Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs is an easy, kid friendly weeknight dinner with cooked meatballs, spaghetti and cheese in a casserole. A lasagna shortcut!

This recipe is an even easier version of my popular cheesy Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti. We have so many kid-friendly Pasta Dinner Recipes that are so simple to make and freeze well for quick weeknight meals!

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs in white baking dish

BAKED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Spaghetti and meatballs is the ultimate family comfort food. It’s an easy recipe that you can adjust it to your pickiest eater’s taste (like reserving noodles without sauce for the kid who wants plain everything), plus it’s pretty darn inexpensive.

What I love most about this dish though is it’s a perfect meal prep dish. It freezes well and with about a day defrosting in the fridge, it’s ready to go like it was fresh made. We always have a version of Baked Spaghetti on hand in the freezer. 

Recently we had some friends that were passing through and this spaghetti casserole saved the day! I set it out to thaw in the morning and by the time they got into town, it was oven ready. Some Garlic Bread, a simple salad, and fresh grated parmesan cheese rounded out the meal. We were sitting down to dinner in the time it took to unload their car.

This casserole dish is also great for potlucks or family gatherings. You can make it the night before and bake in the morning while you are getting ready for work or your event. The portions for 8 are generous, and with sides and dessert, you can easily stretch it to 10-12. 

Scoop of Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

How to make ahead Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs:

Follow all the steps until it says to put it in the oven. Top with foil and freeze. Defrost in the fridge the day before you plan on serving and bake as usual. If you cook from frozen, cook time will at least an hour.

While I love this baked version because it makes the cheese so melty and gooey, with a golden brown crust, I know what a time saver making crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs can be. 

I’ve included instructions for both the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. If you want that delicious browned cheese layer, I recommend popping into a casserole dish, topping with more cheese and broiling for a few minutes before serving.

MORE EASY PASTA DINNERS

HOW TO MAKE BAKED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9×13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Cook pasta as directed and drain (do not rinse).
  3. Add the noodles to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Add in the pasta sauce, meatballs and half the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Pour into your baking dish and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
  7. Uncover, top with remaining mozzarella cheese and cook for 10 more minutes until cheese is melted.

 

White Baking Dish with Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs pictured from the top down

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VARIATIONS ON BAKED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  • Homemade Meatballs: Instead of using frozen meatballs, you can make our easy Homemade Meatballs. This lets you control the ingredients. Just make sure your meatballs are cooked before adding to the casserole.
  • Sauce: We used our Easy Marinara for this recipe but you can substitute your favorite jar of pasta sauce instead. You can also make this dish extra meaty by adding ground beef or Italian sausage crumbles to the spaghetti sauce.
  • Pasta: This easy recipe will work with pretty much any pasta you have on hand, like penne or macaroni. It is also delicious with frozen raviolis! Layer them like lasagna for an extra cheesy version.
  • Vegetables: Saute your favorite veggies like mushrooms, eggplant, or zucchini and add to the layers. We like to add big chunks of roasted garlic sprinkled on top for a slightly spicy, strong flavor.
  • Cheese: Add Ricotta or mascarpone cheese for a richer, creamier dish. For a vegan or lighter version with a creamy cheesy center use a well-drained firm tofu that has been blended to a smooth texture.

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  • Pour spaghetti sauce into slow cooker.
  • Add 4 cups of water or chicken broth.
  • Toss uncooked noodles in the salt and olive oil.
  • Break spaghetti noodles in half and place partially into sauce.
  • Top with frozen meatballs. No need to stir.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 2-5 hours (Until noodles are soft and meatballs heated)
  • Top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is warmed.
  • If transferring to baking dish to broil, hold back on mozzarella until you put in oven.

Quarter pan of baked spaghetti and meatballs

INSTANT POT SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  • Remove trivet from pot.
  • Place the meatballs in Instant Pot. 
  • Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place on top of meatballs.
  • Drizzle the olive oil and salt over spaghetti. 
  • Add marinara and 3 cups water or chicken broth to completely cover noodles.
  • Cover and set the Instant Pot to manual for 10 minutes. 
  • Quick release the pressure. Serve topped with mozzarella cheese.
  • Optional: Stir in cottage cheese. Transfer to a baking dish, top with mozzarella and bake for 10-15 minutes until warmed through and cheese is melted.

MORE KID-FRIENDLY DINNER IDEAS

HOW TO STORE BAKED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

  • Serve: You can keep your spaghetti casserole at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Store: Both leftovers and made ahead Baked Spaghetti can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: This dish is good in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

5 from 6 votes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Course: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs is an easy, kid friendly weeknight dinner with cooked meatballs, spaghetti and cheese in a casserole. A lasagna shortcut!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 cups  Marinara Sauce , 2 jars
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • 32 beef meatballs , cooked and thawed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese , shredded and divided

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9x13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Cook pasta as directed and drain (do not rinse).
  3. Add the noodles to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Add in the pasta sauce, meatballs and half the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Pour into your baking dish and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
  7. Uncover, top with remaining mozzarella cheese and cook for 10 more minutes until cheese is melted.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 servings, Amount per serving: 400 calories, Calories: 400g, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Sodium: 1008mg, Potassium: 717mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 766g, Vitamin C: 10g, Calcium: 147g, Iron: 3g

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Keyword: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
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Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs collage

About the Author

Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

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Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Beef Recipes Main Course Party Foods Pastas

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Comments

  1. Spaghetti is an all-time favorite in my family. Thank you for posting the various cooking methods in your recipe. Always nice to have options!

  2. I have been looking for a baked spaghetti recipe, plus one I can stick in the freezer for those times I don’t feel like cooking. Can’t wait to make it.

  3. Sabrina,
    I am a senior citizen with limited mobility. I enjoy making your recipes, first, because you explain the process so well, second, it is not at all difficult to make, and third, because the final result is always delicious. I don’t cook as often as I used to, but if I am going to make dinner for my family, I always turn to your recipes. I know that it will always turn out perfect. Thank you for making cooking possible for me again.