I Finally Tried That Viral Baked Spaghetti and Now I Totally Understand the Hype
This baked spaghetti dish has been popular on TikTok for a while, and I figured it was high time to give the viral recipe a try. My kids love baked spaghetti, and casseroles always ensure lots of leftovers to feed everyone all week.
Sometimes viral recipes have specific ingredients and techniques. This spaghetti recipe is more a general idea. I watched close to a dozen different creators make this dish, and everyone had a slightly different take. This is my favorite way to get recipe inspiration: Take the idea of a dish, then pick and choose my favorite techniques from different versions of it to suit my own tastes.
Generally speaking, the base of the casserole is spaghetti in an Alfredo sauce. It’s topped with a tomato sauce packed with ground meat, onions, and peppers. Seasonings depend on the cook, ranging from Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, to Lawry’s seasoned salt, to just garlic and onion powder.
How to Make the TikTok Baked Spaghetti
For my version, I started off by putting a pot of salted water on to boil. I then deeply browned a pound of ground beef and a pound of Italian sausage in my largest skillet. I added a whole chopped onion, half of a green bell pepper, and a few cloves of garlic. I seasoned it well with salt and pepper, dried oregano, and some crushed red pepper flakes. After the vegetables softened, I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and let it brown. I stirred in a jar of Rao’s. I filled the jar halfway with water to get the remnants of the sauce and added it all to the pan. I let it simmer while I made the Alfredo sauce and cooked the spaghetti.
Most of the recipes use two cups of cream for a pound of spaghetti. I also used a whole pint of cream, using our Alfredo sauce recipe for inspiration. After adding the cheese and turning down the heat to let it simmer gently, I added the pasta to the boiling water and let it cook for just five minutes. I added the drained pasta to the sauce with about 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and then layered it into my casserole dish. I spooned over the meat sauce and sprinkled over about 1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella. I baked it in the center of a 350°F oven for 35 minutes.
My Honest Review of the TikTok Baked Spaghetti
Despite the fact that this recipe required two pans, a pot, and a casserole dish, it was really easy to put together and made a lot of food. (And you can tackle the dishes while the whole thing bakes.) I definitely recommend using both ground beef and sausage for the sauce. The sausage brings lots of good flavor, while the more neutral ground beef balances it all out. I really liked the green bell peppers in the sauce with the sausage. It brought nostalgic, old-school pizza parlor vibes to the whole thing that I really loved.
I was worried that the dish was going to be too saucy, so I let the meat sauce simmer down until it was pretty tight. I wouldn’t worry about this next time and keep it pretty loose. This isn’t a traditional Italian spaghetti — the extra-saucy noodles are comforting in this sort of dish.
My kids absolutely loved this dinner. We tucked into it while watching a movie on a cold January weekend. They liked it so much they kept letting me know how good it was while watching a movie. High praise from a 10-year-old!
Overall this dish is over-the-top, but in a positive way. With both the Alfredo and the ground meat, it’s a rich dish. Next time I may cut back on the amount of mozzarella on the top. I liked the cheesy browned lid, but that can be achieved with a smaller amount overall.
If You Make This TikTok Spaghetti, Some Tips
- Take the time to really brown your ground meat. This brings more depth of flavor to your sauce than any amount of seasoning does.
- Use a combination of ground beef and sausage. I think a spicy sausage would be great here as well.
- Boil the pasta for half of the time stated on the box. It will cook again in the oven.
- Swap in a different pasta shape. While this is a spaghetti dish, I think this would work just as well with a short, chunky pasta like shells or rigatoni. Use what you’ve got on hand.
- Add the spaghetti to the casserole dish using tongs instead of dumping it all in at once. It makes it easier to serve when the strands are nested together instead of spread out across the length of the dish.
- Use a deep casserole dish. When I took the dish out of the oven, it was very full after the noodles had expanded. Next time I would use a deeper casserole dish. If you don’t have one, I would bake it on a baking sheet to catch any potential overflow.
- Serve with a green salad or steamed green vegetables. You need something to cut through the richness.
This article originally published on The Kitchn. See it there: I Finally Tried TikTok’s Viral Baked Spaghetti and Now I Totally Understand the Hype