This Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti is the definition of comfort food! This dish has layers of cooked spaghetti noodles, a flavorful (but easy to make!) meat sauce, a creamy cheese mixture, and a golden, bubbly topping of mozzarella cheese. This will be your go-to for all of your family gatherings!! It’s made with simple ingredients and feeds a crowd – and the leftovers are downright delicious!
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Cheesy Baked Spaghetti:
Ground Beef: This is the backbone of our meat sauce for this spaghetti casserole. I don’t like using super lean beef–85% to 90% lean is perfect. Brown ground beef well to give this spaghetti bake extra flavor.
Marinara Sauce: This is a rich tomato sauce seasoned with a blend of herbs to give it Italian flavors. If you don’t have marinara sauce (I prefer Rao’s), feel free to use your favorite spaghetti sauce.
HOW TO MAKE CHEESY BAKED SPAGHETTI: STEP-BY-STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the printable recipe card below!
Step 1: In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onions and minced garlic and saute them until they become fragrant. Season with salt and black pepper.
Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until it’s browned and fully cooked. Break the meat apart with a wooden spoon or flat spatula while it cooks.
Step 2: Stir in the Italian seasoning and marinara sauce. Let the beef mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well until the ingredients are smooth and evenly combined.
Step 4: In a large pot of salted water, cook the spaghetti noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain the noodles well, add the cooked spaghetti to the meat mixture and toss to combine well.
Step 5: Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Then, spread half of the cooked meat and spaghetti mixture evenly on the bottom of the dish.
Step 6: Spread the cheesy sour cream mixture evenly on top of the noodles and sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese.
Step 7: Transfer the remaining spaghetti and ground beef mixture on top of the cheese mixture followed by the rest of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Step 8: Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- Don’t overcook your spaghetti: Cook the spaghetti al dente (or a minute or so less than the package directions). The spaghetti will continue to cook a bit in the oven.
- Break up the ground meat well. Use a potato masher to break up the ground meat to get a nice, fine texture!
- Give the pasta bake a rest before serving. Once removed from the oven, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to make it easier to cut into portions.
Assemble single-serving size portions in smaller glass containers that can safely go from the freezer to the oven. Bake in a small toaster oven or warm in the microwave when ready to enjoy.
STORAGE & REHEATING
Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Reheating: To reheat individual portions, use the microwave for a quick option and reheat in 30-second intervals. Cover it with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out.
If you want to reheat the entire dish, cover the pasta casserole dish with foil and bake at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes or until warmed through. Remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of cook time.
Freezing: Wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. You can also transfer individual portions to airtight freezer-safe containers and freeze. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat per instructions.
Additions & Substitutions
- Veggies: Stir in sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, or wilted spinach for added flavor.
- Spices: Crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, or a pinch of cayenne can add a subtle kick to the spaghetti sauce.
- Meat: Swap the beef with ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option.
- Noodles: Replace the spaghetti noodles with another pasta shape like fusilli or penne pasta. Use whatever is most convenient and what you have on hand.
- Cheeses: Use any melty cheeses like mozzarella or cheddar cheese. Parmesan cheese on top is a nice finishing touch and similar to what you would get in a classic spaghetti.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
There are two ways of meal prepping. You can either prepare the individual components separately and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Then assemble when ready to bake. Or you can assemble the layers, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring it to room temperature first before baking.
Ricotta cheese will give you the best flavor and texture but you can use cottage cheese in a pinch. Look for low moisture and small curd cottage cheese if possible.
In a Dinner Rut?
Grab your 7-Day Meal Plan + 3 Bonus Recipes!
Comforting Pasta Dishes You’ll Love
Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti
- Potato Masher gets the meat broken up nice and fine!
- 12 oz. dry spaghetti noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic cloves, minced about 3-4 large cloves
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef I prefer 85-90% lean for this dish
- 2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
- 2 24 oz. jars of marinara sauce (about 6 cups) we love Rao's!
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese freshly shredded, if possible!
- sea salt/freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- freshly chopped parsley or basil (optional)
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large pot, cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package instructions until al dente. Give the noodles a quick rinse so they don't stick. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
- Cook Garlic and Onions: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onions and minced garlic, and cook until they become fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
- Cook Beef: Add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook it until it's browned and fully cooked (4-5 minutes). Break the meat apart with a wooden spoon while it cooks. Pro Tip: Use a potato masher toward the end of cooking, to get the neat broken up nice and fine! Season meat with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Add Sauce: Stir in the marinara sauce. Let the beef mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the cooked spaghetti to the meat mixture and combine.
- Mix: While the sauce is simmering, in a medium-sized bowl combine the ricotta cheese cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well until ingredients are smooth and evenly combined.
- Assemble: Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Then, spread half of the cooked spaghetti and meat sauce evenly on the bottom of the pan. Spread the cheesy sour cream mixture evenly on top of the noodles and then sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese over the cheese mixture.Pour the remaining meaty spaghetti sauce on top of the cheese layer. Finish by sprinkling the remaining 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese over the top. Feel free to add more of you like!
- Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through. Allow the dish to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley or basil if you like!
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator