My Family’s Favorite Spaghetti Recipe

I will forever cherish the time I’ve been able to spend with my mom and dad this month. This isn’t the house I grew up in, but wherever they are will always feel like home to me.

We’ve referred to our family kitchen as “Katie’s Kitchen” since I was a little kid, and my family’s favorite spaghetti recipe has been served up in the Palmer home for as long as I can remember.

You start by bringing 5 cups of water, with a package of Lipton onion soup in it, to a boil. After that, you throw in 8 ounces of spaghetti and let it cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s tender. (Note: Do not drain the spaghetti once it’s cooked.) At the same time, you can be browning 1 pound of ground chuck or turkey, and then draining and returning it to the skillet.

After that, sprinkle the meat generously with garlic salt, and add in 2 teaspoons of oregano, and 1 teaspoon of basil.

Next, purée 2 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes in a blender, and then add them to the meat mixture. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

At this point my mom said, “Now I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a taster!

Apparently once everything is blended, she lets her taste buds decide whether to add more garlic salt or not. I’m still trying to perfect this part of the process, but my mom is definitely a master at it!

The last step is to add the meat sauce to the spaghetti and mix it all up.

I grew up eating spaghetti that was mixed together before it was served, so I was really confused the first time someone dumped a pile of noodles on my plate and poured spaghetti sauce all over it. I thought it was so strange that they expected me to mix it up myself- ha!

I didn’t realize how special these recipes and memories would be to me when I grew up. Here’s a printable recipe for you if you’d like to give my family’s favorite spaghetti recipe a try. I hope you love it as much as I do!

My Family’s Favorite Spaghetti Recipe


  • 5 c. water
  • 1 env. dry Lipton onion soup
  • 8 oz. package of spaghetti
  • 1 lb. ground chuck or turkey
  • garlic salt
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 2 - 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes


  1. Bring water with Lipton onion soup to a boil
  2. Add spaghetti and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tender
  3. Do not drain spaghetti
  4. Brown meat, drain, and return to skillet
  5. Sprinkle with garlic salt and add oregano and sweet basil
  6. Purée tomatoes in blender and add to meat mixture
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes
  8. Add meat sauce to spaghetti and mix well

What about you? Do you have a favorite family recipe?

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  1. Barbara says

    I’ve never seen a recipe for spaghetti using onion soup mix AND not draining the noodles. I am intrigued and can’t wait to give this recipe a try. Thanks for posting, Kevin. And thanks, Mom Palmer for the recipe!

  2. Maria says

    Looks yummy!!! The onion soup mix must give it a real nice extra layer of flavor :) just to be sure I have it right, she adds the sauce to the pasta while it’s still in the water/soup mix that it was boiled in?

    Also, I think it’s AWESOME that your mom still has that blender!! I used to have the same one! My mom let me take it with me when I moved out on my own and at some point I decided to replace it, even though it still worked perfectly, with something “prettier and more modern”. I’ve had at least 6 blenders die on me since then and I bet that old Oster would still be alive and kicking. They don’t make em like they used to, that’s for sure!

    • says

      Yes. When the spaghetti is done cooking, and the meat sauce is finished- you pour it all together in the pot you boiled the spaghetti in. Just make sure you boil the spaghetti without the cover on the pot and in the cooking process some of the water will evaporate.

      That’s so funny about your blender! We’ll have to see if we can find an “oldie but goodie” for our new kitchen! :-D

  3. says

    I like the idea of mixing the sauce and the noodles before serving. I will have to try this recipe, it looks fantastic!

  4. Lindsay Butler says

    That looks fantastic! I will be trying this next week, but I have one question. I see that you said not to drain the pasta water…. ever??

    You pour the meet and tomato mixture into the cooked pasta, and the 6 cups of pasta water?


  5. Sarah says

    Oh thanks for this. I’m always looking for a better spaghetti recipe. The onion soup is a great “secret” ingredient!

  6. Cara says

    Kevin and Katie,

    I love sketti, as my grands call it and of course have a family recipe, but this looks delicious and I printed it so I can give it a whirl. Thanks for posting it.

    Glad you all got such special family time!!! Can’t wait to see the new house.

  7. Kari says

    I love trying family favorites ~ thanks for sharing Kevin, and thank you to your Mom. I bet your parents will cherish this time with you and Layla just as much as you!

  8. Jen says

    Hi Kevin – looks delicious! Wondering how much water should be left? Is it really watery or is it thickened? Is it more like a soup? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

  9. Elizabeth says

    Yum… the spaghetti looks great. I printed the recipe and will try it this weekend with turkey. Thanks Kevin and Katie! Also, I really enjoy the Katie’s Kitchen features and recipes. Makes me wish I was at home cooking with my mom too:) Great pictures with your Mom. Good luck with the move.

  10. says

    It DOES look delicious, and I can’t wait to try it. I just want to confirm that it is 8 ounces of spaghetti and not a pound? Your pot is big, and there is so much pasta in it, it sort of looks like a pound of spaghetti to me. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. says

    That looks absolutely delicious! My daughter is gluten free so I’ll have to think up a way to recreate this because my mouth is watering!!

  12. Sue says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Our kiddos love spaghetti and I am looking forward to using this recipe next time I cook it. By the way, I’ve made Mom Palmer’s Key Lime Cake recipe several times and it is always a huge hit. I have a friend who even used the recipe for her daughter’s wedding and made key lime cupcakes. :)

  13. Heather says

    What an intriguing , simple recipe that sounds great. Recall having a spaghetti dinner while company at an unfamiliar family’s table as a child & really liking the moist tasty pasta. Never had those same flavors again. I was a child & this about 40 years ago. Wondering if this could be the same recipe?
    Sure hoping so & guessing maybe. Makes my mouth water thinking about the possible taste reunion!.

  14. Toni Chestang says

    Kevin and Layla I am just a blog stalker. I read you blog almost everyday and I just wanted to tell you both that I think you two are the cutest couple!!!!!! oh yea my mom makes her spaghetti the same way the Palmers do. Must be a ALABAMA Thang lol

  15. Samme says

    Mrs. Palmer, that recipe looks delicious! I’m gonna try it ASAP!
    Kev., you’d have to do the mixing at my house. I’ve never mixed my sauce with the spaghetti because I worry it won’t be the proper ratio.
    One of our faves is Spaghetti Pie! I’ll send y’all the recipe to try soon.

  16. gina says

    Spaghetti Bolognese is the Italian version of this and is an absolutely “go to” dish in our family! My go to Italian grandma’s version, which I use, calls for olive oil, garlic, onions, and meat to be sauteed in one pan. In a pot I boil spaghetti with salted water and drain after only 5 minutes of boiling for al dente (directions on back of pasta box). And just like your dear mom…I mix both pasta and sauce. The sauce will absorb into the pasta! Yum! I think that is why we like to boil it for only 5 min. instead of 20. More sauce than water will be absorbed. No soup mix here, but lots of Parmesan cheese on top, please! You forgot the most important ingredient your mom puts…love! I hope my son will have the good memories of his mom’s comfort food like you do!

  17. Stacey says

    This seems like such a tender post. Your respect for your mom and love for your family shines through each word. It’s beautiful and has already impacted a day that started out so badly for me. Thank you for this, Kevin. And as if that weren’t enough, you generously shared a family recipe! Thank you for that, too. I have printed it out and plan to try it out. You and your precious mama will be in my thoughts when I do.

  18. Maureen says

    Would love to try this…just a few questions. What size can of tomatoes? Also 15 -20 min. to cook the pasta seems like alot of time? Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • says

      Hi Maureen!
      Sorry about that I should have included that in the recipe. It calls for two 14.5 oz. cans. I had the same question about the cook time for the noodles. My mom said that is how it was taught to her. Truth be told, 10 minutes would probably be good enough, but I wanted to write it down just like she did it. Thanks for the comment!

  19. Bev says

    Kevin, I can’t believe your giving the family secret recipe away…… onion soup and not draining the noodles . Sounds so good !!!!!

  20. says

    My momma always mixed the noodles into the sauce, too! But my husband to be thinks that that is super weird, so we’re a plain noodles with sauce dumped on household.

    That being said, this looks AMAZING and I might just have to give it a try.

  21. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    You had me hooked at Lipton Soup!!!! I can’t wait to make this next week!
    My parents died when I was 10 and 20. My dad passed first. He was the cook in our family. Never wrote a recipe down. Did everything, in his head, by taste. I cherish others’ family recipes. This will have very special meaning to me. Thanks Kev for sharing.
    Now, if we would like to share a recipe with you, how do we do it? I have a great Ice Box Cake recipe that was gifted to me as a wedding present (seriously). It’s killer!!!!! Made with coffee and shaved chocolate. It will add 5 lbs to you in nothing flat. I try not to make it. But it is sheer heaven when I do! I’d be happy to share this “oldie”. It was given to me in 1965, by an 80 year old grandma.
    Am “dying” to see your new house. I am so excited for you kids!!!! Hurry Hurry Hurry and get those keys!

  22. Diana says

    Our family always served the spagetti and sauce mixed together too. I had the same experience of shock when served separately later on in life..I think it must be “family style:!! :-) Thanks for the cute post… It is great to spend time with family!! Enjoy and good luck with the move!

    • says

      That’s aewesome Diana! I love the idea of calling it “family style” I’m definitely going to use that term from now on! :)

  23. Karie says


    Thank you for sharing this wonderful sounding recipe! We are huge college football freaks at our house and Saturdays are spend watching as many games as we can (Ohio State being our number 1)….In any case we always (me and the hubby) like to cook something that we can eat all day long, smells good, reminds us of fall, and is easy to do (don’t want to take away from the real reason we get up on Saturdays)…I am thinking this will be perfect for tomorrows games! Thank you so much for sharing, I really love your blog page and hope you and Layla have a great weekend!

    • says

      Thanks so much Karie! We are huge college football fans around here too! (Auburn) There’s nothing better than a Saturday of great food and college football! Thanks for stopping by today! :)

  24. Dawn says

    Layla & Kevin,

    Thank you so much for sharing your family’s recipe with us! Our family makes shrimp scampi and we love it too!

  25. says

    Boiling the noodles with the onion soup mix is brilliant! Never thought of that, but I’ll bet that gives great flavor. Mom’s cooking is always best, isn’t it?

  26. Genny says

    I can so relate! I grew up with the sauce and noodles mixed together too! But, my husband did not! So, we alternate! Your family recipe sounds really good — going to give it a try!

    • says

      I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who grew up with everything mixed together. Good to know we’re in the same spaghetti club! Ha! :)

  27. Alison says

    Thank you for supplying the recipe for dinner tonight! And the best part is that I have all the ingredients already. I can’t wait to try this! As for my favorite family recipes, oh gosh, so many. My father’s corned beef hash and poached eggs (Sunday mornings), and my mother’s artichoke chicken top the list. Yummy!

  28. Brooke says

    Do you drain the Spaghetti from the onion soup? Or are you just pouring the tomato mixture straight into the spaghetti onion sauce? I was just worried that the onion soup would over power the sauce and didn’t want to mess up the meal when I made it.
    Thanks for sharing,

  29. Karen T. says

    Love the recipe and I’m *dying* over the blender. My hubby’s grandma (a wonderful cook and baker) had that same blender–she sent it with my husband to college and it has since resided in our kitchen for the last 15 years of our marriage. It was *just* replaced with a VitaMix about 6 months ago. I love that your mom’s blender is still going strong and churning out lovely family recipes. Can’t wait to make the spaghetti for my family.

  30. Lisa says

    This looks so delicious…and being that spaghetti is on the menu for the weekend, think I’ll give this version a go :) Thanks for sharing…oh, and like your mom, I’m a taster too!

  31. Allison says

    Yum. It looks so simple yet sooo good! Plus with the weather getting cooler, spaghetti will be perfect. Not to mention it’s a comfort food. ;-)

  32. Mary says

    Ahh! I love it! I come from a family where we mix the sauce and the noodles beforehand, too. Always seemed strange to me to see plain noodles (how do you keep them from sticking!?). Never thought of the onion soup mix, though. Clever!

  33. Kathy B. says

    Well now, this really is a DIFFERENT spaghetti recipe. So very interesting. I am definitely going to try it. But, I do like a little “chunk” in my sauce, so I think I will puree all but maybe a cup or a little less of the tomatoes. Okay? Okay.

    Who knew? Viva Lipton Onion soup mix!!!

  34. Kathy B. says

    Oh wait, I forgot one thing. That looks like the dreaded whole wheat spaghetti in your mom’s hands. Tell me it ain’t so! Hopefully the lighting was bad in the photo….uh, but that’s not likely with you, Kev, the photog. Oh, I’ve tried so hard to get on board the whole wheat pasta train……’s just a little too choo choo CHEWY for me.

  35. says

    My son is starving for new ways to enjoy dinner and this sounds totally doable for a non foodie like me. Love handed down recipes! Goin’ shopping for onion soup and will be sure and tell my son it’s thanks to the ‘rock and roll video blog people’. He loves your videos from way back. :)

  36. Michelle says

    I made this last night for the family and we all looovvved it! My kids (two of which are picky eaters) ate several servings! It tastes so much like the recipe my grandma Genni used to make for me as a child when we would go stay at my grandparents cabin. So delish, and so thankful to not only have a recipe that my whole family loves, but I kinda teared up when I tasted it because it took me right to my granny so to speak. So amazing how food can stir memories! As always, you guys are amazing! And Congrats on your new home!!!

  37. Michelle says

    Oh, and please tell your sweet mama thanks so much for sharing. She is adorable, I love the part where she declares that she’s a taster! God bless:)

  38. says

    I just made this tonight and my picky husband said, “Why does this taste so good?” :-)

    Don’t be afraid of not draining the noodles. There’s not that much liquid left and it gives the whole dish great flavor.

  39. Tammy says

    Looks so good. But I too think that looks like whole wheat pasta, is it? Will the recipe taste as good using regular pasta?
    And I noticed it says only 8oz of pasta. I guess I would have to double the recipe if I do 16oz : )

  40. Jeni says

    Oh Kevin…so sweet to see a handome man and his beautiful mama cooking together in the kitchen….what a special memorie. Spagetti club member here…I grew up with spagetti mixed together and have cooked it that way in my 34 years of marriage. I think the spagetti takes on a better flavor as it asborbs the sauce when mixed together, leaving no noddle naked. A friend once asked me for my “special spagetti” recipe I served while her young daughter was visiting…she said her daughter said it was the best she ever had. I told her muellers spagetti, Prego sauce and ground beef all mixed together before serving. She said same ingredients as hers but not mixed together….she guessed the “special” her daughter was talking about was mixing it. Yep….out of the mouths of babes.

  41. says

    Thank you for sharing this special recipe. So fun reading the comments too!! I grew up on spaghetti (with the sauce mixed in — ha!) but have come to dislike it as I get older. My family, luckily, really likes it — I say “luckily” because it’s an easy dish — but this recipe makes *me* want to eat it too!! Maybe I’ve just missed eating it the way I did as a little girl. Will try this recipe out ASAP. THANK YOU. And what a testimony to your mother. . .having you in the kitchen with her, archiving these recipes and memories. . .what an inspiration to me as a mama of a couple boys :)

  42. says

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, Kevin – that looks pretty easy to make; I got my spaghetti recipe from my father-in-law – we didn’t have spaghetti much when I was growing up (maybe it’s an Australian thing? – my dad was a meat and 3 veggies kind of guy).

    It’s great that you’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with your parents while you and Layla wait to close on your home – I think sharing a home with parents when you are an adult can be a great bonding experience – they look at you differently than they did when you were a kid!

  43. says

    Thanks for sharing! Cherished family recipes always offer the best comfort, on top of the best taste. My family is alllll about desserts. OK, we’re about a lot of foods, but I seem to really enjoy the sweets!

    This cobbler recipe is one of our favorites. The original post was for peach cobbler, but you can easily sub apples for the peaches to make an ultimate fall treat. Thought I’d share, because it is so simple, so yummy, and would make a great finale to your fam’s spaghetti!

  44. Sandy says

    Tried this tonight & it was delicious!! Thanks for sharing! My mom also always mixed the sauce & noodles and that is how I’ve always done it. My husband thought it was odd at first but he’s used to it now.

  45. says

    oh yes! this looks easy enough for someone like me to attempt and tasty enough that everyone would enjoy. thanks for posting it!
    also, i HATE when someone else serves me spaghetti that isn’t mixed because they never give me enough sauce. drive me crazy because i wanna dip my garlic bread!

  46. says

    Looks so yummy. Can’t wait to try it! I also grew up in a home where the spaghetti was mixed in the pot before it went on your plate, lol. It always tastes better that way; especially as leftovers the next day! Thanks for the recipe. ~Kerri, A Pop of Pretty

  47. Rebecca says

    Made it this weekend, YUM!! and my 14-year old son LOVED it!!!

    Rebecca is Birmingham

  48. says

    I love this recipe–not just for the sweet story and the beautiful photographs to go with it, but because it represents the kind of good, uncomplicated, but DELICIOUS food my grandmother always made. So far as I know she never had fresh herbs or fancy ingredients of any kind, but her food was absolutely wonderful. Much as I love using fresh ingredients, sometimes I just want to cook plain old uncomplicated food that everyone will love, even if it’ll never be featured on a Food Network show. Thank you for sharing this!

  49. Debbie says

    Thank you for this! I made it last night and my family loved it. I shared the recipe at work yesterday, ( I work at an elementary school – we talk food all day ) and they are all excited to try it as well. Please share more!

  50. Amy D says

    I tried this recipe last night…it was delicious! The only problem I had was that I sprinkled the meat TOO generously with garlic salt to start with…next time I’ll go easier on the garlic salt. Also, one thing I think would be helpful to know is that after mixing the two things together (the noodles/onion soup & sauce/meat) it is still a little bit thinner than most people are used to, just let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and it will thicken up ALOT. I was concerned about it looking too watery when I mixed the two together but I let it sit while I made sweet tea and garlic bread it was just fine.

  51. PeggyAnn says

    Thank you Kevin and Mom Katie for the spaghetti recipe. We made this tonight along with garlic bread and a salad…it was so yummy! We will be making this again for sure!

  52. Philicia Martin says

    I made this the night I read it. It was GREAT, and my husband hasn’t stopped talking about it! Also, the leftovers are just as good! Thank you Kevin!!

  53. Justine says

    Husband took care of the meat – I did the spaghetti – result: delicious!! and fun to cook dinner together!!! Because there’s only 2 of us, we had leftovers to enjoy AGAIN tonight. Thanks for the recipe & congrats on the new home. Can’t wait to see what you do with that blank canvas!!!

  54. Angie says

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your family’s spaghetti recipe. I made it last week for my spaghetti loving husband and it was a BIG HIT! I was a little skeptical about not draining the spaghetti first, but it worked! Thanks again. Love your blog. Can’t wait to see the changes in the new house. The neighborhood is beautiful by the way.

  55. Debora Cadene says

    I’ve made this a couple of times and I have to say it was funny watching my husbands reaction when I added the onion soup mix to the water then never drained it. This was very good. I added a wee bit of diced onion and mushrooms to it, while I cooked the beef the first time. Its awesome reheated, and also really good when you drop a spoonful of sour cream to it…….it tastes like stroganoff. Thanks for sharing this with us!! Its definitely a keeper,

  56. judy says

    I have to say when I read this recipe I thought no way would I like this but then I was so curious I had to try it. omg Im so glad I did I absolutely, love this recipe!!! so does my family!! just goes to show you you never know until you try! so glad I did thankyou so much for sharing this.

  57. Joyce Hyder says

    I have been looking for this recipe for years! I used to fix it all the time and lost the copy of the recipe. Thanks for sharing!!

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