Baked Spaghetti

May 9, 2019

Baked Spaghetti – super easy, deliciously tasty, and only requires 6 ingredients (plus oil for sautéing)! You’ll love the creamy, beefy spaghetti sauce and the fact that everything is tossed and baked together so the pasta soaks up all those delicious flavors. Plus it’s finished with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese. How could it not be good? 

Slice of Baked Spaghetti on a white serving plate.

Easy Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Lately I’m all about those fast and easy recipes for busy weekdays, who isn’t these days? I have loved this recipe on hectic days because it only requires a handful of ingredients and doesn’t take much prep, plus everyone in my family loves it! It’s got the kid stamp of approval.

Even though it uses a store-bought marinara sauce it’s upgraded with fresh basil and light cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese) so no one would even notice. It’s rich and creamy and seriously satisfying.

You just can’t go wrong with this hearty spaghetti casserole. It’s classic American comfort food just like mom made, yet it’s hardly a splurge at all! This has far less calories than something like lasagna yet it’s still perfectly delicious!

Baked spaghetti ingredients shown here including spaghetti, ground beef, marinara sauce, light cream cheese, fresh basil, mozzarella and olive oil.

Ingredients Needed for Creamy Baked Spaghetti

  • Dry spaghetti – don’t use thin spaghetti or angel hair here, it will come out really soggy.
  • Olive oil – you’ll only need a little for sautéing.
  • Lean ground beef – lean ground turkey could be used instead if preferred for a lighter option.
  • Neufchatel cheese – this can be found by the cream cheese.
  • Fresh basil – I don’t recommend substituting dried here, the fresh basil really brings a lot of flavor to this casserole dish.
  • Roasted garlic marinara sauce – I’ve only made this using Classico so I recommend sticking with that.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese – if you want to add more flavor substitute 1/2 cup of the mozzarella with finely shredded parmesan.
  • Salt and pepper – you will only need a little salt because the sauce already has a fair amount.

How to Make Oven Baked Spaghetti

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil (to cook spaghetti).

Browning ground beef in a skillet for spaghetti sauce.

  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick deep skillet or saute pan over medium high heat.
  • Add beef and cook and crumble, tossing occasionally until browned and cooked through.

Adding marinara sauce, cream cheese and fresh basil to ground beef in skillet.

  • Stir in marinara sauce, Neufchatel cheese and basil, season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reduce heat to medium low, let cook, stirring frequently until Neufchatel cheese has melted (cover pan with a lid if splattering), about 5 minutes, remove from heat.

Creamy marinara sauce in a skillet.

  • While sauce is heating cook spaghetti in boiling water until tender but still firm in the center, about 2 minutes before the al dente time listed on package (about 7 minutes total).

Cooked spaghetti pasta in a colander.

  • Drain spaghetti, return to empty pot without water, add sauce mixture and toss to coat.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish and spread even.
  • Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.

Baked spaghetti shown before baking in oven.

  • Remove from oven, sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  • Return to oven and bake until cheese has melted, 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with basil or parsley if desired.

Adding cheese to baked spaghetti casserole.

Can I Use a Different Kind of Sauce?

I like to use the roasted garlic spaghetti sauce because it has more garlic flavor than the others, and also I prefer Classico because it I hate some of the other sugary brands but feel free to use what you like. Preferably something a little chunky so it’s not an overload of sauce.

Can I Use Regular Cream Cheese?

I have also made this with full fat cream cheese and it does work well it’s just richer. I just personally prefer the Neufchatel cheese it’s not overwhelming.

Tips for Baked Spaghetti:

  • Be sure to use a deep skillet or saute pan otherwise you won’t be able to fit this much sauce.
  • Sear the beef and let it brown for best flavor. Don’t stir it constantly.
  • Soften Neufchatel cheese in the microwave (or at room temperature) first so it melts into the sauce faster.
  • Under-cook the spaghetti. The first time I tried I only cooked to al dente and it came out a little mushy (with all that sauce), so if you under-boil by a few minutes it works perfect.
  • Only use fresh basil. Dried basil won’t give near the same flavor here.
  • If you want a little kick add some red pepper flakes to taste.

Baked Spaghetti in a glass baking dish set over a dark grey cloth.

More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:

Baked Spaghetti

4.2 from 5 votes

Super easy, deliciously tasty, and only requires 6 ingredients (plus oil for sautéing)! You'll love the creamy, beefy spaghetti sauce and the fact that everything is tossed and baked together so the pasta soaks up all those delicious flavors. Plus it's finished with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese. How could it not be good? 

Servings: 12
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (light cream cheese), cut into 4 pieces and softened
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 (24 oz) jars roasted garlic marinara sauce, preferrably Classico
  • 1 lb. dry spaghetti
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (to cook spaghetti).

  3. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick deep skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Add beef and cook and crumble, tossing occasionally until browned and cooked through.

  4. Stir in marinara sauce, Neufchatel cheese and basil, season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium low, let cook, stirring frequently until Neufchatel cheese has melted (cover pan with a lid if splattering), about 5 minutes, remove from heat.

  5. While sauce is heating cook spaghetti in boiling water until fairly tender but still firm in the center, about 2 minutes before the al dente time listed on package (about 7 minutes total).

  6. Drain spaghetti, return to now empty pot without water, add sauce mixture and toss to coat evenly.

  7. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread even. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.

  8. Remove from oven, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered until cheese has melted about 10 - 15 minutes.

  9. Let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with basil or parsley if desired.

Nutrition Facts
Baked Spaghetti
Amount Per Serving
Calories 348 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 53mg18%
Sodium 803mg35%
Potassium 624mg18%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 815IU16%
Vitamin C 8.1mg10%
Calcium 146mg15%
Iron 2.6mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Baked Spaghetti
Author: Jaclyn

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13 Comments

  • Diane

    Can this be made ahead and then just baked at dinner time? Or will the pasta turn too soft?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It will soften a little but it would be like leftover spaghetti so it comes down to personal preference. If baking from the fridge just increase bake time probably by 10 – 15 minutes.

  • Brittany

    This was soooo delicious!! My family said this needs to be added to our rotation of meals. And out of that huge list of rotation we have I would say probably 95% of them all come from your blog!! So thank you for all your amazing recipes. My family and I greatly appreciate it!!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You’re very welcome, thanks for the thanks! I’m so happy to hear you’ve had success with my recipes :). I hope you continue to find many more :)!

  • Jocelyn

    My family loved this. I used homemade spaghetti sauce and added 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to the noodle and sauce mixture (before baking). Thank you!

  • Amanda

    Besides using ground turkey, I followed the recipe exactly. Delicious!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Glad to hear the ground turkey worked well for you! Thanks for leaving a review Amanda!

  • Ann

    Sorry Jaclyn, I made this last night exactly as you printed with all the recommended products, but this is the first recipe I’ve made in which my family said it was the “blandest dish I’ve ever made.” I truly believe it needs some spices, like regular speggetti sauce. However, I’ve tried some of your other recipes and they are excellent. I think our family is just use to my “spicy seasoning.” However to your defense, many families do not, so this recipe might be right up their alley!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry you felt that way. It’s not really intended to be highly seasoned or spicy, the fresh basil and roasted garlic of the spaghetti sauce are what bring a lot of flavors to the dish but your always free to season with extra herbs, other flavors or spicy heat as desired :).

      • Ann

        Sweet Jaclyn, don’t feel bad or offended please. I merely want others to know that it will not be spicy, so they can add their favorites. I wanted to make your recipe without changing anything as I am so tired of people changing recipes and commenting on them without really trying the original. You do a “great” job on your blog and I generally LOVE your recipes. Keep on keeping on! I love it!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m so glad you liked it Barbara! Thanks for leaving a review!