Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti is creamy with a melty cheese center, topped with meat sauce and extra bubbly cheese.

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.

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!

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

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!

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:

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!

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.

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!

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Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

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!
Yield 9 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Calcium: 233mg | Iron: 1.9mg
Keyword: Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

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 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 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 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!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. This was the best spaghetti I have ever made. The cream cheese is the key but I also chopped my onion and added bell pepper, cut finely. So good!!

  2. It’s true! It’s true! This recipe makes a FABULOUS baked spaghetti! Doesn’t look much different than others until you take a bite and taste that ooey, gooey cheese layer. Wow! It is just my husband and I who live in the house now, so I split the casserole into 3 smaller containers and froze two of them while baking the third, not realizing how delicious this is. We finished it in two meals! I don’t imagine the other two casseroles will remain frozen for long! Thank you so much for the recipe. You have a true believer!

  3. This is the best spaghetti ever! I have made it so many times I’ve lost count. My 96 year old Mother says it’s the best she’s ever eaten. I just made it again last night – 2 of us eat almost all of the 9 x13 pan, freeze what’s left & eat it again. Thank you so much for the recipe! P.S – I also make your homemade marinara sauce

  4. I bought all in ingredients and am so ready to make this for a potluck. If I take it to the point for baking in oven but want to refrigerate it for 6 hours prior to baking, how much longer over 30 minutes
    might I have to bake it? I am not a cook!

  5. It is just coming out of the oven and smells delish-I did some changes-used a large can of manwich and Michaels of Brooklyn spag sauce combined for the sauce. I also used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and three sweet sausages out of the skin cooked together with the onion, green pepper and garlic. I also used 12 oz of phili cream cheese mixed with sharp chedder cheese and sharp chedder on the top-cooked for 30 minutes and for the last ten minutes added pepperoni pieces on top and fresh basil and parsley. Awesome!!

  6. Fabulous! Found this recipe and made it for my family and they love it. I make it often for them. This definitely will be a keeper!

  7. I was in a rush and making 2 batches (one for us and one for a neighbor healing from surgery). I used an inexpensive store bought marinara and added a little Italian seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder to it for more flavor.
    We loved this. As did our neighbor! This is something I will make again and again. Can’t wait to try it with your marinara sauce recipe.

  8. Made this recipe the other night and it was amazing! What would you recommend as far as reheating it? I’d like to think that putting it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes would be fine but wanted your advice. Thanks!

  9. Can I make this without noodles? Does it need a binder like eggs, if I don’t use the noodles. I am keto and have gotten use to not eating the noodles.

    Thanks!

  10. Wonderful recipe. I did add 2/3 cup cottage cheese, Italian seasoning to cream cheese mix. Bake few extra minutes. Family loves it. Freezes well too.

  11. Could this be made in smaller portions say dividing it into meatloaf size tins to be baked for a couple instead of the large family meal and if so, how long would you cook this for?

    1. Yes it could, I would bake for 25-30 minutes, long enough for it to brown and cook the middle through until it’s hot.

  12. In search of spaghetti with a twist, I stumbled upon this recipe. I like it my husband loved it and kids were happy. I will definitely be making again. I did find it to needing a bit more sauce(preference). Happy cooking everyone.

  13. This is so delicous! I am wondering if it would work to do everything but bake it the night before and then put it in the oven right before dinner? Has anyone tried that?

    1. That’ll work! It may need to bake a little longer since it’ll be coming from the refrigerator. Just keep an eye on it.

  14. So I just made this today, after finding this recipe this morning… I added ground pork( same amount as beef), I like to mix pork with beef. Anyway did follow the rest of your recipe- made a double batch ( in freezer for later date)actually- REALLY REALLY good. Will be on my rotation.. thank you for sharing thia

    1. Thanks for the 5 stars, LaTina. Mixing the pork and beef adds such great flavor. Thanks for the suggestion.

  15. Would adding ricotta to this recipe be a waste, because there is cream cheese already in this recipe?( like half cream cheese half ricotta)? Trying to use ricotta up.

    1. You could use half cream cheese and half ricotta or all ricotta instead of the cream cheese, if you’d like. Either way would work!

  16. I’ve made this several times! It’s a hit! But I load it up with veggies and I always double the recipe and put one in the freezer for later or to give to a friend in need. I chop up tiny carrots, bell peppers and spinach with it. I also found about 1.3 lbs beef per pan is better, or I just don’t use as much pasta. Speaking of pasta, I use whole wheat spaghetti noodles and no one even notices cause there’s so much goodness going on. Thanks!

  17. Great recipe! I only cook for 2 of us, so I halved everything and baked it in a medium-sized casserole. Even with half a recipe, there was plenty for supper and lots of leftovers as well. Used the microwave to soften the cream cheese–it got super soft and was easy to combine with the shredded Italian cheese and dollop onto the first spaghetti layer. That cheese layer is what sets this recipe apart and earns it the Million Dollar title. I think next time, I’ll try garlic/herb or veggie cream cheese in a tub to mix with the mozzarella.

  18. How long do I bake for a double recipe? I didn’t see the sliding scale you mentioned in one of the previous comments. Thanks!

    1. It would depend on if you’re making two lasagnas at once or one very large lasagna. If it’s two at once, you may only need to add about 10 additional minutes just make sure they are side by side in the oven or if they are one top of each other on different racks, make sure to swap them half way to ensure they’re cooked through. Good luck! Oh and the slider tool will pop up when you hover over the serving size.

  19. I have made this two times and it always gets rave reviews. Help – I misplaced the marinara recipe and I see that there is no link for it in this recipe. It would be appreciated if you could link the two recipes, especially for people who are making it for the first time.

    Thanks Sabrina – you ROCK

  20. Love, love, love this dish! Made it several times and always serve it to company with a side salad. However, I struggle every time with the cream cheese & mozzarella mixture. So hard to mix and cannot be spread onto the spaghetti. I let it warm to room temp. Do you or anyone have an easier way to do this part?

    1. I just scoop some up and make dollops in the pan. No need to smear it around as it’ll melt once baked. There’s a video of it on our Facebook page that you can refer to. Hope this helps! So glad you love it.

      1. Hi! I just made this for the first time last night and it was a big hit!! The only thing that was weird is that the cream cheese mixture didn’t melt spread out; it kind of just melted where I “dolloped” it. Have any suggestions as to why that happened? Thank you!!

        1. Hi! I am not sure! Maybe try smaller dollops more spread out? I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as expected :/.

  21. Good recipe altogether. Only adjustments I would say is 1 lb of beef is not enough for a whole pound of spaghetti. I used 1 lb
    angel hair pasta, 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Italian sausage. I don’t think there would’ve been enough meat if you use only 1 lb compared to a whole pound of heavy pasta. Otherwise, you can keep the recipe the same and still get a great result! Also like to layer it, similar to a lasagna, rather than putting all the meat on top

    1. The marinara recipe yields 4 cups and you need 6 cups for this recipe so just increase it by half. Hope this helps!

  22. So, I put a few of my own twists on this and it turned out great! I used two cups of sauce to mix with the pasta instead of just one. I also jazzed up my meat sauce with some red wine, maple syrup and my secret ingredient fish sauce (don’t knock til you tried it lol)! The added some heavy whipping cream to the cream cheese mixture so it wasn’t quite so dry. And finally, I topped the casserole with a mixture of garlic herb butter, panko bread crumbs, minced Italian parsley and grated pecorino Romano cheese.

  23. Made it as per described in directions.
    First time doing a meal like this, but from responses it will not be the last.

  24. Made this last nite. Delicious!!! I used both ground beef and pork sausage. I no longer use the pre-shredded cheese in any flavor (cheddar, mozzarella, taco blend) because I’m not a fan of the preservatives they use to keep it from clumping. I had some BelGioioso Pre-Sliced Fresh Mozzarella and that makes pizza, lasagna and this dish so good. I just cut it into some chunks and mixed it in with the cream cheese. I’m anxious for the leftovers tonight with salad, rolls and a glass of wine!

    Thanks for sharing. I’m anxious to try more of your recipes. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  25. how to make this spaghetti for my Thanksgiving dinner with the cream cheese and sour cream in it and I’m just fascinated about it thank you

  26. This was absolutely delicious!!! My kids tore it up. I am making it again tonight for all their cousins!!!! Thank you for a great go to meal!!

    1. Love this recipe! We have made it several times. We found 1 lb of meat isn’t enough so we use 2. We also have some family members with gluten intolerance so we use gluten free pasta and you can’t even tell the difference. Our favorite is the brown rice/quinoa/corn blend from Ronzoni. One of my kids loves spaghetti but 2 others never have until my husband found this recipe!

  27. This was really good! I made the recipe exactly as written (ok, ok – except for the bits of cream cheese I couldn’t stop myself from eating before adding it in). Adding this to my list of future recipes!

  28. We tried this tonight and loved it. I think the cream cheese is a great idea and gives a super flavour. Thanks for another great meal.

  29. What would be a good substitute for cream cheese in this recipe? None of us are big fans of cream cheese, except maybe a smear on a bagel. Ricotta, cottage cheese, and marscapone are no-go’s as well. Thanks again! Dig your recipes!

    1. Hmm, I’d have to say sour cream. Be sure to do it in spoonfuls, don’t spread too thin. It should still be delicious! Thank you for the kind words about the recipes!

  30. Made this tonight but didn’t have enough mozz or any cream cheese, so used 4 oz goat chz with some mozz and mostly cheddar jack. Also forgot to add the salt/pepper. It was amazing! Served with hawaiian rolls/butter. Everyone is going for thirds….

        1. I’m so sorry I missed this comment. Yes, I’ve used cream cheese with this recipe and it’s been delicious!

  31. I really enjoyed this recipe! I had made baked spaghetti before, but couldn’t find the recipe and so I am glad I found yours. I wanted the recipe to include the cream cheese because it makes that cheese layer extra special! Thank you I always enjoy your recipes!!

  32. I don’t have any foil to cover the glass pan with. Would it work if I put a cookie sheet on top? I can’t get out to the store.

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