Welcome to “Million Dollar Spaghetti,” the show where you compete to win a million dollars against a plate of spaghetti– oh, my producer is saying this isn’t a game show, it’s one of the most scrumptious pasta recipes!
This dish is part spaghetti and part lasagna. With three different kinds of cheese, Italian sausage, and a half cup of butter.
And that is the real reason this is called Million Dollar Spaghetti. Because, of all the delicious spaghetti recipes, this packs such a flavor punch, you’ll say “This tastes like a million dollars!”
So let’s get started!
Million Dollar Spaghetti will make more than your taste buds happy:
- Even picky eaters will love it!
- Casserole = Make Ahead MAGIC
- Ooey gooey comfort food
- Clean-up is a cinch.
- Leftovers for DAYS….hopefully!
How To Make Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Cook spaghetti then toss with 3 cups marinara sauce.
- Cook the onions and garlic until soft then add the sausage and brown and crumble. Stir in the remaining marinara.
- Combine Cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, 1 cup mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. Set aside.
- Place half the sliced of butter in the baking dish. Spread half the spaghetti in the 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. **See photos below
- Top with mozzarella and bake until bubbly.
Spaghetti is one of the staple dishes in most households — which means you likely already have most of these ingredients in your pantry!
Does that say cottage cheese? Yes, it does. Before you dismiss Million Dollar Spaghetti for that quirk, hear me out: cottage cheese is a mind-blowing ingredient that far too many people avoid, thinking their food will turn out tasting too “curdled.” That is not the case at all!
Cottage cheese adds a fabulous creamy texture to foods as well as hearty servings of protein. But if it still seems just too odd for you, ricotta cheese is a perfectly acceptable substitute! 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.
Spice it up! The dried Italian seasonings and the sausage, as well as the extra spices you add to Million Dollar Spaghetti, will give this casserole that zesty Italian kick — but try tossing in a handful or two of chopped fresh basil or oregano, especially as a finishing garnish.
This recipe looks familiar . . . And it might! Million Dollar Spaghetti has been making the rounds in recent months, particularly on Facebook. This family-pleasing dish has many versions sprinkled across the web, but this is the only one I’ve found that has that certain extra umph. Is it because of the deep creaminess of the cottage cheese? Is it because of the tang of the sour cream? Is it because of that eyes-roll-back-into-your-head goodness of sweet Italian sausage? Yes. Yes to all.
Pre-cook your sausage! If the term “casserole” makes you think “add everything to a dish and bake it,” think again! There is some prep that must be done ahead of oven baking — such as fully cooking your Italian sausage. Save your family severe stomachaches!
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.
Casseroles like Million Dollar Spaghetti do fabulously when stored — just make sure you store it properly, in the fridge, in an airtight container.
Can You Freeze This?
Absolutely! Many casserole baking dishes come with their own attachable airtight lid. If yours doesn’t have one, simply ladle the Million Dollar Spaghetti into any airtight container you have, and store in your freezer for up to three months. Remember, frozen pasta will get softer, so there will be a textural change.
To Freezer Before Its Baked
- 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 ♥
Make Ahead Tips
If there’s food more make-ahead friendly than casseroles, I don’t know it! Million Dollar Spaghetti can be whipped up in a pinch by making the sauce (Step 3) and storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. When you’re ready to compile the full dish, simply make the remaining ingredients, mix in the sauce, and proceed, time saved!
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 30-40 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 set 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.”)
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Million Dollar Spaghetti behaves quite well in the fridge! This lasagna-spaghetti hybrid will retain its shape and dignity for up to four days in the fridge. Longer, and you risk bacteria growth, as well as soggy, inedible pasta. But! If eaten within the four-day window, Million Dollar Spaghetti is just as mouth-watering as it was the first day!
What Other Baked Spaghetti I Can Try?
If you were brave and tried the cottage cheese in your Million Dollar Spaghetti, then you no doubt have come to understand why unusual cheeses in baked spaghetti is a good idea. Feeling even more adventurous? Try out baked spaghetti with cream cheese for your next dish!
Can I Cook This Using Instant Pot?
One of the greatest culinary inventions for the time-pressed chef is the Instant Pot — so I am happy to report that Million Dollar Spaghetti is Instant Pot friendly! Instant Pot spaghetti is a dish made in dinner heaven. Want to take it further? Try Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs for a quick twist on a traditional fave!
Can I Add A Mexican Twist?
¡Sí! Taco spaghetti is a tried and true favorite in my household. Merging Mexican seasonings with Spaghetti to create a Mexican Spaghetti hybrid is a path to deliciousness, friend. Maybe serve with a margarita, age permitting!
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- 16 ounces dried spaghetti noodles
- 1 cup (1 Medium) yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage casing removed
- 6 cups homemade marinara sauce,-divided or 2 (24-ounce) jars marinara sauce
- 8 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 3 cups mozzarella shredded-divided
- 1/2 cup butter cut into slices-divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water, with 1 Tablespoon of salt, to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package. Drain well, then return pasta to original pot, and add 3 cups or 1 jar of prepared marinara 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 the remaining 3 cups or 1 jar marinara 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 butter in the baking dish. Spread half the spaghetti in the 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.
I don’t know about you, but once I take a culinary risk — like cottage cheese with pasta! — I’m hungry for more creative spaghetti dishes! Here are a few more to get your tummy rumbling and your mind whirling:
- Italian Spaghetti
- Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
- Crock Pot Spaghetti
- Spaghetti Casserole
- Spaghetti Pie
Though Million Dollar Spaghetti might not give you an actual million dollars, it’ll certainly make you feel rich — in the kind of ooey gooey comfort food that pulls every member of the family to the table!
Slice up hearty portions of this belly-filling lasagna-spaghetti hybrid and settle down into the warmth of a meal well served.