Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti {Million Dollar Spaghetti}


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This Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti has a slow-simmered beef sauce layered with pasta with a cream cheese layer, and a mozzarella layer. It’s often called Million Dollar Spaghetti, whatever you choose to call it, it’s delicious.

You won’t want boring spaghetti ever again once trying this cozy casserole! It is a perfect weeknight dinner and good enough to serve to guests. We also make Ravioli Lasagna, and Classic Lasagna which have very similar to the flavors in this recipe!

close up of baked spaghetti in slow cooker

What is the difference between normal spaghetti and baked spaghetti?

  • Regular spaghetti has just noodles, meat, and sauce, and made on the stove top.
  • Baked Spaghetti is spaghetti and sauce topped with a creamy cream cheese and ricotta mixture and topped with cheese, and baked to meld all the flavors together. In this case we are using our slow cooker to “bake” this casserole. Baked spaghetti tastes like an ultra decadent lasagana (but of course with different noodles).

Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for baked spaghetti on a table with text labels
  • Pasta sauce – You can use Ragu, Newman’s Own, Rao’s or even make your own homemade marinara in this recipe! Just use two 24-oz. jars.
  • Ground beef – Cook ground beef on the stove top with salt, pepper, basil, garlic and onion.
  • Spaghetti noodles – One pound of cooked spaghetti noodles will be added to this after the sauce has simmer all day.
  • Cream cheese mixture – Cream cheese, ricotta and salt make up the creamy layer in this million dollar spaghetti.
how to add meat and sauce to slow cooker for baked spaghetti

Step One – Add both jars of pasta sauce to the slow cooker.

Step Two – Cook the ground beef in a skillet on the stovetop, cook with the seasonings and onion, add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking. Drain the grease and add to the crockpot with the sauce.

Step Three – Stir the mixture and cook on LOW for 6 hours. WAIT TO ADD THE NOODLES AND CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE.

6 image collage on how to add spaghetti, ricotta mixture and cheese to sauce and meat.

Step Four – Near the end of the cooking time cook the spaghetti noodles on the stovetop. I cook mine for 8 minutes exactly, slightly undercooking them for they will cook a little more when we assemble the casserole. Drain the noodles and add them to the cooked sauce.

Step Five – Stir the noodles into the sauce and slightly press the noodles into an even layer (like you would for a casserole).

Step Six – In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, and salt. Add this mixture on top of the noodles and sauce in dollops.

Step Seven – Spread the dollops out evenly over the pasta.

Step Eight – Sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese. Place the lid back on the slow cooker and cook for an additional 20 minutes on LOW.

Step Nine – Turn the slow cooker off so the dish doesn’t overcook. Serve and enjoy!

baked spaghetti done cooking in the slow cooker

What to serve with this:

baked spaghetti on fork and on spatula in slow cooker

Recipe FAQs

Can I add uncooked pasta to the slow cooker?

No, the slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough to cook pasta properly, instead of cooking properly it turns into a chalky mess.

What noodles are best for a spaghetti bake?

Spaghetti or linquine noodles are best for this recipe. You can use penne or rigatoni if desired. I do not recommend angel hair noodles or egg noodles for they are not the right texture for this dish.

What can I use instead of ricotta?

Some do not like ricotta. You can use more cream cheese instead or use cottage cheese and you’ll still have a wonderful meal.

Can I freeze the leftovers?

Yes, this recipe freezes well. Place the leftovers in freezer-safe containers or freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months.

Can I bake this instead?

Yes! Though slow cooking the sauce really makes the dish, you can do this in the oven instead. Add your sauce to the cooked meat and pour over the spaghetti in a 9×13 pan. Add the creamy mixture and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375°F  for 30 minutes, uncovered.

What can I use instead of ground beef?

Ground Turkey – For a healthier version of baked spaghetti use ground turkey. You may want to add extra seasonings for more flavor.
Ground Italian Sausage – For more Italian flavor, cook and crumble Italian sausage instead, you can use sweet or spicy.
Soy Crumbles – Looking for a vegetarian version? Just add bagged soy crumbles instead of the beef.

baked spaghetti in a bowl

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baked spaghetti done cooking in the slow cooker

Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti

4.77 from 34 votes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Baked Spaghetti is a delicious cheesy casserole that will change the way you make spaghetti!

Ingredients 
 

  • 48 oz. Pasta Sauce, Such as Ragu Old World Style, Newman's own Marinara, or Rao's Marinara.
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti noodles, see below for cooking instructions, these don’t get cooked or added until after the sauce cooks for 6 hours

Cheese topping after sauce cooks:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions 

  • Pour the jars of sauce in to the slow cooker. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, brown the meat and onions together. After the meat is browned add the garlic, cook for a minute a longer. Drain the fat. Add the salt, pepper, oregano and basil and stir. Pour the meat onto the sauce in the slow cooker and stir.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  • After the cooking time is up, cook the noodles as directed on the package in boiling water on the stove-top. I cooked my noodles for exactly 8 minutes after adding them to the boiling water. The noodles will cook a bit more after adding them to the slow cooker.
  • Drain the noodles and add them to the meat sauce in the slow cooker. Stir, then flatten the noodles in an even layer.
  • In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, ricotta and salt. The cream cheese will be in small chunks, but that is fine.
  • Dollop the cream cheese/ricotta mixture over the spaghetti, then use a spatula to even it out over the spaghetti. Add the mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and cook for an extra 20 minutes on LOW.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

What can I use instead of ground beef?
  • Ground Turkey – For a healthier version of baked spaghetti use ground turkey. You may want to add extra seasonings for more flavor.
  • Ground Italian Sausage – For more Italian flavor, cook and crumble Italian sausage instead, you can use sweet or spicy.
  • Soy Crumbles – Looking for a vegetarian version? Just add bagged soy crumbles instead of the beef.
Can I bake this instead?
Yes! Though slow cooking the sauce really makes the dish, you can do this in the oven instead. Add your sauce to the cooked meat and pour over the spaghetti in a 9×13 pan. Add the creamy mixture and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375°F  for 30 minutes, uncovered.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
Yes, this recipe freezes well. Place the leftovers in freezer-safe containers or freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months.
Can I put raw noodles into a crockpot?
The slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough to cook pasta properly, instead of cooking properly it turns into a chalky mess.
What can I use instead of ricotta cheese?
Some do not like ricotta. You can use more cream cheese instead or use cottage cheese and you’ll still have a wonderful meal.

Nutrition

Calories: 593kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1318mg | Potassium: 1066mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1255IU | Vitamin C: 12.8mg | Calcium: 281mg | Iron: 5.3mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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Recipe Rating




156 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    Can I leave out the meat altogether ?

  2. Callie says:

    1 star
    What’s the point of a crock pot recipe that you still have to cook the meat and the noddles on the stove. At that point just put it in the oven to bake. When followed this way it came out like mush.

  3. Elizabeth Mulgrew says:

    4 stars
    Easy, no fuss version of spaghetti or million dollar spaghetti! Love crock pot recipes like this that you prepare hours before dinner, letting you do something else the rest of the afternoon and you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to get dinner! No stress! And everyone loves spaghetti and meat sauce! Even a WASP like me!

  4. Dorothy says:

    Gonna try this

  5. Sue says:

    5 stars
    I made this for a Saturday night supper. Another five star recipe and will make again. As stated in your comments, not all jarred sauces are created equal. Mine was a bit low on seasoning (not one of the suggested) and I did have to add extra oregano, onion, and garlic. Next time, I will use my own marinara sauce to better control the flavor. But, yummy either way. Slow cooking makes the difference, for sure. Oh, and it does serve 8. We’ll get several meals out of it. Looking forward to making another one of your slow cooker recipes. They are the best!

  6. daryl lunn says:

    3 stars
    Sorry, im going to be a negative Nancy here. If your using jarred or canned pre-prepared sauce and adding precooked ground beef to it, there is absolutely no point in cooking this in a crock pot for 6 hours. The sauce is done, the meat is done, no other simmering or bonding is required.
    Otherwise it does look tasty although seems a bit dry, I would opt to add more sauce and mix altogether and just throw it it in a deep lasagna pan and bake it for 15 mins, add your cheese to top bake another 10.
    Forget the crock pot, there’s no point

    1. Angie says:

      I actually brown my burger in the crockpot, and do the recipe from there. I do believe it needs bonding time, otherwise it will just taste like you dumped jarred sauce into the meat and stirred and served. It sounds as if you didn’t even make the recipe?

  7. Sonya says:

    Can I add sour cream to this or do you think it will change the flavor ?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      You can add a little. Too much will make it too liquidy.

    2. Angie says:

      I added some sour cream to mine ( I didn’t have ricotta). I use the squeeze bottle so I did like 5 squirts. I did at the same time as the cream cheese and spread it along with the cream cheese. Doesn’t really change the flavor much but gave it another slight layer of flavor.

  8. Bonnie Enderle says:

    5 stars
    I make this a lot. It always comes out great. I use RAGU Chunky with onions, basil, and garlic for the sauce. I also use Whole Grain spaghetti noodles because my husband is diabetic. This recipe doesn’t bother his sugar at all. I make it for our church Bible Study and everyone loves it.