Here’s How To Make That Spaghetti From Hulu’s ‘The Bear’

OK, yes, it’s cooked by an “award-winning chef” on the show — but in real life, it couldn’t be easier to make.

If you, like me, recently binged The Bear on Hulu so damn fast your head is still spinning, I’m willing to bet you’re one of these three things: exhausted (Episode 7, am I right?!), fulfilled as all hell, or hungry. For me, it’s definitely that last one — or honestly, a bit of all three — and I can’t imagine I’m alone.


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For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to watch yet: I can keep this 100% spoiler-free while still teasing all the unbelievably delicious food featured on the show, so don’t worry. I won’t ruin it for you. (But seriously, go watch it.)

Over the course of eight quick episodes, Chef Carmy (played by Shameless‘s Jeremy Allen White) and his kitchen staff whip up some food that I’d easily place into the category of “Would Die to Eat.” Of course, there are the plentiful Italian beef sandwiches dripping in savory jus, and then there are Sydney’s Coke-braised short ribs that literally live rent-free in my brain. Heck, I’d even devour a plate of those herb-infused mashed potatoes from Tina!


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The chefs of The Original Beef of Chicagoland know how to throw down in the kitchen…but there’s one dish that I’ve been thinking about ever since the final moments ofEepisode 8: the spaghetti.

Some context is necessary here, but again, no real spoilers. Let’s just say the dish itself ends up becoming one of the most important plot points of the season. (If you know, you know.) When Carmy first starts running his late brother’s restaurant, he flat-out refuses to serve his “underseasoned, oversauced mess” of a spaghetti dish — even though it was apparently a top seller.

Eight episodes later, Carmy, well, “stumbles upon” his brother’s written recipe for the spaghetti and decides to cook and serve it for his staff’s family meal — albeit with some liberties taken. (To be clear: When I say “recipe,” I basically just mean a list of three ingredients.)


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Unsurprisingly, it’s a hit amongst the members of the kitchen. It’s so good, in fact, that it even gives Carmy a vision of his deceased brother! The power of food, folks!

I thought to myself, If that pasta is delicious enough to make someone see dead people, it’s gotta be next-level. So, yep, I decided to recreate it at home…and I’m very, very glad I did. Now that I’ve tried it, I can confidently say it’s my new go-to marinara sauce.

To come up with a recipe that was more than just three ingredients [lovingly] scribbled on an index card, I basically watched the scene in which he makes it a zillion-and-five times. While a few elements are filmed, most of the spaghetti-making actually happens off camera — so I donned my recipe developer hat to fill in the many, many blanks.


Ross Yoder

Now, I have a vague theory: As a result of two of the techniques used in Carmy’s preparation (steeping basil in olive oil and simmering the sauce with a halved tomato), it feels like this recipe is inspired by two pretty iconic tomato sauces — Scarpetta’s Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil, and Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, respectively. I could be wrong! But the inspiration here feels…very intentional. 🤷

Here’s what I came up with. First, the ingredients.


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In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll also need a few pantry staples: 1 pound of spaghetti (of course), salt, neutral oil (like canola), and some Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired.

The canned San Marzano tomatoes themselves are also pretty darn ~key~ to The Bear‘s plot — again, IYKYK — but if you can’t find ’em or don’t want to splurge on the imported stuff, use whatever canned tomatoes you can find. The results will be just as delicious.

STEP #1: Make your basil- and garlic-infused oil.


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Combine the 1/2 cup of olive oil, 5 smashed and peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and your handful of fresh basil (stems and all!) in a small saucepan.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Once the mixture comes up to a boil, let it simmer for 1–2 minutes or until the basil is wilted. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep while you start the sauce.

You’ll want your basil and garlic oil to look like this before you take it off the heat.

STEP #2: Brown your butter and sear the onion.


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Slice your onion in half through the root and peel off the papery skins. Leave the halved roots intact, since you’ll be fishing the onion halves out of the sauce a little bit later. (This is a classic and much-beloved Marcella Hazan technique — using a halved onion allows it to effuse its flavors throughout the sauce gently, so the tomatoes still shine as the #1 ingredient.)

Add a half stick of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon of neutral oil to a large pot. A dutch oven is preferable here, but any pot with a heavy bottom (that’ll hold a big ol’ can of tomatoes) will work just fine. Place over medium-high heat.

Once the butter is melted and just beginning to brown, place the onion halves into the pot, cut-side down. Carmy doesn’t appear to brown his butter, but I think it adds a special something to the dish…so, sorry, Carm! Let the onions sear for 2–3 minutes, or until the cut sides start to turn golden brown.

(How golden brown? This golden brown.)

STEP #3: Start your tomato sauce.


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Carefully add your canned tomatoes to the butter and oil. Trust me, you don’t want a shirt full of tomato sauce if the ingredients start to splatter, so stand back!

Use a wooden spoon (or even a potato masher) to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces. If you’re using tomatoes that are already crushed, skip this step.

Once the tomato sauce is boiling, turn the heat to low. Season to taste with salt, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 20–25 minutes.

STEP #4: Purée the basil oil.


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I’ll admit that this is the biggest liberty I’m taking with this recipe, but I think it’s an important one. Scarpetta’s tomato sauce recipe implements this basil-garlic oil, too, but the aromatics only steep in the oil briefly before they’re strained out. For maximum flavor (and minimal food waste), I choose to keep the aromatics in, and I think it makes a major difference in the end result.

Once the oil mixture has cooled — warm is OK, just make sure it’s not piping hot — pour it into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 20–30 seconds or until the basil and garlic are chopped into tiny pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince the basil and garlic by hand and then return to the oil.

In terms of texture, you’ll want the mixture to look something like this once it’s processed.


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There’s no need to get the ingredients as tiny and homogenous as you normally would for, say, a basil pesto, but make sure they’re chopped finely enough to combine nicely with the tomato sauce.

STEP #5: Last step, y’all! Combine the basil oil mixture with the sauce for the final 10 minutes of cook time.


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Add the processed basil oil to the simmering tomato sauce, and stir until thoroughly combined. Now’s a great time to taste and season with additional salt, as needed. Not all canned tomatoes taste the same, so if your sauce tastes a little too acidic, you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to raise the pH a bit and cut some of that bite.

Let the sauce continue to simmer, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Once it’s thickened to your liking, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

To serve, toss 1 pound of al dente spaghetti into the pot and thoroughly coat with the sauce. As with most pasta dishes, I’d highly recommend reserving a 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce — it helps distribute the sauce more evenly, and the starch ultimately makes the sauce thicker.

A generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few spare leaves of basil reaaaally take things up a notch, IMO, but don’t stress if you don’t have ’em.

It’s good. REALLY, really good. Like, “new favorite pasta” good. I now fully understand the beaming smiles of everyone in Carmy’s kitchen as they devoured that dish…because that was very much me as I took my first bite.


Ross Yoder / Hulu

The star of the show is definitely the basil in both its forms. The finely chopped basil and garlic practically melt into the sauce and deliver some serious freshness, and the basil-y goodness that’s steeped into the oil adds the perfect amount of velvety richness to every bite.

And don’t sleep on that browned butter, either. It’s a small step, sure, but taking that butter just a shade darker than you normally would lends a lovely nuttiness to the dish. With a pasta sauce as punchy and acidic as a tomato-based one, that extra hit of fat helps to balance everything out…so its importance really can’t be overstated.

If you get a chance to try this recipe for yourself, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below! ⬇️

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