This easy-baked spaghetti and meatballs recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner! The baked spaghetti is hearty and filling, and the meatballs could not be easier to make. Serve with a side of garlic bread and a salad for a complete meal the entire family will love.
One of the best things about this easy-baked spaghetti and meatballs recipe is that it is a great way to get your kids to help you in the kitchen. This delightful baked spaghetti recipe is a departure from the traditional stovetop approach. Instead of boiling the noodles separately, the noodles are nestled alongside savory meatballs in a single baking dish. As it bakes, the pasta absorbs the rich, flavorful tomato sauce, creating a satisfying and comforting dish that’s perfect for family gatherings or weeknight dinners.
The recipe comes from Kids Can Cook Anything! The Complete How-To Cookbook for Young Chefs, with 70+ Kid-Tested, Kid-Approved Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen. This cookbook is full of great recipes that are perfect for kids to make, and baked spaghetti and meatballs is one of them.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Baked-Spaghetti Recipe
- Cooking spaghetti doesn’t get any easier. You don’t have to boil and drain spaghetti – it cooks in the oven!
- You only need a 9×13 baking dish for baking the spaghetti and one large bowl for making the meatballs.
- The meatballs and spaghetti cook at the same time in the oven simplifying the cooking process. It’s an easy one-pan meal!
- It’s a great way to get kids involved in cooking dinner.
Let’s take a look at just how easy this spaghetti recipe is.
Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs Ingredients
For this kid-friendly baked spaghetti recipe, you need the following:
- Vegetable oil spray
- panko bread crumbs
- spaghetti (uncooked noodles)
- marinara sauce
- lean ground beef
- Parmesan cheese
- garlic powder
- dried oregano
- fresh basil
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine panko and milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, use your hands to break the pasta in half over the greased baking dish.
Spread pasta into an even layer. Pour water and jarred sauce over noodles and use tongs to toss gently until coated.
Add beef, Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, and salt to the bowl with the panko mixture and use your hands to gently mix until evenly combined.
Roll the beef mixture into 15 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each). Place meatballs in the baking dish on top of the pasta. Wash your hands.
Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove the baking dish from the oven and place it on a cooling rack (ask an adult for help). Carefully remove foil and discard. Use tongs to stir the spaghetti mixture and pasta water thoroughly, scraping the sides and bottom of the dish (be careful – the baking dish and sauce will be HOT!).
Return the baking dish to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
Kids need to ask an adult to remove the baking dish from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes.
Use tongs to carefully toss to coat pasta and meatballs with sauce. (If the sauce is too thick, add extra hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until loosened.). Sprinkle with basil and serve with extra Parmesan.
Tips and Storage
Don’t skip the step of covering the baking dish with aluminum foil for the first 30 minutes. The foil traps hot steam and helps the pasta and meatballs cook evenly. Removing the foil releases the steam and stirring the pasta release its starch into the surrounding liquid.
Store any leftover spaghetti and meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
FAQ – Do you put eggs in baked spaghetti?
There are no eggs in this recipe. For those with egg allergies, be sure to check the ingredients in your spaghetti noodles.
Oven-Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 13-by-9-inch baking dish
- Large bowl
- Rubber spatula
- 1-tablespoon measuring spoon
- Aluminum foil
- Oven mitts
- Vegetable oil spray
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup milk
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 2 cups water plus extra hot water as needed
- 1 pound lean ground beef (85 percent)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese (1 ounce) plus extra for serving
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Spray 13-by-9-inch baking dish with vegetable spray.
- In large bowl, use rubber spatula to combine panko and milk. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, use your hands to break pasta in half over greased baking dish. Spread pasta into even layer. Pour marinara sauce and water over pasta and use tongs to toss gently until coated.
- Add beef, Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, and salt to bowl with panko mixture and use your hands to gently mix until evenly combined.
- Roll beef mixture into 15 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each). Place meatballs in baking dish on top of pasta. Wash your hands.
- Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Use oven mitts to remove baking dish from oven and place on cooling rack (ask an adult for help). Carefully remove foil and discard. Use tongs to stir pasta thoroughly, scraping sides and bottom of dish (be careful – baking dish and sauce will be HOT!).
- Return baking dish to oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Ask an adult to remove baking dish from oven and place on cooling rack. Let pasta cool for 10 minutes.
- Use tongs to carefully toss to coat pasta and meatballs with sauce. (If sauce is too thick, add extra hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until loosened.). Sprinkle with basil and serve with extra Parmesan.
Kids Can Cook Anything!
The Complete How-To Cookbook for Young Chefs, with 70+ Kid-Tested, Kid-Approved Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen is a great cookbook for kids AND adults. It is full of great recipes that are perfect for kids to make and even has QR codes so that young chefs can access 20 educational cooking technique videos.
The cookbook is divided into 6 chapters: Breakfast, Snacks, Lunch, Dinner, Sides, and Sweets. It also has a section on getting started along with information on how to use the book, secrets to success in the kitchen (which includes the one thing that I need to be doing more often – reading the entire recipe, from start to finish), decoding kitchenspeak, essential prep steps and techniques, and essential kitchen gear.
Among the recipes in the book are Pumpkin Muffins, Eggs in a Hole, Breakfast Cookies, Chili-Lime Tropical Trail Mix, Loaded Nachos, Baked Brie, Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps, Open-Faced Tuna Melts, Fish Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce, Thai Red Curry with Bell Peppers and Tofu, Sesame Green Beans, Lowcountry Red Rice, Garlic Bread, Chocolate Sugar Cookies, Berry Streusal Bars, and Brownie Bites.
Look for Kids Can Cook Anything! at your favorite bookstore or at Amazon.com.
Be sure to come back and tell us how your baked spaghetti and meatballs turned out!