An easy baked spaghetti recipe gets a better-for-you makeover. Five simple ingredients are all you need for this delicious main dish casserole recipe perfect for casual dinner parties or weeknight meals.
Easy Baked Spaghetti
If you’re like most people, you LOVE pasta dinners. And one of our go-to pasta dishes is this healthier easy baked spaghetti. In truth, calling it a “recipe” is probably a stretch, but it is a fantastic combination of ingredients!
In order to make baked pasta better for you, there are a few substitutions you can make that don’t really effect the flavor.
I’ve been making this since I was a newlywed and got the recipe from an office co-worker during one of our ‘potluck Fridays’. It stands the test of time!
When to serve this main dish
This is an excellent main dish to add to your dinner party menu ideas. Serve it when you have overnight guests, too.
- Great for a winter dinner party.
- Make it for an Italian theme dinner party.
- This pasta bake works so well for a casual dinner party.
- Serve it for a cozy fall dinner party.
What makes this baked spaghetti so good
- It’s loaded with flavor and cheesy goodness.
- It’s an easy 5-ingredient recipe that utilizes everyday staples.
- You can make simple substitutions, below, to change it up slightly.
- It’s the ultimate comfort food dinner. Hot, hearty, and filling!
- Take it to potlucks and Sunday suppers.
- Prep it ahead for a dinner party and pop it in the oven when guests arrive. You’ll be ready to eat in about 30 minutes!
- Double the recipe to serve a crowd.
Ingredients & tips
- Thin whole wheat spaghetti – Whole wheat is always a healthier option than white versions. It’s got fiber and extra nutrients.
- Ground turkey – Use lean turkey so you don’t have to drain much excess fat after cooking.
- Turkey pepperoni – Turkey pepperoni is a lot less fatty than traditional. We’re partial to the turkey pepperoni found at Wegman’s, but any brand will do.
- Pasta sauce – Use jarred pasta sauce with a low sugar count on the label, or just pick your favorite brand. Simple marinara is what we use.
- Cheddar cheese – Use an 8-ounce block and shred it your self. It will melt and taste better than pre-packaged shreds. Plus, shredding your own will yield some extra that you can put on top of the casserole during baking.
QUICK TIP: Save some extra cheese and add it to the top before baking.
- Try this with other pasta shapes like rotini or penne.
- Use lean ground chicken, beef, or even sausage instead of turkey.
- Use regular pepperoni in place of the turkey pepperoni.
- Substitute mozzarella, parmesan, or Monterey jack for the cheddar cheese.
- Use 2% low fat cheese to make this even lighter.
- Add even more fiber by tossing in diced peppers.
- For a twist, use our slow cooker spaghetti sauce in place of the ground turkey and jarred sauce called for.
How to make baked spaghetti
- Boil – Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Use the least amount of time listed on the package. Once cooked, drain it and set aside. DO NOT RINSE PASTA.
- Brown – Cook the ground turkey in a skillet over medium-low heat. Drain any excess grease once the meat is cooked through.
- Mix – Put the pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the cooked meat and sauce; stir to combine. Add the turkey pepperoni and cheese and mix well until everything is evenly integrated .
- Bake – Transfer mixture to a 9″ x 11″ baking dish and sprinkle extra cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake the casserole for 30 minutes at 350°F.
What can you serve with baked pasta
Round out this pasta casserole with one of these simple side salads or vegetables. Supply a basket of crusty bread too.
- green salad with oranges, fennel & avocado
- butternut squash baby kale salad
- easy beet & goat cheese salad
- marinated green bean salad
For this baked spaghetti you do need to cook the pasta first. There’s not enough liquid in the casserole to cook the pasta, so don’t skip that step!
Yes, you should bake it covered! This will keep the casserole from drying out.
Yes, you can prepare this dish up to the point of baking. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, place the dish into a cold oven, then turn it on so the dish heats up slowly. Once the oven temperature reaches 350, bake for 30 minutes.
Yes; prepare the recipe up to the point of baking. Use a disposable pan to freeze in and double wrap the casserole with saran wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let it defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking, following the “make ahead” tip above.
Don’t wait to make this baked spaghetti recipe that’s made better for you. You’re family or guests will love it!
- 12 ounces Whole Grain thin spaghetti
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey or chicken
- 4.5 ounces package of Turkey pepperoni – you’ll only need to use about half the package
- 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook ground meat in a skillet over medium-low heat, until no longer pink.
- Cook pasta al dente, and drain.
- Put pasta in a large bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Combine well so everything is equally integrated.
- Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.