This recipe for Spaghetti with Meat Sauce cooks in – you guessed it – only one pot! And you only need THREE INGREDIENTS! The dried spaghetti cooks directly in a mixture of ground beef, jarred sauce, and water, resulting in an almost absurdly easy dinner with only one pot to clean. As a bonus, all of the starch from the pasta stays in the sauce, resulting in a luxuriously thick sauce that sticks to every piece of spaghetti – no watery spaghetti here!
One pot pasta recipes are some of my favorite things to make on busy weeknights. Of course, there is the bonus of only having one pot to clean. But you also take a lot of the fuss out of cooking pasta – no straining, no saving pasta water to stir in the sauce, and it’s a much more hands-off approach.
I’ve already shared a few one pot pasta recipes here – one pot taco pasta, one pot sausage and spinach pasta, and one pot sausage and broccolini orecchiette. I’m excited to add this incredibly simple one pot spaghetti with meat sauce to the collection – especially because you only need THREE ingredients for it!
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
You only need three ingredients for this one pot spaghetti with meat sauce!
- Spaghetti – the dried boxed kind, not fresh. And honestly, cheaper brands work great here. More expensive brands tend to have more starch, which is great for traditional pasta dishes, but since all the starch stays in the pot, I find it can be a little *too much* starch with some of those “fancier” pasta brands. Barilla is my go to for decent quality without too much starchiness for one pot pasta! You can also use another pasta shape – see more on that below.
- Jarred marinara sauce – or homemade marinara sauce, if you want! I almost always go for Rao’s for the jarred stuff.
- Ground beef – since everything is staying in one pot, I recommend a leaner ground beef, like 90% or 93% lean. That way, it won’t be too greasy. You can also use ground turkey or ground sausage for this recipe, or a vegan/vegetarian ground meat substitute if you prefer.
That’s it! You’ll also need some pantry staples – olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can top with some parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, parsley, and/or crushed red pepper, if you want.
How to make One Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
First, brown the ground beef in some olive oil, breaking it apart until its crumbled and fully cooked. Add a jar of marinara sauce, salt, some water, and dried spaghetti. It’s easiest if you break the spaghetti in half so it fits in the pot (gasp! the horror! calm down, pasta police). Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. When it’s almost done, cover and let it sit with the heat turned off to finish cooking. That’s it!
Tips and Tricks
- If the pasta seems a bit dry toward the end of cooking, you can add more water. I have found that the exact amount of water doesn’t matter much with this recipe – you should be able to eyeball this pretty effectively and the exact amount may depend on the brand of pasta used.
- Do make sure you let the pasta finish cooking off-heat. One pot pasta has a tendency to stick, but turning off the heat and covering the pot to let the pasta finish can prevent sticking toward the end!
Can I use another kind of pasta besides spaghetti?
Sure! I’ve found that some pastas tend to absorb more or less depending on shape, but not to a degree where it matters a ton. This can happen due to pasta shape but also with different brands. The general ratio rule for one pot pastas is a ratio of 1:2 for pasta to liquid. This recipe calls for 16 oz. dry spaghetti and 32 oz. of water. So you should be good following this recipe for using other pasta shapes as well. Just keep in mind you may need to add a little extra water if it seems a bit dry toward the end – easy fix!
Other one pot recipes
- Mushroom and Wild Rice Pilaf
- Spicy Quinoa and Black beans
- Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta with Beans)
- Garlic Butter Salmon and Swiss Chard
- Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew
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One Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- Dutch Oven (or large heavy pot with lid)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef or other ground meat of choice, see notes
- 24 oz. jarred marinara sauce I used Rao's
- 16 oz. dried spaghetti or other pasta, see notes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt more if needed
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper more if needed
- cracked black pepper, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and/or crushed red pepper for serving, optional
- In a large heavy pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven, brown the 1 lb. ground beef in the 1 tablespoon olive oil until fully cooked and crumbled apart.
- Add the 24 oz. jarred marinara sauce 4 cups of water (a jar and a third, if you want to use the marinara sauce jar to measure – exact precision isn't necessary here), and ½ teaspoon kosher salt to the pot and stir together. Add the 16 oz. dried spaghetti to the pot, breaking the noodles in half as you go. Push the noodles down to submerge in the liquid as best you can (it's OK if they don't submerge all the way).
- Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes total, stirring every five minutes (tongs work well for this), and adding more water toward the end if it seems dry. Taste to test the pasta for doneness. It should be almost done at this point. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to sit for 5-10 more minutes, to finish cooking and absorbing the sauce.
- Serve with cracked black pepper, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and/or crushed red pepper, if desired.
- Feel free to use another kind of ground meat – turkey or sausage will work, or a plant-based ground meat substitute.
- You can substitute another shape of pasta if you want – it may need a little more or less water, but not so much that you shouldn’t be able to adjust course as needed while cooking!
- This was made with regular semolina spaghetti. I have not tried a one pot pasta recipe with other kinds of pasta, such as whole wheat, chickpea, or gluten-free. If anyone tries this variety with another kind of pasta, please make sure to let us know in the comments how it turns out for you!
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: