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Southern Baked Spaghetti

A plate with a slice of southern baked spaghetti with a fork.

What is southern baked spaghetti?

Southern baked spaghetti is the lasagna alternative you didn’t know you were missing. This spaghetti casserole is seasoned with Italian sausage so you can choose your spice level. We used mild so it would be kid friendly. Topped with melted Italian cheeses, this spaghetti casserole is savory, creamy and exploding with textures, plus it makes enough to serve 8-12 people.

An overhead shot of baking dish of southern baked spaghetti.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Overhead shot of some plates with baked spaghetti slices.

How to make southern baked spaghetti

Start with getting a few things ready. Preheat your oven to 350˚F, start boiling your spaghetti, and brown your meats. Thaw your spinach in the microwave if you need to now. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs and milk, stir until smooth and set aside.

You are going to want to cook your pasta to al denté so it can absorb some of the sauce during the baking process. When it is done cooking, drain it and toss it with a little drizzle of olive oil before setting it aside.

Now you can start making the sauce. Do this in the same pan that you browned the meat it. Melt your butter and sauté garlic, until fragrant, then you can add your onion, dried herbs, salt, heavy cream and chicken broth. You want to make sure to whisk the flour into the chicken broth before adding it to the warm pan, so you don’t get flour lumps that won’t dissolve.

Finish the sauce by stirring in your crushed tomatoes and thawed spinach. Continue to simmer until heated through, this should take about 5 minutes. Toss spaghetti with sauce, reserving about 2 cups for top of casserole.

Layer the dish:

Now to bring it all together! Place spaghetti in a large baking dish and layer the meat on top. The next layer will be the ricotta mixture, this should spread pretty smoothly over the meat. Follow that layer with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 30-45 minutes. The cheese should be melted, golden and bubbling around the edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into serving squares. Or just dig right in, and forget how messy it is if you want!

This recipe will really feed a lot of people, or you will have plenty of leftovers. Keep in mind, you could separate into two different casseroles and freeze one if you like.

Close up of baked spaghetti on a plate.

FAQs and tips on making a spaghetti ricotta bake

Is sausage or ground beef better for spaghetti?

There is no right or wrong answer on this, you can use the two interchangably or incorporate them together. I usually prefer ground beef when I make spaghetti, but sausage lends a lot of spices and seasonings that you will not get with ground beef.

How much spaghetti should I cook per person?

A serving of pasta for one person should technically be 2 oz of dry pasta, which is 1 cup when cooked. Keeping that in mind, one pound of pasta should serve 8 but that usually only serves about 4 people in my mind.

Do I need to cook fresh pasta before baking?

For this recipe we will cook the pasta first, most baked pasta is precooked. The trick is to make sure you cook it to al dente. The pasta will keep absorbing moisture while it bakes and this allows it to absorb some of the sauce without over cooking during the baking process.

Baking dish full of pasta topped with golden melted cheese and fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

More classic baked pasta recipes you will love

Close up of baked spaghetti on a plate.

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Southern Baked Spaghetti

Southern baked spaghetti is the lasagna alternative you didn’t know you were missing. This spaghetti casserole is seasoned with Italian sausage so you can choose your spice level, we used mild so it would be kid friendly. Topped with melted Italian cheeses, this baked spaghetti is savory, creamy and exploding with textures, plus it makes enough to serve 8-12 people.

  • Author: Theresa
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 16 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 lb spaghetti
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (mild, medium or hot)
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups Chicken broth, with 6 tbsp flour whisked in
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp tarragon
  • ½ tsp parsley
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cook spaghetti to al denté, according the package directions; drain, drizzle with oil and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet on medium high heat, brown beef and sausage, remove from skillet.
  4. Melt butter and sauté garlic, until fragrant.
  5. Add onion, marjoram, tarragon, parsley, heavy cream and chicken broth (with flour whisked in) and whisk well until heated through.
  6. Add crushed tomatoes and spinach and stir until well combined, continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Toss spaghetti with sauce, reserving about 2 cups for top of casserole.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs and milk, stir until smooth.
  9. Layer baking dish as follows: Spaghetti, cooked meat, ricotta mixture, remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake at 350˚F for 30-45 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 414
  • Sugar: 4.7 g
  • Sodium: 332.6 mg
  • Fat: 13.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 51 g
  • Fiber: 3.3 g
  • Protein: 20.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 77.6 mg

Keywords: cheesy baked spaghetti, spaghetti ricotta bake, leftover spaghetti bake, cheesy baked spaghetti recipe, southern baked spaghetti, spaghetti casserole, baked spaghetti, baked spaghetti sausage, baked leftover spaghetti, baked spaghetti with ricotta

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