Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole

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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.

million dollar spaghetti casserole in a white dish

Here’s another great pasta recipe to add to your favorite meals, like Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta, Lemon Butter Pasta, and Crispy Chicken Carbonara.

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!

spooning a serving of spaghetti casserole with cheese pull

How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti

Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
ingredients for spaghetti casserole
cooked ground beef mixed with spaghetti sauce
spaghetti in a saucepan with sauce
cheese and seasoning mixture for spaghetti casserole
cheese mixture for layer of million dollar spaghetti

Assembly

Now it’s time to assemble your Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole! There are five layers to this recipe.

  1. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread half of the spaghetti noodles in an even layer.
  2. Spread the cheese mixture over the spaghetti.
  3. Top with an even layer of the remaining spaghetti.
  4. Top with the meat and sauce mixture.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
collage of images showing layers of spaghetti casserole

Variations

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.

million dollar spaghetti casserole in a bowl with a fork

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.
A close of image of the inside of this million dollar spaghetti recipe in the pan.

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Million Dollar Spaghetti

4.77 from 89 votes
Million Dollar Spaghetti is your new go-to pasta bake! Creamy layers of pasta, cheese and meat sauce all baked into a comforting casserole.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 380kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

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 a a great make ahead recipe! Use a disposable foil pan and freeze unbaked spaghetti casserole, tightly covered for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake as directed.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 22gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 512mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 742IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 183mgIron: 2mg

Jessy

Jessy is a busy mom and wife. She blogs over at The Life Jolie, a place to talk about all things delicious, family-related and pretty.

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Comments

    1. I’d guess the marinara sauce you used was terrible because there is a lot of flavored added to this recipe.

  1. I think it’s good and is a fun recipe. I would have given 5 stars but, it didn’t really have that wow effect. When using 1 lb of noodles to me there just was not enough flavor. I would add more onion and garlic to the meat, I would also add some onion powder, garlic powder and, oregano. I would add more sauce to the noodles and season that as well. I think the Ricotta was good for adding creaminess but, it took away that pop of flavor that should have come through with the cream cheese so, for me I would either eliminate the ricotta and use 16 oz of cream cheese instead or I would add more cream cheese.

  2. I just discovered your web site and I am so thankful. Your recipes sound so delicious and not complicated to prepare. Thank you.

  3. It was good! I just had a hard time spreading the ricotta and cream cheese so it clumbed together and was a little too creamy! But good overall! I would make adjustments for next time

  4. I made this last night. I was the best meal I’ve had in a while. My husband LOVED it. As mentioned in other reviews, I doubled the marinara sauce, added a bit more seasonings. Thank you.!

  5. This was SOOOOO good!!! I subbed out the cream cheese and ricotta for dairy free versions and used shredded goat cheese instead of the mozzarella for my dairy intolerant family. It was a hit!!!

    1. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Cover with foil and heat at 350 in the oven just until warmed through.

  6. This meal was good overall. It reminded me and my boyfriend of a simplified lasagna. I did think this recipe was a little bland/dry. could have used some more sauce in between layers. We will do this next time!

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