Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti is creamy with a melty cheese center, topped with meat sauce and extra bubbly cheese. Tastes like a cross between baked ziti and lasagna with half the effort!
Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti is a hit in our house every time we make it and it isn’t hard to see why. With melted cheese, cream cheese, meat and homemade marinara sauce, and perfect as a make ahead meal you can freeze, this dish is a perfect meal in a pan and even better served with a nice side salad.
It may seem like there is a lot of meat and cheese going on in this 9×13 pan, but we frequently get 12 portions out of the meal, 9 if we’ve got a lot of hungry people to serve. The flavors are rich enough that a smaller portion is enough to satisfy.
If you’re looking for alternative flavor ideas to the classic meat sauce here are some fun options we’ve gone with in the past:
- Chunks of cooked chicken with a creamy Alfredo sauce (optional you can also toss in frozen peas)
- Italian sausage instead of ground beef.
- Roasted vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and red onion in place of meat.
- Spinach, lemon juice and lemon zest with a creamy Alfredo sauce.
- Pepperoni, chopped bell peppers, onions and sliced olives in place of meat for a combination pizza flavor
I frequently make this Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti in a double quantity so I can have one tray to serve and one to freeze. For making ahead the only difference in the directions would be to follow all the steps until it says to put it in the oven. At that point, top with foil and freeze. To serve I highly recommend you remove from the freezer the day before you plan on serving so it can defrost in the fridge. If you don’t remember to remove it, you can expect your cook time to be about an hour long at least. But look at the beautiful tray of Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti you’ll be left with:
I usually let the Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti cool for about 5-10 minutes when it comes out of the oven. I find it is easier to cut into perfect squares using my favorite silicone spatula and in our house everyone is obsessed with the shape of it. I tried serving with tongs once and you would’ve thought I’d committed a crime. Can’t blame them though, it does look pretty cool cut neatly.
- 1 pound spaghetti, cooked two minutes shy of directions and drained
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste (I used ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper)
- 6 cups Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- parsley, chopped (optional as a garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large skillet add the beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper into the pan and cook on high.
- Once browned, turn off the heat, drain the liquid left in the pan and mix in one cup of the marinara sauce.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the remaining 5 cups of the marinara sauce and toss to combine.
- Mix the cream cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
- Add half the pasta/sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
- Add the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining pasta/sauce mixture.
- Add the meat sauce mixture on top of the pasta and top with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly