Nanna's Baked Spaghetti

February 11, 2021
It doesn't take fancy ingredients to whip up a pan of Nanna's Baked Spaghetti. Just simple ingredients and lots of cheese are the secrets that make it so good!

Nanna's Baked Spaghetti Image

Have you ever decided to make someone's favorite dish for dinner, only to have it totally fail?  Well, that's exactly what happened when I first made baked spaghetti for our 10-year-old daughter, Miss H. 

One Sunday afternoon I decided to whip up a pan for dinner to surprise her and feed her newfound love for baked spaghetti.  I concocted my version, served it up with a smile -- all proud of myself for surprising Miss H. with her new favorite, and eagerly awaited the "mmmmm's" as she dug in.

But instead of happy "mmmmm's?" -- I got just the opposite. I was confronted instead with an utter refusal to eat it after tasting just one bite.  Yes, it was a total and epic fail.      

But before we get into just where I went wrong, let's back up a bit ...

See, our daughter's love of baked spaghetti began when the Nanna of one of her friends served up a pan for lunch one day.  Miss H. came home absolutely raving about Nanna's baked spaghetti, seriously not able to say enough about how fabulous it was and how much she loved it.

And when Nanna made it again a couple weeks later? -- Same thing, with Miss H. simply raving about its deliciousness. 

Just simple ingredients with a big helping of cheese is what makes Nanna's baked spaghetti so good.

Enter -- My failed attempt to recreate Nanna's Baked Spaghetti.

When Miss H. wouldn't eat mine I couldn't help but wonder, what on Earth had I done wrong?  I had buttered the hot noodles, tossed them with grated Parmesan before mixing them with doctored-up jarred sauce, and added in a good dose of ground beef and cheese.

"It must be the jarred sauce," I thought to myself. -- "I bet Nanna makes her own sauce!"

So the next time I saw Nanna, I asked her.  I asked, "So, how do you make your baked spaghetti that our girl just loves so much?"  After all, I was clearly in need of baked spaghetti expert advice.

Turns out -- Nanna does not make her own sauce for her baked spaghetti.  Nope, just like I had done, she uses jarred sauce. -- But no doctoring it up.  Coating the noodles in butter and Parmesan? -- a no go.  Just simple ingredients with a big helping of cheese is what makes Nanna's baked spaghetti so good. 

So put simply, what are Nanna's secrets to great baked spaghetti?
  • Nothing fancy, and 
  • Lots of cheese.
So back to the drawing board I went for my second attempt at recreating Nanna's Baked Spaghetti!  No more buttered noodles, no more Parmesan, no more doctored-up sauce.  Just simple ingredients, and a whole lot of cheese.  And I'm happy to say on this second time, I nailed it.

On this second time, I got a resounding thumb's up from our Miss H. -- And the "mmmm's" I'd been looking for as she dug in.  Thanks to Nanna, we've now got a new favorite dinner in the house.

Pan of Baked Spaghetti Topped with Cheese Image

Nanna's Baked Spaghetti Ingredients:

Nothing fancy here! -- It takes just 5 simple ingredients to create Nanna's Baked Spaghetti.  To whip up a pan, you'll need:

  • Spaghetti noodles - A 16-ounce package of spaghetti makes a nice, big pan.

  • Ground beef - Use 1 pound of ground beef, or up to 1 & 1/2 pounds if you like your baked spaghetti on the extra-meaty side.

  • Jarred meatless spaghetti sauce - Two jars of prepared spaghetti sauce make this dish nice and saucy.  We use either Prego or Ragu brand marinara sauce.  However, any jarred meatless or marinara sauce will do great, so choose your favorite.

  • Mozzarella cheese - A hefty dose of shredded mozzarella both stirred in with the spaghetti and sprinkled on top makes this spaghetti super cheesy.  For the best and meltiest result, shred the cheese yourself from a block rather than using packaged pre-shredded cheese.

  • Medium cheddar cheese - Combining shredded cheddar with the mozzarella brings an extra little zip of flavor.  Again, for the best result, shred the cheddar yourself from a block rather than using packaged shredded cheese.

Baked Spaghetti Ingredients Image

How to Make Nanna's Baked Spaghetti:

Whipping up a pan of baked spaghetti isn't tough at all.

Start by getting the spaghetti cooking. -- Be sure to cook it in salted water to season the noodles themselves as they absorb the water during cooking.

While the noodles cook, brown some ground beef that's been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Drain it, add in jarred spaghetti sauce, and then bring the sauce to a simmer to heat it through.  

When the spaghetti is cooked, toss the drained noodles with the sauce mixture until everything's well combined.  Then stir in a hardy dose of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

How to Make Baked Spaghetti Image

Spoon the spaghetti mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Then, sprinkle on more shredded cheese.

Pan of Baked Spaghetti Ready to Go Into Oven Image

Pop the pan in the oven and bake it all up until everything's heated through and the cheese is melty.

Then you're good to go with digging into the deliciousness!  See, not tough at all, right?

Pan of Baked Spaghetti Image

So if you're looking for good, simple, down-home delicious baked spaghetti, make it the Nanna way -- with great simple ingredients and a big helping of cheese.  It's truly what makes Nanna's Baked Spaghetti sooo good.

When you serve it up, it's sure to bring the "mmmm's" to the table, just as it does for our little Miss H.

Check out these other super tasty pasta dinners:
Serving Spoon of Baked Spaghetti Image
Thank you for stopping by The Kitchen is My Playground. We'd love to have you back soon!

baked spaghetti, baked spaghetti recipe, how to make baked spaghetti
Main Dishes
Yield: about 8-12 servings
Nanna's Baked Spaghetti

Nanna's Baked Spaghetti

It doesn't take fancy ingredients to whip up a pan of Nanna's Baked Spaghetti. Just simple ingredients and lots of cheese are the secrets that make it so good!
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 1 Hour


  • 1 (16 oz.) package spaghetti
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 (23 oz.) jars meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper


  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water, according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Combine shredded mozzarella and cheddar; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, season ground beef with salt and pepper. Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain. Add sauce to ground beef and bring to a simmer to heat through.
  4. Combine cooked spaghetti and sauce; toss to coat. Stir in 3 cups shredded cheese.
  5. Spoon into a greased 9x13" baking dish. Top evenly with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.
  6. Bake at 350℉ for 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is melty.
  1. Use up to 1 & 1/2 lbs. of ground beef if you'd like your baked spaghetti extra-meaty.
  2. We use Prego or Ragu brand marinara sauce. Any meatless/marinara sauce works great, so use your favorite.
  3. It never hurts to add even more cheese!  For the best and meltiest result, shred the cheeses yourself from a block rather than using packaged pre-shredded cheese.
  4. This recipe makes a pretty big batch of baked spaghetti that's certainly enough for leftovers for our family.  The recipe can easily be halved to make a smaller pan, if you'd like.

Nanna's Baked Spaghetti ~ Simple ingredients & lots of cheese are the secrets that make Nanna's baked spaghetti so good! Nothing fancy and easy to make, it's down-home deliciousness for dinner.

This post is linked with Weekend PotluckMeal Plan Monday.


  1. This looks easy and delicious! I will be trying it this week!!

  2. This baked spaghetti looks amazing. This is my kind of quick and easy weeknight dinner!

  3. This looks fantastic , thanks for sharing

  4. Congratulations, because as usual your article is wonderful!
    this is delicious!

  5. Thank you SO much for sharing your creativity at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy. CONGRATS for being one of our Featured Guests at this week’s party (#475)! :-)

  6. Absolutely delicious! Simple and my family loved it. Will definitely make again.

    1. We are so glad you enjoyed this recipe. We hope this becomes a family favorite.

  7. Recipe for BAKED SPAGHETTI was awesome, it was a little difference then my wife’s. But the prego is the key to BAKED SPAGHETTI, and will make it again.

    1. We are so glad you enjoyed! Thank you for letting us know it was good.


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