Leftover Feast: Fried Spaghetti

March 16th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

When I was a child we used to have a Spaghetti dinner about once a week. My mother used to make up a basic sauce and add some ground beef or sausage, boil up some spaghetti and we were all set.

Of course, it was almost impossible to make too little of this dish. There were always leftovers but who wanted to eat Spaghetti two nights in a row, especially when the second batch was from the night before? Granted, the sauce usually tastes better the next day but 24/48 hours was just not a long enough turn around time.

My mother had a way around this that we could eat this dish in a completely different way so that is seemed like a whole other meal.

Now this “recipe” requires a large skillet and you could use non-stick skillet but ideally you would want to use either a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. The reason for this is that you will be scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula frequently while cooking. The spatula head needs to be thin and most of your plastic versions are not. A metal spatula is recommended.

The idea of fried spaghetti is not to deep fry or even use much oil. The word fry simply refers to cooking it in a frying pan. 🙂

You will need some leftover spaghetti and sauce mixed together from a previous meal. Could you make the sauce and spaghetti fresh? Sure, but I love both dishes so much I see no need eliminating one for the other.


  • Olive Oil
  • Enough leftover spaghetti and sauce (mixed together) to fill your skillet 1 inch deep.

Heat your skillet to medium/medium high and add the oil enough to barely coat the entire pan. You will not need much oil.

When the oil starts smoking, add the leftover spaghetti and sauce mix to the pan and push down into the pan until the skillet is completely covered with the spaghetti. The dish should be crackling, hissing, and bubbling as it cooks. You want to break up the spaghetti into little pieces. You don’t want long strands of pasta. Use your spatula liberally to cut the pasta up.

Here is what is happening. You are trying to cook off a lot of the liquid and reduce the flavor of the sauce. You are also caramelizing many of the sugars in the dish. You will be creating a burnt, for lack of a better term, layer on the bottom of the pan. Every 4-5 minutes you want to use your thin headed spatula to scrape the bottom of the skillet while your turning the spaghetti over. You do NOT want to keep the burned layer on the bottom of the pan. You want to mix the burned pieces into the mixture and repeat 4-5 times until there are plenty of black (and very flavorful) bits throughout.

You should not add any salt or pepper to this dish until finished because you are reducing flavors. Chances are, your sauce was already salted/peppered when you originally made it. By reducing it, those flavors will probably get a little more intense.

Now I know what some of you are thinking but please, you must try this before you make a judgment. I remember a few years ago I had a buddy of mine who crashed out on the couch because the boys night out went a little long and he had a bit too much to drink. Waking up around noon the next day the only thing I had left in the fridge was some left over spaghetti. I started making this and my Italian friend was giving me the one eyebrow look while I was cooking this.

I told him, relax, if you can’t eat this, we will go down to the diner. He was shocked how good it came out.

My kids actually like this better than spaghetti because they still have yet perfected how to roll spaghetti onto the fork and this is much easier. Sometimes I will even butter up some bread slices and they will put the spaghetti on the bread and eat it like a sandwich.

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