Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

I love the rise and fall of the pasta swirls in this picture of Baked Spaghetti. It’s like a dreamy Van Gogh painting. I think that I should call it “Starry, Starry Baked Spaghetti”. Masterful…..

VanGogh's Starry Night

Ahem. Shake it off, Terri.

Do you like ricotta? Circle yes or no.

Baked Spaghetti no


I have tried to like it. Really and truly. But I cannot.

It feels suspect in my mouth, as if it can’t decide whether it wants to be cheese or grainy cream-of-wheatish mush. All that, plus I don’t like the flavor.

I’ve told you before that I’m a food heathen.

However, I can get behind cottage cheese. It has character. Clearly, it wants to be cheese. It’s kind of like little baby cheese curds; so cute! You can just hear their tiny little baby cheese voices saying, “When we grow up, we’re going to be a big wheel!”

Get it? “Big Wheel”. Cheese wheel?






Cheese wheel. I’m so funny.

Wheel.     Wheel.      I’ve said it too many times and now it sounds weird. You do that, too, I bet. Say a word too many times and then it starts to sound strange.

Here’s a word you might like to try out: turophile. It sounds kind of dirty, as if it should be arrested.

Not to worry, though. A turophile is a cheese connoisseur or lover of cheese. I’d like to be one of those and I must say that I could be a turophile if all cheeses were made from cow’s milk.

Coming up in this baked spaghetti are three tasty cow’s milk cheeses: cottage cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella (though true mozzarella comes from water buffalo milk–but a water buffalo and a cow are sort of alike; definitely more alike than a water buffalo and a goat. I don’t do goat cheese. It’s that food heathen thing again.)

Baked Spaghetti

Some baked spaghetti recipes use ricotta instead of cottage cheese. If you are a ricotta fan, go ahead and use it in place of the cottage cheese. Note: What’s the difference between cottage cheese and ricotta cheese? The answer is at the end of the post, but don’t look yet. Keep reading.

I really enjoyed the process of making this baked spaghetti. It is similar to lasagna, but the texture is different because there is more pasta per bite than with lasagna. It’s more like eating spaghetti, but with deeper flavor and without the noodle slurp. Angel hair pasta, my favorite pasta shape, is used in this dish rather than regular sized spaghetti noodles. It works very well, giving just the right amount of pasta vs. sauce and cheese.

The sauce is wonderfully flavorful, lots of garlic and onions, rich tomato puree and savory herbs. The Italian sausage is like a deep bass rumble that you feel from the inside out. For a complete meal, serve with French Bread or Quick & Easy Garlic Bread Sticks and a tossed salad.

Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

This Baked Spaghetti smells so amazing while cooking. You will think that you are in your favorite Italian restaurant! Serve with some French bread or Quick & Easy Garlic Bread Sticks and a salad for a deliciously complete meal.


  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used mild)
  • 1 large onion, medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 ounces (weight) angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups cottage cheese
  • 3 cups (12-13 ounces, weight) grated mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. With olive oil, grease the inside of a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Heat a deep skillet over medium high heat. Put Italian sausage in pan, breaking up into small pieces. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent and sausage is no longer pink. Drain grease if necessary.
  3. Turn heat to low. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, Italian seasoning and sugar. Stir well to combine. Heat gently without boiling, stirring as needed. Steam should be rising from the sauce as it cooks.
  4. Add pasta to boiling, salted water; stir to separate noodles.Cook for 2 minutes or just until pasta is pliable. Do not over-cook. The pasta needs to be underdone because it will pick up moisture from the sauce as it bakes.
  5. Drain pasta in a colander. Rinse under cool water and drain well. Put pasta in a large bowl. Add olive oil. Toss to distribute oil. This process is easiest to do with clean hands instead of using a utensil. Add eggs and Parmesan to pasta. Toss well. Set aside.
  6. To assemble:
  7. Put about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Distribute half of the pasta evenly over the sauce. Put half of the remaining sauce over the pasta. Distribute all of the cottage cheese evenly over the sauce layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella over the cottage cheese; cover and set aside remaining mozzarella. Distribute the remaining pasta over the mozzarella. Finish with the remaining pasta sauce. DO NOT add the remaining mozzarella at this time.
  8. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove dish from oven, uncover, and sprinkle remaining mozzarella over top of sauce. Return to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve as desired.


Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Here’s a quick visual on layering the Baked Spaghetti:

Baked Spaghetti
1) Thin layer of sauce. 2) Half of the pasta. 3) Half of the remaining sauce. 4) All of the cottage cheese. 5) Half of the mozzarella. 6) The remaining pasta. 7) The remaining sauce. 8) Cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes. 9) Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella & bake for 20 minutes.

Do you remember the question that I asked you about the difference between cottage cheese and ricotta cheese? Here’s the answer: In the initial phase of cheese making, milk is acidified or soured. This process causes the milk to coagulate, forming curds and whey.

The curds are a soft, creamy semi-solid pieces of dairy possibilities. The curds can be used to make cottage cheese or they can undergo further processing to be made into cheese. For cottage cheese, once the curds have formed from the milk, they are collected, washed under cool water and drained. The processing stops at this point and the cottage cheese is put into containers.

Whey is the watery byproduct of the cheese making process and is used to make ricotta cheese. The whey undergoes further processing which consists of allowing another 12-24 hours of fermentation. After this fermentation, the whey is heated to almost boiling. This causes the remaining milk proteins to form into small, grainy bits of cheese that precipitate out of the liquid. These grainy bits of curd are collected and placed in cheese cloth allowed to drain. The remaining product is ricotta.

Baked Spaghetti

You may also like:

Spaghettit and Meatballs
Spaghettit and Meatballs
Easy Garlic Bread Sticks
Easy Garlic Bread Sticks
Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup


  1. says

    Funny, I love ricotta and hate cottage cheese. I guess that’s why I like you and your blog so much – opposites attract, right? Lo. Love how you saw the Van Gogh in your pasta. Of course, your pasta looks much more delish!

    • says

      I know. I’m in the minority on liking cottage cheese, but not liking ricotta. Or goat cheeses. Funny story, though, from just last night. We were at a local Swedish spring soup festival (long story) and they had various cheeses & breads to go along with the soups. My daughter, Katie, who has an adventurous palate, decided to try a brown goat cheese that seemed “interesting”. She sat down at the table and popped a piece of the cheese into her mouth. Two chews later her eyes were watering, her face was bright red, and she was full-on shuddering and gagging. I would have laughed at her, but she was in serious distress. (snicker)

  2. Wendy from TOSH says

    This looks fabulous! I too am a cottage cheese fan, I like the texture in lasagna. I like to had a little milk to my cottage cheese when it use it in lasagna. It makes it a bit easier to “spread”.
    Can’t wait to try “Starry, Starry Spaghetti”!
    PS— I hope Katie feels better 🙂

    • says

      Thanks, Wendy. Yeah, Katie is fine. We had a good laugh yesterday talking about how awful that brown goat cheese tasted to her. I was doing some light research on the internet about that particular cheese and found a story about the cheese catching fire on a delivery truck passing through a tunnel in Norway. The fire and toxic fumes were so bad that the tunnel had to be closed for 5 days until the fumes cleared!

  3. says

    How fun is this baked spaghetti! It’s funny you mention ricotta vs. cottage cheese. I have always used cottage cheese in my recipe for lasagna and I recently tried ricotta. My family loved it. So I decided that I would switch to the more expensive ricotta from now on. I still love my cottage cheese though. 🙂

  4. Nancy H says

    I never knew that baked spaghetti was layered! This looks yummy and I can’t wait to try it and it DOES look like the Van Gogh painting (one of my favorites).

    • says

      Some baked spaghetti recipes are layered, others are not. The first time I made baked spaghetti, it was the non-layered type and I did not like it; it was very uninteresting. I had to work with this recipe a little before I got things figured out. At first I made it with 16 ounces of spaghetti noodles. That was a mistake–too much pasta. When I backed off to 12 ounces of angel hair pasta and only boiled it for 2 minutes, it turned out just right. With the layers of pasta, cottage cheese, sauce and mozzarella there was better texture and a lot more interest. Good heavens, I’ve written another epistle! 🙂 ~Terri

    • says

      Thank you, Kelly. I do understand that I most likely stand nearly alone in my use of cottage cheese. It does seem that most people prefer ricotta, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do to be true to her own taste preferences. 🙂 ~Terri

  5. Melissa Crosby says

    Re ricotta vs cottage cheese. I dont mind either in lasagna or such, but cannolli are horrid! And Goat Cheese! Have you ever been by a real goat? They smell like goat cheese. Therefore goat cheese = goat sweat!

    • says

      Yes, I have been by a goat — not a fan. 🙂 I have to confess that for as much as I love cheese, cow cheeses are pretty much the only ones that I like. I have really and truly tried a wide variety of cheeses from literally all over the world, and my very favorites come from humble bovine milk. ~Terri

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