This million dollar spaghetti casserole is tender pasta tossed in a hearty meat sauce, then layered with four types of cheese and baked to golden brown perfection. A comfort food classic that’s perfect for feeding a crowd!
You can never go wrong with baked pasta, whether it’s stuffed shells, pasta al forno or this super cheesy million dollar spaghetti casserole.
Have you ever tried million dollar spaghetti? It’s a casserole with a hidden surprise of creamy cheese in the center. This recipe is always a hit with both the kids and adults in my family.
Why is it called million dollar spaghetti?
This dish is referred to as million dollar spaghetti because it’s rich, decadent and you feel like a million bucks when you eat it!
How do you make million dollar spaghetti casserole?
Start by making the meat sauce by browning ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic in a pan. Add a jar of marinara sauce and simmer until the sauce is thickened. Boil the pasta while the sauce is simmering. Next, make the cheese mixture to go in between the pasta layers. Stir together ricotta cheese, cream cheese, parmesan and seasonings. Toss the pasta with the meat sauce. To assemble the casserole, line the pan with pats of butter, then add half the pasta. Spread the cheese mixture over the pasta, then add the rest of the spaghetti on top. Add more pats of butter, then top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned, then add a sprinkle of parsley and serve.
Tips for the perfect dish
- I recommend using freshly shredded mozzarella for this dish. The bags of pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store often contain anti caking agents and preservatives and don’t melt as smoothly.
- Use your favorite marinara sauce for this recipe. I like Newman’s Own which has a nice balanced flavor.
- I typically use 90% lean ground beef – it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy. If you use beef with a higher fat content, be sure to drain off the excess grease after it’s cooked.
- The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. I like to make a double batch and freeze half for later use.
- This pasta dish stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and can be frozen for 2 months.
Million dollar spaghetti casserole flavor variations
This recipe is great as-is, but you can change up the ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Meat: Try using ground turkey, Italian turkey sausage or diced cooked chicken instead of ground beef and Italian sausage.
- Vegetables: Add sauteed vegetables to the sauce such as mushrooms, spinach,yellow squash, zucchini, kale or bell peppers.
- Cheese: Instead of mozzarella try another cheese that melts well such as shredded provolone or fontina.
- Topping: You can add a crispy topping to the dish by mixing breadcrumbs with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pasta before you put it in the oven.
What side dishes go with spaghetti?
Salads are a great accompaniment to million dollar spaghetti. They are a cool and crisp contrast to the rich and hearty pasta. I like to serve panzanella salad or a light and refreshing cucumber salad with spaghetti. I also like to have garlic or cheesy bread with spaghetti. Some of my favorites are garlic knots and cheesy pull apart bread.
Once you try this spaghetti casserole, you’ll find that it quickly becomes part of your regular dinner rotation. It’s just that good!
More pasta dishes to try
- Farfalle Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach
- Pasta Bolognese
- Baked Manicotti
- Pasta Carbonara
- Angel Hair Pasta with Herbs
Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole Video
Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole
For the sauce
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage casings removed
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce such as Newman's Own
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
For the cheese layer
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 16 ounces spaghetti cooked according to package directions
- 1/4 cup butter cut into thin slices
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.
For the sauce
- Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and Italian sausage to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the meat for 3 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon or spatula. Add the diced onion to the pan. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until meat is browned and cooked through and the onions are tender.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the marinara sauce and tomato sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
For the cheese layer
- Place the ricotta, cream cheese, parmesan, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Stir until well combined.
- Toss the cooked spaghetti with the sauce.
- Arrange half of the butter on the bottom of the dish, then place half the spaghetti on top.
- Spread the cheese layer on top of the pasta, then place the remaining half of the pasta on top.
- Arrange the remaining half of of the butter on top of the dish.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned.
- Sprinkle with parsley. Let stand for 5-7 minutes, then serve.
This was fantastic! Our family loved it. A very nice twist to lasagna!
Really good!! Whole family loved it delicious! I didn’t use the entire pack of spaghetti but most of it cuz we like our casseroles juicy! It may have been fine if I didn’t leave it out but not the less delicious!!
This looks amazing can you use all ground beef instead?
I brought this to a potluck lunch and wow did everyone love it and wanted the recipe!
I made a vegetarian version of this recipe. In the oven at the moment. The aroma is intoxicating, my daughter followed her nose down to the kitchen. About two minutes left and we’ll be enjoying some along side a slice of cornbread. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
In the oven right now, can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Will try for a luncheon with my friends. Sounds yummy
can this be made ahead and baked for a short time and then be frozen and cooked to desired time later?
Yes that should be fine!
Reminds me of lasagna but so much easier to make! Wonderful recipe!
It looks so good, reminds me of lasagna, haha. I can’t wait to give it a try sometime.
What a great and hearty spaghetti dinner! Absolutely perfect for colder days!
This dinner is a staple at our house! Thanks for the easy recipe
You named this right calling it million dollar spaghetti! I will be making this often!
Holy smokes! Now I see how the name of this recipe came to be! What a special treat this dish is, for sure!
This pasta looks amazing! A new favorite for our family!
Yummy! This looks fantastic and so delicious! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!
Oh, wow. This looks so comforting! Love that layer of cheese!
Yum! The sauce is phenomenal!
Get in my belly! This million dollar spaghetti is so good.