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Plate of Italian baked spaghetti.

Italian Baked Spaghetti

My great granddad's Chicago-style Italian baked spaghetti, beef-mushroom sauce layered with cheddar cheese and spaghetti and baked in a casserole dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked spaghetti, spaghetti casserole
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 609kcal
Author Kelly Wildenhaus | the hungry bluebird


  • ¼ pound salt pork chopped
  • 1 pound beef stew meat, preferably well-marbled like beef chuck or beef short rib, cut in 1½-inch pieces (I actually used both because I had both leftover in the freezer)
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 70 oz 2 (28-oz) cans and 1 (14-oz) can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand ~ Strange amount, I know. They were drunk, remember?
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped ~ I used about a quarter of a green pepper as we're not fans
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 pounds spaghetti
  • Grated Romano cheese


Make the sauce: one day ahead, if possible.

  • Drizzle some olive oil in a large pot and heat over medium. Salt the beef and add to pot along with the chopped salt pork, and brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Add onions, garlic and a generous pinch of salt, continue cooking until onions are softened, about another 10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and juices, chopped green pepper, sliced mushrooms, Worcestershire, crushed red pepper, to taste, and 2 cups water. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover partially, and simmer 2 to 2½ hours or until meat is very tender. Cool and refrigerate overnight.

Assemble the spaghetti:

  • Bring sauce to room temp or reheat gently on stove. Cook 2 pounds spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente, 8 or 9 minutes. Drain.
  • In a large baking pan, put a little sauce to coat the bottom entirely. Add a layer of pasta, ladle some sauce all over the top, sprinkle on half the shredded cheddar. Repeat with another layer of spaghetti, more sauce, the rest of the cheddar.
  • Cover cheddar with remaining spaghetti. Ladle some more sauce over the top and then sprinkle with grated Romano cheese. So here's what you have, sauce, spaghetti, sauce, cheese, spaghetti, sauce, cheese, spaghetti, sauce, Romano.
  • Cover with foil and bake in 350º oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until heated thoroughly and cheese is melted.
  • Serve, passing more Romano and extra sauce if desired.


I break up the cooked pieces of meat if I think they're too big, either before I refrigerate it or the next day before I layer the spaghetti.
This makes a very large pan.  I often make two pans, about 9" by 13" or so casseroles, and put one in the freezer for another time.  Just thaw and then bake per instructions.


Calories: 609kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 788mg | Potassium: 835mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 354mg | Iron: 4mg