This baked spaghetti recipe is made with ground beef, marinara sauce, and other simple ingredients. It's comforting and has the tastiest top cheese layer baked to golden perfection!
I think you'll definitely also enjoy my Million Dollar Spaghetti.
Why you'll love it
When you need a low-effort meal on the table fast, this cheesy baked spaghetti is a simple casserole that will save the day. You probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen and pantry, and it's an inexpensive way to make an irresistible hot dinner in just 45 minutes!
It's easy enough to make on a weeknight, but it's also one of those recipes that would be great for Sunday dinner so that you have extras for a couple of days. It's also a wonderful make ahead meal so you can pop it in the oven anytime.
What goes into it
- Spaghetti - use your usual brand
- Ground beef - I prefer 90% lean
- Onion - I normally use sweet (Vidalia), but yellow works fine
- Oregano - one of my go-to dried herbs. Use Italian seasoning instead (a blend of dried herbs) if you like, and increase the amount if you like a lot of herby flavor.
- Crushed red pepper flakes - feel free to omit it if you don't want a little bit of spice (it's still pretty mild). Or add more if you want it to have some kick!
- Garlic - we're using 4 cloves, but you can add more to your heart's content
- Marinara sauce - use your favorite tomato-based jarred pasta sauce. I used marinara, but you could also try vodka sauce, arrabbiata, etc. You'll need a couple of jars to get the 4 cups of sauce needed for this recipe.
- Mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan - yes, we're using three kinds of cheese for the most cheesy goodness!
How to make baked spaghetti
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Start by cooking the ground beef and onion mixture, and then add the marinara sauce and warm it through. While you're cooking the beef, boil a pack of spaghetti. Once that's done, drain the spaghetti and add it to a 9x13 baking dish.
Add in the beef sauce mixture and toss. Spread evenly in the baking dish. Sprinkle on the grated parmesan cheese.
Top with the mozzarella and cheddar. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Broil for a few minutes until golden. Let it sit for a few minutes, garnish with parsley if desired, and enjoy!
Make ahead tips
- The day before: assemble it up to a day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bake as indicated below. You may need to add a few more minutes onto bake time to ensure the middle is nice and hot.
- For the freezer: assemble it in the casserole dish, and then cover it tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in the fridge, then bake it as directed. You may want to add a little more sauce if you're planning on freezing it.
- Baking from frozen: it'll take a bit longer, so bake it (covered with foil) until the middle is hot, then broil the cheese at the end. Don't put a freezing cold casserole dish straight in the oven, though, as there's a chance it'll crack. I'd let it warm up a bit on the counter first!
Substitutions and variations
- Sub the ground beef for ground turkey or Italian sausage if you want to change it up, or do a 50-50 mix.
- Try adding a couple handfuls of fresh spinach for some greens into the beef mixture once you add the marinara sauce.
- If you prefer one or the other, use all mozzarella or all cheddar. I used a bagged shredded mozza/cheddar blend to save time, but grating your own cheeses is never a bad idea. I grated my parmesan with my Microplane.
What to serve with baked spaghetti
- Try some garlic bread or garlic knots as a classic pairing.
- A side salad is an excellent choice too as a fresh complement for it. Caesar would go especially well with my homemade Caesar dressing. Mixed greens with this creamy balsamic dressing is another option!
- You could also serve it with these Maple Roasted Carrots.
Leftovers and storage
- This pasta bake will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container, or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
- Either reheat in a covered container in the microwave or in a covered saucepan with a lid over low heat. It does reheat well, but add a little more marinara sauce if it gets a bit dry!
- Don't want leftovers? Halve all ingredients and bake it in an 8x8 dish if you want a smaller quantity.
Made this baked spaghetti casserole? Questions? Talk to me in the comments below!
Easy Baked Spaghetti
- 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it for 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. Once it's done, drain it and add it to a 9x13 casserole/baking dish.
- Meanwhile, add the beef, onion, oregano, and red pepper flakes to a skillet. There should be enough fat released by the beef to cook the onion, but if it's particularly lean, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat has browned/cooked through (about 10 minutes). If there's a lot of excess fat, spoon most of it out.
- To the skillet, stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute, then add in the marinara sauce and cook for a few more minutes until it's warmed through. I stir in some salt & pepper as well.
- Pour the beef mixture over top of the spaghetti. Toss until everything is coated. Smooth it out into an even layer.
- Top with the cheeses and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese if you want (watch it carefully). Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve by cutting it into squares using a spatula. I garnished it with some chopped parsley, but that's totally optional.
- Serves 6-8 depending on how much people eat.
- For a shortcut, I used 2 cups of a bagged blend of shredded mozzarella and cheddar. Feel free to grate your own cheeses, though! Generally, grating your own cheeses does yield tastier results.
- 4 cups marinara sauce = 32 ounces, so you'll use one 24 oz. jar + a bit of a second jar.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
I’m confused about putting the rack on the top third of the oven? Does this mean move the rack closer to the top instead of the middle?
That's exactly right.
Ginny Flint says
I did not seen the recipe what temperature to bake for 20 minutes.
I changed from ground beef to sausage. I mixed in slices mushrooms and onions along with garlic and italian seasoning when the meat was 3/4 done and finished cooking at reduced heat, then once done, I let it simmer.
For my sauce, I use food lion chunky garden style, taste better and isn't as sweet as ragu.. I let it sit covered til I cook the pasta..
I mix in parmesan cheese to the pasta before the sauce, then add sauce topped with pepperjack and cheddar, not too heavy and bake for 35 minutes.
Wife said this is the "BEST" baked spaghetti she ever ate.
Sounds good to me!
Julie zentz says
Can this be made a day ahead
You bet... there's a whole section in the blog post that explains how ("make ahead tips" is the heading). Hope you love the recipe, Julie!
Hi…just found this yummy recipe and was wondering if it would be just as good,
with spaghetti sauce, instead of the marinara…I’m not a fan of marinara, but I can put away some spaghetti sauce!! Hee hee…Guess it’s just whatever you prefer, but wondered if you’ve ever made it with spaghetti sauce…Thanks so much…
Sure! I actually talk about options for substitutions right in the ingredients section of the blog post, so that would be fine. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Pam!
YUM!! My hubby loved your awesome recipe and so did I!! Haha he ate his first (large) helping at 10:30 this morn and another about an hour later—an even bigger serving!! Only thing I didn’t have was the oregano or the Italian seasoning, but my parm cheese was “Italian” and it tasted great!!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Haha that's awesome to hear!! 🙂
What if I need a meatless spaghetti? If I just leave out the meat do I need to change anything else?
Hi! I've only tested it as written. You may want to sauté some more veggies for extra flavor, or perhaps try something that's already meatless like my spinach and ricotta stuffed shells: https://bit.ly/3SEVk0V
Alexander Carter says
I have made this 3 times! It's a great lazy Sunday meal. I added meatballs; maybe next I will add some greens!
Love that!! Thanks for your review!
Rochella Morgan says
I recently made this for a family friend who lost their home in the Eastern Kentucky Flooding in late July 2022. It was a big hit and very easy to make. Thank you for an easy recipe to follow during a very stressful time. I followed the recipe exactly and made zero changes! It was DELICIOUS! and earned a Facebook shout out!!!
Well I'm so glad that it brought a little comfort to your friend. That's very kind of you to help out! I wish them all the best. Thanks for your review, Rochella! XO
Everyone loved it!! Saving it as my “go to.” Thanks!!
My husband just recently had shoulder surgery … so our daughter wanted to help us out by cooking dinner for us.
So … she made your “baked spagetti” for us & OMG … it was delicious! We had our own very simple spaghetti that we made at home … but now yours will be our “favorite & one to make” … it was delicious!
Thank you for sharing … Bye!
Aww I love that!! That's so nice to hear. I wish your husband a speedy recovery!! Thanks for coming here to leave me a comment. 🙂
Jacki Goode says
I think I would lessen the pasta to about 3/4 lb. or increase the sauce to two full jars. I added some canned mushrooms and sweet peppers. I think it will be perfect, although a little dry. 🙂
Excellent!! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!
Is it possible to make this using a leftover spaghetti dinner?
I think so! I'd probably just add cheese and broil so it doesn't dry out too much.
Packed with flavor! I followed the recipe “to a T,” spooning out extra fat after the browning the meat, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and 2 bottles of marinara sauce. Everyone loved it! Thank you!
Fantastic!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know!
Martha Aguirre says
Hi, I am from Colombia. I love your recipes, they are practical, handy and very simple. Thank you very much!
Thank you!! 🙂 I have a good friend who is from Colombia! So happy you're enjoying the recipes, Martha!
Can I eliminate the cheese?
Hi! You can, but then you could just toss it all together and eat it instead of baking it at the end (cook the spaghetti as normal instead of undercooking it). Really the only reason why it's baked is because of the cheese.