Are you still boiling your spaghetti noodles? Then, we’ve got a secret to share with you.

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spaghetti cooked in one pot
Credit: Jessica Furniss

Spaghetti is one of those meals almost everybody eats, but no two people make it exactly the same. From traditional Italian sauces made from fresh-picked tomatoes slowly simmered for two days, to Southern sauces made with a pinch of white sugar that can be whipped up in 30 minutes, spaghetti recipes are as diverse as the folks who make them. 

Next time you set out to make your spaghetti recipe, this simple trick will help you create fewer dirty dishes and less mess — which means more time spent gathered around the table with the people you love. 

The trick is to cook your noodles directly in your sauce. Sounds a little bizarre, but it totally works! By adding uncooked noodles and a little extra liquid into the sauce, you end up with a simple and delicious meal made in just one pot. 

It's really important to make sure there's enough extra liquid added to your sauce so the spaghetti cooks properly. Not enough, and you'll have crunchy spaghetti. Too much, and you'll end up with spaghetti soup.

Below is a basic recipe for one-pot spaghetti that you can doctor up to be all your own. You can also make your usual recipe; just be sure to add in three to four cups of extra liquid, as directed below, to ensure your noodles cook properly.

a white woman's hand holds a pound of spaghetti above a Dutch oven half full with spaghetti sauce
Credit: Jessica Furniss

How to Make One-pot Spaghetti

  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, brown one pound of ground beef on medium-high heat until cooked through. 
  2. Drain and discard any excess grease, and add the beef back to your pot. (Be sure you don't ever pour grease down the drain. Do this instead.)
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low, and add 1 jar of store-bought marinara, 1 cup of chicken or beef broth, 1 bunch of chopped fresh basil, 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a few sprinkles of grated Parmesan cheese. 
  4. Cover and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes, stirring once to keep it from sticking. 
  5. After 15 minutes of cooking, add 3 more cups of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water (or cream if you like a creamy sauce) to your sauce, and stir to combine. 
  6. Add 1 pound of thin spaghetti, and raise the heat to medium-high. Break your spaghetti noodles in half if you need to so they all get submerged in the sauce. 
  7. Bring it to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low or medium-low for 15 minutes, stirring once to make sure it doesn't stick. 
  8. After 15 minutes, check that your noodles are done, and serve immediately. 
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three days and add a splash of water before reheating.

Give this simple trick a try, and you won't have to dread doing the dishes on pasta night.