This million dollar spaghetti recipe is decadent with plenty of Italian sausage, marinara, and a gooey inside cheese layer. It's then topped with more cheese and baked to golden perfection!
Now this is all-out comfort food we're got here. Definitely a treat meal. If you prefer a more simple version of this recipe without the inside cheese layer, try my Cheesy Baked Spaghetti.
You may be wondering what is million dollar spaghetti?! Good question. Rumor has it that when you eat this recipe you will feel like a million bucks! I wouldn't go quite that far, but if you're craving something cheesy and carb-y then this may hit the spot. 😛
Million dollar baked spaghetti is something to make when you want to spend a little more time in the kitchen. It's not super complicated or anything, but it does take a bit of prep. It's one of those meals that would be great for a Sunday supper or when you need to feed a crowd.
This isn't the prettiest dish. It won't cut perfectly like lasagna unless it's cooled significantly. I added lots of sauce (especially so leftovers aren't dry), so I am going for taste vs. appearance here. I've seen some versions of this recipe that add a lot of butter, but instead of doing that I opted to increase the marinara sauce and add a cup of parmesan cheese to ensure there's plenty of flavor and moisture.
Recipe notes & tips:
- I recommend using a fairly deep 9x13 (or similar size) casserole/lasagna baking dish for this recipe.
- Swap the sausage for ground beef if you prefer, or use a 50/50 mix. I used a 5-pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages for this recipe, but you can use ground sausage meat if that's easier. Anything up to about 2 pounds will work.
- You can play around with the middle cheese layer if you wish (try cottage cheese if you don't have ricotta, for example, add mozzarella to the middle layer, or leave one of the cheeses out if you need to), or use a different herb blend. The cheese layer is fairly tangy from the cream cheese and ricotta.
- Try swapping the mozzarella for a mozza/cheddar blend.
- This recipe goes smoothest when the cream cheese is nice and soft. Either take it out of the fridge a couple hours before starting the recipe, or microwave it for 20-30 seconds.
- Want this to be more spicy? Up the quantity of red pepper flakes and/or use hot Italian sausage.
- I haven't tested this, but in theory it should work to halve all ingredients and make it in a 8x8 baking dish if you want a smaller quantity.
- Make ahead tips:
- Assemble it up to a day ahead, refrigerate, then bake according to recipe below (you may need to add a few more minutes onto bake time to ensure the middle is nice and hot).
- To freeze: assemble it in the casserole dish and then cover it tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in the fridge, then bake it as directed. If you need to bake it from frozen, it'll take a bit longer, so bake it (covered with foil) until the middle is hot, then broil the cheese at the end. Don't put a freezing cold ceramic casserole dish straight in the oven, though, as there's a chance it'll crack. I'd let it warm up a bit on the counter first.
- Leftovers: They will keep for a few days in the fridge, but the longer you leave them, the more soggy the pasta will get, so I'd try to eat them within a day or two. Reheat in the microwave or in a covered saucepan on low heat.
- Tools: I use these tongs for all sorts of recipes (including this one), and I grated the parmesan with my Microplane zester/grater.
What to serve with million dollar spaghetti?
Try Caesar salad (my Caesar dressing is easy to make) or garlic bread.
More delicious baked pasta recipes to try:
Questions about this million dollar spaghetti casserole recipe? Have you ever tried it? Let me know in the comments below.
Million Dollar Spaghetti
- 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
- 1 (17.6 ounce/500g package) Italian sausages crumbled (see note)
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 6 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block Philly) softened
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Preheat oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, ricotta, parmesan, garlic powder, and dried oregano. Stir it together until you've got a nice, smooth mixture. Set aside.
- Boil a large, salted pot of water for the pasta and cook it 2 minutes less than package directions suggest. Once it's done, drain it and add it back to the same pot it was cooked in.
- Meanwhile, remove the sausage meat from the casings and add it to a skillet, along with the chopped onion. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking the meat up as you go along, for about 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
- To the skillet, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. I add a bit of salt & pepper too. Spoon out excess fat from the pan.
- Add the skillet mixture to the pot that has the pasta in it, and then pour in the marinara sauce. Toss until everything is coated (this is easiest to do with tongs or two large spoons).
- Add half the pasta/sauce mixture to a 9x13 baking dish, then spread it in an even layer.
- Spread the cheese layer evenly over the pasta/sauce layer. This step can get a little messy. It doesn't have to be done perfectly.
- Add the remaining pasta/sauce mixture and spread it out evenly, then top the casserole with the mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and broil for a few minutes (watch it carefully) until the cheese is bubbly and browned.
- Let the casserole sit for 5-10 minutes, then use a spatula to cut it into individual portions. Note: Especially when it's still hot, you won't get nice, even squares with a perfectly even cheese layer. It'll mix together a bit, but I went for plenty of sauce (especially so leftovers aren't dry).
- I used a 5-pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages. You can use ground sausage meat if you prefer. Use anything from 1-2 pounds of sausage for this recipe.
- Feel free to change up the cheese layer a bit... you don't need to stick to the cheeses I suggest.
- If you need to soften up the cream cheese in a hurry, pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
- See process photos within blog post for extra clarity.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.