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Homemade Spaghetti Os

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Healthy Homemade Spaghetti Os

More than 150 million cans of Spaghetti Os are sold each year, many of which are consumed by children. There’s just something about those cute little os in the cheesy tomato sauce that is irresistible!

Spaghetti Os were a common sight in my own elementary-school lunchbox, much to the bemusement of my traditional Italian grandmother. I remember her once picking up a can, reading the label, and saying to me, “This is NOT food.”

When Campbell’s introduced the idea of canned spaghetti back in 1965, I think she may have cried.

Vegan Spaghettios  Vegan Spaghettios

With kids heading back to school, it seemed like a good time to try and create a homemade Spaghetti Os recipe—no high fructose corn syrup or ingredients you can’t pronounce. Healthy spaghetti os! And yes, they fit perfectly into a lunchbox thermos.

Maybe alongside some Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars??? 😉

I used anellini pasta for a traditional Spaghetti Os shape, but you can easily substitute whatever small pasta shape you have on hand. These spaghetti os can be dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan, and gluten-free. For gluten-free homemade Spaghetti Os, just use a gluten-free pasta. They even make gluten-free quinoa anellini if you want a true Spaghetti Os shape but wish to keep it gluten-free.

Nutritional yeast is a completely natural–and very healthy–product that can be found at Whole Foods, on Amazon, or in the natural food section of many regular grocery stores. It is high in protein and boasts an impressive list of vitamins. Don’t get it confused with brewers yeast or the yeast you’d use for bread. Here, it is used to give the homemade spaghetti os a deliciously cheesy flavor.

Healthy Homemade Spaghetti Os

Print This Recipe 5/5


  • 15oz no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp salt (depending on your preference. I like 1 tsp.)
  • 2-3 tsp butter-type spread (such as Earth Balance or Smart Balance Light)
  • 3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • pinch pure stevia OR 2 tbsp sweetener of choice (agave, sugar, whatever)
  • 1 cup uncooked tiny pasta of choice (If using a larger pasta, such as elbows, increase to 2 cups)
Yield: Makes 3 to 4 servings


Homemade Spaghetti Os Recipe: In a small saucepan, stir together all ingredients except the pasta. Bring to a boil, then lower and cook on low until the butter spread melts completely. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, throw in the pasta and cook until desired texture is reached. Drain, then pat dry with a towel. Pour the pasta into the sauce, and stir to combine. Serve. Before reheating any leftovers, stir and add a little milk of choice if needed.

View Homemade Spaghetti Os Nutrition Facts

Spaghetti Os  spaghettios

These homemade Spaghetti Os are Italian grandma approved!

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Oh man I used to tear UP some Spaghetti-O’s as a kid! I was just trying to find new ways to carb-up during marathon training and I think this is going to become a regular feature in my diet now!

    1. Are you kidding me?! I tore up the Spaghetti O’s, the Chef Boyardee Beefaroni AND the Chunky clam chowder soup, lol! Eww!

  2. Lisa says:

    Such a cute idea! If I were still a Nanny, I’d totally make these for the kiddos since they always loved this stuff.
    I’m not a huge spaghetti o person myself, but the sauce sounds mighty tasty:)

  3. BakeMeABallerina says:

    You read my mind!!!! A couple of weeks ago I was scouring the Internet for a spaghetti o recipe. They are one of my favorite comfort foods. My mom made them for me and my brother and sister when we were little. Where did you get the o-shaped pasta?

    1. I found it at a grocery store in New York… you could also order online. And some Trader Joe’s apparently have it. (Mine didn’t.)

  4. Rachel says:

    This sounds spectacular and I am now craving Spaghetti O’s. I might just have to make this sometime this week…

  5. I love this idea! I am a teacher and I see soooo many cans of spaghetti o’s floating around my classroom. I wish more parents prepared the healthy-versions of their kiddos favorite meals. I may have to suggest this one around :)

  6. sam says:

    Hello Katie. Can you please give me more information about nutritional yeast substitutes? I live in a country where I cannot find it. Thank you. sam

    1. Hi Sam,
      It takes the place of something cheesy… so maybe substitute it with something else cheesy? Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that. :(

      1. Katy says:

        Pre-grated Parmesan cheese would work well as a substitute.

    2. Steph says:

      I can’t find it where I live either and I’m in the US. You can order it online- ebay, vegan, etc. I just ordered my first can this morning. Good luck!

  7. Kelsey says:

    This has been on my recipe-testing list for like, a year! I think I’ll have to abandon my own plans and just make yours now– it looks delicious!

  8. Ellie says:

    They’re adorable! And I love the picture :)

  9. LOVE this post, especially the nonna’s approval! lol! I’m ALL for healthy knock-offs of original fare. They are SO much tastier than the “real” stuff (if that’s what you can call it!).

  10. How fun! I never had Spaghetti – O’s growing up. My mom refused. My dad however loved them. I would be so happy to make a dish of this the next time he is over.

  11. Becky says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. My daughter loves the Trader Joe’s version of spaghetti O’s. Now I have a healthy version to make for her!

  12. Kelly Wang says:

    Katie, your eyes, they are beautiful 😉

  13. Aparna says:

    I am so glad I have not grown up eating canned pasta. I may sound like a food snob saying that, but it is true, and I am so grateful that I have my flavorful and healthful Indian foods! This looks really good, though I have never had nutritional yeast.

  14. I love it! Being dairy free you just don’t get things like spaghetti-os. I’ll have to try this one soon :)

  15. Awww such a cute photo! Yeah, I definitely ate these like it was my job when I was a kid LOL

  16. Melissa says:

    Ahh, just seeing the title of your post today brought back so many fond memories! I was one of the few children who loved bringing hot lunches (i.e. a canned pasta or something of that nature in a thermos). Yum!

  17. Love this! I haven’t had spaghetti-os in such a long time but I practically lived on them as a kid. This is bringing back some fond memories indeed :)

  18. Maya says:

    I’m pretty lucky that my parents always fed me regular home cooked food! I rarely ate what Americans think of as “kid food” and as a result have never been picky my whole life. Thanks Mom and Dad! (There was definitely a time I went back up for thirds of spinach quiche my teacher brought in in 1st grade when all the other kids couldn’t take down one bite).

    How does your grandma make her pasta? All the homemade pastas I’ve made have eggs in them.

    1. I guess I’m confused… this pasta is storebought :).

      1. Maya says:

        Ohhhh got it. Storebought is vegan for sure. I was just thinking she may make the homemade kind :) Which by the way is amazing if there’s a way to make it vegan!

        1. I’m sure there must be a way… just google homemade vegan pasta and results are sure to pop up. After all, they make vegan fried calamari now (scary). Pasta should be easy ;).

          1. Kaisa says:

            you can simply substitute the egg(s) with water. Yum, home made pasta!

    2. Raquel Evans says:

      I like this recipe for homemade whole wheat pasta and it happens to be completely vegan. (My husband even likes it, and he’s not a person who likes whole wheat unless it’s actually good.)

  19. Elizabeth says:

    We really needed this one! To my shame, I share that my kids *love* Spaghetti-o’s.

  20. Omg, my life is complete! :) Thanks for sharing!

  21. we love making our own version of these…VERY kid friendly

  22. Omg Katie you are amazing! I can’t wait to try this with my daughter!

  23. Yum! Neither of my kids have ever had the canned Spaghetti-O’s because I refuse to buy them, but I used to eat them all the time as a kid. I think I am going to need to make this for them! They love pasta. And if I can find the anellini pasta they will probably love that too, it’s easier for them to eat the smaller shapes.

  24. Marion says:

    Awesome! I don’t suppose you have a picture of the pasta packet? I’m not sure we can get that pasta in Australia…

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      Do a Google image search for anatelli pasta and all the images of different brands should come up. Hope that is helpful!

      1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

        Sorry, that should read “anellini” pasta!

  25. Jamie says:

    Have you considered advising people to use different “butters”? I ask because I just threw out my Smart Balance when I realized it is canola oil, which is GMO. Just wondering if for non vegans, organic butter might be a better choice. Love your site!

    1. Kari says:

      I kind of think that Earth Balance is non-GMO and vegan!

        1. Jamie says:

          Good to know. I am not familiar with that product but threw away the SmartBalance once I did research. Thx. :)

  26. Kari says:

    Are you kidding? What perfect timing! Not only is this a fantastic back to school lunch for our kindergartener (who’s never had the canned variety), I’ve been craving spaghettios for weeks! I’ve even picked up a can but the ingredient label had me returning it within seconds. Dinner plans for tonight have been changed! :)

  27. OMG! I haven’t had spaghetti o’s since I was a kid. Thank you for this!

  28. Emily says:

    Oh wow, I always crave spaghettios when I’m feeling sick but then feel bad for eating junk food. This recipe is going to come in really handy!

  29. Jill says:

    Katie…which did you use? The powdered or flake version of the yeast? I know you can use less powder (almost by half compared to flakes)…so which did you use?

    1. I never knew there was more than one type… I guess I used the flakes, as you can definitely see some flake shape in the package I have (from the bulk aisle of Whole Foods).

  30. This would be so great for my kids lunches!

  31. Krista says:

    Question about nutritional yeast….does it add anything to the flavor? Is there something you could substitute? These look yummy!!!!

    1. Jessica says:

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. Since regular Spaghettios have cheese in the sauce, maybe the yeast is supposed to replace that flavor? For those of us who can’t/don’t have nutritional yeast and who aren’t vegan, would melting some shredded cheese in the tomato sauce work instead?

      1. Sorry, I really don’t know about the cheese question… but yes, the nutritional yeast is included for a cheesy flavor.

        1. Jessica says:

          Thanks. :-)

    2. Katy says:

      Try pre-grated Parmesan! :-)

  32. I love finding out the different names for food in the US to what we call them in the UK. We call Spaghetti-O’s Spaghetti Hoops. So not so much difference. I loved Spaghetti hoops on toast when I was little (in fact, if I’m being honest I still do). I didn’t even know you could get pasta shaped in hoop/os.

  33. janine says:

    Where did you get the anellini pasta? I have actually been looking for noodles to make this for my son, and haven’t found them anywhere. I know your in Dallas like me, so I am excited. :)

    1. Unfortunately I found it in New York… Ronzoni Rings. I looked everywhere in Dallas! TJ’s, Kroger, Whole Foods, Market Street… nope.

      1. Jessica says:

        Amazon has some brands. They’re relatively pricey, but I think you get a bulk amount.

      2. Jessica says:

        Oooo, and I almost forgot. Trader Joe’s used to carry it a few years ago but stopped. Maybe see if you can request that they start making it again? Hey, if people ask for it, they might.

      3. Marci F says:

        I didn’t realize you’re a Dallas girl too, Katie? Yeehaw! I was so excited to find this recipe — Spaghetti-Os with Franks was always my go-to comfort food. I picked up some veggie dogs today to add to mine, but I also couldn’t find any O-shaped pasta. Boo. So this time ’round it will have to be Fusilli-Os. LOL

        BTW, the lovely cashier at Whole Foods said she managed to find alphabet-shaped pasta at Albertsons. I may have to give that a try!

    2. Vienna says:

      If not online, check out your local Italian deli. But, be willing to pay the specialty price.

  34. Karen says:

    Do you need nutritional yeast? Is that make the flavoring like the cheese in canned version. Could I use Parmesan instead? (I know I should probably by nutritional yeast, but that is another trip to another store)

    1. Karen says:

      Gah, I have a typo and it drives me nuts I can’t fix : ) I know it is there.

  35. Dana says:

    Oh my dog, girl! I can’t believe u did it, this tastes JUST like the original! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

  36. carolyn says:

    I never really liked spaghetti o’s. However, your version sounds 20000 times better, so I might have to get my carb-loving family in on this

  37. This post is making me SO HAPPY.

  38. My mom very rarely had Boyardee canned foods as a kid. However, spending time at friends’ house’s I definitely had my share. I feel ashamed saying it but they were soo good and can’t wait to make this recipe! Thank you :)

  39. These look amazing and I love and miss Spaghetti-O’s. I won’t buy them cause they are full of garbage. I will definitely try these.

  40. It looks and sounds incredibly good.

    So nice pictures you have! :)

  41. Suzanne says:

    I made these last night and they were kid and parents approved. Yum!

  42. Shiree says:

    I just scored major mom points! Thanks! I asked my daughter what she wanted for lunch and she said she wished she was at grandma’s house so she could eat spaghettios. I checked out the recipe and just happen to have all the ingredients! Yes!

  43. Cari says:

    I’ve never desired to eat spaghetti O’s, but this actually sounded good. And it was good!! Four out of five of us approved. I’ll be making this again! We used alphabet pasta and kids thought that was fun :)

  44. Jane says:

    I gotta try this! Spaghetti O’s used to be guilty pleasure.

  45. Zobot says:

    It seems like canned spagettios have a ton of added fiber. Do these have fiber or do you think there’s an easy way to add some short of spiking it with fibersure?

    1. Use whole grain pasta and the fiber count will improve a little.

  46. Sandra says:

    just finished making them for my daughter’s lunch for tomorrow. Couldn’t find O pasta, so I used peace sign pasta since it’s one of my daughter’s favorite things! I also added some meatless meatballs and used grated parm instead of the nutritional yeast. Tried a bite before packing them up and the were yummy… I think this is the third recipe I’ve tried, and by FAR the closest to the canned variety, both in taste and appearance. Thanks for the recipe!

  47. Sara b says:

    What a great recipe! My fiancé told me it was just like what he had as a kid except better! A win for this plant based cook :) thanks for sharing!

  48. anya says:

    I made this for my incredibly picky eater 5-year old son tonight and he devoured it! My hubby ate the leftovers:)))) This is a great, easy and fast kid-friendly recipe. Thank you!!

  49. Michelle says:

    Loved it. Both kids loved it. I used whole wheat orzo and it turned out great. Thanks Katie!

  50. MKD says:

    I have never been a big fan of spaghettiO’s – after looking at the ingredients! I’m glad I found this healthier alternative. My son loves these! He has to eat gluten free, so we found some glulten-free anellini pasta. We used real butter and Parmesan cheese in place of the yeast. Wonderful alternative! Thank you!

  51. Charissa says:

    Can these be frozen???? Thank you so much for all of your awesome recipes!

    1. Sorry, I have never actually tried… I guess they could.

  52. Ashley says:

    This is wonderful! I get grossed out when I think of how many cans of that garbage I ate as a kid, and now that I have a toddler at home, a healthy version of this would be perfect. He loves pasta, so I’ll definitely give this a go. Great post!

  53. Aline says:

    I have a maybe stupid question, but why use milk in the sauce? Thanks

    1. Karen says:

      My belief is it may sweeten and smooth the acidic taste. Same with the butter. It makes it more creamy than saucy (my non-professional cooking terms)

      1. Karen says:

        I forgot to add the rest. I finally tried this (my first attempt was bad, but I used veggie based pasta – blech! it overpowered the taste) Anyway, this was awesome! I ate it all. My 2 1/2 year old LOVED it, ate 3 servings! My 6 year old didn’t like it, she wanted the ‘real’ thing. UGh! I happily ate her serving.

      2. Aline says:

        That’s a good point. Thanks :)

  54. Karen says:

    Sorry for posting twice if I did. I loved this, my 2 1/2 year old ate 3 servings and my 6 1/2 year old wanted the ‘real’ thing. She has no taste.

  55. Jen La says:

    Read the amount of onion powder wrong- duh! I thought it said 1-2 tbsp! Blech! I’ll try again!

  56. Emily says:

    I made some very non-vegan adjustments to this recipe (added cheese instead of yeast, and threw in 1 lb of ground beef cooked with garlic), and holy crap it is amazing. It tastes like a wonderful mix of spaghetti and lasagna. My roommate loved it too.

  57. Julie says:

    Funny, I just made my own version of spagettios last night, minus the cheese or substitute. I took a can of organic kirkland tomato sauce, cooked up a half box of the small star shape pasta (because that’s all I had) I pureed a shallot and 1 clove of garlic, sauteed in butter, threw in the can of sauce and cooked on low for 20 minutes. I added a tablespoon of agave at the end to sweeten it, and voila. I was surprised at how decent it turned out for a last-minute quick meal! My 1 year old son ate it up so fast! Just had some leftovers for lunch, and same results :) I will definitely check out this recipe too!!

  58. lex says:

    I made this tonight and overall it turned out good but It had too much of tomato flavour that over powered the other ingredients. I used a natural tomato sauce with just tomatoes and salt… should I add less sauce next time and more milk…or more sweetener?! Thanks

  59. Kristen says:

    I found the Gf pasta at Sprouts on a whim and thought I would give them a spin! I added a little more Stevia to these and a little more milk to cut the bitterness of the tomato sauce, and let them sit over night and they taste just like the real thing! Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  60. Bill Collier says:

    First I love this recipe (so did my 13y/o son). I’m going to try to increase it and adapt it to a slow cooker and can it. Thanks for the recipe and the story of your Grandmother!

  61. Janessa says:

    Can I leave the nutritional yeast out?

  62. Roxanne says:

    What is ‘nutritional yeast’ and where do you find it? Why do you add it?

  63. Abby says:

    is the nutritional yeast required for the recipes and others like it? because i cannot find the nutritional yeast anywhere(meaning supermarkets)

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      It is for a cheese flavor.

  64. Steph says:

    I noticed the recipe calls for milk of choice, does a soy or almond milk work?

    1. Jessica says:

      I make it with almond milk and it is fabulous!

  65. Traci-Lyn says:

    WOW!!!! This is fantastic. I doubled the recipe so I would have some left over to freeze. I used shredded parm, because I had it. I used 6 TBSP, but it may have only needed 4 or 5. I also used sugar. 4 TBSP. I’m going to only use 3 next time. It’s not too sweet, I just think that 3 would be just fine. Can’t wait for my boy to get home from hockey practice so he can try this. I think it’s great and I’m going to pass it on!!!

  66. Jessica says:

    Making these today! I can’t wait. Since cutting out dairy I have missed my can of spaghetti O’s! I can’t wait to enjoy a much cleaner (and dairy free) version!
    Thanks :)

  67. Ayme says:

    I just told my son tonight that we are going to have to find a healthy alternative for Spaghetti O’s! I have spent the past few hours drooling over your recipes. My son is 6 and I feel his issues with focus can be helped with less processed and chemically laden foods! Thank you for this. He loves Quaker Granola Bars…I plan to try your alternates for them as well!

  68. Jessica says:

    Way better than Spaghetti-O’s!

  69. Jocelyn says:

    I just made this delicious recipe and used parmesean cheese instead of the yeast. I also added small homemade turkey meatballs. My family loved it!

  70. Leilani says:

    A google search for homemade spaghetti o’s brought me to your page. I loved being able to find this to make for our toddler who likes’ O’s. A homemade version where one could control the salt and have it dairy-free were two essentials. Thank you!

  71. Amber Neal says:

    Love this recipe!! I had to share it with my readers today. It really threw back to childhood summers eating spaghetti os like they were going out of style! Thanks for a great recipe! Love all the rest of your website too! Huge fan of yours!!

  72. david says:

    Just thought I’d pass this along… I don’t know if this is true about Spaghetti O’s, but years ago I discovered that if I added cinnamon to tomato sauce it would taste like the sauce in Beefaroni.
    While I’m not a meat eater anymore, I’ll occasionally get an urge for the taste and make fat noodles in a tomato based sauce with cinnamon as the main spice.

  73. Victoria M. says:

    Coincidentally enough, I stumble upon this recipe while perusing your blog, and I was eating canned Spaghetti-O’s xD I’m discovering that I’m lactose intolerant, Spaghetti-O’s don’t have enough to bug me but I’ll definitely try this recipe more for the healthy factor!

  74. Candace says:

    I just came across your blog last night, and made this for my boys, ages 3 and 4. They LOVED it! I try to feed them vegan as much as possible. Thank for the recipe!

  75. Ashleigh says:

    I just wanted to let you know I had to experiment with this last night when I went to make it and realize i had absolutely no nutritional yeast in my pantry. I replaced it with 1/4 c of dayia cheddar shreds before i added the butter. Turned out pretty good!

  76. Tom Maston says:

    Spaghetti-Os were my favorite as a child. Now that I have found the recipe I can make my own version of them. Where can I find the anellini pasta that this particular recipe calls for?

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      It depends on where you live. Some grocery stores carry them. Or search online for that type of pasta and see. Good luck!

  77. Jaclyn F. says:

    I just wanted to say that this gets 6 thumbs up from all of my kids! They LOVE it! Thank you so much!

  78. ashley says:

    I have a toddler and would like to prepare some of this for quick lunches. Can this be frozen once prepared?

    1. I’ve never tried, but if you do, be sure to report back! :)

  79. Matt says:

    Unbelievably good!

  80. Steph says:

    Made this tonight, was a huge hit! Thank you!

  81. Anna R. says:

    I had filed this recipe away a long time ago thinking I needed to try it although I was hesitant because my mother had given my kids regular spaghettios and they refused to eat them. Today since my little ones have been under the weather I thought I’d give this recipe a try to get some extra B vitamins into them by feeding them some nutritional yeast. The spaghettios were wonderful! My four year old ate two bowls and declared, “These are NOT for grown-ups!” (This mama ate some anyway

  82. amanda says:

    Nutritional yeast same thing as brewers yeast,you can buy it at supplement store like gnc,&vitamin Shoppe,

  83. Corissa says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I love SpaghettiOs so much and would even eat them straight from the can as a college student in the dorms! As a mom, I want my kids to enjoy all the wonderful processed foods I did as a kid (growing up in the 70s & 80s), but without all the extras that make them so processed and preserved. This recipe has pleased my finicky 4 year old son, as well as my 11 year old daughter who has much more exotic tastes. She even said she likes these more than the cans, which we don’t buy very often anyway. I am printing this and putting it with our most used recipes! Thanks again!!!

  84. Jessie says:

    Does anyone know a way I can substitute the butter-type spread? I have to eat a low-fat diet for health reasons and the only substitute I can think of is coconut oil, which I cannot have either! I know that something is necessary to thicken the sauce and make it more creamy. I want to make this dish to share with my little sister, and I am desperate.

    1. Crystal williams says:

      So i know that you can substitute butter and oil with applesauce in baked goods. Im not sure if it would work here but i think it would be worth a try. Im guessing you cant do i cant believe its not butter?

  85. Crystal williams says:

    Quick question. I looked on amazon for the nutritional yeast and found nutritional yeast flakes and nutritional yeast seasoning. Since I’ve never used this before i want to be sure to get the right stuff. Please help me!!

      1. Crystal williams says:

        You are so awesome!!! Thank you. My kids love spaghettios and im totally excited about trying this healthier version for school lunches!!!

  86. MichelleB says:

    Just curious why the salt-free tomato sauce? You add no additional salt and while I love nutritional yeast, it just isn’t a salty flavor.
    Also – for vegetarians, could you use Parmesan instead of or with the nutritional yeast?

  87. Amber says:

    My family LOVES this recipe!! Anyone know of a reason why this couldn’t be pressure canned? We make it so often it would be nice to have a stash of the sauce on hand at all times!



  88. Judy says:

    You mentioned cheesy taste…..but there is no cheese?
    I am going to look for the pasta noodles and the Yeast. I’m trying to up my protein and you said this is a good choice. Tried to fix my rating, but it won’t let me. I love this pasta idea and my kids are grown!



  89. Taylor says:

    Sooooooo yummy! Thanks for the recipe!