This Southern Baked Spaghetti contains several indulgent layers of rich and meaty Bolognese, pasta and luscious cheesy creamy filling making this THE dish to serve at every potluck, game day and celebration you have! The flavor is INSANE! Using my incredible homemade Spaghetti Sauce as a base, you will savor every single bite of this. Serve with my Garlic Bread Recipe or Cheese Garlic Breadsticks for a truly perfect Italian meal. If you love this, you will also love this Lasagna recipe.
Disclosure: I partnered with Pyrex for this post, but all opinions expressed here are my own. I am grateful for authentic partnerships like this.
Irresistible Baked Spaghetti
I’ll be the first one to admit that Southern cuisine is full of just as many odd recipes as there are famously delicious ones. The South is well known for a laundry list of comfort foods that include Buttermilk Biscuits, BBQ, Fried Chicken and Banana Pudding. But there are some recipes that seem to live a little under the radar, recipes like Southern Baked Spaghetti.
What is Baked Spaghetti? What Makes this Southern Baked Spaghetti?
Southern Baked Spaghetti is a casserole like dish that combines elements from both a traditional baked ziti and spaghetti Bolognese. Oven baked pasta has a long, long history that dates back to the Middle Ages. In Italy a pasta meal was an opportunity for a chef to show off his creativity and resourcefulness. Eventually pasta al forno, or baked pasta, became a staple dish of Southern Italy where it’s usually made on Sundays or to celebrate special occasions.
Although it’s easy to trace back the history of the baked pasta it’s a lot harder to determine where Southern Baked Spaghetti came from. There is no definite answer to where this recipe came from or what makes it “Southern” but that doesn’t make it any less tasty. Southerners never shy away from making just about anything into a casserole, and this recipe is no exception to that.
Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese? Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti is HERE
If you’re a fan of those delicious cheese pulls with every bite and crusty cheese dripping over the edge of a dish then this is a recipe for you.
Most traditional baked spaghetti recipes only have spaghetti baked in a dish topped with cheese. However this recipe has several layers of goodness baked into it. Because I used the new Pyrex Deep bakeware. This allowed me to create various textures and tiers of meaty saucy spaghetti and a delicious cheese filling, similar to that found in a lasagna. And more is definitely more when it comes to baked spaghetti! With Pyrex Deep, I added more layers of deliciousness, cheesiness and irresistible flavor.
If you’ve ever heard of Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti, this combination might be pretty familiar to you however I added a twist. Most Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti recipes call for a layer of cream cheese however I decided to replace the cream cheese with ricotta cheese creating more of the taste and texture of lasagna that I love.
Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti Recipe Filling
The filling contains the following key ingredients:
- Ricotta Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
For the ricotta cheese, I use full fat here. No need to skimp unless absolutely necessary. The egg is used to help stabilize and bind the mixture together once baked.
The addition of basil is an important herb for giving ample Italian flavor. I love fresh basil in Italian recipes. I also feel the same about parmesan cheese.
Tip: Do not use the parmesan cheese you find in the can on shelves. You will want freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese from a block. It is a serious world of difference in terms of flavor!!
Finally salt is added to round out the flavor. But I didn’t add too much since the parmesan cheese will also provide some salted flavor.
Tip: Add your salt in increments. Taste as you go along since sometimes some cheeses are saltier than others.
Best Spaghetti Sauce for Pasta Bake
For this pasta bake, I think scratch sauce is best. Trust me when I say it doesn’t even require a ton of effort, and you will get a taste that is truly unbelievable.
For this recipe, I used my Southern Spaghetti Sauce which was crucial to creating the amazing flavor you taste in this dish. This sauce can have either ground beef (or ground turkey if you prefer) and Italian sausage providing ample meat essence.
The combination of both tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes adds wonderful heartiness and texture to the sauce as well. This recipe feeds a crowd and ends up being the perfect amount we need to fill this entire Pyrex Deep dish.
How to Make Baked Spaghetti (Final Tips and Tricks to make the Very BEST!)
I’ve been making spaghetti casseroles for years, each time playing with the recipe until I’d perfected it.
Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way to help you make the best version of this recipe possible.
- When possible use freshly grated cheese
Using freshly grated cheese creates a larger depth of flavor and tends to melt and distribute a bit better than pre-shredded options. But no worries, if this isn’t possible your spaghetti will be just as enjoyable.
2. Don’t use premade meat sauce
I know that making your own sauce can be a bit time consuming but I promise that it’s worth it. Jarred sauces tend to be heavy on sugar, salt and artificial meat flavorings that just don’t compare to the real thing.
3. Don’t be afraid to customize this recipe
One of the beauties of this recipe is its ability to be tweaked to fit your personal preferences. This recipe is traditionally made with spaghetti noodles but you can easily substitute for any other shape of pasta. You’re also welcome to play with the cheeses and experiment to find what makes your baked spaghetti unique.
Pasta Bake Sausage in Pyrex Deep
A key part of this recipe is your choice of cookware because it determines how many layers you can create. Packing in as much cheesy goodness as possible is absolutely necessary here. Currently, I’m obsessed with using Pyrex’s new deep baking dishes. Their latest line of glass dishware holds up to 50% more than your current glass bakeware. You heard me, up to a whole 50% more. This means room for fillings, sauces and more layers than ever. More layers mean more flavor y’all.
The best part is that they now also come with lids so that you can easily store leftovers or pack up your favorite recipes to be shared at parties and potlucks. Now you can share the yummy goodness that is Southern Baked Spaghetti with all your friends and family.
Baked Spaghetti Recipe
For the Spaghetti Sauce (Find full instructions HERE at https://grandbaby-cakes.com/southern-spaghetti-sauce-recipe/)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- Seasoned salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 crushed tomatoes can 28 ounces sized can
- 1 tomato sauce cans 29 ounce sized cans
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
For the Ricotta Filling
- 1 (15 ounce) ricotta cheese container
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp basil chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Remaining Ingredients
- 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti
- 3-4 cups mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
- Parsley for garnish
For the Spaghetti Sauce
- Follow instructions at https://grandbaby-cakes.com/southern-spaghetti-sauce-recipe/
For the Ricotta Filling
- Combine ricotta cheese, egg, basil, parmesan cheese and salt in a large bowl and mix until combined.
- Set aside.
For the Spaghetti Pasta
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil then add spaghetti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Add sauce to spaghetti and toss to combine then set sauced spaghetti aside.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Begin layering by adding ⅓ of spaghetti to bottom of the 9x13 Pyrex Deep baking dish.
- Next spread with half of ricotta filling then top with a large amount of mozzarella cheese..
- Repeat steps with layering of spaghetti then the remaining half of ricotta cheese and mozzarella.
- Repeat steps again ending with cheese.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is bubbly and delicious. Cool for 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with parsley and serve.