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Million Dollar Spaghetti is your new go-to pasta bake! It has creamy layers of pasta, cheese, and meat sauce all baked into a comforting spaghetti casserole for an easy dinner that everyone will love.
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Million Dollar Spaghetti Recipe
This baked spaghetti comes out irresistibly delicious. It’s a simple pasta casserole that brilliantly combines lasagna and spaghetti, and it’s family friendly and budget friendly.
The cream cheese adds a delicious flavor and when mixed with ricotta, brings just the right amount of creaminess. This combined with a meaty sauce and plenty of melted cheese on top makes this Million Dollar Spaghetti a total crowd-pleaser that really does taste like a million bucks!
How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti
See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
There are three steps of prep for the layers of this casserole. Ground beef, noodles, and cheese. Your sauce is another element, but that is combined with both the meat and noodles separately so it’s added in to both of those steps.
- Make the sauce. Start by sauteing onions, garlic, and ground beef in a large skillet or a large pot and once the beef is browned, drain it. I like to season the beef after it’s drained so you don’t lose all that great flavor. Then mix the beef with about 2/3 of the sauce. You can use a store bought jar of marinara, homemade marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce.
- Cook the noodles. While the meat is cooking, cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water. I boil it about 3 minutes less than the package directions for al dente. That way it’s easy to mix without having to worry about it getting overcooked as it bakes. Once it’s drained, mix the rest of the sauce with it.
- Make the cheese layer. In another bowl, mix together cream cheese and Ricotta cheese. Make sure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature so that it mixes evenly.
Now it’s time to assemble your Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole! There are five layers to this recipe.
- Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread half of the spaghetti noodles in an even layer.
- Spread the cheese mixture over the spaghetti.
- Top with an even layer of the remaining spaghetti.
- Top with the meat and sauce mixture.
- Then a ton of mozzarella cheese. I wrote this recipe so that the mozzarella cheese makes a nice, golden crust on top. If you’d prefer it to be more soft and stretchy you can always bake the spaghetti and then top it with mozzarella cheese 10 minutes before the cooking time is up.
- Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes and serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley or basil. Feel free to add some Parmesan cheese too if you like.
Meat: I used ground beef, but you can use ground Italian sausage, ground chicken, pork, or turkey. A combination of ground beef and ground pork, or ground beef and sausage would be great, too.
Cheese: Add some grated Parmesan to the top, or mix into the ricotta. In place of Ricotta, you could use cottage cheese. Cheddar cheese would be a great addition, mixed with the Mozzarella.
Pasta: Of course, spaghetti is the classic choice here, but a ziti, penne, or rigatoni would also work.
How to Serve
This spaghetti casserole will feed a lot of people, and you don’t need much else. I usually make some Homemade Garlic Breadsticks or Garlic Bread and Caesar Salad so we have all the basics for a great Italian dinner.
Make Ahead, Storage and Freezing Tips
Make Ahead: You can build the casserole up to 24 hours in advance. Let it cool then cover with foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter while the oven preheats.
Storage: Leftovers will be good for up to 3 days. Store, tightly covered, in the fridge and reheat portions in the microwave or the entire pan in the oven.
Freezer: Freezing this dish after it’s been baked is not recommended, however, this is a great make ahead recipe! Use a disposable foil pan and freeze the unbaked spaghetti casserole, tightly covered for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake as directed.
- Let the casserole sit and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. This gives the cheese and sauce time to set, plus it will be really hot if you eat it right away.
- Make a double batch and freeze one to have on hand for later.
- Sour cream can replace the cream cheese in a pinch, but I highly recommend the cream cheese.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
- One Pot Pizza Pasta
- Four Cheese Rigatoni
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Pumpkin Alfredo
- Baked Ravioli Casserole
- Italian Chicken Stew
- Pasta Al Forno
- Pasta Pomodoro
- Bangin’ Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely diced onions
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning divided
- 3 cups Marinara sauce divided
- 1 pound Spaghetti noodles
- Kosher salt to taste (for the pasta water)
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" pan and set aside.
- Add olive oil to a large pan or skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 more minute until fragrant. Add ground beef and saute, breaking up as you go,1 until browned.
- Drain beef and return to pan. Season with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and mix well with 2 cups marinara sauce and set aside.
- While the beef cooks, boil spaghetti in well salted water for 3 minutes less than the al dente time listed on the package.
- Drain and return to the pot and mix well to combine with 1 cup marinara sauce. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, ricotta cheese, garlic powder and remaining teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Mix well.
- Assemble the casserole: Place half the spaghetti in an even layer in the 9" x 13" pan. Evenly spread the cheese mixture over the top of the spaghetti. Place the remaining spaghetti in a single layer over the top of the cheese. Spread the beef and sauce mixture evenly over the top of the spaghetti. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. If you want it browner, broil for 2-3 minutes, but keep a close eye on it so the cheese doesn't burn. Serve immediately.