It’s time to ditch the can for good and make my Easy Cheesy Homemade SpaghettiOs. This recipe takes just 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s perfect for busy weeknights and picky eaters. And it all comes together in one pot, making cleanup super quick.

The spaghetti O’s are boiled with sautéed garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and topped off with delicious, nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. This recipe is also incredibly fun as you can use any small, kid-friendly pasta shape you like, such as alphabet pasta or even pastina like stellette.

I cannot say that I grew up on canned foods such as spaghetti O’s in Bulgaria and Greece, but when I first came to Canada, I certainly noticed how many kids enjoyed them. In this fast-paced society, these types of meals are not only affordable but timesaving for parents. This is why I decided to recreate the classic canned food and show you how simple it is made from scratch. My version also happens to be a thousand times tastier and more nutritious. Lastly, if you make my Easy Homemade Cheesy SpaghettiO’s, please leave a comment or give this recipe a rating.

Variations and Substitutions

There are so many easy ways to modify this recipe based on what you already have in the kitchen.

  • You can use any mini pasta shape, such as ditalini, orzo, or alphabet-shaped noodles.
  • For added nutrition, throw in a handful of chopped fresh or frozen spinach in the last minute or so of cooking.
  • Instead of parm, you can also use grated low-moisture mozzarella or any other grated cheese of choice.

Best served with

  • Enjoy this with some crusty bread alongside for soaking up all the delicious juices.
  • If you’re feeling ambitious, you can serve this with my No Knead Peasant Bread.
  • My Simple Green Salad makes this a full, balanced meal.

Common Questions

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, the SpaghettiOs will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop when ready to enjoy. When reheating, add a bit of water to thin out the sauce.

Do I have to use a parmigiano cheese rind?

No, the cheese rind is completely optional, but infuses wonderful cheesy flavor to the dish. I buy chunks of parmigiano cheese on the rind, and when the cheese is all used up, I store the rinds in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer, and use them for adding flavor to soups and stews.

Easy Homemade Cheesy SpaghettiOs

The Modern NonnaThe Modern Nonna
This recipe will take you 20 minutes from start to finish, and it’s perfect for busy weeknights or picky eaters. This simple pasta dish is made in one pot, making cleanup super quick. The spaghetti O’s are boiled with the sautéed garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and topped off with delicious and nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dry oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce I like the brand Rao's or use homemade
  • 2 cups spaghetti O’s linked in notes below
  • pinch salt
  • 3 cups water
  • parmigiano cheese rind (optional, leave out if you don't have it)
  • ½ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese , freshly grated
  • basil for garnish


  • Add the olive oil to a pot or big skillet with high sides. Add the garlic to the cold oil. Turn the heat to medium and let the oil and garlic come up to temperature together.
  • Once the garlic is sizzling, add the Italian seasoning and tomato paste. Give it a stir and let cook for 20 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and stir.
  • Add the spaghetti O’s (formally called Anelli Siciliani) and water. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and stir. I do not over-salt as my tomato sauce has salt in it and my cheese is also salty as well.
  • I like to freeze all my Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds so I always have them on hand. I throw one rind in into any soups, stews, and sauces. Feel free to skip this step if you don’t have a cheese rind. You can also use a Pecorino Romano rind as well.
  • Let everything boil, semi-covered, on medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the pasta is soft (or al-dente if you prefer). Be sure to stir the pasta a few times in between cooking as some of the pasta can get stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • If you feel like all of the water has evaporated, the dish is super thick, but the pasta is not cooked yet, add a splash more water at a time until the pasta is cooked. This step will really depend on the pasta shape you use.
  • Once the pasta is fully cooked, take it off the heat, remove the cheese rind, add the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and stir. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy.



Feel free to use Passata or your favourite tomato sauce. We make hundreds of jars of tomato sauce every year so here’s the recipe to ours but if you can’t make your own, feel free to use a better-quality sauce like Rao’s.
The pasta shape I am using is called Anelli Siciliani so I am linking it here. If you cannot find it in your local grocery stores, feel free to use any shape you like.
If you are taking this meal for work or for the kids at school, you can boil the pasta in the sauce in the morning, and pop it in a thermos. A trick to keeping the thermos warm is to add boiling hot water to your thermos and dump it out before you add the pasta in so that it ensures the thermos stays hot for longer.
The amount of water you add will depend on the pasta shape you choose. Start with 2 1/2 to 3 cups and add more a little at a time as it cooks. Don’t forget to stir it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
You do not need to cook the pasta with water in the same pot, but I am saving you time and dishes. You can absolutely let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and cook the pasta separately in boiling salted water. Add the pasta in to the sauce with the cheese and a touch of the starchy water and enjoy. 
The cheese rind is absolutely optional, if you don’t add it in you can add some extra cheese at the end if you desire. Make sure it’s good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and nothing that is pre-grated or boxed as it makes all the difference. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @themodernnonna or tag #themodernnonna!
If you love one of my recipes, please leave me a review.
Thank you for bringing me into your kitchen <3

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