Also called Million Dollar Spaghetti, this layered spaghetti casserole is part baked spaghetti and part lasagna with a dreamy, melty, cheesy center! Guaranteed to feed a crowd or just make your hungry family extra happy, Ultimate Baked Spaghetti is what good comfort food is all about.
Crazy good meat sauce, tender pasta and just the right amount of ooey-gooey, melted cheese… If that’s your bag, baby (and honestly, whose isn’t?), then this is your dish. Ultimate Baked Spaghetti is all about the good stuff.
Full of rich Italian flavor, this hearty casserole is not only off the charts delicious, it’s also easy. The homemade meat sauce is hearty but simple and quick. And the dreamy center layer? A smooth secret combo of cream cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan & sour cream tucked neatly between al dente spaghetti and topped with extra bubbly Mozarrella.
It might sound outrageous, but it tastes every bit like a million bucks, all while being quick & easy. If that doesn’t equal ultimate, well then… I don’t know what does.
What You Need To Make Ultimate Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- uncooked spaghetti
- meat sauce (see recipe below)
- small curd cottage cheese
- ceam cheese
- sour cream
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- shredded Mozzarella cheese
- dried parsley
How To Make Layered Spaghetti Casserole with a Cream Cheese Center
Pasta. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions in salted water about 1 minute shy of al dente. The pasta will continue to cook as casserole bakes in the oven, so it’s important not to over cook it here in the beginning. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot empty boiler to toss it in butter.
Meat Sauce. While the pasta cooks, begin to brown the ground beef & sausage together with diced onion to make your easy meat sauce. Drain any excess fat and return to stove top. Add crushed tomatoes and tomatoe sauce, along with your seasonings, and let simmer over low heat for 5 or so minutes.
Ultimate Cheese Layer. As the meat sauce simmers, mix together room temperature cream cheese, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese with your smooth and creamy secret ingredient- sour cream. Throw in a little dried parsley and salt for a dream layer everyone will crave!
Assemble. To layer this casserole, spread a thin layer of meat sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Top with half of the buttered spaghetti, add the “ultimate cheese layer,” the rest of the spaghetti, all of the meat sauce and finish with mozzarella and a sprinkle of dried parsley.
Bake. Bake for 35-45 minutes in a preheated oven until the cheese begins to brown and the edges are bubbly!
Meat Sauce. This recipe combines beef and Italian sausage for a rich, savory meat sauce. If you prefer, you could do all beef or all Italian sausage with equally delicious results!
Small Curd Cottage Cheese. I use small curd cottage cheese because of the creaminess it adds to the melty center layer. But Ricotta cheese works well also.
What to Serve with Ultimate Baked Spaghetti
Making Ahead or Freezing
This recipe is freezer and share friendly! It’s easy to make ahead, and the leftovers are almost better than the first go around!
Making Ahead. Make this recipe a day or two ahead without baking it. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Remove casserole from fridge in time to come to room temp (so your casserole dish doesn’t break in the hot oven) then bake in preheated oven.
Freezing. Assemble the casserole, but don’t bake. Cover tightly and store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to eat, let the casserole thaw in the fride overnight, then cook in a preheated oven.
Other Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
- One Dish Beefy Baked Ravioli
- Classic 3 Cheese Baked Manicotti
- Tomato Alfredo Baked Ziti
- Spaghetti Stuffed Garlic Bread
- Pizza Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Crowd Pleasing Lasagna
IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE, BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW!
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Ultimate Baked Spaghetti Recipe
- 16 oz uncooked spaghetti
- 1/4 C butter
Easy Meat Sauce
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 2-3 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
Ultimate Cheese Layer
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 oz small curd cottage cheese
- 8 oz sour cream
- 1 C shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp dried Parsley
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahnrenheit.
- Cook spaghetti in salted water 1 minute shy of al dente. Pasta will continue to cook as casserole bakes, so it is important not to over cook. Drain in colander. Toss in butter. Set aside.
- While pasta cooks, begin to brown beef and sausage together on the stovetop in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add diced onion as meat browns. When browned, drain any excess fat, then return meat to skillet. Add crushed tomatoes and tomatoe sauce, along with Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, & pepper. Let simmer over low heat for 5 or so minutes.
- As meat sauce simmers, mix together all the ingredients for the "ultimate cheese layer" in a medium bowl or large measuring cup.
- Spray a large casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish. Assemble as follows:Layer 1- Add 1/2 of spaghetti to bottom of dish. Use a fork or tongs to spread over the entire bottom of the dish.Layer 2- Spread all of the cheese mixture over the noodles.Layer3- Use a fork or tongs to layer the rest of the noodles evenly over the "ultimate cheese layer," making sure that the noodles spread all the way out to the edges of the dish.Layer 4- Spread the rest of the meat sauce evenly over the last layer of noodles.Layer 5- Top with shredded mozzarrella and dried parsley.
- Baked in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.
What is the size of a “large casserole dish”?
A large casserole dish can range from a 4 quart dish to a 6 quart dish. I prefer using a 5 quart dish for this recipe!
This is by far this BEST baked spaghetti recipe I’ve EVER tried! You knocked this outta the park! The flavor is exceptional!
Hey there! Thank you so, so very much!! You have more than made my day! Love and best wishes!
Made it last night for dinner and it was a big hit. Will Definitely make it again.
I am just tickled that you made this baked spaghetti! Isn’t that center cheesy layer just the best?! I am grateful to be a part of your dinner table. Much love!