Looking for an easy, comforting weeknight dinner recipe that the whole family will love? Look no further than this Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese! Cooked al dente noodles are layered with a tomato-based meat sauce and then given a creamy twist with the addition of cream cheese. The best part? This recipe can be whipped up in just a few simple steps and baked in the oven for about 25 minutes!
I am all about a comforting meal that the whole family loves, and this baked cream cheese spaghetti casserole is my idea of perfection.
Not only is it easy and budget-friendly, but the addition of cream cheese takes it to a whole new level of creamy indulgence.
What I love most about this spaghetti bake recipe with cream cheese is that it's perfect for busy weeknights when you want something quick and delicious. Follow along and I’ll show you just how easy it is.
Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Spaghetti: Feel free to substitute with gluten-free or whole-wheat spaghetti if you'd like.
- Avocado Oil: If you don't have avocado oil, you can substitute it with olive oil or any other neutral oil of your choice.
- Ground Beef: If you prefer, you can substitute with ground turkey, chicken, or even plant-based meat alternatives to make it vegetarian. Use lean ground beef or drain off any excess fat before adding the remaining ingredients.
- Onion: I recommend using a white or yellow onion.
- Garlic: You can adjust the amount of garlic to your liking or substitute with garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic on hand.
- Sea Salt: You can adjust the amount of salt to your liking or substitute with kosher salt or table salt.
- Marinara Sauce: You can use your favorite store-bought brand from a jar or make your own from scratch. I recommend my Crockpot Marinara.
- Cream Cheese: Make sure it's at room temperature so it blends easily into the sauce. If you're not a fan of cream cheese, you can substitute with ricotta cheese, sour cream, or cottage cheese.
- Parmesan Cheese: Pecorino romano or any other hard cheese will work as a substitute.
- Italian Seasoning: A blend of dried herbs such as oregano, basil, and thyme, I used a store-bought blend for this baked spaghetti with cream cheese recipe, but feel free to make your own.
- Mozzarella Cheese: I recommend buying a block of mozzarella and shredding it yourself.
Step by Step Instructions
For the full recipe for baked spaghetti casserole with cream cheese with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
To make Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese, preheat your oven to 350° F. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, then drain.
While the pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the ground beef and cook until it starts to brown, breaking it up with a spoon as you go.
Next, add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook for another 7 minutes or until the ground beef is fully cooked. Drain the fat and stir in the spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 5 more minutes. In a separate bowl, stir together the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.
To assemble the dish, start by spreading a small amount of meat sauce (about ½ cup) in the bottom of your prepared baking dish.
Top with half of the cooked noodles and then half of the remaining sauce.
Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese. Add the remaining noodles, and marinara sauce, and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until it's warm and bubbly.
Tips and Tricks
- Cook your pasta until it is al dente, meaning it has a little bit of bite left in it. This will help it hold up better in the oven and prevent it from becoming too mushy.
- Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature before mixing it with the other ingredients. This will help it blend more easily and create a smooth and creamy texture.
- Don't be shy with the cheese! A generous amount of parmesan and mozzarella cheese will give your baked spaghetti that delicious, cheesy goodness we all love.
What is the difference between baked spaghetti and regular spaghetti?
While both dishes share similarities, the main difference between baked spaghetti and regular spaghetti is that baked spaghetti is cooked in a casserole dish similar to lasagna.
Typically, baked spaghetti includes cheese tossed with the cooked spaghetti, as well is a layer on top.
How do you keep baked spaghetti from drying out?
To prevent your spaghetti bake with cream cheese from drying out, cover it tightly with aluminum foil before baking.
This will help lock in the moisture and prevent excess evaporation. You can also add extra sauce or cheese on top to help keep it moist while baking.
Once it's done, let it cool for a few minutes before serving to allow it to set and make it easier to cut into portions. If you're reheating leftovers, add a splash of water or broth before microwaving to help restore some moisture.
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers of this baked spaghetti recipe with cream cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat, you can either microwave it or bake it in the oven at 350° F until warmed through. Adding a splash of water or broth before reheating will help prevent it from drying out.
More Casserole Recipes to Try
- Baked Spaghetti with Ricotta- This comforting dish is loaded with spaghetti noodles, ground beef, marinara sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese for a deliciously cheesy twist on classic spaghetti.
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole - This flavorful casserole combines tender chicken, crispy bacon, and creamy ranch dressing, all baked to perfection.
- Chicken Spinach Manicotti - If you're looking for a dish that's both elegant and easy, look no further than this delicious chicken and spinach stuffed manicotti, smothered in marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole - This hearty casserole is a great way to sneak some veggies into your family's diet while treating them to tender chicken, creamy cheese sauce, and crunchy breadcrumbs.
Easy Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions; be careful not to overcook. Drain.
- While the pasta cooks heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until the ground beef starts to brown.
- Add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook for another 7 minutes or until the ground beef is ground. At the marinara and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.
- Place ½ cup of the marinara in the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Top with half of the noodles, and half of the remaining sauce. Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese.
- Add the remaining noodles, marinara sauce, and top with the remaining cheese. Cover with foil.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until warm and bubbly. I recommend removing the foil in the last 10 minutes of baking time.