Million Dollar Spaghetti

Prep 40 mins
Cook 45 mins
Add'l 10 mins
Total 1 hr 35 mins
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Easy, budget-friendly Million Dollar Spaghetti features layers of tender pasta, savory meat sauce, and creamy cheese. Better than lasagna, it is easy to make and just as good reheated the next day.

Ultra-Cheesy Baked Spaghetti!

It doesn’t get better than this, you guys. If you thought you liked lasagna, or baked ziti, or any other cheesy pasta bake, well, this one tops them all! It’s just so luxurious – hence the name.

But don’t let the million dollar thing fool you. This dish only tastes like a million bucks. In reality, it’s a simple recipe that’s easy to put together, feeds an army, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. With a pound of pasta, a pound of sausage, and a couple of jars of sauce, you’ve got most of the dish already. The cheese layer is a simple mix of cream, cottage cheese, and shredded mozzarella. If that sounds easy, well, it is!

Make this one for a comforting, hearty weeknight dinner, a birthday meal, or an easy Sunday lunch you can cook on Saturday and reheat in the oven. No matter how you serve it, you’re sure to get rave reviews.

(Want more ideas for making plain spaghetti into something special? Try this Chicken Bacon Spaghetti, and this convenient Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese.)

From top: shredded mozzarella, pasta sauce, dry spaghetti, ground beef, an egg, cream, ground sausage, cream cheese, onion, cottage cheese, seasonings, garlic, butter.

The Ingredients

Lots to love here! This recipe is a combination of pasta, marinara sauce, sausage, beef, and plenty of cheese. Here’s the list, in detail:

  • Pasta: A regular (16-ounce) box of spaghetti noodles.
  • Butter: Cut the butter into slices for easy melting.
  • Sausage: Italian sausage, casing removed (if the sausage is link sausage; bulk Italian sausage will be sold like ground beef without any casings).
  • Ground Beef: You can use whatever kind you like. Lean ground beef does not need to be drained as much, but fattier ground beef tends to be more flavorful.
  • Onion and Garlic: Fresh is best, but garlic powder will do in a pinch.
  • Italian Seasoning: If you don’t have Italian seasoning, substitute dried oregano and basil, and throw in some parsley if you like. 
  • Marinara: Two standard (24-ounce) jars of your favorite marinara make this pasta nice and saucy.
  • Cottage Cheese: Ricotta cheese would also work.
  • Cream Cheese: This should be at room temperature for easy mixing.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Because delicious
  • Egg: One large, whole egg gives the cheese mixture some body and helps it stick together.
  • Mozzarella: Shredded mozzarella. You’ll need some for the cheese mixture, and more for a melty topping.
  • Parsley: This is optional, for garnish.
A table with a casserole dish and two dinner plates served with baked spaghetti.

What’s the Best Spaghetti Sauce to Use?

For this recipe, I like to stick with plain marinara sauce. There is already a lot of flavor from the garlic, sausage, Italian seasoning, and other ingredients, so using a sauce with “extras” like basil and garlic is not necessary. If you can, go with a marinara sauce that does not contain sugar – these often have the brightest, freshest flavor, which will help cut the richness of the meat and cheese.

Close-up shot of a square of million dollar spaghetti.

How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti

This dish is so simple to make, even a total beginner can easily master it. Here are the steps, with photos:

  • Make the Pasta: To start, cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions. Once they’re done, drain them and add the butter, tossing to melt and coat. Then add one jar of marinara sauce, and toss the pasta again to incorporate.
  • Make the Meat Sauce. While the pasta is cooking, set a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage, beef, onion, and garlic all together, breaking the beef and sausage up as you go, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the Italian seasoning and a jar of marinara sauce, stir, and remove from the heat.
  • Mix the Dairy Ingredients. Finally, combine the cottage cheese, cream cheese, cream, egg, and one cup of the mozzarella in a medium mixing bowl. Stir it all together.

Layer in Your Baking Dish. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray a large (9×13) pan with cooking spray. Place a couple of tablespoons of the meat sauce into the bottom of the pan, and spread it out. Layer the pasta over the meat. Top with more meat sauce, and then spread the cheese mixture over that.

  • Bake, Top with Cheese, and Bake Again. Place the casserole dish in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. At that point, take it out and top it with the remaining cheese. Place back in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes more.
  • Let Stand and Serve. Remove the million dollar spaghetti from the oven, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!

How Long Should Spaghetti Be Cooked?

In general, spaghetti should be cooked until the noodles are fully softened but still have a firmness to them when you bite. This is called “al dente,” which literally means “to the tooth.” You want to have something to chew, not just mush! 

In a baked pasta dish like this one, I recommend cooking the pasta according to the shortest time on the package instructions (for example: if the package says 10 – 12 minutes, cook it for 10). That way, when the pasta continues to cook in the oven, it will reach that “al dente” stage instead of overcooking and becoming mushy.

A casserole dish of baked spaghetti, with some of the casserole removed from the dish, revealing the layers.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

Million dollar spaghetti is an easy recipe, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hacks, customizations, and tips to share! Read on for my best insider info on this fun, cheesy dinner.

  • Layering: Have you ever read through the instructions for layering lasagna and felt… baffled? Not this time! With million dollar spaghetti, you can create lots of layers, or pile on just a few. This is for your family, do it however you like!
  • Adding the Cheese: While it might be tempting to go ahead and add the cheese before baking, my advice is: don’t. Adding the cheese after the spaghetti is hot and bubbly will ensure that the cheese doesn’t get too browned. We’re talking melty, stretchy perfection.
  • Pasta Shapes: Since this is spaghetti, we like to use spaghetti noodles, but you can use any kind of pasta you like. Thin spaghetti makes a more delicate dish, while medium pasta shapes like penne give it a bit more texture.
  • Protein Options: Sausage and beef is more flavorful, but also a little richer, than beef alone. You can use all beef instead of sausage and beef, if you prefer.
  • Melting the Mozzarella: If the cheese hasn’t browned quite enough by the end of the baking time, you can turn on the broiler and brown the cheese for a couple of minutes to get it just right.
A dinner plate of baked pasta with a fork lifting a bite toward the camera.

Serving Suggestions 

Serve this dish with all of your favorite sides you would normally make with spaghetti: think garlic bread, salad, and maybe a veggie such as green beans. Need recipes? I’ve got you covered!

  • Salad: A green salad can be as basic as mixed salad greens with a drizzle of oil and some salt and pepper – or as fun as this cute recipe for Caprese Stuffed Avocados. Healthy and irresistible.
  • Garlic Bread: The tangy goat cheese topping sets this Goat Cheese Garlic Bread apart in a class of its own. Your family will beg you to make this!
  • Green Beans: We love green beans around here, so this Sauteed Green Beans recipe makes a frequent appearance on our dinner table. It’s made with garlic, butter, and onions, for a flavor that won’t quit.
Million dollar spaghetti on dinner plates with a small plate of garlic bread.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Leftover million dollar spaghetti should be stored in your fridge, in an airtight container or covered tightly with plastic wrap. It will last for up to five days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F, or microwave just until piping hot all the way through.

Can You Freeze Spaghetti Bake?

Yes, you can freeze million dollar spaghetti for up to three months. Freeze the whole casserole, or freeze individual portions. Either way, wrap tightly to seal out air and keep things fresh. Reheat in the oven at 350°F until heated through.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

Yield: 8 Servings

Million Dollar Spaghetti

A casserole dish of baked spaghetti, with some of the casserole removed from the dish, revealing the layers.

Easy, budget-friendly Million Dollar Spaghetti features layers of tender pasta, savory meat sauce, and creamy cheese. Better than lasagna, it is easy to make and just as good reheated the next day.

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into slices
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, divided
  • 2 (24 ounce) jars marinara sauce
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  • Parsley, optional garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions, then drain and add the butter, tossing to coat. Stir in one jar of marinara sauce.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage, beef, onion and garlic until the meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning and one jar of marinara sauce, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, stir to combine the cottage cheese, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, egg and 1 cup of mozzarella.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Place a couple tablespoons of the meat sauce into the bottom of the pan, then layer the pasta over the meat. Top with more meat sauce, then spread the cottage cheese sauce mixture over the meat.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and top with remaining cheese. Place back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.
  8. If the cheese hasn’t browned enough, you can turn on the broiler and brown the cheese for a couple of minutes.
  9. Remove and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

Notes

    • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
    • You can do this in many layers, or in just a few. This is for your family, do it however you like!
    • Adding the rest of the mozzarella after the dish is hot and bubbly will ensure the cheese doesn’t get too browned.
    • We like to use spaghetti noodles, but you can use any kind of pasta you like.
    • You can use all beef instead of a combination of sausage and beef if you prefer.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 604Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 922mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 35g

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This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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