This cheesy baked spaghetti casserole is kid-friendly, filling, and perfect for feeding a crowd. Melty cheese, meaty sauce, and al dente pasta make this a great weeknight meal!
There is just something about a good, hearty casserole that I can’t resist. This cheesy baked spaghetti casserole is one from my childhood. I remember my mom making it on Halloween night, year after year, before we went out trick-or-treating because she wanted us to have something healthy and filling in our bellies before we glutted ourselves on our hoard of candy. She knew that all five of her children would eat up this kid-friendly dinner super fast so we could get out and get trick-or-treating. It is so good and so timeless that I am still making it as an adult for my own family.
There are layers of pasta, a hearty, meaty spaghetti sauce, melty mozzarella cheese, and a unique filling of cottage cheese, sour cream, and onions that gives this casserole a unique flavor all it’s own. It may look or sound like a poor man’s lasagna, but the flavor and texture of the sour cream and cottage cheese is different from the ricotta cheese that is used in a traditional lasagna. And it makes enough to feed an army, so it’s great if you are feeding a crowd or taking a meal to a friend. And as long as you are making one casserole, it’s not hard to double it either, so you can freeze one for later. Just heat it up, add a nice salad and some garlic bread and you are set! And like most baked pasta dishes, this one’s just as good (if not better) as leftovers the next day.
If you really want to make things easy, go ahead and just use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce in this recipe with some browned ground beef and onions to create the meat sauce. But if you have the inclination, you should definitely give this classic homemade marinara sauce a try!
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 3/4 cup chopped onion, divided
- 1 28 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- Pepper, to taste
- 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a rolling boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 11-12 minutes. Drain, toss with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking, and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and 1/2 cup of the chopped onion and cook, breaking up the meat until browned. Drain any excess grease from the pan and add the spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, and pepper. Stir until combined, then set aside.
To assemble the baked spaghetti casserole, in a 9x13-inch baking dish, spread 1/2 of the cooked spaghetti noodles. Dollop spoonfuls of the cottage cheese and sour cream mixture over top and spread it into an even layer. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce and meat mixture over the top of the noodles and cottage cheese and spread it to the edges, then sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the whole thing. Repeat for a second layer with the remaining ingredients.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until hot in the center and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove foil and allow the casserole to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
If making this casserole as a freezer meal, prepare to the point of baking it in the oven, then wrap tightly in foil and freeze. Defrost completely in the refrigerator when ready to cook, then bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until hot through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
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