One-Pot Spaghetti combines luxuriously saucy pasta with a hearty meat sauce and a few “hidden” veggies. This simple dish is made in one pot with minimal ingredients and a few store-bought shortcuts!
This One-Pot Spaghetti is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and be kid-friendly. Click here to see all the recipes in the series!
Spaghetti is always one of our go-to “lifesaver” meals; in fact, I’m sure it is for a lot of people! There aren’t too many recipes more simple than cracking open a jar of marinara, boiling some pasta, and tossing the two together. But without any meat, I’m almost always left wanting a little more — it’s hard to beat spaghetti in a really tasty and hearty bolognese sauce.
But bolognese sauce, while ultra satiating and tasty, is nowhere near as quick as just marinara and spaghetti. So with this recipe, we aim to find a middle ground! It’s not as time-intensive (or ingredient-intensive) as a typical bolognese sauce but offers hearty flavors and textures that the whole family will be excited about.
For this simpler spaghetti recipe, we eliminate all veggie chopping (that’s right — you won’t even need to dice an onion!), reduce the overall ingredient list, and add in some nutritional benefits (some “hidden” veggies and ground turkey). It’s hearty, filling, flavorful, and deeply satisfying all while being easy and quick to prepare!
One-Pot Spaghetti Shortcuts
For one, we’re only using one pot– which is a major recipe shortcut! The other timesavers are ingredient-based, which I’ll discuss below:
- Mirepoix, a combination of finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots, is located in the produce section of the grocery store. You can even find it in the frozen vegetable section of the store; this is a huge time saver! If you don’t want to purchase this mix, you can use a food processor to quickly chop equal amounts of onion, carrot, and celery. Going the food processor route adds an extra dish, but isn’t too much more time consuming.
- Use pre-minced garlic from the jar to save more time and eliminate the need for chopping.
- For ground turkey, use turkey sold in a carton, rather than in a chub. Chub-style ground turkey is the kind that comes in the plastic tube and it tends to be less flavorful and more watered down so you’ll likely need to drain off the meat after browning (not a big deal, but it takes more time!).
- Italian seasoning eliminates the need for a whole cacophony of seasonings.
Let’s Chat Tomato Products
There are two tomato-based ingredients in this One-Pot Spaghetti — tomato paste and tomato puree. There are so many different types of tomatoes, it can be overwhelming when shopping, and especially when trying to think through possible substitutions for what you have on hand.
While it would make sense that crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce can stand in for tomato puree, the three products are very different and won’t give you the same hearty and thick marinara sauce we’re going after in this recipe.
Here’s a quick break-down on the major differences:
- Crushed/diced tomatoes: Both of these are types of canned tomatoes (crushed are smaller pieces than diced, but not smooth or blended).
- Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce is thinner than tomato puree and often has seasonings added; it’s typically used as a base for other sauces. (Tomato sauce is not the same as pasta sauce/marinara which is usually sold as a finished product and has seasonings or veggies added in.)
- Tomato puree: A very thick liquid, but not quite as thick as paste. The puree is made with tomatoes that have first been cooked and then strained.
- Tomato paste: The most concentrated tomato product. To get the paste, tomatoes are cooked for hours to reduce the liquid content. A little goes a long way, which is why you’ll typically only use 1-3 tablespoons in a recipe.
One-Pot Spaghetti Tips
- We recommend 93/7% ground turkey (we love JennieO® or Butterball® ground turkey). We’ve found 99/1% ground turkey to be far too dry and flavorless.
- Use spaghetti. Other types of pasta don’t work out the same timing wise and with the amount of liquid being added.
- We highly recommend Swanson’s® beef stock (not sponsored) which I’ve found to have the most robust flavor for store-bought stock and infuses the pasta with a wonderful flavor.
- Depending on the brand of tomatoes you use, you may need a teaspoon or two of white sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. Just a small pinch can go a long way!
- I find ground turkey typically needs a bit more salt than other ground meats, but keep in mind that this recipe uses salted beef stock, beef bouillon cubes, and salty Parmesan cheese, so add salt slowly and to taste. And on the flip side, if you do find the flavors lacking, a pinch of salt is all you might need to bring everything together!
- It’s easy to go on autopilot and dump in the whole package of spaghetti, but this recipe only works with 12 ounces. Many spaghetti packages contain 16 ounces, so save the remaining 4 ounces for another recipe. (12 ounces would be 3/4 of a 16-ounce package.)
One-Pot Spaghetti Garnishes/Extras
There are a few optional ingredients in this recipe that we’ll break down below so you can decide what you’d like to add or leave out.
- Beefbouillon powder: This ingredient boosts and enhances the meaty flavor, making the ground turkey taste more like ground beef. It also further seasons the dish!
- Worcestershire sauce: This sauce gives the spaghetti a great umami, salty flavor and also lends a bolder meaty flavor.
- Parmesan cheese: We love a sprinkle of freshly grated (on a microplane) cheese over the pasta. It’s the perfect finishing seasoning!
- Fresh parsley and/or basil: Fresh herbs breathe vibrancy and freshness into this otherwise hearty/somewhat heavy dish.
We tested One-Pot Spaghetti in both a cast iron pot and a nonstickpot. Overall the two cook similarly, but the cast iron does cook things a bit quicker and the sauce thickens faster. If using a nonstick skillet, you may need to play around with timing a little — it typically takes an extra 3-5 minutes. You may also need a splash more of beef stock!
More pasta dishes
- Creamy Chicken Pastawith mushrooms
- Pasta e FagioliOlive Garden copycat soup
- Taco Pastamade in one skillet with ground beef
- Zucchini Pasta Saucewith fresh basil pesto
- Pasta Soupwith Italian sausage
- 2tablespoonsolive oil
- 1-1/2cups (10 oz.)mirepoixNote 1
- 1tablespoon EACH:minced garlic, Italian seasoning
- 1pound (16 oz.)lean (93/7) ground turkey
- 2tablespoonstomato paste
- 1can (29 oz.)tomato pureeNote 2
- 3 up to 3-1/2cupsbeef stock (we love Swanson’s!)
- 12oz.spaghetti(NOT the whole package)
- Optional: 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons beef bouillon, salt & pepper, parmesan cheese, Italian parsley
AROMATICS: Add oil to a large pot (Note 3) over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the container of mirepoix. Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 6-8 minutes or until softened and turning golden. Use this time to pull gather and measure the rest of the ingredients for this recipe.
GROUND TURKEY: Once veggies are soft, add in the garlic, sauté for 30 seconds and then add in the ground turkey. Cook, breaking apart/crumbling with a wooden spoon until mostly browned through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with fine sea salt and pepper (I add 1 tsp of each), beef bouillon powder, and Italian seasoning, and finish fully browning. Once browned through, add in the tomato paste and tomato puree. Sauté for 1 minute (still high heat). Add in 3 cups beef broth/stock and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and allow to come to a boil.
COOK PASTA: Once liquid is boiling, break spaghetti (only 12 ounces!) in half and add to pot. Stir, pressing pasta under the liquid. Cook for 10 minutes, tossing and stirring occasionally. Switch back and forth from stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon (make sure pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom) to using tongs to toss the pasta in sauce. Add in a splash more of beef stock/broth if needed. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to medium and toss/stir pretty constantly for 2-3 more minutes or until noodles are al dente (have a firm bite; noodles shouldn’t be overly soft/mushy). Remove from heat and toss for another 1 minute with tongs — it will continue to thicken. Let stand for a minute and then toss once more.
SERVE: Use tongs to dish up plates, adding Parmesan cheese and parsley or basil if desired. Enjoy immediately.
Note 2: Tomatoes: Tomato puree is more concentrated than tomato sauce, diced, or crushed tomatoes. Be sure to use puree not other tomato products.
Note 3: Pans: We tested this One-Pot Spaghetti in both a cast iron pot and a nonstick pot. Overall the two cook the dish similarly, but the cast iron does cook things a bit quicker and the sauce thickens faster. If using a nonstick skillet, you may need to play around with timing a little — it typically takes an extra 3-5 minutes. You may also need a splash more of beef stock!
We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.