Better Canned Pasta? Chef Boyardee vs. SpaghettiOs

Chef Boyardee Vs. SpaghettiOs

You don’t always have time to cook up a delicious dinner from scratch. Sometimes, all your schedule allows you is the ability to open up a can and heat up the contents in a microwave. That’s the beauty of Chef Boyardee and Campbell’s SpaghettiOs. Since the 1920’s, Boyardee has filled stomachs hundreds of millions of times over, with SpaghettiOs following suit since 1965. Whether you’re a young child learning to “cook” for yourself, a busy adult on the go, or a broke college student who simply can’t afford much else, cheap canned pasta is a timeless American institution.

You would be forgiven for thinking the two are exactly the same, and even for thinking that they’re created by the same company. Not only are they not, but there are shockingly many differences between the two products. Read all about them below, and then decide for yourself if Beefaroni is your thing, or if you’re actually a Spaghetti-O’s person.


Chef Boyardee



Chef Boyardee is not one kind of pasta; there are many different varieties to choose from, from ravioli to lasagna spaghetti to Beefaroni to pizza. According to the official site, there are 59 Boyardee products currently available, and probably more in the works. It’s proof that, just because you’re eating cheaply, doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing every time.

Perhaps you didn’t know, but Chef Boyardee was a real person. Hector Boiardi was an authentic Italian chef, and he founded the Chef Boyardee company in the 1920’s, alongside his brothers. The majority of today’s Boyardee products are based off his original recipes, so you can eat them knowing that, even when processed and in a can, you are in fact eating legitimate food.

The pasta itself is typically very filling, especially the beef-and-meatball varieties. It’s not just thin noodles and sauce, and it’s a perfect way to fill an adult-sized stomach on the cheap.




If your goal is staying healthy, then SpaghettiOs are actually much healthier than Chef Boyardee. A typical serving ranges from 180-240 calories, with anywhere from 9-72 calories coming from fat. There’s less sodium in most cases, and far less fat almost across the board.

When SpaghettiOs debuted in 1965, part of the marketing campaign was that the tiny, ring-shaped noodles were “less messy.” This was, and is, music to the ears of any parent who constantly has to clean up after their children. SpaghettiOs contains no big chunks of meat or pasta, no long noodles, and no large dollops of sauce that inevitably get stains all over the place.

Of the two, SpaghettiOs are best for young children, due mainly to the kid-size O’s and thinner pasta. It’s pretty much a perfect sized meal for tiny tummies, and your child can eat a whole can without you worrying about them filling up too fast and possibly getting sick from overeating.


Almost across the board, Chef Boyardee products are less healthy than SpaghettiOs. A typical can of Boyardee contains more sodium and more fat, and the calorie count ranges from 210-280 per serving, with 80-90 of those calories coming from fat. To be fair, there are a few low-calorie, low-fat choices, but 99% of what Chef Boyardee offers is not good for you at all, even by the standards of processed pasta in a can.

The many varieties of Boyardee, for the most part, all taste the same. For the most part, they’re all variations of the same pasta-meat-cheese-sauce flavor combination, over and over again. In many ways, it makes the many different products pointless, and almost insulting to the memory of the real-life Chef Boiardi.

A can of Boyardee can actually be TOO filling, at least for a child’s stomach. In all honesty, kids eat just as much of these products as adults do, perhaps moreso, and a lot of said products, such as oversized Beefaroni or stuffed Ravioli, is too much for them. Even regular spaghetti might be too much in many cases, especially with Chef Boyardee’s thick sauce.


Whereas Chef Boyardee has dozens of varieties to choose from, SpaghettiOs are pretty much on their own. There are only a few varieties to choose from, and they are all SpaghettiOs with something else (meatballs, franks, etc.) Unless you eat simply to fuel up, eating SpaghettiOs could very quickly become dull and uninteresting.

The product may be good for children, but it’s useless for an adult-sized appetite. Even the meatball varieties are thin and largely unfilling, due to the miniscule pasta-and-sauce amounts in each can. You could easily find yourself eating two cans of SpaghettiOs, which would negate any health benefits that it may have over Chef Boyardee.

Finally, the safety of the SpaghettiOs product has been placed into question. In 2010, millions upon millions of cans of SpaghettiOs With Meatballs were recalled due to being under-processed and undercooked. Many of the recalled cans had already been purchased and eaten. Luckily, nobody became seriously ill as a result, but such a scare might make you want to think twice before giving your money to the SpaghettiOs brand.

And Finally…

As you can see, one can of processed, microwavable pasta is not necessarily the same as the another. Chef Boyardee and SpaghettiOs are drastically different, in many categories; about the only thing they have in common is they’re both pasta, and they’re cheap.

Otherwise, you have drastic differences in variety, taste, texture, nutrition, and history. If you’re counting calories, SpaghettiOs are surprisingly the way to go, though don’t expect them to fill you up like Chef Boyardee Ravioli might. If calories and fat are not an issue for you, Boyardee’s products tend to have more variety and are more filling. Plus, they’re based on actual recipes by an actual chef, as opposed to SpaghettiOs being created because a company decided that ring-shaped spaghetti would make less of a mess during dinner time.

Let us know where your taste buds’ affections lie, with your vote and accompanying comment.


1 Comment

  1. tom July 5, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Quite frankly, the best canned pasta is no longer available-“Franco American Spaghetti With Meatballs”-the sauce was thicker-certainly not soupy like Chef Boyardee-plus the Chef Boyardee brand has too much sauce-the spaghetti is literally swimming in it. Not only that but today’s serving is far less in amount than in the 60s-80s. Wish they would bring back the Franco American-but with tomato sauce not the inferior cheese sauce-yes there IS a difference not only in taste but texture.