The Cozy Cook

Baked Spaghetti – Make Ahead + Freezer Friendly!

This Baked Spaghetti recipe has can be made with ground beef, sausage, or meatballs! Cream Cheese adds a creamy element to the marinara sauce. Top it with lots of mozzarella cheese and bake it right away or save it for a busy weeknight dinner. You can even freeze the assembled casserole for another week!

Don’t forget a side of CHEESY Homemade Garlic Bread!

A plate with a slice of baked spaghetti topped with mozzarella cheese and a fork in the background.

Baked Spaghetti

This cheesy baked spaghetti recipe truly is a life saver. It’s so easy to throw together and it makes a great make-ahead recipe and freezer food.

It’s the perfect comfort food to serve with my Cheesy Garlic BreadRead on and see how easy it is to make, what ingredients you need, and how you can easily make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven on busy weeknight.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti
  • Ground Beef– 85% lean works well. You can also use ground sausage, meatballs, turkey or a combination of meats.
  • Yellow Onion
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Garlic– Use fresh garlic cloves and mince them yourself for best flavor.
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Italian Seasonings
  • Marinara Sauce– Try my homemade marinara! If using a jar, I recommend Rao’s brand.
  • Ricotta Cheese- The recipe calls for 8 oz. (1 cup) of ricotta. You can use up to 16 oz. if you prefer, you may just need a larger (11 x 15 inch) casserole dish.
  • Cream Cheese– Optional, but makes it nice and creamy.
  • Parmesan Cheese– Buy a block and grate it at home for best results.
  • Mozzarella Cheese– Shred your own at home.
  • Fresh Parsley

Feel free to add diced button mushrooms to the mix!


How to Make it

Boil salted water for spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a skillet and drain if needed. Add onions and peppers, cook until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add marinara sauce and stir to combine. I prefer to use my homemade marinara or Rao’s

Ground beef, onions, peppers, and marinara sauce in a saucepan for making Baked Spaghetti.

Add Ricotta and Parmesan and stir until combined and heated through. Add a dab of cream cheese if desired, then mix in the cooked spaghetti.

Marinara meat sauce with Ricotta with spaghetti being added to make Baked Spaghetti.

Transfer half of the spaghetti to a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top with 2 cups of mozzarella. Add remaining spaghetti.

Spaghetti in a meat marinara sauce in a saucepan and in a casserole dish to make Baked Spaghetti.

Add 2 more cups mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and melted. Let sit 5 minutes prior to serving. Serve with my cheesy garlic bread!

Showing how to make Baked Spaghetti in a casserole dish before and after baking.

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

If your family loves the classic spaghetti and meatball combo, you could also make Bobby Flay’s Meatball recipe or my Slow Cooker Meatballs.

Just mix the cooked meatballs into the sauce, combine it with the spaghetti, top with cheese, and bake!

Make Ahead Method

Option 1: Assemble and Refrigerate:

  • Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
  • Bake refrigerated casserole at 375° for 30 minutes covered, then for 10 minutes uncovered.

Option 2: Assemble and Freeze:

  • Cover with 2 layers of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. These disposable aluminum baking pans are great for the freezer.
  • Let frozen casserole thaw in the fridge overnight and bake at 375° for 30 minutes covered, then for 10 minutes uncovered.
  •  You can also bake from a frozen state and add an additional 1 hour of baking time, covered.

Pro Tip:

If your 9 x 13 casserole dish is filled to the brim, place it on a baking sheet in the oven to catch any overflow, just in case. Alternatively, you can use an 11 x 15 inch baking dish.

Storage

Refrigerator

-Baked spaghetti should be refrigerated and is best if used within three days.

Freezer

Baked spaghetti makes a great freezer food after it’s been baked. It’s best to wrap portion sizes in foil and place them in a labeled freezer bag.

To reheat from a frozen state, leave it in the foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or more, depending on the serving size.

A casserole dish filled with Baked Spaghetti with a spoon scooping it up.

 

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A spoon holding up baked spaghetti from a casserole dish.

Baked Spaghetti

5 from 11 votes
This Baked Spaghetti recipe is easy to make with ground beef, sausage, or meatballs! Add your favorite marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and your favorite additions! Serve it casserole style with plenty of mozzarella cheese. You can even freeze it and bake it another day!

Ingredients

  • ¾ lb. spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef, can also use ground sausage or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • 32 oz. marinara sauce
  • 8 oz. Ricotta cheese, equal to 1 cup.
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parsley, to garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions, while waiting for the water to reach a boil, proceed with the below.
  • Cook the ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and cook through. Drain if needed.
  • Add the seasonings, diced onions, and peppers. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and heat for 1 minute.
  • Add the marinara, ricotta, Parmesan, and an optional dab of cream cheese. Reduce heat to low and allow it to heat through.
  • Add the drained spaghetti, use kitchen tongs to gently toss until well-combined. Note: It will be very saucy but the pasta is going to continue to absorb it as it bakes.
  • Add half of the spaghetti to a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top with half (2 cups), of the mozzarella.
  • Top with remaining spaghetti, then with the rest of the mozzarella.
  • If serving immediately, bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and melted. Let sit for 5 minutes prior to serving. Serve with a side of my cheesy garlic bread!
  • See notes for instructions on baking and serving on another date.

Video

Notes

Make Ahead Method

Option 1: Assemble and Refrigerate:

• Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
• Bake refrigerated casserole at 375° for 30 minutes covered, then for 10 minutes uncovered.

Option 2: Assemble and Freeze:

• Cover with 2 layers of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. These disposable aluminum baking pans are great for the freezer.
• Let frozen casserole thaw in the fridge overnight and bake at 375° for 30 minutes covered, then for 10 minutes uncovered.
• You can also bake from a frozen state and add an additional 1 hour of baking time, covered.
Pro Tip: If your 9 x 13 casserole dish is filled to the brim, place it on a baking sheet in the oven to catch any overflow. (This isn't likely but just in case.) Alternatively, you can use an 11 x 15 inch baking dish.

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

If your family loves the classic spaghetti and meatball combo, you should make my meatball recipe instead of using ground beef.
Just mix the cooked meatballs into the sauce, combine it with the spaghetti, top with cheese, and bake!

Ricotta Cheese: The recipe calls for 8 oz. (1 cup) of ricotta. You can use up to 16 oz. if you prefer, you may just need a larger (11 x 15 inch) casserole dish. If necessary, you can substitute cottage cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 780kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 141mg, Sodium: 1646mg, Potassium: 996mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 1509IU, Vitamin C: 28mg, Calcium: 584mg, Iron: 4mg

Note: This recipe was originally posted in 2019 and was since republished. If preferred, you can access the previous version here.  (Although I recommend you try the updated version!)

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Recipe Rating




154 comments on “Baked Spaghetti – Make Ahead + Freezer Friendly!”

  1. This dish was simply amazing. It was just the right size for my family. All of the ingredients came together perfectly. I will definitely be making this again. 

  2. Hi I was just wondering if I can triple the recipe? I’ll be trying this recipe tonight and I need enough to serve 35 people do you think tribling the recipe will be enough

    • Hi Juli! This makes enough for 6 hearty servings. You can triple it if you think that would be enough for the people you’re serving, if you tap the number of servings on the top middle of the recipe card, a slider will appear and you can slide it right to increase the serving amount, and the ingredient quantities will automatically update!

  3. I’ve made this 3 times since I got the recipe a few weeks ago. So good. Definitely a keeper! Thanks you

  4. This baked spaghetti was delish. My family enjoyed it. 😋 I didn’t have ricotta cheese so I used 4 oz of the cream cheese instead. Definitely will make again and I might throw some spinach in it.

    • Thanks so much for the great review Karen! I’m so happy to hear the family enjoyed it! I love how easy this one is, plus my 4 year old daughter eats it!😃

  5. I made this last night and it was so good. My husband who isn’t the biggest pasta fan was still raving about it today. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

  6. Made this as the make ahead version for my friend and her husband who just had their first baby a week ago. She just texted me saying “omg so good”! Was so easy to make and made the perfect comfort food for new parents. 💗

  7. Mmmmmm….so good. We’re going to weigh a ton around here because I keep making your pasta dishes and we love them! We had this on Monday, then the chicken tettrazini last night….I’d better focus on low carb for awhile!

  8. I made this but i layered it like lasagna. But i make my own sauce. But this good

  9. I plan on making this for dinner tonight….just one question: it mentions adding mushrooms in the directions, but I don’t see them listed in the ingredients. Not a big deal – my husband doesn’t like mushrooms anyway, though the rest of us do, so not adding them isn’t a major issue, but when I want to add them to a recipe I put them in the food processor before adding them and he gobbles up whatever they’ve been added to in blissful ignorance! So…..just wanting to know what amount to use. Thanks!

    • Hey Vicki!! OOPS, my bad! I’ve used 8 oz. of mushrooms in the past, but just like you, my husband doesn’t like mushrooms so I’ve since revamped this recipe a bit to adjust it more to his liking, (which includes the addition of Ricotta cheese, YUM!!). I updated the recipe to notate that 8 oz. of mushrooms is optional but I removed it from the instructions. Thank you for catching that!! Enjoy your dinner tonight! 🙂 -Stephanie

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