This Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole is super easy to put together and has a center layer of creamy, gooey cheese. This is one of my favorite ways to serve spaghetti and people just can’t get enough of it!
When I think of family dishes, I think of casseroles. Big, hearty casseroles are perfect for feeding a whole hungry horde—which is basically what a family is anyway. When you’ve got a ravenous family to feed, breaking out an old classic might be the only way to go. My go-to family casserole is a great recipe for Million Dollar Spaghetti.
If you’ve never had Million Dollar Spaghetti before, you simply must give this recipe a try. Imagine an easy combination of baked spaghetti and lasagna. Sounds good, right? This million dollar spaghetti is always a crowd pleaser, and I’ve found it especially useful for potlucks or large family gatherings.
A quick scan through the list will reveal that cottage cheese is used as one of the ingredients. I find that many people haven’t ever used cottage cheese in their cooking, and they think that using it will give their final dishes a cottage-cheese taste. That isn’t the case.
In fact, frankly, I’m really not all that fond of plain, cold cottage cheese. The taste….the texture…..not really my thing! But as an ingredient, mixed with other cheeses, then baked in a casserole it’s seriously incredible! It gives the whole dish a great creaminess. Not to mention that it’s a wonderful source of protein! You’ll notice that you can also use ricotta cheese, and I discuss that further in the recipe notes below.
I love that this recipe is budget friendly. It yields a lot of casserole—enough to feed 6-8 people. And the ingredients aren’t fancy or complicated or expensive. That’s one of the beauties of a casserole: simplicity in ingredients, and yet still achieving bold, fantastic flavor that believe me, your whole family will be begging you to make again and again.
And the leftovers… well, they’re awesome. Just awesome. Casseroles are known for reheating well, and this one is no exception. The pasta gets a little softer when you reheat it, but the flavor is still tremendous. I love serving those leftovers as an easy lunch.
And you’ll find with this million dollar spaghetti recipe, calories don’t have to be a huge concern because the dish is so filling. A medium sized slice will fill you up no question.
In comparison of recipes, I’ll say that with million dollar spaghetti casserole, Facebook is a place where lots of people find the recipe. There are a few of those little cooking videos going around for this recipe. I’ve watched some of them, and haven’t found that the recipes shown come close to this one. Honesly, this recipe is just slightly different than a lot of the recipes out there. But it’s those small tweeks and little extras in this recipe that add a huge amount of flavor without requiring much extra effort!
This ooey gooey casserole is a rich, hearty comfort food. I love serving it to new moms, sick friends, or as a thank-you to anyone and everyone. It’s popular and delicious. I hope you give it a try for yourself!
Cheese: My recipe here calls for you to make this delicious, family-style pasta with cottage cheese as one of the main ingredients. However, you can absolutely make million dollar spaghetti without cottage cheese. Now, I love the cottage cheese in this dish. I think it really contributes to the unique taste and creaminess of the final casserole. (If you look up million dollar spaghetti, Betty Crocker uses cottage cheese!) But, as I said earlier, if you’re adamant about serving baked spaghetti without cottage cheese, you can substitute in ricotta cheese. Use the same amount as the cottage cheese.
As is traditional with pasta dishes, a healthy sprinkling of parmesan cheese is a great final touch to this dish. Some families have a big parmesan cheese shaker in the middle of their table, which allows everyone to pick how much they want.
Pasta: Spaghetti noodles aren’t the only kind of pasta that can go into this dish. It works pretty darn well with a bunch of other shapes of pasta. My favorites with this dish are ziti or rigatoni.
Meat: I use Italian sausage in my recipe, and man, is it good. The extra flavor added by that sausage is simply outstanding, and really makes this recipe a true crowd pleaser. If you or your audience are not particularly fond of sausage, you can absolutely use ground beef instead, but I don’t think the final flavor is as robust.
Baking and Serving: Million dollar spaghetti is a fantastic combination of spaghetti and Italian sausage and cheese and a whole host of other goodness. As you might expect from the ingredients list and type of dish, garlic bread and salad are a fantastic first course for this dish. Unless I’m really in a rush, I try to always throw in a few slices of garlic bread and whip up a quick salad to accompany this dish.
One of the things that is great about this dish is that you can make it ahead of time. It’s a great dish to prep the day before or early on the day of serving. Just assemble the dish, and refrigerate. A covered pan of million dollar spaghetti can last 24 hours without drying out. Just before dinner you can pull the dish out of the fridge and bake. I would strongly recommend that you let the pasta sit out on the counter for 30 minutes or so after pulling it out of the fridge. Do not put a cold glass or ceramic baking dish in a hot oven or it might break. I usually pull the pasta out and sit it on the counter while I fix the garlic bread and salad.
If necessary, you can use two 8×8 baking pans. Sometimes I’ll bake one small pan and freeze the other for a later meal.
After baking, this casserole needs to sit for a little bit before cutting. I usually give it 10 full minutes of cooling before I dig into it with a knife or spatula.
Freezing: You can absolutely freeze million dollar spaghetti. In fact, I find it to be one of my favorite make-ahead-then-freeze dishes. Here are the freezing/thawing instructions:
- Assemble the recipe through step 5.
- Wrap the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap first, then aluminum foil. (Remember, plastic wrap sticks best to itself. Start with a long piece of plastic wrap that goes all the way around the baking dish.)
- Thaw the casserole overnight in the fridge.
- Bake it!
- Enjoy J
Source: Gonna Want Seconds–Originally Posted on Spend with Pennies
- Yield: Serves 6
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Dried Spaghetti Noodles - 16 Ounces
- Yellow Onion, Chopped - 1 Cup (1 Medium)
- Garlic, Minced - 4 Cloves
- Sweet Italian Sausage, Casing Removed - 1 1/2 Pounds
- Spaghetti Sauce-Divided - 2--24 Ounce Jars
- Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese - 8 Ounces
- Cream Cheese - 8 Ounces
- Sour Cream - 1/4 Cup
- Dried Italian Seasoning - 3 Teaspoons
- Mozzarella, Shredded-Divided - 3 Cups
- Butter, Cut Into Slices-Divided - 1/2 Cup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water, with 1 Tablespoon of salt, to a boil. Cook pasta according to pacakge. Drain well, then return pasta to original pot, and add 1 jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and combine. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage to skillet, and brown, crumbling sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no longer any pink in sausage. Drain well. Add 1 jar of spaghetti sauce to skillet. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, 1 cup mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. Set aside.
- Place half the sliced of butterin the baking dish. Spread half the spaghetti in dish, then spread cheese mixture evenly over spaghetti.Top with the remaining butter slices. Spread remaining spaghetti over cheese mixture. Pour tomato meat sauce evenly over top layer of spaghetti.
- Top with remaining mozzarella and bake in preheated oven until casserole is heated through, about 35-45 minutes.