Skillet Baked Spaghetti

Don’t you think Mondays just call for an easy breezy dinner solution? Something quick and delicious that requires very low levels of brain activity and even lower levels of cleanup? Say, a skillet baked spaghetti made start-to-finish in one skillet, for example?

I do.

This dinner is a perfect weeknight what’s-for-dinner solution. It’s uncomplicated and incredibly tasty. And while you might be cursing my name for the extra-full skillet (don’t worry, if you stir carefully, you’ll be juuuust fine), the fact that you only have to clean one skillet will have you thanking me later.

Skillet Baked Spaghetti

I have nothing against regular, old spaghetti. We eat it often, in fact. But everyone needs a couple spaghetti variations in their menu planning archives, wouldn’t you agree? And this is a keeper. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I carry a lot of love around in my heart for one-pot/one-skillet meals.

What To ServeDivine Breadsticks or Cheesy Garlic Bread
Steamed vegetable like broccoli or peas
Simple green salad (or something more fancy like this Gourmet Green Salad)

One Year Ago: Sweet Baked Ham {The Most Unique and Delicious Ham I’ve Ever Had}
Two Years Ago: Easter Dinner Make-a-Menu 2012
Three Years Ago: Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken

Skillet Baked Spaghetti

Yield: Serves 6

Skillet Baked Spaghetti

The easiest way to do this, says ATK, is to place the spaghetti in a gallon-size ziploc bag so the spaghetti is laying inside the bottom of the bag. Roll the bag up into a tight roll around the pasta and then using the edge of the counter, press into the rolled log of dry noodles, breaking them in 2-inch intervals. Unroll the bag and you'll have lots of 2-inch segments of dried spaghetti in the bottom of the bag. Trust me, it's a lot less messy and faster than doing it strand by strand. Also, don't even think about making this in a skillet smaller than 12-inches (if you have one bigger/deeper, use it) because you'll have major overflow issues.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12 ounces spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces (see note)
  • 3 cans (15-ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet (see note above) that is oven-safe, cook the ground beef or turkey with the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium to medium-high heat, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Drain any excess grease, if needed.
  2. Stir in the oregano, basil, thyme, spaghetti, crushed tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. The skillet will be very full! You are going to want to curse my name. It's ok. I still love you. If you stir carefully, you'll be fine. Just kind of lift the pasta up and over to get everything well combined.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook, covered, stirring every once in a while to prevent sticking and break up the noodles, for 12-14 minutes, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. It's ok if it still looks quite liquidy as it will continue to thicken while it broils and rests. While the pasta cooks, preheat the broiler.
  4. Stir in the cubed cream cheese until it has melted and combined with the pasta. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the oven and let it sit for 5 or so minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Best of 2009 (changed all the ingredient amounts to better feed our family as well as changing the liquid ingredients, some of the spices, cheese, etc.)

53 Responses to Skillet Baked Spaghetti {One Pot, 30-Minute Meal}

  1. Sarah Evans says:

    Any tips for making this in the instant pot? Just trying to figure out how much water would be needed…

  2. […] from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe to use what ingredients I had on […]

  3. […] from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe to use what ingredients I had on […]

  4. Valerie says:

    I stumbled upon this on your blog looking for quick pasta dishes and made it tonight. Very easy and quick to make and my husband, 3 kids and myself all loved it! Thank you for continuing to save dinner at our house 🙂

  5. Danielle says:

    Just made this and will definitely be making it again. So easy and so yummy. Thanks!

  6. Jessica says:

    Made this for the second time last night. Everyone loved it again. I’ve made it with ground beef and ground turkey breast. I felt like ground beef had more flavor (although ground turkey thigh would probably be a better turkey option instead of the breast). I love how quickly this comes together!!

  7. Janette says:

    I made this last night and it was a huge hit! I will definitely be making it again. How could I adapt this to make as a meal to take to someone?

  8. Marcie says:

    Loved this even with the slight variations I had to make (diced tomatoes, fettuccine noodles and Italian seasoning). Thanks!

  9. Tamara Chaffin says:

    This last step to broil really deepened the flavor of this dish, I have tried other skillet options and this is my favorite so far. I served with crushed pepper flakes instead of adding for those who like ( and dislike) spice.

  10. Shellice M says:

    Wow! Another keeper. Two things I love…..noodles and cheese! I add cream cheese to a lot of recipes. So this grabbed me immediately. I only had one large can of crushed tomato so I added a third cup of tomato sauce to make up for the liquid ounces. I did add the full pound of dry pasta because I prefer my spaghetti on the dryer side. It was freaking yummy and so simple. I will definately be making this one again. As always, thanks so much for sharing this one. ♡

  11. Lynn says:

    Okay, I was cursing a little, even after being warned and using a 12″ skillet. Ended up with a super messy stove but a delicious hit meal, of course. I preferred cleaning the stove to washing a million pots and bowls anyway! Hearty and cheesy and plenty of leftovers!

  12. Beth W. says:

    This is one of my top 10 freezer meals now. I love this recipe. It is great to pull from the freezer with all the prep work and measuring done. I put all sauce ingredients in a gallon ziplock, with cheeses in a separate bag and pasta on hand (can keep the box in freezer too if you like, but not necessary.) It is an easy meal without being a freezer meal, but I am a nurse and I have zero energy left when I get home and 4 other hungry people to feed. I love the ease of thaw and dump. Thanks for a great recipe!

  13. Staci says:

    Yum!!! We really enjoyed this for dinner tonight. To make it even easier than it already is, I used Barilla Cut Spaghetti noodles. The pieces are 1″ instead of 2″, but nobody here seemed to mind and I loved saving the step of having to break the noodles!

  14. Amanda says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mel! When I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated I looked online for the recipe and could find nothing, so I started tweaking it myself. This has become a family favorite for sure. We eat it several times a month. Next time I will have to try your version, because, hello-cream cheese. I make mine in my wide Le Creuset ‘French Oven’

  15. […] Spaghetti Baked in a Skillet from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  16. Deb says:

    Love, love loved this!! Huge hit with the whole family. Was shocked how well the pasta baked given how full the pan was. To answer Paige’s question, it works wonderfully in a cast iron pan. It was full, but worked great. This recipe is going into heavy rotation. Thanks Mel!

  17. Anissa says:

    It’s been a long time since I left a comment, but I just wanted to say that this was a delicious dinner. I made the garlic cheese bread to go with it and it was WAY too yummy. I didn’t use all of the 3 cups of water. More like 1 3/4 cups. Turned out fantastic!

  18. Paige says:

    Looks great! We need a spaghetti variation. I don’t have any non stick skillets, though. Do you think I could use a cast iron skillet?

    • Mel says:

      Paige – I think cast iron would work pretty well as long as it is big enough. This completely fills up a 12-inch regular skillet.

  19. Mike says:

    I have to admit I had my doubts when I saw only 1/4 of pan left above the mixture but it all worked out great and tasted wonderful. One question though, mine turned out kind of pink (like you would expect from a Vodka Sauce. Could this have been from my substituting regular cream cheese for the light version? I can’t think of any other reason it was not rich and red like your photos.

    • Mel says:

      Mike – I am not sure… but it could be because of the cream cheese. Did you use more cream cheese than it called for? Also, pictures can sometimes be a bit deceiving. The pics make it look slightly more red than in person. I am glad you liked it though!

  20. Kim says:

    This was delicious. Now I need to make sure I get an oven safe skillet with a lid. THANKS as always!!

  21. Dee says:

    I love my Best Skillet cook book! Made this recipe for dinner tonight and it’s so good. I think you deserve some type of reward because all THREE of my kids loved it. That hardly ever happens!

  22. Ash says:

    So happy Mel to see the Side Dish suggestions at the top of the recipes! I’ve noticed it on a few recipes as I’ve made my menu for the week. THANK YOU!!

  23. Teresa says:

    This was excellent! I was afraid my 12″ skillet wasn’t deep enough, so I just cooked it in a larger short stockpot with a lid. The only change I made was add five slices of some tasty Whole Foods pepperoni (chopped) I had left over from making pizza. It was a great addition (I used ground turkey, too). I just sprinkled the cheeses over the top of the pasta in the stockpot and stuck the whole thing under the broiler–delicious, Mel!!!

  24. kristyz says:

    LOVED, we make all of your recipes…and now I have my mother making all of your recipes. My husband raved about this one for many reasons. 1. it tastes amazing and the sauce is so creamy, it just gives a different spin on an old dish. 2. he hasn’t had anything with noodles in it forever. 3. he is on clean up duty, so he was loving the one dish. love your site.

  25. Alison says:

    We made this tonight and it was super easy and quick. My husband and son loved it. Used turkey and diced tomatoes instead of crushed. We’ll make it again! Trickiest part was folding in the noodles bwith the other liquids but we managed! Thanks!

  26. J Kelley says:

    “Better than regular spaghetti.” “I loved it!” “That’s a winner!” (my husband) These quotes from my family mean that this will definitely be added to my recipe repertoire. Thanks, Mel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Brittany says:

    What brand oven safe skillet do you own? I don’t have one but have been wanting to buy one.

  28. Niki Baker says:

    Do you think I could make this in a cast iron dutch oven or would that make it too “thick” to cook properly? I know I wouldn’t be able to broil it to melt the cheese but could put it in the oven and get it all melty and gooey…..

  29. Diane says:

    Could the broiling be optional? I don’t know if any of my pans are oven-proof, but it seems like I could possibly just cook it/cover it for an extra couple of minutes

  30. Carrie says:

    Made this for dinner last night, it was perfect for a busy Monday! Thanks for saving dinner at my house yet again. 🙂

  31. Grreat recipe, that looks delicious 🙂

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  32. Rachel says:

    When I saw this I thought, spaghetti? Really? But after reading the recipe, it sounds delicious and different than other recipes I’ve tried. And I love the ‘what to serve with this’ addition ~ thanks for sharing your ideas!

  33. mamalala says:

    I have some sick kids in our home and no time to head to the store….but I have all the items in my stockpile to make this for dinner tonight. Thank you for saving the day Mel!

  34. Christi says:

    Made it tonight..we are in Europe— all LOVED it. A friend rec’d your site and we have made so many of your recipes- love that they use real ingredients since there are no shortcuts here.

    Thanks so much!

  35. Kathy says:

    Yay for 1 skillet! I seem to recall you liking a one skillet/pot cookbook – what was the name of it?

  36. Karly says:

    Oh, I love this! What an easy dinner!

  37. Nancy says:

    I’m SO excited about this recipe (as I am about all of your recipes)! I have a food storage product that’s called “Spaghetti Bites” that I bought and this recipe will be perfect to try them out. The “Bites” are just basically noodle pieces as you’ve described. It’s going on the table tonight!

  38. Josie says:

    I’m also a fan of skillet pastas. So easy and so good. I’ve done skillet baked ziti and skillet lasagna, but I’m really loving this spaghetti version!

  39. Nicole Hunn says:

    Where were you and this gem last night, when I was scrambling to get something on the table fast, Mel? *sigh* This looks perfect!

  40. LOOOOOOVE easy dinners like this. And the boys seem to be allergic to spaghetti without cheese melted on top, so this is basically perfect.

  41. Kim in MD says:

    Oooh…I LOVE one skillet dinners! I make a similar dish with penne pasta, but love the addition of the cheeses in this recipe! Thanks to you and ATK, whenever I make a pasta dish I am always thinking how I can make it a one skillet dish. This method makes for quick and easy clean up (eliminates a separate pot and colander to cook and drain the pasta) but more importantly- the pasta tastes amazing because it absorbs all of the flavors of the sauce it is cooked in!

  42. Sheila says:

    Yea, a one-pot wonder that looks and sounds delicious! Thank you so much for including the cool and unique tip to break the noodles.

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