You might be asking yourself, “Why on earth would I bake spaghetti??” Well, the same reason you’d want to bake ziti or any other pasta casserole. Baking spaghetti in the oven lets the spaghetti soak up flavor from the sauce and when you add in a layer of gooey melted cheese, you get an absolutely delicious and comforting casserole. It’s worth the extra 30 minutes. Promise.
What’s in Baked Spaghetti
This super simple baked spaghetti casserole has three main components: spaghetti (of course), meat sauce, and cheese. What more do you really need?
I made a really easy homemade meat sauce for this casserole, but if you’re short on time you can absolutely substitute a jar of store-bought pasta sauce. And if you want more meat in your meat sauce and have room in your budget, you can double up on the sausage and use a whole pound.
Can You Sub Ground Beef?
If you prefer ground beef in your meat sauce as opposed to Italian sausage, just make sure to double up on the herbs and spices that you add to the sauce. Italian sausage is packed with a lot of spices that bring tons of flavor to the sauce, so you’ll be missing that if you substitute it with plain ground beef.
What Else Can I Add?
There is so much room for customization with this recipe. You could add sautéed mushrooms, chopped spinach, olives, or maybe even some sautéed zucchini to add extra vegetables.
If you want to make it extra cheesy, try adding in some crumbled feta or maybe extra mozzarella to the cheese layer. I wanted to keep mine budget-friendly, so I went kind of light on the cheese and sausage this time around.
How to Store Baked Spaghetti
After baking, slice the baked spaghetti into six servings and refrigerate. The spaghetti will stay good in the fridge for about 4-5 days, or, once fully chilled, you can package up individual slices and freeze them for longer storage. This dish is so perfect for meal prepping. It’s such a lifesaver to be able to pull a serving of this out of the back of the freezer on a busy night!
What to Serve with Baked Spaghetti
Baked Spaghetti with Sausage
- 1 yellow onion ($0.42)
- 3 cloves garlic ($0.24)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 1/2 lb. Italian Sausage ($3.00)
- 3 oz. tomato paste ($0.45)
- 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes ($0.85)
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
- 12 oz. spaghetti ($1.00)
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese ($0.93)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.50)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.25)
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional garnish) ($0.05)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the Italian sausage and cook until browned.
- Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and continue to stir and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and water. Stir to combine, then allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add ½ Tbsp salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and continue to boil until the pasta is tender, but not fully cooked. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan, and pepper in a bowl.
- Lightly grease an 8×11" casserole dish. Layer in half of the spaghetti and sauce, then top with the cottage cheese mixture. Add the second half of the spaghetti and sauce, then top with the shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the dish with foil then bake the spaghetti for 30 minutes. Top the spaghetti with chopped parsley, if desired. Slice into six pieces, then serve!
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Baked Spaghetti – Step By Step Photos
Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add ½ lb. Italian sausage and cook until browned.
Add the diced onion and minced garlic, and continue to cook and stir for a few more minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 3oz. tomato paste, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp salt, and ½ cup water to the skillet.
Stir the sauce until everything is well combined and then let the sauce simmer while you make the pasta. Also, begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Add 1/2 Tbsp salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 12 ounces of spaghetti and continue to boil until it is just barely undercooked (it will cook more as it bakes). Drain the spaghetti in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese layer. Stir together 1 cup small curd cottage cheese, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, and ¼ tsp pepper.
Stir the drained spaghetti into the simmered meat sauce.
Lightly grease one 8×11-inch (or 2 liter) casserole dish. Layer in half of the spaghetti and meat sauce, then top with the cheese mixture.
Add the second half of the spaghetti and meat sauce, then top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.
Cover the casserole dish with foil then bake in the preheated 350ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly around the edges.
Let the pasta cool for about 5 minutes, then slice into six pieces and serve. You can top with chopped parsley garnish for visual effect, but it’s not needed for flavor.