Million Dollar Spaghetti is a spaghetti casserole with layers of noodles, cheese, and homemade meat sauce. It’s budget friendly, easy to make, and a meal the whole family will love.

Looking for more pasta recipes? Try my Shrimp Alfredo, Sun-dried Tomato Pasta, or American Goulash!

A slice of million dollar spaghetti served on a plate with a side green salad.

Why I love this meal:

  • Family Friendly – The perfect marriage between my favorite Spaghetti Pie and a classic Lasagna. The entire family enjoys this easy casserole.
  • Budget Friendly – Feeds a big group with inexpensive ingredients. What else could you want?
  • Delicious – It truly tastes like a million bucks! The homemade meat sauce takes the flavor to the next level.

How to Make Million Dollar Spaghetti:

Make the Sauce: In a large skillet cook and crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage and season with salt and pepper. Remove most of the grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until onion is translucent. Add all but ½ cup marinara sauce (reserve for later), to the mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

A skillet with homemade red spaghetti meat sauce.

Prep the Noodles: Boil a package of spaghetti noodles, drain the water, and toss them in a bowl with some butter and a little marinara sauce.

Hot noodles in a bowl with butter on top.

Make Cheese Layer: Mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese in a bowl.

Cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese mixed in a bowl for the cheese layer of million dollar spaghetti.

Assemble Casserole: Pour half the noodles into a 9×13” pan. Smooth cheese layer on top. Add remaining noodles. Then, layer the meat sauce.

Three process photos for assembling million dollar spaghetti.

Top with Cheese, and Bake: Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese over top and bake at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted and bubbly. I love it when the cheese on the edges get golden. Yum!

A pan of million dollar spaghetti casserole cut into pieces, ready to serve.

Make Ahead And Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: You can prepare this spaghetti casserole 1 day ahead of time.  Follow recipe instructions up to step 8 (just before baking).  allow it to cool, cover it well with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Or, prep the sauce, noodles and cheese layer 1-3 days ahead of time and assemble right before baking.

To Freeze:  Prepare recipe right up until the baking step. Cover well with greased aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days, then bake for about 20 minutes, covered, and then 20-25 minutes uncovered. If baking from frozen, bake covered for about 40 minutes, then uncover and bake at least 30-40 minutes longer, or until bubbly and warm.

Recipe Variations:

  • Vegetarian Million Dollar Spaghetti: leave out the meat entirely or substitute plant based meat.
  • Ground Beef vs. Sausage: I like to use both ground beef and ground pork sausage in this recipe but you don’t have to use both. If you do, consider saving the leftover ½ pound of sausage to make Baked Ziti or Pizza Casserole.
  • Ricotta: if you prefer ricotta cheese to cottage cheese, feel free to substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Pasta: we use spaghetti for million dollar spaghetti but feel free to use your favorite kind of pasta.

Serve With:

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Recipe

A slice of million dollar spaghetti served on a plate with a side green salad.
Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr

Ingredients
 
 

  • 16 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage or pork sausage
  • salt and pepper , to taste
  • 1 small onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Make Meat Sauce: In a large skillet cook and crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage and season with salt and pepper. Remove most of the grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until onion is translucent. Add all but ½ cup of the marinara sauce (reserve ½ cup for later) to the mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Prepare noodles: Cook Spaghetti according to package instructions, just until “al dente”. Drain, and place hot spaghetti in a large mixing bowl with butter and ½ cup reserved marinara sauce and toss to combine.
  • Make Cheese layer: Combine cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese in a bowl and mix well. Smooth over noodles in the pan. 
  • Assemble: Pour HALF of the pasta into a 9×13’’ pan. Smooth cheese layer on top. Top with remaining noodles. Add meat sauce on top and smooth into an even layer. Top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Check it around 20 minutes and if the cheese is browning too quickly, tent a piece of tinfoil over it. Wait at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving, to allow it to set up. Enjoy!

Notes

To Make Ahead: You can prepare this spaghetti casserole 1 day ahead of time.  Follow recipe instructions up to step 8 (just before baking).  allow it to cool, cover it well with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Or, prep the sauce, noodles and cheese layer 1-3 days ahead of time and assemble right before baking.
To Freeze:  Prepare recipe right up until the baking step. Cover well with greased aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days, then bake for about 20 minutes, covered, and then 20-25 minutes uncovered. If baking from frozen, bake covered for about 40 minutes, then uncover and bake at least 30-40 minutes longer, or until bubbly and warm.
Vegetarian Million Dollar Spaghetti: leave out the meat entirely or substitute plant based meat!
Ground Beef vs. Sausage: I like to use both ground beef and ground Italian sausage in this recipe but you don’t have to use both. If you do, consider saving the leftover ½ pound of Italian sausage to make Baked Ziti or Pizza Casserole.
Pasta: we use spaghetti for million dollar spaghetti but feel free to use your favorite kind of pasta.

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 18gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 643mgPotassium: 370mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 629IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 174mgIron: 2mg

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I originally shared this recipe February 2017. Updated February 2022.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. I made it for my family and it was definitely a hit. Everyone has told me they want me to make it again before finishing their dinner.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe lived up to its name. My husband said “You should make this once a week.” The kids all loved it too.

  3. So good! This will be my go to dish for potlucks and casual company. Followed all directions except made 1 and 1/2 times the meat sauce.

  4. 5 stars
    My family loved this spaghetti. I used ground turkey instead of beef and hot Italian sausage. I wasn’t sure about the cheese mixture but it has great flavor and a nice change from typical ricotta recipes. Definitely will be making this again.

  5. 5 stars
    Absolutely wonderful! We do change up the cottage cheese for ricotta and also like to mix mozzarella and pepper jack. I love it, it’s fairly easy to make, especially if you can get it done in advance. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. 5 stars
    Can you provide clarification on the amount of spaghetti sauce? The ingredients say a 24 ounce bottle but the instructions only say to use 1 cup. (1/2 cup on meat and 1/2 cup on noodles.) I used the whole jar. Delicious!

  7. 5 stars
    This was great! I used ground turkey instead of beef and ricotta instead of cottage cheese. We absolutely loved this! This is definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  8. I made this tonight for dinner. Hubs said. This is definitely a keeper! Put this in the rotation!! No greater compliment could come out of his mouth!! Thanks for the recipe!!😃😃✌🏻😃😃

  9. 5 stars
    One of our family favorites! I use bow tie noodles but otherwise follow the recipe as listed. So delicious and enough to freeze leftovers. Freezes well also and is just as good the second time. We love it!

  10. Love this recipe!!! I mix everything together and put mozzarella cheese inside and on top. I am making a small batch for me since my husband can not eat cheese

  11. 5 stars
    Really, really good!!! Will definitely make again and again. A great casserole to make for company.

  12. 5 stars
    This is such a great meal! We are currently a family of three, I believe that this could feed a party! It is absolutely delicious!

  13. Could you substitute ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese? Would you still use the cream cheese and sour cream? Picky 14 year old haha!

    1. I would substitute ricotta for the cream cheese and cottage cheese, and mix it with a little bit of sour cream! Enjoy!

  14. Yes very good did a few things a lititle different , shedded up some left over pot roast and different pasta but came out great
    Thanks for the recipe.

  15. 5 stars
    The spaghetti was wonderful and I even got my picky 4 year old to eat an entire serving! Will definitely make again, thank you so much!

  16. 4 stars
    I see instruction for freezing the spaghetti. Is there any special instructions for “make ahead” the day before?

  17. 4 stars
    I love to make this too, but I ususally substitute a shorter noodle, like Gnocci or Farfale. (I just don’t love dealing with the mess of Spaghetti

  18. My kids love this dish. I sub Ricotta for Cottage Cheese and double the garlic. There are NEVaeR any leftovers. Keep the recipes coming… Thanks.
    The Evans Family

  19. 5 stars
    I attempted this recipe and it was very easy to follow and put a new twist to spaghetti!! Thanks for sharing

  20. 5 stars
    ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! I made double the amount and stuck one in the freezer for another time. Will definitely make it again!

  21. 5 stars
    I love your website, Your recipes are easy to follow and taste great. I teach a cooking class to developmentally handicapped adults and I plan on using several of your recipes. Thanks a lot!

  22. 5 stars
    I went on your new web site this morning and it is great, no ads. And very easy to print out the recipe. Thanks again for caring.

  23. This recipe is perfect for all my picky eaters. I just love all your recipes. Thanks for sharing with us.

  24. I made this the other night but added my own twist. To the sauce I added 2 cans of sliced mushrooms, 4 cloves of garlic, hot pepper flakes, Tarragon, Basil, Ital seasoning and Oregano. Some fresh spinach.
    I love flavors to pop and it was GREAT

  25. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing! My son loved it…didn’t tell him all of the ingredients. Perfect with homemade garlic toast. Definitely will make again

  26. 5 stars
    Tried this meal today and it tasted wonderful! Great recipe! We have a bunch of picky eaters in the family and they all liked this meal. Will defiantly make this again. Thank u for the recipe !

  27. 5 stars
    This is delicious. I made it just as written, and it is the perfect comfort food for any time of year. Lots of compliments and sounds of yum… 🙂

    1. It really is the perfect comfort food! Thanks for sharing Linda– I’m really happy everyone enjoyed it!

  28. 5 stars
    Made this tonight…it was quick and easy and delicious!!! Definitely making this again! Thanks for the recipe, absolutely loved it ❤️

  29. Hi Laura,
    Can we use chicken or turkey for the meat sauce? If yes, since both chicken and turkey are leaner how I do make sure that the sauce is not dry. Thanks,

    1. I’d suggest ground turkey or chicken. Don’t over cook them, and you shouldn’t have a problem with dryness 🙂

  30. 5 stars
    I made this using frozen meatballs which I halved. Split the recipe in half & shared with my elderly neighbors. It received a hearty thumbs up. Thanks for a great recipe!

  31. 5 stars
    This is my new go-to when I’m bringing dinner to friends. Love that it has all of the flavors or regular pasta but served in a fun and different way!

  32. Can this be made in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to bake? Say make it in the morning and bake in the evening

  33. 5 stars
    I made this a few days ago just as written and it was very good BUT we found that it really is million dollar spaghetti when it sits in the fridge for a couple days !!! This is in my keep folder thanks for the recipe:-)

    1. 5 stars
      I used Barilla gluten free spaghetti. Cook until al dente. It held up amazing, couldn’t tell a difference from regular spaghetti!

  34. 5 stars
    Made this last night and just got done eating it for left overs for lunch today and I will just say this is AMAZING! My husband and very picky son both loved it! We also made your biscuits and gravy last weekend TWICE! Thank you for having great recipes that are easy to follow, easy to make and are super yummy! Your site is exactly what this busy mama needed in her life 🙂

  35. Made this tonight, and it was so good! Substituted whole wheat spaghetti & Italian blend cheese for the top. Only thing I will change next time is the filling. The cream cheese mixture definitely could have used some seasoning. Overall though, it was a win!

  36. 5 stars
    Loved this dinner as an easy change up of speghetti on our normal “dinner rotation.” My kids loved it and thought it was a fun way to eat there noodles and my husband and I loved the creaminess of the recipe. Thanks!

    1. I have not tried it to say for sure, but I think it would work great. I would do the following: Make as instructed, but don’t bake it. Cover really well with a double layer of aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to eat, bake it from frozen for 1 hours (still covered with foil.) Then uncover and bake for another 20-40 minutes or so, or until it’s hot and bubbly. Hope that helps, and hope you enjoy it!

  37. I used “gawd-awful” store bought sauce but I did add zucchini and carrots… maybe that will redeem me. Anyway, your recipe was spot on and my kiddos loved it served with salad on the side.

  38. Can you substitute ricotta? If so how much to use and which cheese to substitute? Also, do you happen to know the difference in taste? I just prefer ricotta to cottage cheese, etc.

  39. I will make it, but not sure why you would use store-bought marinara sauce (they are all gawd-awful), instead of quickly making your own? Anyway; it looks good, will let you know back. 🙂

  40. Is there anyway you can remove some of your ads from interfering in your script, especially the recipes. They even show up while printing out recipes. It is a horrible thing.

    1. Hi Pat, I am in the middle of a complete site redesign that should fix all of these issues! Look for changes in the next week or two. Sorry for the inconvenience!