Cooking from Scratch: Homemade SpaghettiOs

“Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat!” my son proudly sang over and over again.

My husband’s boss — who had just taught my son the jingle — chuckled to us, “Sorry about that.” But then he quickly turned to back to him and said, “Here try this one: Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!”

“Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!” my son parroted back in sing-song, but then he cocked his head and asked, “What are SpaghettiOs?”

It’s true, my child had never, up to that point, tried SpaghettiOs.

The deficiency really isn’t due to food snobbery, I swear. We eat boxed mac ’n’ cheese for lunch just about every weekend.

All the same, I couldn’t quite commit to serving up a can of SpaghettiOs for dinner-proper, as my son requested soon after learning the jingle. Instead, I decided to try to make SpaghettiOs from scratch.

There are actually quite a few recipes for homemade SpaghettiOs online.

The “O”-shaped pasta that gives SpaghettiOs their name is called Anelletti. I couldn’t find any locally, but you can order it from Amazon or use any other small pasta shape that you like.

As for the sauce, most recipes tell you to cook the pasta in the tomato sauce. I can’t recommend that, as it gives the finished pasta sauce a glue-like consistency. Instead, I turned to my favorite simple spaghetti sauce recipe, and just carefully added cheddar cheese at the end.

Adding dairy products to acidic foods like tomatoes can be dicey business, so make sure you follow the directions below carefully. Start with cheddar cheese that’s been finely grated. Be sure to give the sauce a full 5 minutes to cool before you even start adding the cheese. And lastly, add the cheese slowly — toss in a small pinch, whisk for 30 seconds, toss in a small pinch, whisk for 30 seconds, and so on until the cheese is all added.

If you want to make it extra fun, you can even hum the jingle to yourself while you work.

Homemade SpaghettiOs

Homemade SpaghettiOs by Meryl Carver-Allmond/Special to the Journal-World

Homemade SpaghettiOs


8 ounces uncooked Anelletti pasta (or similar small pasta shape)

28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion

2/3 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Pour the diced tomatoes into a large saucepan. Peel the onion, cut it in half and add it to the tomatoes. Then add the butter. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is about half finished, pull the tomato sauce off the heat. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then gradually whisk in the cheese a pinch at a time.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

— Meryl Carver-Allmond writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at


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