Adult Spaghettios (better than the original!)

Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with this Sneaky Spaghettios recipe, but with a sophisticated twist that brings in the freshness of real veggies. A grown-up version of your childhood favorite!

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You should make these Sneaky Spaghettios for a nostalgic trip down memory lane but with the added benefit of wholesome ingredients like real vegetables and parmesan.

What sets this recipe apart is its rich, homemade vegetable broth base and the flexibility to customize it with a variety of veggies, elevating the dish from a childhood staple to a sophisticated comfort meal. You’re going to love it!

What is in Sneaky Spaghettios?

  • Carrots, Celery, and Sweet Potato: These veggies are the backbone of the dish, providing essential nutrients and creating a rich and flavorful base for the pasta sauce.
  • Tomato Paste: The concentrated flavor of tomato paste gives the sauce its characteristic tang and depth, elevating it to an adult-friendly level.
  • Ring Pasta: The star of the show, this pasta type is essential for recreating that nostalgic Spaghettios texture and feel 😀

Optional but impactful, grated Parmesan adds a layer of savory richness, while freshly cracked pepper brings a hint of spice to balance the sweetness of the vegetables. Yum!

a pot filled with carrots, celery and onions.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Vegetables: If you don’t have carrots, celery, or sweet potatoes, feel free to substitute with other vegetables like zucchini, squash, or even cauliflower. The aim is to create a nutritious, flavorful base for the sauce. Please note that using different vegetables may impact the color of the sauce!
  • Tomato Paste: If you’re out of tomato paste, you can use canned tomato sauce, though you may need to reduce it a bit longer to achieve a similar consistency.
  • Ring Pasta: No ring pasta? No problem. You can use other small pasta shapes like orzo, ditalini, or small shells. Even elbow macaroni can work in a pinch.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Feel free to skip or substitute with vegan cheese if you’re lactose intolerant or following a vegan diet. Nutritional yeast can also add a cheesy flavor.
  • Herbs and Spices: For added complexity, consider adding herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme. A pinch of red pepper flakes can add some heat.
  • Protein: For a heartier dish, you could add cooked ground meat, sausage, or even tofu or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
  • Vegan Option: Use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter, and opt for a vegan cheese or skip it entirely.
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Can I use store-bought vegetable broth instead of making my own with the vegetables?

Absolutely. If you’re short on time, using a store-bought vegetable broth is a convenient option. Just keep in mind that the flavor profile might differ slightly from the homemade version. You can enhance the store-bought broth by simmering it with some extra veggies or herbs if desired.

What if I don’t have an immersion blender for the vegetable puree?

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the cooked vegetables and some of the reserved water to a regular countertop blender. Blend until smooth and return the puree to the pot. Make sure to let the mixture cool a bit before blending to avoid hot splashes.

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

Yes, you can certainly swap out the ring pasta for other small pasta shapes like orzo, mini shells, or elbow macaroni. Just adjust the cooking time according to the package instructions for the pasta you choose.

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How to Store Spaghettios

Let your adult spaghettios cool to room temperature first. Then transfer into an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. It should keep well for up to 3-4 days.

When you’re ready to eat it, you may need to add a little water or broth to loosen it up while reheating, as the pasta could absorb some of the liquid. Reheat it on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Freezer Directions

These adult spaghettios make a GREAT freezer meal, and can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you’re planning to freeze, we recommend storing without the pasta, and adding when ready to serve.

Check out our step-by-step guide to freezing soups of all kinds.

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One-Pot Series

Our One-Pot Series features wholesome main meals made completely in one pot. They’re made with minimal ingredients and little effort but will get you big flavor and a delicious meal!

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Serving Suggestions

Serve these adult spaghettios alongside our amazing caesar salad and either this cheesy garlic bread or our parmesan rosemary focaccia bread, both from The Cheese Knees..

a white bowl filled with pasta and cheese.

Sneaky Spaghettios

Dive into a gourmet rendition of your childhood classic with this Sneaky Spaghettios recipe, blending wholesome veggies and customizability for a mature yet comforting dish.

Prep:20 minutes

Cook:1 hour

Total:1 hour 20 minutes


  • 5 large carrots chopped into thirds
  • 4 celery stalks chopped into thirds
  • 1 small sweet potato washed and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt separated
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup optional
  • 2 cups ring pasta

Optional Ingredients

  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper


  • Add the carrots, celery, sweet potato, garlic, and onion into a pot. Cover the vegetables with 8 cups of water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and stir.

  • Bring the pot to a rolling boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables almost fall apart at fork tender.

  • Remove the pot from the heat. Remove 6 cups of the vegetable water and set it aside.

  • Strain the rest of the water from the vegetables. Transfer the vegetables back into the pot and add 2 cups of the reserved water back into the pot.

  • Use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables and water into a thick puree until completely smooth.*

  • Add the remaining water, remaining salt, tomato paste, and ketchup to the pot and bring to a boil over medium/high heat.

  • Add the ring pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium/low and stir the pasta periodically to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.

  • Let the pasta simmer in the tomato sauce until cooked.

  • Remove from the heat. Salt to taste and add the optional parmesan and cracked pepper and stir. Serve immediately.

Tips & Notes

  • Option to use a high-process blender. Add the vegetables and 1 cup of the excess water to a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add more of the water to thin out the consistency. Pour the puree back into the pot.
  • Any small pasta can be used to replace the ring pasta. Orzo or small shells are great options.
  • A mixture of many vegetables can be used in place of carrots, celery, sweet potato, or onion.
  • Feel free to skip the ketchup and use another tablespoon of tomato paste.
  • If you would like a soupier spaghettio, set aside another cup of vegetable water. Add 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • What vegetables you use will determine the flavor of the spaghettios.

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