Easy and 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.
Why You’ll Love This Million Dollar Spaghetti Recipe
It doesn’t get better than this! 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. Here are just a few reasons you’ll love it as much as we do:
- Super Simple: Don’t let the recipe name fool you… This dish is really easy to make – it only tastes like a million bucks!
- Feeds a Crowd: If you’re looking for a dish to feed a large family, party, or potluck dinner, you’re in luck. with a pound of pasta, a pound of sausage, and a couple jars of marinara sauce, you’ll have enough million dollar spaghetti to feed an army!
- It’s All About Those Layers: The massive depth of flavor in this dish comes from the purposeful layering of meats, sauce and lots of cheese. It’s really similar in concept to lasagna, but so much easier to make.
- Good For Any Occassion: 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 turning simple pasta into something special and memorable? Try our taco mac and cheese or our Tex-Mex inspired chicken enchilada bake. Have a craving for something even creamier and cheesier? You’ll love our chicken alfredo bake recipe!
What You’ll Need
Lots to love here! This recipe is a combination of pasta, marinara sauce, meats, and plenty of cheese. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact amounts.
- Pasta: A regular (16-ounce) box of spaghetti noodles.
- Meat: We used Italian sausage with the casing removed and ground beef. We tend to prefer a fattier ground beef since it’s so 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: We love using our homemade marinara for this dish, but you can also grab any favorite brand of your choice.
- Cheese: Grab some cottage cheese (or ricotta), cream cheese, and fresh mozzarella.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Because delicious.
- Parsley: This is optional, for garnish.
How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti
Million dollar baked spaghetti is so simple to make, even a total beginner can easily master it. Check out the recipe card for detailed instructions.
- 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: 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. Trust us, this step is worth it!
- Let Stand and Serve: Remove the million dollar spaghetti casserole from the oven, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!
Tips for Best Results
Million dollar spaghetti casserole 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 it 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.
What to Serve With Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole
Serve million dollar baked spaghetti with all of your favorite sides you would normally make with pasta! Think garlic bread, salad, and maybe a veggie such as green beans. Need recipes? We’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. Totally 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.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
If you love leftovers, you’ll love how well million dollar baked spaghetti holds up in the fridge and freezer!
- Refrigerate: Cover leftovers tightly with plastic wrap if you’re keeping them in the baking dish. Or, place leftovers in an airtight container. Either way, they’ll be good in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Reheat in the oven at 350°F, or microwave just until piping hot all the way through.
- Freeze: You can freeze million dollar baked spaghetti for up to three months. Freeze the whole casserole or individual portions as you like. Either way, wrap tightly in a freezer safe container to seal out air and keep things fresh. Reheat in the oven at 350°F until heated through.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this recipe, we 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.
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, we 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.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
- Loaded Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Best Shrimp Alfredo
- Chicken Bacon Spaghetti
- Easy Taco Pasta
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Best Alfredo Sauce
- Pasta Primavera
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- 16 oz spaghetti noodles
- ¼ cup butter, cut into slices
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, divided
- 2 24 ounce jars marinara sauce or homemade marinara
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 block, 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- Parsley, optional garnish
- Cook the noodles according to package directions, then drain and add the butter, tossing to coat. Stir in one jar of marinara sauce.
- 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.
- Add the Italian seasoning and one jar of marinara sauce, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir to combine the cottage cheese, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, egg and 1 cup of mozzarella.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- If the cheese hasn’t browned enough, you can turn on the broiler and brown the cheese for a couple of minutes.
- Remove and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!
- 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.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.