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Easy Baked Spaghetti with Cheddar Cheese

4.75 from 67 votes

This easy, oh so cheesy Baked Spaghetti contains layers of bubbly cheese, hearty meat sauce, and perfectly cooked spaghetti. It’s a great, kid-friendly weeknight dinner for busy families.

A forkful of baked spaghetti dripping with cheesy topping and meat sauce.

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This Easy Baked Spaghetti was one of our daughter’s favorites and it’s now being enjoyed by our grands! There’s nothing I love more than when the grandkids come to visit. I always make a big homemade meal for them, but homemade doesn’t have to mean time-consuming or difficult. This baked spaghetti is quick to make and gives us more time to be together.

If you’ve been around here for very long, you’ll know that I have no problem taking the occasional shortcut in the kitchen. For this easy baked spaghetti recipe, I use purchased spaghetti sauce instead of my usual homemade Bolognese sauce. Not only does it save time, it cuts the ingredients list down to almost nothing!

In fact, I’ll bet that you have all of the ingredients on hand right now to make this baked pasta casserole. All you’ll need are pasta, ground beef, Cheddar cheese, spaghetti sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

You can bet your bottom dollar that kids (and adults, too!) will love this recipe. It’s so easy to make that you’re sure to add it to your go-to weeknight recipe list.

While the spaghetti bakes, you can make a nice tossed salad, along with some cheesy onion and herb bread, and you’re good to go!

On nights when you have a little more time, why don’t you try another of my spaghetti recipes? These Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti are always a hit as are my Baked Meatballs and Spaghetti and my Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce.

🍳 Tools You’ll Use


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This post contains affiliate links. Lana's Cooking is reader-supported and earns a tiny commission at no extra cost to you when you shop from our links.

🛒 Ingredient Notes


The five ingredients needed for the recipe - spaghetti sauce, ground beef, pasta, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese.
  • Ground beef (if you use very lean ground beef for this recipe, you probably won’t even need to drain it)
  • Purchased spaghetti sauce (my personal favorite is the traditional Ragu, but you can use any brand you like)
  • Spaghetti (kids love it because it’s a really familiar shape but you can substitute almost any pasta)
  • Cheddar cheese (again, a flavor, color, and texture very familiar to children; they love Cheddar cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese (not strictly necessary, but it adds a little extra something to finish off the topping)
  • Salt and pepper (as always, that classic seasoning combination that enhances all savory recipes)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Baked Spaghetti


Start by putting a large pot of salted water on to boil and preheating the oven to 350.

Make the Sauce

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring until it’s nicely browned with no visible pink color remaining. Drain off any excess fat and return the ground beef to the pan.
  3. Add the spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper, and stir that together with the ground beef.
  4. Bring the mixture to a bubble, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

By this time, the water should be boiling so you can drop in your pasta and let it cook according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, drain it and start assembling the casserole.

Assemble the Casserole

  1. Put about 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish.
  2. Add about half the cooked pasta.
  3. Top with half the cheddar cheese.
  4. Add another third of the sauce and the remaining pasta.
Completely assembled baked spaghetti in a casserole dish.
  1. End with the rest of the sauce and top with the remaining one cup of cheddar and the Parmesan cheese on top.

Cook Until Bubbly

Finished dish after baking for 30 minutes.
  1. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Cool Slightly

Finished recipe set aside to cool before serving.
  1. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving.
Two small serving plates with a portion of baked spaghetti.

🔀 Recipe Variations


  • You can change the recipe by substituting either ground turkey or ground pork for the ground beef. Or make a meatless version by simply leaving it out or substituting with carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower.
  • Use any pasta shape that you have on hand. I like long, thin pasta (spaghetti, linguini, bucatini, etc.) for this recipe, but if you have small children try macaroni, penne, or bow ties. Those shapes are easier for little ones to handle. Or break up your spaghetti into small pieces before cooking.

❓Questions About Baked Spaghetti


Can this recipe be made ahead?

Definitely! You can prep and assemble the entire dish a day ahead and refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to bake it. You can also freeze the assembled casserole, store it for up to 2 months, and then bake it. In either case, let it come up to room temperature before baking.

What are the storage guidelines for Baked Spaghetti?

Leftovers may be stored in the baking dish, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. Just reheat in the microwave or oven. To freeze, remove the cooled casserole to an appropriate freezer container and store for up to 2 months.

What brand of purchased sauce do you recommend for this recipe?

My favorite spaghetti sauce is the traditional Ragu sauce. It has a very prominent tomato flavor and is not highly seasoned. Children really like its flavor, too. However, any brand that you like will work just as well.

Do you have any suggestions for side dishes?

I almost always serve something green with this casserole. That could be a nice tossed salad, zucchini, green beans, or roasted asparagus.

Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

A forkful of baked spaghetti dripping with cheesy topping and meat sauce.

Easy Baked Spaghetti with Cheddar Cheese

This five-ingredient Easy Baked Spaghetti is so fast and easy! Its ooey-gooey Cheddar cheese topping pleases everyone, especially the kids!
4.75 from 67 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 371kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 24 ounces spaghetti sauce (recommended: Ragu traditional spaghetti sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces pasta (see notes)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Start by putting a large pot of salted water on to boil and preheating the oven to 350.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the ground beef and cook, stirring until it's nicely browned with no visible pink color remaining. Drain off any excess fat and return the ground beef to the pan.
  • Add the spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper, and stir that together with the ground beef.
  • Bring the mixture to a bubble, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • By this time, the water should be boiling so you can drop in your pasta and let it cook according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, drain it and start assembling the casserole.
  • Put about 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish.
  • Add about half the cooked pasta.
  • Top with half the cheddar cheese.
  • Add another third of the sauce and the remaining pasta.
  • End with the rest of the sauce and top with the remaining one cup of cheddar and the Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

Notes

  • To make ahead – prep and assemble the entire dish a day ahead and refrigerate it, covered, until ready to bake. May also be frozen for up to 2 months before baking. In either case, let it come up to room temperature before baking.
  • Leftovers may be stored in the baking dish, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. Just reheat in the microwave or oven. To freeze, remove the cooled casserole to an appropriate freezer container and store for up to 2 months.
 

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 371kcal | Carbohydrates 11g | Protein 38g | Fat 20g | Saturated Fat 11g | Trans Fat 1g | Cholesterol 114mg | Sodium 1750mg | Potassium 1062mg | Fiber 3g | Sugar 8g | Vitamin A 1233IU | Vitamin C 13mg | Calcium 354mg | Iron 5mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on June 5, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

This baked spaghetti contains layers of meat sauce, spaghetti, and cheese baked until bubbly. Very kid-friendly and quick and easy for the cook. https://www.lanascooking.com/baked-spaghetti/

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Recipe Rating




52 Comments

  1. Roxy Webster says:

    5 stars
    This is basically the same recipe I have loved for many years! It is delicious as is, but I remember my original called for a sprinkling of seasoned salt and I highly recommend it for a little extra pizazz!

  2. 5 stars
    I changed it up a bit. I added smoked sausage and queso to mine. It was fantastic.

  3. Not to offend others, I love spaghetti BUT I do NOT like cheese!! Is there a recipe for baked spaghetti without the cheese????? I would appreciate a work around without it and I am sure there would be small corrections such as baking temperature as well!! Thank you for your attention to my question!!!!!

    1. If you don’t like cheese, then this is certainly not for you since the delicious cheese is the whole point of the recipe. I’m quite sure there are other baked spaghetti recipes without cheese. A simple internet search should turn up what you’re looking for. All the caps and exclamation points are unnecessary to get your point across.

  4. 5 stars
    OMG this was absolutely amazing! I added canned mushrooms, lots of Italian seasoning to the ground beef while it was cooking, added more sauce (for fear of this dish turning out dry), I added parmesan cheese onto each lay instead of just ontop of the last layer, and I added more cheddar cheese than the recipe called for. I have tried other versions of baked spaghetti before but THIS recipe is amazing! I loved it!

  5. That’s a favorite around here….. easy & comforting. Sure to bring applause!

  6. All the recipes call for a 13 – 9 casserole dish but I don’t have one. I do have an 8 – 8. Can I use that? Will I have to cut the recipe down?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Yes, you would have to adjust. An 8×8 dish will hold about 2/3 as much as a 9×13 dish. A good 9×13 casserole dish is a great investment and can be obtained for not very much expense. OXO has a great one available on Amazon for just $14.99. They are very versatile and will last you for years.

  7. I am not good at cooking. I cut the recipe in half and added salad an garlic bread…..oh my it was wonderful! Thank you (and my ex) very much!

  8. Hi, working on a list of freezer meals for when I have our new baby. This baked spaghetti is a favorite of mine (and I don’t even like spaghetti) so I’m wondering if this could be baked ahead and frozen and then reheated? If so do you have a suggestion for temps and cook times? Thank you!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Kristen, I haven’t tried freezing this dish but I’m sure it could be done. It should be thawed overnight in the fridge and cooked at 350 for probably about 30-40 minutes.

    2. Christine says:

      Yes, it can! I’m sorry, I don’t remember how much extra time to heat it from frozen, but probably another 20-30 minutes.

  9. I love this easy recipe but I wonder, do you cover it to cook??

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You can cover it if you like, but I usually don’t bother.

  10. What size jar of spaghetti sauce

  11. What size dish? Is 4 quart big enough?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Yes, that’s perfect.

  12. patricia Johnson says:

    What size jar of Ragu?

  13. Am I the only one that puts sugar in her sauce to cut back on the acidity of tomatoes? I thought this practice was huge in the South!

    1. Yes sugar is a must. Also a southern girl.

  14. Rosemary Meyer says:

    I have an over supply of spaghetti and this the ideal recipe for this ( I just over bought pasta ! Also an ideal dish for potluck for big crowds Thanks for sharing!

  15. Jeff Blackwell says:

    Amanda:

    Do you think I could double the recipe for “Baked Spaghetti “to serve 12 people. We’re all going to the beach house soon and this would make a great recipe unless you could recommend something else. I just devour your web site. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I’m not “Amanda,” but… yes, you could easily double this recipe. You’d probably to need to use two casserole dishes for the doubled recipe, though.

  16. I love baked spaghetti but I am never sure why. Baking gives it a quality it does not have when cooking on the stove. I leave out the meat and make it similarly to yours. I must print your recipe.

  17. I’m pretty sure the only thing better than spaghetti is baked spaghetti!! This is making me crave pasta like crazy :)

  18. love a shortcup recipe myself, especially when it’s a good one, like this one…. make one very similar too

  19. I love baked spaghetti and yours looks ah-mazing!!!!

    1. Why, thank you, Kathleen!

  20. claudia lamascolo/aka pegasuslegend says:

    I have heard of this recipe and never tried it my my what am I waiting for! Looks awesome!

    1. I hope you will try it, Claudia! Although I’m sure your one of your homemade sauces would be so much better!

  21. I made this for dinner tonight using angel hair pasta and it was great, I really enjoyed it, so simple, but so tasty. My two year old loved it too and he doesn’t usually like tomato based sauces. Will definitely be making it again, thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m so pleased to know that you enjoyed it, Helga! Nothing makes me happier than knowing someone tried and like one of my recipes.

  22. Georgia Pellegrini says:

    This looks very comforting!

    1. Thank you, Georgia. It’s such a simple, shortcut recipe that I almost didn’t post it. But what the heck…people are busy and need a quick meal sometimes!

  23. Alison @ ingredients, Inc. says:

    This is my kids favorite kind of meal!

    1. Yes, give our grandkids this and some garlic bread and they’re happy as can be!

  24. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    I’m with Deb on this one Lana; I’ve found a great sauce at Costco that is always in my cupboard…grandkids or not; sometimes it’s just a necessity!

    1. So right, Barbara! Sometimes a shortcut is an absolutely necessity.

    2. Sue Artus says:

      what is the the name of the sauce from costco please

      Sue

  25. SMITH BITES says:

    shortcuts are allowed where grandkids are concerned Lana!!! plus, i don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a good jar of sauce – especially when making this fabulous baked spaghetti!

    1. Thanks, Deb! I do admit to using jarred sauces fairly regularly. I mean, really, why not when there are so many good quality ones out there.

  26. I’ve only started making something like this about a year ago, and I had never even heard of it before then. We make something more like “spaghetti pie” but it’s more or less the same kind of thing. I like yours better–it’s a bit more straightforward and I’ve only had so-so results with the various versions of ours. Thanks! I love your blog too.

  27. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    I love baked spaghetti! It was one of my favorite dishes growing up :)

  28. sippitysup says:

    So warm and comforting! GREG

  29. Jennifer @ Jane Deere says:

    Perfect shortcut! Looks delish! I think we all take shortcuts at times…and yes…it’s important!

    1. I find that I take shortcuts more and more these days. Life’s just too busy during the week not to take advantage of some help. Weekends are a little more relaxed and I can really enjoy cooking then.

      1. What is the amount of pasta used?