Baked Spaghetti

$8.95 recipe / $1.49 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.95 from 20 votes
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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.

Overhead view of baked spaghetti in the casserole dish, sliced.

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.

Side view of baked spaghetti being lifted out of the casserole dish.

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

Homemade Garlic Bread is awesome with baked spaghetti, but if you want some vegetables on the side I would go with something like Oven Roasted Frozen Broccoli or a simple side salad.

Overhead view of the casserole dish and spatula with one slice removed.
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Baked Spaghetti with Sausage

4.95 from 20 votes
Baked spaghetti is a warm and comforting pasta casserole. As the pasta bakes, flavor infuses into the spaghetti, making it even more flavorful.
Overhead view of a slice of baked spaghetti being lifted out of the casserole dish.
Servings 6
Prep 5 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 55 mins

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 534kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 25gFat: 22gSodium: 1063mgFiber: 5g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!
Overhead view of a slice of baked spaghetti being lifted out of the casserole dish.

How to Make Baked Spaghetti – Step By Step Photos

Diced onion and minced garlic on a cutting board.

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic.

Browned Italian Sausage in the skillet.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add ½ lb. Italian sausage and cook until browned.

Onion and garlic added to sausage.

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.

Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, and water added to the skillet.

Add one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 3oz. tomato paste, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp salt, and ½ cup water to the skillet.

Stirred sauce in 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.

Boiled spaghetti in a pot with a pasta spoon.

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.

Cheese mixture in a bowl before stirring.

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.

Spaghetti stirred into the meat sauce in the skillet.

Stir the drained spaghetti into the simmered meat sauce.

First two layers of baked spaghetti in the casserole dish.

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.

Second layer of pasta and shredded mozzarella in the casserole dish.

Add the second half of the spaghetti and meat sauce, then top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.

Baked spaghetti with foil being removed.

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.

Overhead view of baked spaghetti being scooped out of the casserole dish.

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.

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Comments

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  1. I added a layer of spinach in between and replaced sausage with white beans and it was delicious!

  2. The ingredient amounts ended up being strangely off for me. I had much less sauce and cheese mixture than the photos show (I weighed my ingredients, so not sure why the discrepancy). The spaghetti still cooked fine, though, and I liked the flavor overall. Will try doubling the cheese mix next time, and maybe use a jarred sauce to make it even simpler. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Where’s the old recipe? I bought the ingredients last week to make this and now discover a totally different recipe, needing cottage cheese instead of feta for example. Now I’m not sure what to do. This should have been posted as a different recipe; the original baked spaghetti recipe was my go-to dinner. I guess I should have printed it out.

    1. Hi Caitlin, I’d be happy to email you a copy of the old recipe. Is the email that you registered with the best one to use? XOXO -Monti

  4. You’ll definitely have time shop around for those prices now. Still a 10/10 , rockin’ easy meal! Thank you 😊

  5. Baked Spaghetti Con Queso
    Been making this for years.
    No meat.
    1 can of spicy pasta sauce.
    Shredded zucchini and shredded carrot
    250 g spaghetti (break in half) and boil for 7 min
    some pasta water
    mixed all together in 9″ sqare pan and topped with grated Jack or Mozzerella cheese
    I sprinkle chopped green onions on top of cheese and bake at 350 F about 30 min.
    My vegtarian frends love it too.
    Very budget friendly and makes 6 servings.

  6. Hi Beth, could I please also know if it’s an equal swap between the amount of feta and cottage cheese in the recipe? I’m dairy free and have a feta substitute but not one for cottage cheese. Thank you!

    1. Yes, It’s a 1 to 1 substitute. Though it doesn’t melt as well. XOXO -Monti

  7. Am saving this recipe to make later, so I can’t rate it. I wonder if cooking the pasta could be skipped, especially if using thin spaghetti?

    1. As we haven’t tested i, we can’t say for sure. But if you experiment, let us know the results! XOXO -Monti