How to Make Cowboy Spaghetti

Cowboy Spaghetti is a robust and hearty dish that combines the classic comfort of spaghetti with the bold flavors of the American West. This unique twist on traditional spaghetti features a smoky, spicy tomato sauce loaded with ground beef, bacon, and a kick of jalapeños, all topped with a generous sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Perfect for a filling family dinner, a casual get-together with friends, or simply when you’re in the mood for a flavorful pasta dish with a bit of a twist, Cowboy Spaghetti is sure to satisfy your hunger and spice up your mealtime routine.


The adventure of creating Cowboy Spaghetti began on a chilly evening when the craving for something different from the usual pasta fare struck. Inspired by the bold flavors of the Southwest and the comforting familiarity of spaghetti, I decided to merge the two into a dish that was both familiar and excitingly new. The result was a deliciously hearty meal that warmed us from the inside out and brought a taste of cowboy culture to our dinner table.

This dish quickly became a favorite in our home, cherished for its ability to bring together diverse flavors in a comforting and satisfying way. It’s a reminder of the joy of culinary exploration and the endless possibilities that come from combining different culinary traditions to create something truly special.


Why You’ll Love Cowboy Spaghetti

  • Bold and Flavorful: Packed with smoky, spicy flavors that elevate the traditional spaghetti experience.
  • Hearty and Satisfying: A filling meal that combines pasta, meat, and cheese for a complete and comforting dish.
  • Versatile: Easy to customize with your favorite ingredients or adjust the spice level to suit your taste.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: Ideal for feeding a hungry crowd, pleasing both adults and kids alike.

Ingredients Notes For Cowboy Spaghetti

  • Ground Beef: The base of the sauce, providing richness and protein.
  • Bacon: Adds a smoky depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Jalapeños: Bring a spicy kick, which can be adjusted according to your heat preference.
  • Tomato Sauce: The foundation of the sauce, enriched with spices and seasonings.
  • Spices: A blend of chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika adds complexity to the sauce.
  • Cheddar Cheese: A sharp, melty topping that complements the spicy and smoky flavors.
  • Spaghetti: The classic pasta choice, but feel free to substitute with your preferred type.

Recipe Steps

  1. Cook the Bacon: Start by frying bacon pieces until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Brown the Beef: In the same pan, cook the ground beef, adding onions, garlic, and jalapeños until the meat is browned.
  3. Simmer the Sauce: Add the tomato sauce, cooked bacon, and spices to the pan. Let the sauce simmer to meld the flavors together.
  4. Boil the Pasta: Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente.
  5. Combine and Serve: Toss the cooked spaghetti with the sauce, top with shredded cheddar cheese, and serve hot.

Storage Options

  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Freeze the sauce separately from the pasta for longer storage. Thaw and reheat, then mix with freshly cooked pasta.


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How to Make Cowboy Spaghetti


  • Spaghetti: 1 lb (450g), cooked al dente according to package instructions
  • Bacon: 8 slices, chopped
  • Ground beef: 1 lb (450g)
  • Onion: 1 large, diced
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Green bell pepper: 1, diced (optional)
  • Canned diced tomatoes: 28 oz (with juice)
  • Tomato sauce: 15 oz
  • Barbecue sauce: 1/2 cup (choose your favorite brand for the best flavor)
  • Worcestershire sauce: 1 tablespoon
  • Red pepper flakes: 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper: to taste
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese: 1 cup
  • Sliced green onions: for garnish


  1. Cook the Bacon:
    • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Brown the Ground Beef:
    • Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef to the skillet with the bacon grease. Cook, breaking it apart with a spoon, until browned and no longer pink. Drain excess fat if necessary.
  3. Sauté the Vegetables:
    • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and diced green bell pepper (if using) to the skillet. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Sauces:
    • Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Combine with Spaghetti:
    • Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce, tossing to combine. Let it simmer for a few more minutes so the spaghetti absorbs some of the sauce flavors.
  6. Add Bacon and Cheese:
    • Stir in the cooked bacon. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the spaghetti and cover the skillet with a lid. Let it sit on low heat until the cheese is melted, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve:
    • Serve the Cowboy Spaghetti hot, garnished with sliced green onions on top.
  • Author: Maria

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