With layers of saucy ground beef, noodles, and three kinds of cheese, this Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Casserole is a dinner the whole family will love!
Want more spaghetti recipes? Try this Taco Spaghetti!
Baked Spaghetti Casserole with Ground Beef
Ground beef casseroles were a staple of my childhood, and for good reason. They're easy to prepare, budget friendly, and can feed a lot of hungry kids (and adults!)
Toss together ground beef with pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese, and you're bound to have a good dinner. This Johnny Marzetti recipe proves it!
But I have to say, Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Casserole takes things to a different level. The key element? LAYERS. This recipe has four layers of goodness that make it stand out:
- Saucy spaghetti, ground beef, and Italian sausage
- Creamy cottage cheese and sour cream
- MORE spaghetti and
- Melty mozzarella cheese
This recipe is similar to Million Dollar Spaghetti, but not quite as heavy. It's modeled after my favorite Cottage Cheese Lasagna, but is quicker and easier to make. Think of it like a cheater lasagna for nights you're craving all those creamy, cheesy flavors, but without all of the work.
I think you're going to love the versatility and ease of this recipe. It's great for making ahead of time, and the perfect dish to take to new moms!
How to Make Cottage Cheese Pasta Bake
- To make baked spaghetti, start by cooking the spaghetti noodles in salted water until al dente.
- While the noodles cook, brown the ground beef, Italian sausage, and onion in a large skillet with deep sides. Add some garlic, then stir in your favorite spaghetti sauce, along with dried parsley, oregano, and basil. Stir in the cooked noodles.
- To make the filling, mix together cottage cheese, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Now, it's time to layer! Start with ½ the spaghetti mixture, followed by all of the cottage cheese mixture. Add the rest of the spaghetti, then top with cheese and bake!
TIP: My husband likes to over bake this slightly so some of the noodles on the edges get crispy and quasi-burnt. Feel free to do this, or take it out of the oven when the cheese is just melted.
Notes and Substitutions
- Pasta- This dish doesn't have to be made with spaghetti! I've used linguine, rotini, and penne, and they've all worked fine.
- Cottage Cheese- I really love the creaminess cottage cheese gives this recipe. It melts into the casserole, and isn't really distinguishable as "cottage cheese." However, you can makes baked spaghetti without cottage cheese by swapping in ricotta.
- Add veggies- This is a great recipe to add "hidden veggies" to. Saute some onions, peppers, mushrooms, or even finely diced carrots with the ground beef to up the nutrition in this dish.
- Make it gluten free- Swap the traditional spaghetti noodles for gluten free noodles to make a gluten free baked spaghetti!
- Use all ground beef- Italian sausage gives this dish extra flavor, but you can use all ground beef if you prefer.
- Make it spicy- Sub the sweet Italian sausage for hot Italian sausage and increase it to 1 lb (decreasing the ground beef to ½ pound) for a super flavorful and spicy baked spaghetti.
- Side dishes for baked spaghetti- Pair it with a Creamy Caesar salad and Cheesy Homemade Garlic Bread. Garlic green beans are also a great choice!
Can you make baked spaghetti ahead of time?
Pasta casseroles are great for making in advance. The key is to allow the ingredients to cool before refrigerating.
Prepare the pasta, meat sauce, and filling as usual, but drain and rinse the pasta to stop the cooking process, and allow the meat sauce to cool.
Layer the ingredients as usual, then cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove the casserole dish from the fridge while the oven is preheating, then bake as directed.
Can you freeze cheesy spaghetti casserole?
Yes! Wrap the unbaked casserole tightly in saran wrap then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.
More Ground Beef Casseroles You Might Enjoy
Looking for more ground beef casserole recipes? Try these:
- Mexican Cornbread Casserole
- Walking Taco Casserole
- Tater Tot Casserole
Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- 16 oz. spaghetti
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ lb. Italian sausage
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 36 oz. jarred spaghetti sauce (about 1 ½ jars)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)
- Pinch Salt and pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 Tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, add the ground beef and Italian sausage to a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Cook the meats, breaking up any large chunks, until no pink remains. Drain all but about a teaspoon of fat from the pan.
- Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the spaghetti sauce, parsley, basil, and oregano. Add the cooked noodles and stir until well coated. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, mix together the cottage cheese, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Spread ½ of the spaghetti mixture on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Layer with all of the cottage cheese mixture. Spread the remaining spaghetti on top, then sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake the casserole for 45 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly, and cheese is melty and starting to brown. Serve.