Easy baked spaghetti recipe with flavorful meat sauce and cream cheese! Rich, deliciously cheesy, and decadent. Make it for special occasions, weekly family gatherings, or for days when you just want to indulge.

creamy baked spaghetti with cream cheese in a casserole dish.
creamy baked spaghetti with cream cheese topped with mozzarella.

Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese

This pasta casserole dish is somewhat similar to Million Dollar Spaghetti. Somewhat because it only uses two types of cheese–mozzarella and cream cheese. It has no sour cream or cottage cheese.

I guess you could call it “a simpler Million Dollar spaghetti” recipe.

Having said that, this dish is far from being just a simple baked spaghetti because:

  • The meat sauce is delicious and flavorful. Not bland at all!
  • The cream cheese sauce is made even more delicious by combining it with cheddar cheese. So good!

Meat Sauce Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you need to make the meat sauce:

ground beef, pork or chicken, bell peppers, butter, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, broth, marinara sauce, Italian seasoning herbs.
  • Ground Beef, Pork, or Chicken – I use lean ground meat. You can also use ground turkey and Italian sausage.
  • Marinara Sauce – use your favorite bottled pasta sauce. So convenient and a time-saver!
  • Broth – enhances the overall flavor of the meat sauce. You can use homemade broth or dissolve chicken bouillon, or beef bouillon cubes in hot water.
  • Worcestershire – for depth of flavor.
  • Butter – you can also use olive oil.
  • Onion and Garlic – another flavor booster for the pasta sauce.
  • Bell Pepper – use red or green bell pepper or both. Finely chop or use a food processor for convenience.
  • Dried Herbs (optional) like Italian seasoning, dried chili flakes, Herbes de Provence, dried oregano, or even fresh basil. This will help boost the flavor of the meat sauce. Totally fine if you don’t have it.

Cream Cheese Sauce Ingredients

To make the cream cheese sauce mixture, you will need:

cream cheese sauce with milk, processed cheddar cheese and grated mozzarella.
  • Cream Cheese and Cheddar Cheese – since cream cheese is pretty mild, the cheddar cheese will boost its flavor by adding a hint of “sharpness”.
  • Milk – helps loosen the texture of the cheese, and thus can easily coat the strands of spaghetti.
  • Mozzarella – for that irresistible gooey-cheesy molten top.
oven baked spaghetti with cream cheese topped with mozzarella.

How to Make It

And this is how to make the creamy and cheesy baked spaghetti:

1. Make the Meat Sauce

You can make the meat sauce ahead and then do the assembly just before dinner time.

step-by-step process on how to make sauce for baked spaghetti.

💭 Cooking tips:

  • Use a deep pot to make the meat sauce to prevent the liquid from evaporating too quickly. This also prevents splatters and boil-overs.
  • While browning the meat, season it with salt and black pepper to enhance its flavor.
  • Simmer the for 20 minutes and it’s ready! The beauty of using jarred pasta sauce is that you shorten the cooking time. Typically, you need 45 minutes to 1 hour to develop the pasta sauce’s full flavor.

2. Cook the Spaghetti

When making baked spaghetti, it’s recommended to cook the pasta slightly underdone or less than al dente. This ensures that it remains firm and maintains a better texture after baking.

If you start with spaghetti that’s overcooked, it can become overcooked and mushy during the baking process.

💭 Tip: Use good quality dried spaghetti pasta so it doesn’t become mushy after baking.

3. Make the Cream Cheese Sauce

Make the cream cheese sauce just before the pasta finishes cooking.

It’s as easy as combining all the ingredients in a large bowl then microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 1 minute as needed.

cream cheese sauce in a bowl melted in a microwave.

You can also cook it in a small pot on a stovetop over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is melted and the consistency becomes smooth.

4. Assemble and Bake

When everything is ready, we’re now ready to assemble. And here’s how to do it.

step-by-step process on how to make oven baked spaghetti with cream cheese.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, and cream cheese sauce first. Add half of the meat sauce, and give it a quick toss. Spread the pasta in the baking dish. Pour the remaining meat sauce on top. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese.

best baked spaghetti with cream cheese.

Cover loosely with a foil to prevent the cheese from burning. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the foil. Bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is completely melted.

That is it! Easy-peasy!

Variations

If you want to up your vegetables, you can sneak these vegetables into the meat sauce:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Fresh Mushrooms
oven baked spaghetti on a plate.

Make-ahead tip

You can make this ahead for up to 2 days and refrigerate. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake when ready at 375c/190c for 20 minutes then bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

Shelf-life and Storage

If properly stored, this baked spaghetti should last in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

You can freeze this for 1 month in a covered airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating in the oven.

Watch how to make it

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baked spaghetti cream cheese casserole.

Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese

4.60 from 5 votes
It's a baked spaghetti casserole with flavorful meat sauce and cream cheese! Rich, deliciously cheesy, and decadent.
Servings4 servings
preparation time15 minutes
Total cooking time30 minutes

Ingredients
 

Meat Sauce

  • 1 tbsp butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 8 oz ground lean beef, pork, or chicken
  • 16 oz jarred marinara sauce (use your favorite, note 1)
  • 1 small bell pepper (green or red, minced)
  • ½ cup beef broth (note 2)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional, note 3)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Pasta and Cheese Sauce

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • ¾ cup low fat milk
  • ½ block cream cheese (softened, cut into chunks)
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese (note 4)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (grated, note 5)
  • chopped parsley (for garnish)

Instructions

Meat Sauce

  • Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant.
  • Set heat to high. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Make sure to break up the meat as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. Pour marinara sauce, broth, sugar, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, bell pepper and Worcestershire.
  • Bring to a simmer. Lower heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pasta, and Cheese Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 190°C/350°F.
  • Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water as per package directions, minus 2 minutes. We need the pasta cooked slightly underdone so it doesn't become mushy after baking.
  • Combine milk, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese in a bowl. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high. Stirring every 1 minute until smooth. You can also cook in a small pot on a stovetop over medium heat.

Assemble and Bake

  • Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl. Pour cream cheese sauce and give it a quick toss until each strand is coated.
  • Pour 1/2 of the meat sauce and toss gently until coated. Spread the pasta evenly in the baking dish. Pour the remaining meat sauce as evenly as possible on top. in Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  • Loosely cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with dried or chopped fresh parsley.
  • Serve and enjoy warm!

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  1. Pasta Sauce – can be substituted with tomato passata or tomato puree. Add chopped celery, carrots, and more dried herbs. Cook the sauce longer up to 45 minutes to deepen the flavor.
  2. Broth – use beef or chicken broth or use 1 piece low sodium chicken or beef bouillon.
  3. Sugar – add if you end up with a sour pasta sauce.
  4. Cheddar Cheese – can also be substituted with parmesan cheese.
Jump to Video
Author : Mella
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : American-Western
Keyword : baked spaghetti recipe, baked spaghetti with cream cheese
Nutrition Facts
Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese
Amount per Serving
Calories
551
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
10
g
63
%
Trans Fat
 
0.5
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Cholesterol
 
80
mg
27
%
Sodium
 
1089
mg
47
%
Potassium
 
956
mg
27
%
Carbohydrates
 
59
g
20
%
Fiber
 
5
g
21
%
Sugar
 
13
g
14
%
Protein
 
35
g
70
%
Vitamin A
 
1535
IU
31
%
Vitamin C
 
34
mg
41
%
Calcium
 
404
mg
40
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Tag @rivertenkitchen or leave a comment below!

Originally published March 2021. Updated Oct. 2023 with new photos, and a streamlined recipe after further testing to improve the recipe! 

Riverten Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing!! Comfort food indeed. I’m so excited to make this for our upcoming potluck party.

    Thanks for the recipe, Mella 🙂

  2. I just finished making this spaghetti dish…..and let me tell you “IT IS EVERYTHING” the cheese sauce “SET IT OFF” it just gave a new meaning instead of beef, sauce throwed on top of noodles. I will be making again again and again

    1. Awww thanks for the lovely feedback, Beverly! So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed this dish and found it delicious. Happy cooking!
      – Mella

  3. Didn’t realize how much this served until I started cooking! It makes a ton! It is good though. Instructions are missing where to add it red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce.

    1. Hi Karrissa, Glad you liked this recipe. You can adjust the scale at the top of the recipe card if you want to make a smaller batch.
      I’ve updated the instructions. Thanks for bringing that up 🙂
      – Mella

  4. Anxious to try this recipe…ma it for 8…1 recipe enough?? Confused with layering it…I will use one deep 9 x13 casserole…do I put all the pasta on bottom,,then all pasta sauce and the chheese???? And can be made the day bef ore???? Thank You!!!