Best ever fried spaghetti is an easy, delicious pasta dish. Spaghetti noodles are fried until crispy then topped with a homemade meaty sauce. It's covered with cheese and broiled until melted and bubbly on top. Easy to make and kid friendly.Jump to Recipe
Have you ever fried your cooked pasta? If you haven't this recipe will be a must try for you. Pasta when fried is crispy on the outside, while remaining soft on the inside. There’s a little crunch with very bite making it so good. Frying pasta is not as uncommon as you might think. Spaetzle and gnocchi are commonly known for being pan fried and seasoned after cooking. Other types of pasta like bow tie can be fried and eaten as a snack. Frying spaghetti is not much difference except the noodles are longer and thinner.
- Why You’ll Love Fried Spaghetti
- What Is Fried Spaghetti?
- What You Need to Make Fried Spaghetti
- Using Leftover Spaghetti to Make Fried Spaghetti
- Why Make This Spaghetti In a Cast Iron Skillet?
- Tips for Making Fried Spaghetti
- Variations You Must Try
- Storing Fried Spaghetti
- Reheating Fried Spaghetti
- More Dinner Recipes
- Ultimate Fried Spaghetti
Why You’ll Love Fried Spaghetti
- It’s so easy to make. Yes, there are a few different components and steps but making the fried spaghetti doesn’t take a lot of technique. It’s very similar to making normal spaghetti but the spaghetti is fried and topped with a crispy cheese topping instead. The overall cook time and recipe prep time is very comparable to a homemade spaghetti with one more step. Don't be intimidated by this recipe. The steps are very easy to follow.
- Sure to impress the guests. Have you seen this sight of this beautiful meal? The first time I made this, I cooked for a few dinner guests and they were very impressed because they had never seen this rendition of spaghetti. Everyone was eager to dig in and were pleasantly surprised by the crispy texture of the fried spaghetti.
- Have leftover spaghetti? Use it in this recipe. Leftover cooked spaghetti is wonderful in this recipe and really crisps up nicely once it's fried. You’ll be skipping a step too because you won’t have to cook the spaghetti. Don't throw away left over pasta anymore use it in this delicious and easy fried spaghetti recipe instead.
- It’s sure to satisfy any cheese lover. Cheese isn't just in the fried spaghetti, it's also on top of all the noodles then the fried spaghetti is broiled until the cheese has melted is browned and bubbly. It creates a delicious cheesy crust that’s so good when eaten.
- Everything is homemade. Don't worry about ingredients you can't read from pre-made sauces. The sauce in this fried pasta recipe recipe uses ingredients you probably already have on hand.
What Is Fried Spaghetti?
So what exactly is fried spaghetti? We’re all familiar with traditional spaghetti, a household favorite of ours that combines spaghetti noodles with a meaty tomato sauce. This fried spaghetti takes the traditional recipe to the next level. It is exactly what it sounds like which is essentially fried pasta noodles. Spaghetti is cooked according to the package directions then pan fried in oil. The spaghetti becomes crispy and crunchy on the sides it's pan fried so every bite is delicious and gives a texture you're not used to having with traditional spaghetti.
When it comes to the fried spaghetti origin it's hard to say where this originated. Fried spaghetti is typically eaten in Italian homes as an afternoon snack. It's a way to repurpose leftover cooked spaghetti noodles. This version is many times eaten without the sauce all together. This way is referred to as fried spaghetti italian style.
What You Need to Make Fried Spaghetti
Spaghetti - consider using leftover cooked spaghetti in this recipe to save an extra step. You may substitute whole wheat spaghetti or even bucatini.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - using a good qualify extra virgin olive oil is going to elevate the flavor so much. It’s used not only to cook the onion and garlic but also to fry the spaghetti making it crunchy and also giving it delicious flavor.
For The Sauce
Garlic - we recommend fresh, minced garlic. Fresh tastes best. Pre-minced can be substituted but the flavor just won’t be the same.
Onion - yellow, sweet, or white can be used. Onion is essential for building the base flavor when sautéed in olive oil.
Ground Beef - a higher fat ground beef is going to give the fried spaghetti more flavor than a leaner cut. See tips below for ensuring you get the most flavor from the ground beef.
Crushed Tomatoes - we use a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes in this recipe. We love using crushed tomatoes because we like our sauce kind of chunky. Consider using San Marzano crushed tomatoes for authentic Italian flavor. The tomatoes are thick, sweet, and don't have as much water content.
Tomato Paste - thickens the sauce and intensifies the tomato flavors
Basil - fresh basil is best in this recipe. Dried basil can be substituted but it’s not going to give the same flavor that fresh will.
Oregano - we use dried oregano in the fried spaghetti sauce. As the dried soaks in the liquid the flavor will start to fill the dish. You can use fresh if you have it on hand but I think dried does the trick.
Salt and pepper - as a flavor enhancement
Sugar - to balance the acidity and salt from the tomatoes, this will not make it sweet but instead brings balance to the sauce.
Hot Pepper Flake - this is an optional ingredient for added spice in the fried spaghetti
Parmesan - freshly grated parmesan is best for this recipe, it melts and bakes perfectly
Using Leftover Spaghetti to Make Fried Spaghetti
As I've mentioned before, you should definitely try using leftover already cooked spaghetti to make this delicious fried spaghetti. This completely eliminates a step and it saves food from being uneaten. You’ll need around .75 to 1lb of pasta for this recipe. If you like your spaghetti extra saucy you can use less.
Making Fried Spaghetti
For The Sauce
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once heated add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent stirring occasionally. About 3-5 minutes. This is going to build the base flavor fo the fried spaghetti.
Add the ground beef and cook breaking apart until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper as it cooks. For the best results cook slowly so the moisture doesn't evaporate too quickly causing the beef to dry out.
When done, add the beef broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced basil, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper, and hot pepper flake. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low cook covered for about 20 minutes. Because the sauce is thick, it may splatter a little. Try keeping the heat lower so this doesn't happen.
How to Fry Spaghetti
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta when done.
In a large deep dish oven safe skillet add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, there should be a very thin layer. Heat over medium heat.
Once the olive oil is heated add the spaghetti and let pan fry undisturbed for 3 minutes. I know it's tempting to stir but try to refrain yourself. We’re going for crispy noodles not oily. Once done flip using a spatula and a spoon and let the other side cook undisturbed for 3 minutes. We’re not pan frying every single part of the noodle, instead, we’re only focused on crisping some of the noodles.
After the pan fried pasta, add the sauce and stir well to combine. Top the pan fried spaghetti and sauce with enough parmesan cheese to cover the top. About 1 cup. Place in the oven and broil on high until the cheese is melted and bubbly about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the broiler and serve immediately.
Why Make This Spaghetti In a Cast Iron Skillet?
If you don't own a cast iron skillet or two this is your sign to get one. We love cooking in ours and take every opportunity we can to use it. Below we’ve listed some reasons you should make fried spaghetti in a cast iron skillet.
As long as your cast iron skillet is seasoned correctly, it is naturally non-stick. You also don't have to worry about the little bits of carcinogenic Teflon flaking off into your food which is commonly found in non-stick pans. This is important because the last thing you want to worry about is the spaghetti sticking as it fries. So long as there's enough olive oil you won't have this problem.
Cast iron pans add iron into your food. Iron is an extremely important mineral your body needs to keep cells healthy. Cooking with cast iron helps with that a little. You won’t receive a significant amount of iron from a cast iron skillet but a little bit helps!
Cast iron skillets are extremely durable. They heat and cook evenly. While it takes a little longer to heat than thinner pans it's one of the best at retaining heat. As as result the food cooks evenly as well. When you're making fried spaghetti, it's important to let the cast iron skillet heat completely before adding the spaghetti and veggies.
You can use your cast iron skillet on just about any surface that’s why we love using it. The fried spaghetti is first used on the stove to fry the spaghetti then all the ingredients are thrown in the oven to melt the parmesan cheese.
Cleaning Is Easy
Cleaning when you're done making this delicious fried spaghetti is SO easy. All you need is water and a dish cloth to clean. We like to keep our cast iron skillets seasoned well. Soap will only strip the skillet of that seasoning.
Tips for Making Fried Spaghetti
- Slowly brown beef at medium high heat so it doesn't lose its moisture so quickly. You want the beef to be juicy and full of flavor. Using a higher fat content beef will be one of the best ways to ensure the sauce has a lot of flavor.
- Watch the cheese as it's under the broiler to prevent it from burning. For the best results place the oven rack 3/4 of the way toward the top. It should be close but not too close to the top burner. Before the time is up take a look at the fried spaghetti to determine if it’s cooking evenly. You may need to turn the skillet if the other side needs more browning.
- While frying spaghetti noodles, try your best to leave the spaghetti frying undisturbed. Moving it around too much will keep it from getting crispy instead leaving you with greasy noodles instead.
Variations You Must Try
- Turn the fried spaghetti into a super easy dinner by using a store-bought spaghetti sauce instead. Will it be as good as the homemade version in this recipe? Probably not but if you're trying to save on time and want to incorporate fried spaghetti noodles into your weeknight dinner? Give it a shot.
- Add veggies. If you're looking to add veggies and fiber to your diet, consider adding mushrooms, bell peppers, or any other vegetables to the sauce and cook until tender.
- Take the fried spaghetti to a whole new level by adding chopped anchovies, capers, or olives. This will add extra flavor making resembling a puttanesca instead.
- Consider using meatballs instead of ground beef. Make your own flavorful meatballs or buy frozen meatballs for an easy and convenient alternative. If using pre-made meatballs, simply bake them according to the package directions and stir into the sauce and combine with the spaghetti.
- Try substituting ground beef with sausage for added spice, fat, and overall flavor. You really can't go wrong with this. We love making homemade spaghetti sauce using sausage. There are multiple varieties you can use. Our personal favorites are Italian sausage or Hot.
- While parmesan cheese is the go to for this recipe, consider adding cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese instead.
- Try a carb free version and use spaghetti squash. Make the fried crispy spaghetti squash the same way you would make the crispy fried spaghetti. Top the fried spaghetti squash with sauce and cheese and bake.
Storing Fried Spaghetti
Storing fried spaghetti leftovers is easy. Simply place in an airtight container then store in the refrigerator. It should last anywhere between three and five days. Leaving refrigerated for longer may cause the fried spaghetti to lose its freshness and flavor. I don't recommend storing in the freezer since pasta does not do well stored long term.
Reheating Fried Spaghetti
In The Microwave
To reheat the fried spaghetti in the microwave place in a microwave safe bowl and top with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time or until completely reheated. Stir occasionally to ensure the spaghetti is warmed evenly. Consider adding additional cheese over top and let melt in the microwave. The damp paper towel is essential to keep the fried spaghetti from drying out. Don’t have a paper towel? Add a tablespoon or two or to the bowl and microwave.
On The Stove
Place the fried pasta in a frying pan. Add a tablespoon or two of water to keep the pasta from drying out. Feel free to add additional cheese over top for added flavor and Cook on low for about 5-10 minutes or until completely reheated. Stir occasionally to redistribute the moisture and serve once fully warmed.
In The Oven
Place the fried spaghetti in an oven safe dish. Add a tablespoon or two of water to keep the noodles from drying out. Add additional cheese over top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for about 10 minutes or until completely reheated and the cheese has melted.
More Dinner Recipes
Ultimate Fried Spaghetti
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for frying
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 fresh sliced basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch hot pepper flake optional
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
For The Sauce
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once heated add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent stirring occasionally. About 3-5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and cook breaking apart until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper as it cooks.
- When done, add the beef broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced basil, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper, and hot pepper flake. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low cook covered for about 20 minutes.
For The Pasta
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta when done.
- In a large deep dish oven safe skillet add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, it should be a very thin layer. Heat over medium heat.
- Once the olive oil is heated add the spaghetti and let pan fry undisturbed for 3 minutes. Once done flip with a spatula and a spoon and let the other side cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.
- After the spaghetti is fried, add the sauce and stir well to combine. Top the spaghetti and sauce with enough parmesan cheese to cover the top. About 1 cup. Place in the oven and broil on high until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and serve immediately.