Need a proven crowd-pleaser? Make this Million Dollar Spaghetti recipe! This meaty, cheesy Italian pasta casserole is so easy and delicious your family will be fighting for seconds!
Million Dollar Spaghetti
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Real talk: I'm kind of a pasta purist. 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 meatballs (and pork!).
So the idea of adding something like cream cheese to pasta sort of horrified me at first - I'm pretty sure my Grandma Rosie 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 dish a total crowd-pleaser.
Tips for making this Million Dollar Spaghetti Recipe
- There are three components to prep 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.
- Be sure to drain the beef once it's browned so the whole dish isn't extra greasy.
- I like to season the beef after it's drained so you don't lose all that great flavor.
- Make sure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature so that it mixes evenly.
- When I assemble this, I place ½ the spaghetti sauce at the bottom of the pan, then layer the cream cheese mixture in, followed by the remaining pasta and top it with the meat and sauce mixture and 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.
What kind of sauce is best to use?
I like to make my own marinara sauce for this (it's crazy easy and freezes really well so I usually make a big batch to freeze) but like my gal Ina says, "store bought is fine!"
Can you make Million Dollar Spaghetti ahead?
Totally- I'd assemble it right up until baking. Cover and refrigerate and when you're ready to bake, bring it to room temperature and bake as per the recipe directions.
How long does this baked spaghetti recipe last?
Around 3-4 days covered in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze Million Dollar Spaghetti?
Yes. Much like the making ahead option I mentioned earlier, assemble it right up until baking. Cover and refrigerate and when you're ready to bake, thaw and bring it to room temperature and bake as per the recipe directions.
Ingredients for making Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti
- Ground beef
- Italian seasoning
- Marinara sauce
- Kosher salt
- Cream cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Garlic powder
- Mozzarella cheese
Ingredients to prep ahead:
- Dice onion
- Peel garlic
- Make marinara sauce
- Shred mozzarella cheese
- Large saute pan
- Wooden spoon
- Chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Large pot
- 9" x 13" pan
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Cooking spray
- ½ 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.
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