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Baked Spaghetti Casserole is a twist on a family favorite and simple to get on the table even on a busy weeknight! Made with meaty marinara sauce, 4 types of cheese, herbs poured over spaghetti noodles, this is sure to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread. Need a lower calorie option? Try my Skinny Baked Spaghetti Recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Baked Spaghetti Casserole
I looooove a classic spaghetti. It’s one of those staple meals that are easy comfort meals and everyone in my house likes it. One that I typically have all the ingredients for at any given time, and like to keep in my back pocket for when the day didn’t go as planned and everyone is STARVING. I know you know what I’m talking about. I like to serve it with a simple green salad, Caesar Salad or Cucumber Salad and always some Garlic Bread.
How to Make Baked Spaghetti Casserole
This baked spaghetti casserole (sometimes called million dollar spaghetti casserole) uses common pantry ingredients that you would expect when making spaghetti, plus lots of butter and cheese!! Think of it as spaghetti meats lasagna! For full recipe details, including ingredients and measurements needed, see the printable recipe card down below. Here is step by step what you can expect when putting this casserole together.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water generously and add pasta to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds to ensure no noodles stick together. Cook pasta according to al dente package directions on box. Drain and add back to pot. Stir in butter to fully coat each noodle and set aside.
Make the Meat Sauce
In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and ground beef, breaking apart as it browns. You shouldn’t need olive oil unless you’re using a super lean meat. Stir in minced garlic and seasonings (fresh basil, oregano, salt and black pepper)and cook for a few more minutes.
Next, pour in marinara sauce. Keep on low heat, stirring frequently while you move onto next steps.
Pro Tip: Pour some water into the marinara jar, replace lid and give it a good shake to get every last bit of sauce. Stir water into the meat mixture.
Preheat Oven + Assemble Casserole
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta cheese, cream cheese and parmesan cheese), basil and salt & pepper.
Pour cooked spaghetti into a lightly greased 9×13 glass baking casserole dish. Spread the cheese mixture over noodles evenly and smooth out using the back of a spoon.
Next, pour meat sauce over top the cheese layer and spread out evenly. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake + Serve Hot
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to melt cheese topping.
Garnish with fresh parsley, cut into 12 squares and serve hot.
Storing Leftovers + Make Ahead
Leftover baked spaghetti casserole is absolutely better the next day! I love leftovers like that. Allow leftovers to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container with good fitting lid. Store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, warm leftovers in the microwave or on the stove over low heat. You may need to add a splash of water to loosen it up a bit.
Make Ahead – This casserole is easily made ahead by assembling the casserole up to the point of baking. Then cover the casserole with plastic wrap and store in the fridge up to 1-2 days until ready to bake as per the recipe card.
FAQ for Baked Spaghetti Casserole
Yes. The purpose of the foil over the top is to keep the moisture in and to keep the top from browning too quickly. The last 5 minutes of baking, the foil is removed to allow a little browning.
Yes! It freezes very well. If you know you plan to freeze this before you make it, I suggest buying a disposable aluminum casserole pan. If you don’t use one of those, make sure the pan you do use is freezer-safe. You can freeze it baked or unbaked. If you freeze it after baking, make sure to let it cool to room temperature before covering and freezing. Wrap the casserole really well in plastic wrap. Store in the freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw over night in the fridge before baking. You can bake it from frozen by adding more time to the baking time ( ~45 to 60 minutes).
Absolutely! If you have one you love, by all means use it in place of a store bought marinara or spaghetti sauce. If you want to doctor up the sauce and add some mushrooms and zucchini, I’m sure it would be a great addition to your casserole.
Feel free to switch up the meats as you like or use what you have on hand. Italian Sausage, Ground Turkey, Ground Chicken, Ground Pork, Ground Veal, etc. are all great choices. Or use a combination of two or three. OR, if you’d like to go vegetarian skip the meaty sauce altogether!
The cheese as well can be substituted. Use cottage cheese instead of ricotta, use fresh mozzarella in place of shredded. You could even add other cheeses, like cheddar or colby jack! The options are endless!
Use a different pasta shape. Any long pasta noodle will work here, like Angel Hair, Linguine, Fettucini, etc.
Substitute dry herbs (or Italian Seasoning) for the fresh basil and oregano. Add in a little Red Pepper Flakes for some heat!
The moral of the story is, this pasta bake is so versatile you can easily make it your own.
More Italian Pasta Dishes to Try!
- Crockpot Italian Chicken Pasta
- 45 Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs
- White Chicken Spaghetti
- Chicken Parmesan
- Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti
I hope you add this to your menu this week – your whole family will love you! The printable recipe card is below. Be sure to save/print/bookmark or share this recipe. Enjoy, friends!
If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and leave your review in the comments! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
for the meat sauce
for the cheese mixture
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 8 large fresh basil leaves chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
for the pasta
- 16 oz spaghetti
- 1/4 cup butter softend
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese shredded (for topping)
- fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water generously and add pasta to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds to ensure no noodles stick together. Cook pasta according to al dente directions on box. Drain and add back to pot. Stir in butter to fully coat each noodle and set aside.
- In a large, deep pot over medium heat, saute onion and ground beef, breaking apart as it browns. Stir in minced garlic and seasonings and cook for a few more minutes.
- Pour in marinara sauce. Pour water into the marinara jar, replace lid and give it a good shake to get every last bit of sauce. Stir water into the meat mixture. Keep on low heat, stirring frequently while you move onto next steps.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- In a large bowl, combine all the cheeses, basil and salt & pepper.
- Pour cooked spaghetti into a lightly greased 9×13 glass baking dish. Spread the cheese mixture over noodles evenly and smooth out using the back of a spoon.
- Next, pour meat sauce over top the cheese layer and spread out evenly.
- Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to melt cheese topping.
- Garnish with fresh parsley, cut into 12 squares and serve hot.