The Viral Million Dollar Spaghetti: The Ultimate Pasta Bake for Feeding a Crowd!

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Million Dollar Spaghetti is a delicious American pasta bake recipe using layers of spaghetti instead of lasagne sheets. It makes an enormous pasta bake, enough to feed 12 people and is a tasty riff on lasagne. If you need something delicious to feed a crowd or want something to freeze for later in portions, then give this Million Dollar Spaghetti a try!

Million Dollar Spaghetti

I have to admit that the first thing that interested me about this recipe was the name. Million Dollar Spaghetti actually went viral on TikTok in 2021 but it took me a while to make it. Whomever invented it isn't clear at all but if I were to hazard a guess it was invented by someone that wanted to make a lasagne but had spaghetti and they didn't want to make a bechamel sauce so instead they used cottage cheese, cream and sour cream blended together. I've tried a version with that cottage cheese, cream and sour cream sauce and while it was fine if you're short on ingredients, nothing is better than a bechamel. I tried it again with bechamel and it was chef kiss delicious!

Like lasagne, Million Dollar Spaghetti starts with a cream sauce, then a meat sauce with pasta and then cheese on top. The meat sauce here is made up with ground beef and Italian sausage with a lot, and I mean ALOT of marinara or red pasta sauce like over 1.5 kilos or 56ozs. For this reason I suggest that you make your own marinara sauce because buying that quantity is expensive and it's really easy to make. Also a warning: this baby is HEAVY and I really had to brace when I slid this out of the oven. I mean it feeds 12 people so you know we are not screwing around with this recipe. This is not a drill my loves.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Tips For Making Million Dollar Spaghetti

1 - I used lean pork and beef mince and it was still tasty. Make sure to break down the mince well in the pan so that there aren't huge lumps.

2 - Make sure to season every part of this. I find that with large, layered dishes you can't get away with just seasoning the top. Make sure to season the cream sauce, meat sauce and spaghetti separately to your taste.

3 - As I mentioned making your own marinara sauce is a money saver. Buying 4x400g/14oz jars is around $20 whereas making your own is a fraction of the cost.

4 - This pasta bake is heavy, so use an extra large baking dish (35x22x5cm/13.8x8.7x2inch). A baking dish with side handles really helps too.

5 -You can make this in parts. I made the marinara sauce 4 days ahead of time and the meat sauce the day before I baked it.

6 - Snap the dried spaghetti into 2-3 breaks before adding it to the pot of boiling water. It makes this easier to cut with shorter pieces.

7 -Make sure to undercook the spaghetti by 2-3 minutes. The spaghetti keeps cooking in the oven and you don't want it too soft.

8 - For easier and cleaner cutting, let the Million Dollar Spaghetti bake rest for 1-2 hours after you take it out of the oven. Once it cools down it firms up and it becomes much easier to cut up.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

I ended up making the Million Dollar Spaghetti for Mr NQN for when I was going away for a trip to South Africa. This time I had plenty of notice and I asked him what he wanted me to make. Last time he ate a huge family sized lasagna over the space of 2 days and I realised that he would need something similar. I wrote up a menu because while I leave a lot of food for him, there is also some food that he can't eat because it has a purpose or I'm in the middle of testing it or it's a preserve. He knows not to just help himself to anything in the fridge or pantry.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

For breakfast he had some fruit toast and jam, for lunch a soup and pizza and for dinner it was this spaghetti bake. He will happily help himself to vegetables and fruit and the only thing I worry about him eating enough of is protein so that's why there's so much protein in this and not as much vegetables (his lunch is a vegetable minestrone just in case). Oh and yes this does serve 12 but remembering that he demolished the family sized lasagne, I made him not one but two trays of this Million Dollar Spaghetti!

So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever heard of Million Dollar Spaghetti? Do you ever leave food when you go away?

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Million Dollar Spaghetti

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Cream Sauce (bechamel)

  • 50g/1.7ozs butter
  • 50g/1.7ozs flour
  • 2 cups/500ml/17.6flozs milk, hot
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Meat Sauce

  • Oil for frying
  • 1 large brown or white onion (around 200g/7ozs), peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 500g/1.1lb beef mince
  • 500g/1.1lb Italian pork sausage
  • 1600ml/56flozs marinara sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 500g/1.1lb spaghetti

To Layer

  • 2 cups/300g/10.6ozs grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup/100g/3.5ozs parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley to sprinkle on top

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 150C/320F fan forced. Make the cream sauce: Heat the butter in a small saucepan and melt and then add the flour, mix into the butter and cook for a minute. Then switch to a whisk and add the milk in gradually so that it combines in smoothly. Switch back to a spatula and stir. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. This will thicken upon cooling. Thermomix directions: Place all cream sauce ingredients in the TM bowl and set to 7 minutes, 90C, speed #4.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Step 2 -Then make the meat sauce. Heat oil in a large pot or skillet. Fry the onion on medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened but not browned or caramelised. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Then turn up the heat to medium high and add the beef mince and Italian sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon and brown the meat. Add the marinara sauce, stock cube and salt and simmer for 10 minutes while you cook the pasta.

Step 3 - Place a large pot of salted water onto boil. When it is boiling add the spaghetti breaking it up into smaller sections (2 or 3 breaks in the spaghetti will do) and make sure to undercook the spaghetti (I stop it at 6-7 minutes). Drain in a colander.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Step 4 -Take your 35x22x5cm/13.8x8.7x2inch tray and then mix the spaghetti with the cream sauce and lay on the bottom. Then layer the meat sauce. Add mozzarella on top and then parmesan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, turn the heat up to 180C/350F fan forced to brown the top. Add chopped parsley on top.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

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