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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!
4.7 from 55 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
A forkful of baked spaghetti dripping with cheesy topping and meat sauce.

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.

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.

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

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.

Ingredients You’ll Need

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

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

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

Make the Sauce

STEP 1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

STEP 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.

STEP 3. Add the spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper, and stir that together with the ground beef.

STEP 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

STEP 5. Put about 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish.

STEP 6. Add about half the cooked pasta.

STEP 7. Top with half the cheddar cheese.

STEP 8. Add another third of the sauce and the remaining pasta.

Completely assembled baked spaghetti in a casserole dish.

STEP 9. 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.

STEP 10. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Cool Slightly

Finished recipe set aside to cool before serving.

STEP 11. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

Two small serving plates with a portion of baked spaghetti.
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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 pastas (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.

FAQs

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.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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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!
4.70 from 55 votes
Print It Rate It Save Text It
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

Tips and FAQs
  • Vary the recipe by substituting either ground turkey or ground pork for the ground beef. Or make a meatless version by simply leaving it out and substituting carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower.
  • Use any pasta shape that you have on hand. I like long, thin pastas (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.
  • Can this recipe be made ahead? 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.
  • How do I store it? 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.
 

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 health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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50 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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. 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. 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.