What To Do With Leftover Spaghetti

There's a lot of debate around spaghetti. Should you add oil to the water or just salt? Should you mix the sauce with the cooked noodles or serve the sauce on top? Is it even called sauce or is spaghetti served with gravy? Is it rude to cut spaghetti or is it based on personal preference? (According to More Time to Travel the answer to that last one is a resounding "yes" — it's rude.) 

Despite all the possible ways we can argue about preparing, serving, and eating spaghetti, we all know that there's something special about the way leftover spaghetti tastes. Some even go so far as to say leftover spaghetti is better than fresh, and science seems to agree. No matter how good leftover spaghetti is, though, sometimes you want something a little different than the same old reheated noodles. If you're looking to get the most out of that leftover pot of pasta you made last night, here's what to do with your leftover spaghetti. 

Turn your leftover spaghetti into pie or casserole

Listen, folks, it doesn't get much easier than a leftover spaghetti pie (there's a reason it's a classic, right?). Seriously, take your leftover spaghetti (assuming you've already mixed your sauce, meat, and noodles), mix it with a couple of different kinds of cheese, toss it into a pie pan (deep dish, preferred), top it with a bit more cheese, and bake it until the cheese is bubbly and the edges are crispy. Let it cool until it sets then slice that baby up and dinner is served! 

If you don't have a pie pan that's big enough, or you're just more of a casserole person, you can do virtually the same preparation in a casserole dish! Or, if you haven't already mixed your sauce, meat, and noodles and want to switch things up, try this cheesy chicken spaghetti casserole recipe from Tasting Table. You can skip the step of cooking the noodles since you'll be using your leftover spaghetti, and it's a dish that's bound to be a crowd-pleaser with chicken, noodles, cheese, and veggies. 

Transform your leftover spaghetti into lasagna

There's something about a warm, cheesy lasagna that screams comfort. Add spaghetti to that baked, comforting goodness and you get to enjoy two of your favorite Italian meals at the same time! While you can't exactly turn your spaghetti noodles into lasagna noodles (at least not without some serious ingenuity, a food processor, and who knows what else), you can use spaghetti noodles in place of lasagna noodles for a new take on the dish.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is just another version of leftover spaghetti casserole. No, leftover spaghetti lasagna is layered just like traditional lasagna with noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese if you're in a pinch), and mozzarella cheese. Just start with your favorite lasagna recipe and sub the spaghetti and sauce for the lasagna noodles and marinara. Like with lasagna, you'll get the gooey mozzarella cheese and the depth of flavor from the ricotta, but spaghetti noodles mean there are more crevices for all that goodness to fill. Trust us, you want to try this dish.

Use leftover spaghetti noodles to make a spaghetti salad

If you're one of those people who don't combine their spaghetti noodles with the spaghetti sauce before serving, you have a lot of versatility to work with in terms of your plain spaghetti noodles. A great way to make use of that starchy goodness is to use it as a base for a salad. Tossing the cold noodles in dressing and letting them soak up the delicious flavors with a variety of diced or chopped veggies can make your boring lunch salads a bit more exciting. 

Make it Greek style by adding cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese with Greek dressing, or try spaghetti a la Cobb by adding some crunchy romaine, tomatoes, bacon, a boiled egg, some avocado, and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette. Or just channel your favorite summer pasta salad with bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, and whatever other fresh veggies you have in your garden, tossed with a simple oil and vinegar. Truly, you can't go wrong with spaghetti salad. 

Leftover spaghetti and meatball muffins are bite-sized perfection

Whether you're looking for a bite-sized appetizer for a party or just hoping for a handheld snack for yourself, using up your leftover spaghetti by making spaghetti and meatball muffins couldn't be easier (and seriously, everything is better in a muffin pan). Why bother making these? Take everything great about the leftover spaghetti pie — bubbly cheese, crispy edges, soft on the inside — and bring it down to a bite-sized portion in your muffin pan. It not only lets you make individual portions, but you can even customize them a bit! Top some with miniature meatballs while adding mushrooms or veggies to others. The possibilities are endless and the results are delicious!

Make sure you spray your muffin pan first because these don't work great in cupcake liners. If you are planning to top your leftover spaghetti muffins with something like meatballs or sausage, make the spaghetti into a little nest and add a little more spaghetti sauce for your topping to sit on. And don't forget to add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top! Never forget the cheese.

Fry up some leftover spaghetti fritters

If your biggest complaint about leftover spaghetti is that it's mushy rather than al dente, another great appetizer-influenced use for your leftover spaghetti is spaghetti fritters! For these, you'll want to chop up your sauced spaghetti noodles a bit (just so they aren't so long and unwieldy) and mix them with some eggs, breadcrumbs, a little cheese, and some seasoning of your choosing. Form the mixture into flat patties and gently pan-fry them in a bit of olive oil until the edges are crispy and brown. That's it! Easy peasy and super delicious. 

While you can technically make these fritters with any kind of leftover pasta, we especially love them with leftover spaghetti because of all the little nooks and crannies between the noodles. The shape adds extra crispiness that you just wouldn't get with other types of pasta. They're perfect for dipping in marinara! And if you want to skip the pan fry? Try spritzing them with a little oil and cooking them in the air fryer. Genius!

Have yourself some brunch spaghetti with eggs

As weird as it sounds, spaghetti noodles are great for breakfast and brunch. In particular, they're a great starch to accompany your eggs, whether you scramble some eggs in with your pan-fried spaghetti or use the noodles to catch the delicious runny yolks from your over-easy or sunny-side-up eggs. Add some bacon and you've almost got yourself a breakfast carbonara! 

For a spin on a traditional sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast casserole, try adding plain leftover spaghetti noodles. Just add your spaghetti noodles to a pan with some oil and scramble your eggs right in there with it, then add some cooked crumbled breakfast sausage and a healthy helping of cheese and you have a hearty breakfast guaranteed to stick to your ribs until lunchtime. If your spaghetti already has the sauce mixed in, try adding your spaghetti and sauce to a preheated, oiled pan then crack some eggs on top and put the pan in the oven until the eggs are just set. It'll be reminiscent of a shakshuka but made even better with the addition of pasta.

Keep the egg theme going with a leftover spaghetti frittata

If you've never had a frittata, you're missing out. They're the perfect way to use up whatever leftovers or veggies you have in your fridge and spaghetti is no exception. The star of a frittata is the eggs (and depending on the size of your frittata, there may be a lot of them in there), but from there the possibilities are endless. 

To make a leftover spaghetti frittata, add your pasta (with or without sauce) to a preheated, oiled, oven-safe pan and start to fry it just a bit. Add any other leftover vegetables you'd like. As the pasta and veggies begin to cook, beat your eggs with a bit of milk or cream and cheese, then pour them over the top of the spaghetti. Let everything cook until the eggs are just beginning to set on the bottom, then top the eggs with a bit more cheese and put the pan into a preheated oven. Bake your frittata until the eggs are cooked through and the top is beginning to turn a golden brown. 

Carb load with a leftover spaghetti grilled cheese sandwich

Listen, we all know that a great sandwich is the perfect food, and not much beats a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. But what if instead of tomato soup, you used your tomato sauce-covered spaghetti and added that to your grilled cheese sandwich? Skeptical? Stay with us. Adding other ingredients to your grilled cheese is nothing new, from bacon and pesto to buffalo chicken. Some of the possible grilled cheese additions floating around out there may sound absurd, but they're really absurdly delicious. The same goes for spaghetti grilled cheese. 

Like with all good grilled cheese sandwiches, start by buttering (or spreading mayonnaise on) your bread. Next, add some shredded mozzarella cheese on the non-buttered side, top that with your spaghetti, then top the spaghetti with some sort of sliced cheese (mozzarella and provolone both work nicely). Add your other piece of bread on top, then grill the whole sandwich in a hot cast iron pan (cover it to get the cheese extra gooey). Once you try this 'wich, you'll be making sure you have leftover spaghetti in your fridge from here on out.

Make a leftover spaghetti lo mein

Another great use for plain, unsauced leftover spaghetti noodles is to transport them to another cuisine entirely. Instead of Italian spaghetti, use your noodles to make a leftover spaghetti lo mein. While traditional Chinese lo mein uses lo mein noodles, there's no reason you can't sub in spaghetti noodles to make an extra quick and easy version — your noodles are already cooked after all! Because lo mein is a dish in which the noodles are tossed with the rest of the ingredients near the end of preparation, having leftover spaghetti noodles frees up some prep time while you're making the rest of the dish. And having one less thing to juggle in the kitchen is always helpful if you ask us.  

Try a healthy version like this 15-minute veggie lo mein, or use your spaghetti noodles to make this 20-minute beef and broccoli lo mein even quicker!

The only thing better than spaghetti and bread is spaghetti in bread

If you liked the idea of a spaghetti grilled cheese, you're going to love the idea of spaghetti bread bowls. While you could certainly make your own sourdough bread as the base of this leftover spaghetti idea, there's no need to put in the extra time and effort. Trust us when we tell you that a store-bought sourdough bread or kaiser roll will work just as well for your spaghetti bread bowl.

Whatever bread you're using, start by creating a hollow in the top of the bread using a serrated knife. Make sure it's large enough for a heaping serving of spaghetti. Brush the inside of the bowl with softened or melted garlic butter (for an extra kick of garlic flavor, brush the outer crust as well), then add your leftover spaghetti and sauce. Top it with mozzarella cheese and bake it until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Sprinkle the whole dish with fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley and dig in! Oh, and don't forget to dip the crusty top of the bread that you cut off in some extra marinara.

Combine Italian classics with a leftover spaghetti pizza

Just as with spaghetti lasagna, leftover spaghetti pizza takes two beloved Italian classics and combines them into a tomato, starch, and cheese powerhouse (plus whatever pizza toppings you love, of course). There are a few different ways to go about making this one, depending on whether you want a pizza with a crust or you just want those characteristic pizza flavors. If the flavors are more what you're after, you can make what amounts to a pizza spaghetti casserole by adding your favorite pizza toppings to the aforementioned dish. Or, you can make a pizza spaghetti pie, but press the spaghetti down into your pan to help it get a more substantial crust before topping it as desired. That said if what you're really after is more of a true pizza crust than those options afford, where there's a will there's a way.

Start by roughly chopping up your leftover spaghetti noodles (whether sauced or unsauced) so they're in 1- to 2-inch pieces. Combine your noodles with eggs and breadcrumbs then press the mixture flat between two pieces of parchment paper. Bake your crust for a few minutes until it starts to brown, then top with your favorite sauce and pizza toppings. 

Leftover spaghetti balls are a great appetizer

If you've ever had arancini, you know there's something incredibly delicious about a starch (rice in the case of arancini) mixed with cheese, breaded, and deep fried. Surprise! Leftover spaghetti is a starch that also works well when prepared this way. Like several other ideas for leftover spaghetti, this one can be made with leftover spaghetti that has already been mixed with a sauce, or with naked leftover spaghetti noodles. 

Mix your leftover spaghetti with a beaten egg, some bread crumbs, a bit of ricotta, and some mozzarella cheese before forming it into balls. You can do this freehand or with an ice cream scoop, but using an ice cream scoop makes it easier to cut any super long noodles that aren't forming into a ball very well. Gently add them to some hot oil (in this case a deep fryer is better than pan-fried), and wait patiently for them to turn crisp and golden brown. Once they're ready, put them out to cool on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil, and serve them with a side of your favorite marinara.