powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar more or less to taste (more if carrot's omitted)
- 1 TBS EACH dried basil, dried parsley (may sub 3 TBS minced fresh)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (may sub evaporated milk)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook spaghetti: Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions until 1 minute shy of al dente – don’t overcook because it will continue to cook in the oven. Strain and rinse with cold water.
- Chop veggies: Roughly chop onion, celery, and carrot just so they fit in your food processor. Pulse until finely chopped (about 12 pulses), or chop by hand.
- Add ingredients: Stir in crushed tomatoes, bouillon, sugar, all seasonings and bay leaf.
- Simmer: Cover, leaving about a 1-inch gap, and gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add spaghetti: Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the heavy cream. Add the spaghetti and toss with tongs until evenly coated.
- Layer: Evenly layer half of the spaghetti in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with the Parmesan and 1 ½ cups mozzarella. Top with remaining spaghetti, including any leftover sauce in the pan. Top with remaining 1 ½ cups mozzarella.
- Bake: Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove the foil and bake a few more minutes for toasted cheese if desired. Garnish with fresh parsley (optional).
- Sausage substitutions: Swap the pork for hot Italian chicken or turkey sausage. You can also use plain lean ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey. If you go plain, be aware you will be losing the Italian seasonings and spice, so I recommend additional Italian seasonings, a pinch of red pepper flakes and ground fennel (about ¼ teaspoon fennel).
- Storage: Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, covered tightly with foil for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead: Assemble the entire casserole a day in advance, tightly cover, and refrigerate (without baking). When ready to enjoy, let the casserole sit on the counter for 20 minutes before baking, and add an additional 10 minutes or so to the baking time.
- To freeze: Assemble the pasta bake according to recipe directions in a freezer-safe dish, but do not bake. Wrap the dish tightly all around with 2 layers of plastic wrap, followed by foil. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen by removing the plastic wrap and re-covering with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-30 more minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the dish is warmed through.
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