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Meet your new go-to pasta bake for a crowd: Million Dollar Spaghetti! Creamy, cheesy and full of great Italian flavor, this easy casserole dinner is a sure winner!
Million Dollar Spaghetti Recipe
If I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of a pasta purist. What I mean is that I grew up eating pasta with my Grandma’s sauce and that’s it. No Fettuccine Alfredo. No Penne Ala Vodka. Just pasta with a smooth red sauce and a meatball.
So the idea of adding something like cream cheese to pasta sort of horrified me at first – I’m pretty sure my Grandma is rolling over in her grave at the mere thought. But I try to keep an open mind, so I gave it a shot. As it turns out, this was a very good decision.
This baked spaghetti comes out irresistibly delicious. 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.
How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti
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.
- Start by sauteing onions, garlic, and ground beef 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 jarred marinara, homemade marinara or spaghetti sauce.
- While the meat is cooking, cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water. I boil it about 3 minutes less than the package time 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.
- In another bowl, mix together cream cheese and Ricotta. 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.
Top Tips and Tricks
- What kind of sauce is best to use? I like to use homemade marinara sauce, which I usually have in my freezer. You can also use your favorite jarred sauce.
- How long will it last? This 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.
- Can you freeze Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole? Freezing this dish after it’s been baked is not recommended, however, this a a great make ahead recipe! Use a disposable foil pan and freeze unbaked spaghetti casserole, tightly covered, until firm for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake as directed.
More delicious pasta recipes:
- One Pot Pizza Pasta
- Four Cheese Rigatoni
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Pumpkin Alfredo
- Baked Ravioli Casserole
- Linguine with Clam Sauce
- Italian Chicken Stew
- Italian Sausage Bake
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup finely diced onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
- 3 cups marinara sauce, divided
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 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 mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" pan and set aside.
- Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray 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 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.
- 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.