Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole Recipe: Delicious & Customizable

Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole Recipe: Delicious & Customizable

Baked cream cheese spaghetti casserole blends hearty spaghetti and rich cream cheese. This dish combines layers of pasta, marinara sauce, and cream cheese for a satisfying, comforting meal. It suits both casual dinners and quick weeknight meals.

Key Ingredients

  1. Spaghetti: Use 12 ounces of spaghetti for the base.
  2. Cream Cheese: Add 8 ounces of softened cream cheese for richness.
  3. Marinara Sauce: Incorporate 2 cups of marinara sauce to complement the flavors.
  4. Ground Beef or Turkey: Use 1 pound of either for added protein.
  5. Onion and Garlic: Two common aromatics for depth.
  6. Mozzarella: About 2 cups of shredded mozzarella for topping.
  7. Seasonings: Include salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning for added flavor.

Preparation Steps

  1. Cook Spaghetti: Boil 12 ounces of spaghetti until al dente.
  2. Prepare Sauce: Sauté 1 pound of ground meat, 1 diced onion, and minced garlic until brown. Mix with marinara sauce and seasonings.
  3. Blend Cream Cheese: Combine softened cream cheese with some warm pasta water until smooth.
  4. Assemble Layers: Place cooked spaghetti in a baking dish. Layer with cream cheese mixture and meat sauce.
  5. Top with Cheese: Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top.
  6. Bake: Cook in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Garnish: Sprinkle chopped parsley or basil on top.
  2. Side Dishes: Serve with a green salad or garlic bread for a complete meal.
  3. Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Protein: Ground meat provides ample protein.
  • Calcium: High cheese content boosts calcium intake.
  • Carbohydrates: Pasta offers quick energy from carbs.

By exploring this recipe, you’ll create a delicious dish that everyone will love.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Essential Ingredients

For a perfect Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole, you’ll need a specific blend of ingredients to ensure a rich and savory dish.

  • Spaghetti: Use 12 ounces of your preferred spaghetti.
  • Ground Meat: Choose 1 pound of ground beef or turkey.
  • Marinara Sauce: Have 2 cups of marinara sauce on hand.
  • Cream Cheese: Include 8 ounces of cream cheese for the creamy texture.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan for extra flavor.
  • Seasonings: Gather 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
  • Salt and Pepper: Adjust to taste.

Alternative Options for Dietary Restrictions

To accommodate different dietary needs, consider these substitutions.

  • Gluten-Free: Replace standard spaghetti with 12 ounces of gluten-free pasta.
  • Vegetarian: Omit the meat and add 1 pound of diced vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms.
  • Vegan: Use dairy-free cream cheese and replace Parmesan with nutritional yeast or vegan cheese.
  • Low-Carb: Opt for 12 ounces of spiralized zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti.

Each substitution helps tailor the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole to fit various dietary requirements without losing its delicious essence.

Step-by-Step Cooking Process

Preparing the Spaghetti

Start by boiling a large pot of water. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a rolling boil. Add 12 ounces of spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and set it aside.

Layering and Baking Techniques

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 cup of sour cream, and half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until smooth. Toss the cooked spaghetti with the cream cheese mixture until evenly coated.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups of marinara sauce with cooked ground meat (optional) or sautéed vegetables for a vegetarian option. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of the marinara mixture on the bottom. Add half of the spaghetti mixture, then another layer of the marinara mixture. Repeat the layers, finishing with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Best Side Dishes

Pairing the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole with the right side dishes enhances its flavors and complements the meal. Salads, for example, offer a fresh and crisp contrast to the creamy texture of the casserole. Consider a classic Caesar salad or a mixed greens salad with a light vinaigrette. Vegetables, whether roasted or steamed, provide a nutritious addition. Options like broccoli, asparagus, or green beans work well. Garlic bread or breadsticks are also popular choices, offering a delightful crunch and additional savory notes.

Tips for Presentation

Presenting the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole in an appealing way can elevate the dining experience. Start by using a well-designed baking dish to both cook and serve the casserole, ensuring it retains warmth. Garnish the top of the casserole with fresh herbs like basil or parsley for added color and aroma. Use contrasting plates and utensils to highlight the dish’s rich tones. Serving individual portions in small, decorative bowls can add a touch of elegance. For a more intimate setting, place the casserole dish in the center of the table, allowing guests to serve themselves.

Nutritional Information

Understanding the nutritional content of the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole helps you make informed dietary choices. The detailed nutritional profile per serving size is based on a standard recipe that includes ground beef, cream cheese, and marinara sauce.

Caloric Value:
A single serving of the casserole contains approximately 450 calories. This is derived from rich ingredients like cream cheese and pasta.

Nutrient Breakdown:

  • Proteins: Each serving provides around 15 grams of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth.
  • Carbohydrates: The dish offers about 45 grams of carbohydrates, primarily from the pasta, giving you energy for daily activities.
  • Fats: Total fat content is roughly 20 grams per serving, with saturated fats from cream cheese making up a significant portion.
  • Fiber: Expect about 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving, aiding in digestion.
  • Vitamin A: Provides 10% of the daily recommended intake, supporting vision and immune function.
  • Calcium: One serving delivers 15% of the daily value, crucial for bone health.
  • Iron: The dish contributes 8% of the daily iron intake, which is important for red blood cell production.

Sodium Content:
Be mindful of the sodium levels, which reach around 800 milligrams per serving. This comes from ingredients like marinara sauce and cheese, impacting overall cardiovascular health if consumed in excess.

Cholesterol Levels:
Cholesterol content is approximately 60 milligrams per serving, mainly from the ground meat and cream cheese.

Use this nutritional information to adjust portion sizes or balance your meal with lighter sides if you’re monitoring caloric intake or specific nutrient consumption.

Pros and Cons of Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Health Considerations

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole offers a rich source of protein, calcium, and essential vitamins. The inclusion of ground meat and cheese boosts protein levels, which support muscle health. The dish’s calcium content from cream cheese strengthens bones and teeth. However, each serving also contains significant sodium and cholesterol; consider these factors when managing a balanced diet. Opt for low-sodium marinara sauce and lean ground meat to reduce these levels while retaining flavor and nutrition.

Flavor Profile

The casserole blends creamy, savory, and tangy elements. Cream cheese adds a velvety texture, enhancing the spaghetti’s mouthfeel. Marinara sauce introduces a balanced acidity that cuts through the richness of the cheese and meat. Ground meat enriches the dish with hearty, umami notes. This flavor combination appeals broadly, satisfying diverse palates. Experiment with fresh herbs, like basil and oregano, to elevate the dish with aromatic freshness without overwhelming the fundamental flavors.


Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole offers a delightful blend of creamy, savory, and tangy flavors that can cater to various dietary needs. By customizing ingredients, you can make it gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or low-carb without sacrificing taste. Remember to consider health aspects like sodium and cholesterol levels, opting for low-sodium marinara sauce and lean ground meat for a healthier twist. Experiment with fresh herbs to elevate the dish’s flavor profile further. This casserole is a versatile and satisfying option for any meal, ensuring everyone at the table enjoys a delicious and nutritious experience.

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