Better-For-You Homemade Spaghetti-Os | Ambitious Kitchen

Better-For-You Homemade Spaghetti-Os | Ambitious Kitchen

14 mins read

UH OH SPAGHETTI-OS. Did I just make you the most delicious, easy, better-for-you homemade spaghetti-os recipe? Yes, yes I did.

If you’re also a parent, you know very well that kids always go through phases of what they do and don’t like to eat (oh the joys of guessing what’s next). So over the past few years since I’ve had my 3 boys, I’ve loved bringing back classic childhood recipes with an Ambitious Kitchen twist. After my kiddos and tons of AK readers fell in love with my Lightened Up Hamburger Helper last year,  I knew these spaghetti-os were a must-make for the blog.

WOW. Just wow. This simmering pot of little round pasta goodness turned out even better than I could’ve imagined. As you know, I’m always trying to sneak in veggies wherever possible for a boost of nutrition, and pasta sauce is the perfect way to do so. These homemade cheesy spaghetti-os have a creamy roasted red pepper sauce that will have the whole family licking their bowls clean. Enjoy as is for the perfect meatless meal, and check out the full post for easy ways to add your fav proteins!

homemade spaghetti-os in a pot and in two bowls

What makes these spaghetti-os a little healthier?

Listen, I’m all about indulging in those nostalgic childhood favorite recipes. But what if I told you there was a way to make them even more nutritious AND taste better?! Traditional spaghetti-os from the can have lots of extra ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil, and “enzyme modified cheddar cheese,” while my homemade spaghettios recipe uses simple ingredients like herbs, spices, veggies, a little cream, and real parmesan cheese.

Plus, there are tons of ways to add extra protein without heating up the canned spaghetti-os with hot dogs in them!

roasted vegetables on a sheet pan to make sauce for spaghetti-os

Everything you’ll need to make homemade spaghetti-os

These healthy spaghetti-os are packed with sneaky veggies and wonderful flavors from a few key herbs and spices. They’re creamy, dreamy, and about 1000x better than the ones you grew up on! Here’s what you’ll need to make them:

  • Vegetables: the base of the spaghetti-os sauce is made with roasted yellow onion, red bell pepper, and a head of garlic. It adds an incredible depth of flavor you didn’t know you needed! You’ll roast the veggies with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Broth: feel free to use low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth for the sauce and cooking the pasta.
  • Herbs & spices: before cooking your pasta, you’ll cook down some tomato paste, red pepper flakes, sweet paprika, and oregano in a little olive oil. You’ll also need salt to taste in this dish. Feel free to omit the red pepper flakes if you’re serving kiddos or are sensitive to spice.
  • Cream: we’re adding heavy cream to the pasta for a touch of richness and creaminess.
  • Pasta: I like to use Anelli or Anellini pasta (small pasta rings) to keep the nostalgia of traditional spaghetti-os.
  • Sugar: a little sugar is optional, but it helps make these taste like the original spaghetti-os. No high fructose corn syrup here!
  • Cheese: stir in fresh grated parmesan cheese for extra savory goodness.
  • To garnish: I like to top mine with fresh basil, extra parmesan, and red pepper flakes.

blending sauce for a homemade spaghetti-os recipe

Can I make them gluten free or vegan?

  • To make gluten free: simply use your favorite gluten-free short pasta shape.
  • To make vegan: be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, then swap the heavy cream for full-fat coconut milk from the can, and use your favorite vegan cheese or omit the parmesan cheese.

making sauce in a pan for healthy spaghetti-os

Our favorite ways to boost the protein

We love serving these kid-friendly spaghetti-os with grilled Italian sausage or meatballs! Try mixing in my mini pesto meatballs (you can cook them in the same pan and set them aside for later) or my Greek turkey meatballs.

Don’t forget to prep the garlic

You’ll be roasting a whole head of garlic with the onion and bell pepper to get lots of delicious roasted garlic cloves in the sauce. To do so:

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut 1/4 inch off from the top of the cloves so that the cloves are exposed.
  2. Place the garlic head in a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Loosely wrap the garlic head and place it on the pan with the veggies.

healthy spaghetti-os in a pan with a spoon

How to make homemade spaghetti-os

  1. Roast the veggies. Start by roasting the onion, bell pepper, and garlic with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, flipping halfway through until they’re golden and tender.
  2. Make the sauce. Let the veggies cool, then place the onion and bell pepper in a high-powered blender. Remove the garlic head from the foil and carefully squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the blender. Add broth and blend it all up until smooth.
  3. Cook the herbs & spices. Cook down the tomato paste, herbs, and spices in a little olive oil to eliminate any acidity from the tomato paste and deepen the flavors.
  4. Cook the pasta. Stir in more broth, heavy cream, roasted veggie sauce, and salt. Stir in the pasta, bring it to a simmer, and cook uncovered until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed. Feel free to add more cream or broth as needed.
  5. Add cheese, taste & serve. Fold in the parmesan cheese, then taste the pasta and add more salt and sugar if you’d like. Top with your fav garnishes and enjoy!

the best homemade spaghetti-os in a bowl

Storing tips

You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Simply reheat in the microwave, adding a splash of milk or broth as needed to keep them creamy.

easy spaghetti-os in a bowl

More comfort food recipes you’ll love

Get all of my comfort food recipes here!

I hope you love these better-for-you spaghetti-os! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!

Better-For-You Homemade Spaghetti-Os

healthy spaghetti-os in a bowl

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 45 minutes

Total Time 1 hour

Serves4 servings

Easy and delicious homemade spaghetti-os made with a silky roasted vegetable sauce, tender pasta, and plenty of parmesan cheese. These better-for-you spaghetti-os are packed with nutrients thanks to the sneaky veggie sauce and make the perfect weeknight dinner that kiddos and adults will love!


  • For the roasted veggie sauce:
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head garlic
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • For the pasta:
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup heavy cream or light or full fat coconut milk (from the can)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or sub vegetable broth), plus more as necessary
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups Anelli pasta (or sub another short pasta such as dilitani)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar, to make it taste more like spaghetti-os!
  • ½ cup (about 2 ounces) grated parmesan cheese
  • To garnish:
  • Fresh julienned basil
  • Extra grated parm
  • Extra red pepper flakes


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Roast the veggies: Add the onion and red bell pepper to the sheet pan, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper; toss to combine. For the garlic: peel and discard the outer papery layers of the whole garlic head. Leave the skins intact of the individual cloves. Using a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch off from the top of the cloves so that the individual cloves of garlic are exposed. Place garlic in a medium piece of foil and drizzle the top of the garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then loosely wrap in the foil and place on the pan with the veggies. Roast veggies and garlic for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through, until veggies are nice and golden, tender and caramelized.

  • Blend the sauce: After the veggies are done cooking, allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a high powered blender. For the garlic: discard the foil around the garlic. Use your hands to squeeze the roasted garlic from the skin into the blender with the veggies. Add ½ cup of broth then blend on medium high speed until completely smooth. Set aside.

  • Cook the pasta: Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is warm, stir in the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, paprika, Italian seasoning and oregano for 1 minute until it turns a deep red/brown color and toasts. This will eliminate any acidic taste and caramelize the sugars in the tomato sauce to deepen the flavors. Next, stir in the broth, heavy cream (or coconut milk), roasted veggie sauce, and salt until well combined. Lastly stir in the pasta and bring to a simmer; you’ll cook UNCOVERED, stirring frequently until the pasta is nice and tender, about 10 to 14 minutes and most of the liquid (but not all!) is absorbed. If the pasta absorbs too much liquid, you can add a splash or two of extra broth. You’ll want a little bit of liquid left to make the sauce nice and creamy. Remember you don’t need to have this over a roaring boil, just a gentle simmer. Also, be sure to stir frequently to prevent pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan!

  • Add cheese and serve: Lastly stir in ½ cup parmesan cheese, then taste and add more salt if necessary. If you want these to taste sweeter like spaghetti-o’s stir in a tablespoon of sugar. Garnish with fresh basil, a little extra parm on top and extra red pepper flakes, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Feel free to serve these with grilled italian chicken sausage or meatballs if you want a protein-packed dinner: I love my mini pesto meatballs (which could be made in this same pan and then set aside for later.) or my Greek turkey meatballs.


Serving: 1serving (based on 4)Calories: 552calCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 19gFat: 27.2gSaturated Fat: 10.6gFiber: 4.4gSugar: 6.8g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

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