Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

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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!

Recipe

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Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

5 from 61 votes
  • Yield: 9 servings
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
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!

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 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/2 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

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet add the beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper into the pan and cook on high.
  3. Once browned, turn off the heat, drain the liquid left in the pan and mix in one cup of the marinara sauce.
  4. Add the cooked spaghetti to the remaining 5 cups of the marinara sauce and toss to combine.
  5. Mix the cream cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
  6. Add half the pasta/sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
  7. Add the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining pasta/sauce mixture.
  8. Add the meat sauce mixture on top of the pasta and top with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese.
  9. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

  10. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly

Nutrition Information

Yield: 9 servings, Amount per serving: 513 calories, Calories: 513g, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 351mg, Potassium: 311mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 590g, Calcium: 233g, Iron: 1.9g

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Keyword: Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti
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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.

See more posts by Sabrina

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. I made this recipe along with your ‘Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce’ and my family loved it! Simple and delicious! Will definitely make it again. Thank you for the recipe!

  2. I understand that you can freeze the unbaked pan, but I need to know if you can freeze leftovers is serving size portions? Thanks.

  3. I made this last night and it was wonderful. I followed the directions and didn’t change anything. I missed the cream cheese and mozzarella with my hand so it melted perfectly… Thanks Sabrina

  4. Hi! I’m making the now…can you substitute angel hair noodles for the spaghetti noodles? If so, how long should I cook the angel hair. It’s doesn’t take as long to cook as regular spaghetti noodles. Thank you!!!!

  5. Hi! The recipe was delicious! Was just curious if you have ever frozen it and if so how well it freezes. Thank you!!

  6. This recipe is FANTASTIC! Not only does my family love it but It’s a crowd favorite for game days or any occasion where I’m asked to bring a dish. Only 2 tiny changes I made: 1) made in slightly larger pan 2) sprinkled 2 cups (instead of 1) of shredded mozzarella on the top to make it extra cheesy.

  7. HI Sabrina–It looks like this one has a lower carb content—I have to be carb conscious because of the severity of my diabetes–I can eat a smaller portion and more salad—I will try this one first–thanks so much–

  8. This is delicious! Next time I’ll try to spread out the cream cheese mixture a bit more because some bites were too cheesy. Will make this again!

  9. Is it OK to use a marinara sauce from the grocery store instead of your recipe – I am lazy! If so, which one would you recommend?

  10. Me and my kids love this recipe but I mix the noodles, cream cheese, motz, and sauce all together with the noodles. Then you don’t get big chucks of cream cheese.

  11. Omg! So simple and delicious! As others stated, I was worried about the cream cheese, but it turned out to be among my favorite parts of this recipe! It added a creaminess and tang that elevated the flavor. Shared with my family and brought a 1/2 tray to my parents who loved it! Can’t imagine anyone not liking it. I used a premium jar marinara and put a little extra garlic in the meat but outside of that, followed the recipe to a tee. It was perfect and the leftovers kept getting better! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Truly worth a million bucks!!!

  12. Made this tonight & it was delicious! Followed recipe as written with the exception of adding mushrooms. Will definitely be making again. Thanks for sharing!

  13. What did we do wrong? We didn’t have a creamy center. I expected the cream cheese to melt, but it did not. Other than that we like the recipe.

    1. Oh no! You want to make sure that your cream cheese is softened enough before mixing it with the mozzarella. That’ll ensure that it will melt properly. Hope this helps for next time. Glad you still enjoyed it!

  14. This may be the absolute best meal I’ve ever made!! Thank you so much for this awesome recipe! I made it with Italian sausage & added some canned mushrooms. It was super simple to put together but tasted like I had toiled in the kitchen for hours! Thanks again for a true keeper! I can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow!!

    1. Next time, try making smaller dollops of cream cheese as the layer. Also, enusre that the cream cheese is softened before adding. Hope this helps!

  15. I’ve made this baked spaghetti several times since I found it online omg I can tell you it is beloved by many my family my coworkers especially, I usually make to big lasagna pans of it and freeze one (by the way this freezes very well mine has been in there for a over a month and it comes out after unthawing just as good as the day I baked it). This week for the company Italian themed pitch in I’m making 4 lasagna pans of it because everyone wants this. I can tell you add lib to the recipe by adding mushrooms, green peppers, and Italian sausage to the sauce and I use a few different kinds of cheese parmesan and mild cheddar. This is a robust meal I love it its heaven in a pan, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe you made so many happy!

  16. Just made this recipe for the first time and wow. Grandma likes it…hubby loves it and grandma devoured it. I love how the option of using parsley as a option for flavor really bring it to a mouth watering meal. The smell the colors the texture and the taste are amazing thank you so much. Definitely will make this recipe ahain.

  17. Can I substitute the cream cheese with cottage cheese? If so, How much cottage cheese would you recommend to mix in with mozzarella?

    1. I wouldn’t recommend cottage cheese. If you want to use something other than cream cheese, I would recommend ricotta cheese as a better substitute. Hope this helps!

  18. Trying this tonight! Didn’t have enough spaghetti noodles so substituted for campenelle and penne…had partial boxes of both. Added some shredded parmesan cheese to the mozzarella as well as an egg…like in a lot of lasagna recipes. Turned out fantastic! Really love the addition of cream cheese…might have to add that to my actual lasagna!

  19. My family absolutely loved this! This will become a regular staple as our meal rotation! I made the homemade marinara with it and I think that and the cream cheese is what made this recipe so good!

  20. I tried this recipe for my Italian themed Christmas dinner – it was soooo wonderful!!! It is very hearty!! Since my guys are huge meat-eaters, I did use 2 pounds of ground beef instead of one and a 6 ounce pack of sliced pepperoni. Spaghetti has never tasted so good!! Thank you so much!!

  21. I made this for the first time for an Italian themed party. It was really good. My family that likes my regular spaghetti said it was great and I should make it more often. I followed the directions exactly as stated. Thanks a million!

  22. Made this for a fellowship at church and nothing was left over. Very delicious! I used Italian cheese blend and Parmesan cheese mixed together for topping. Broiled for a few minutes before pulling out of oven. Will be making again.

  23. This dish is amazing! I have made it so many times and every time it is delicious and full proof. I use jarred sauce, and always split it between two pans and freeze one. I have served this for dinner parties and people just love it! Thank you 🙂

  24. Hello! I want to make this for Christmas to have as a side dish. We’re eating around 2pm so I’d like to make ahead the night before. Should I make and freeze it or can I pre make it and put in the fridge until the next day and if so, how long should it bake for?

    1. You can put it in the refrigerator and then bake the next day. It might only take 15 minutes longer baking coming straight from the fridge. Enjoy!

  25. I use Paul Newman’s Marin ara Sauce for a fasre, easier recipe. I get in and out of the kitchen as fast as I can as a senior caring for a parent with dementi a, and having guardianship of 8 month old and 2 1/2 year old grandsons. Anything that is fast and has some nutritional value works for me!!!!

    1. YES, we keep his pasta sauce on hand too for quick and easy meals when we aren’t cooking from scratch. We love the taste and the ethics behind the company. I’m also with you about fast and nutritional, and you certainly have your hands full, that is definitely a houseful. Good for you for cooking at home, that is a serious commitment to make to your family’s health. <3

        1. Denise, 100 pct of proceeds from all of Paul Newman’s products go to charities. His salad dressings are foosntoo!