A big bowl of spaghetti with sauce is one of the easiest, most satisfying dishes you can make. That’s why most home cooks have a spaghetti recipe they swear by and rely on for quick, family-friendly meals. But if you’re getting bored with your favorite pasta, it might be time to change things up. Try these takes from around the world and let them spark your creativity and love of world cuisines!
5 Classic Spaghetti Recipes from Italy and Beyond
Don’t be limited to one way of making spaghetti! Take cues from these global favorites.
1. Pasta al pomodoro, Italy
Italy is the birthplace of pasta, so it only makes sense to start your spaghetti education there. The country consistently churns out some of the best noodle dishes in the world. Some take years to perfect, while others are more beginner-friendly. Pasta al pomodoro is one Italian spaghetti recipe that anyone can master.
Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian – it’s also the one ingredient that can make or break this dish. To make a restaurant-worthy version, use fresh, in-season kamatis, like Roma or San Marzano. They’re the best picks for homemade sauce. If those are hard to find, canned tomatoes should work in a pinch. Simmer them in oil, aromatics, herbs, and basic seasonings like salt and pepper. Tip: add baking soda or a pat of butter to mitigate any metallic aftertaste.
For an even more authentic experience, challenge yourself by making noodles from scratch. It may take some practice, but all your effort will be worth it once you taste fresh al dente pasta. You can also use it as a base for the other dishes on this list, not just pomodoro!
2. Filipino spaghetti, the Philippines
Most non-locals think Filipino spaghetti is too sweet. Its bright, artificially red hue turns people off. Purists say that hotdogs and boxed cheese have no place in the dish. But those qualities are what Pinoys love about this birthday party staple.
If you grew up eating the stuff, the nostalgia runs deep. You’ll find yourself craving it even as your tastes evolve to favor a true Italian-style Bolognese – the blueprint for this local delicacy. The typical Pinoy spaghetti recipe is as unfussy as it gets. You only need noodles, giniling, tomato sauce, sugar, and cheese.
You can even use banana ketchup to make your dish as red as possible. In the Philippines, you’ll find sweet-style spaghetti sauce in ready-to-use packets, simplifying prep even further. Add Knorr Pork Cubes to the mix; it’s the only seasoning you’ll need! Hotdogs are an iconic add-on, but you can swap them out for ham, sausages, or whatever’s on hand.
3. Naporitan, Japan
Meanwhile, Japan has naporitan: a sweet, ketchup-based pasta with sausages, veggies, and butter. Like Filipino spaghetti, this version adapts the classic Italian dish to make it more appealing to local palates. Fun fact: its name is “Neapolitan” (as in, “from Naples, Italy”) in Romanized Japanese. It’s quick to make – and even quicker to eat! – so it’s become a star menu item in cafés everywhere in Japan.
But unlike Filipino spaghetti, naporitan forgoes tomato sauce or paste altogether and relies solely on ketchup. The condiment balances sweet, savory, and tart flavors. Plus, it turns into a luscious, glossy sauce when combined with butter. Use any brand you like, or head to your favorite Asian grocery store for an imported bottle. Bring that Japanese café experience home.
4. Spaghetti and meatballs, USA
Spaghetti and meatballs seem like the quintessential Italian grandma specialty, but it’s all-American in origin. Gasp! That’s right: Italian immigrants brought this hearty dish stateside, and it immediately became an iconic American comfort food. Meatballs in Italy are traditionally small and bite-sized, whereas their counterparts in the US are about as big as one’s fist.
The best plate of spaghetti and meatballs should have a vibrant tomato sauce to accompany every meaty bite. You can use a homemade pomodoro sauce for this. If you have time to spare, simmer the sauce for hours to bring out those complex tomato flavors. For the meatballs, try this simple recipe. Instead of deep-frying the meat, bake them before finishing them in your sauce.
5. Gochujang spaghetti, South Korea
Gochujang is a fermented Korean chili paste. It’s spicy, savory, and funky, packing any dish with mouthwatering umami. It's a staple ingredient in Korean cooking – you’ll find it in everything from soups and stews to chicken wings and samgyupsal. It was only a matter of time before inventive home cooks would learn to use it in pasta.
Look up “gochujang pasta” on TikTok, and you’ll find hundreds of video results with 100K+ views. Most variations on the dish only call for pantry essentials like heavy cream, cheese, and butter to make a creamy gochujang sauce. The chili paste does the heavy lifting in terms of flavor, so you’ll love this if spicy Korean food is a big part of your diet.
Which of these spaghetti recipes are you making next? Take this as an opportunity to explore world cuisines through the familiar comfort of pasta!