Monday, February 12, 2024

Cheesy Spaghetti and Meatball Bake

This dish is a meatball and spaghetti lover’s dream. It is rich, and decadent, and flavorful. It’s filling, so one good-sized meatball per person is generally enough. The instructions appear a bit daunting, but this is really an easy dish to put together, and the entire thing can be on the table in under an hour if you stick with it. Make the meatballs while your water is boiling for the spaghetti; make the béchamel while your meatballs are baking, then it all goes together, and into the oven while you’re warming some Italian bread. It’s easy enough for every day, but good enough for company.

Cheesy Spaghetti and Meatball Bake

12 oz. spaghetti

1 24-oz. jar marinara sauce (I used Vincent’s)


1 lb. ground beef

1 extra-large egg

½ c. Italian breadcrumbs

1 T. minced onion

1 t. onion salt

½ t. dried oregano

½ t. dried thyme

½ t. freshly ground black pepper

1 heaping T. ketchup

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


2 c. whole milk

3T. butter

2 T. flour

1/8 t. freshly ground nutmeg

¼ t. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare pasta according to the package directions for al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and toss it with half of the marinara sauce; set aside.

 While the pasta is cooking, make the meatballs. Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Add the meat, breaking it apart as you add it to the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the tomato sauce and the mozzarella cheese. Mix to combine everything well, using your fingertips. Don't compact the meat, and don't over mix.

 Scoop out the meat into approximately 12 balls (I used a small ice cream scoop.) and roll the balls into nice rounds with your hands.

 Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

 While meatballs are baking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until roux is golden, smooth, and paste-like, 5-7 minutes.

While continuing to whisk, stir in whole milk. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in salt and nutmeg.

Remove the skillet again and top with the cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese, 2-3 minutes.

Spread a spoonful of the remaining marinara sauce into a 1.5-quart baking dish. Add the marinara-tossed spaghetti and top it with the meatballs. Top the meatballs with the remaining marinara, drizzle the béchamel sauce on top, and sprinkle the top with the mozzarella.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake it until the cheese is melted and the meatballs register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of cook time to brown the top of the mozzarella.

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Linda said...

Gosh this looks good. I have yet to try a bechamel sauce with our spaghetti sauce, yet I know we would both love it.

Marie Smith said...

This will be on the menu. Thank you for posting it.

Barbara at Mantel and Table said...

Oh my that sounds fabulous! Even though it's only 9 in the morning, I'm dreaming of dinner! Thanks for the great recipe - I can't wait to try it!

Gina said...

Wow, this looks downright delicious! I am a big fan of the heavy hand with cheese, especially on pasta! said...

Oh goodness Pattie, I'm drooling! This looks so good!