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Home » Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole with Cream Cheese: Guaranteed to Please

Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole with Cream Cheese: Guaranteed to Please

Preview: Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole with Cream Cheese is a one-dish masterpiece topped with French-Fried onions. A crowd pleaser!

What kind of recipe makes your all-star list? I’m talking about an entree you would take to a party, a potluck, or a sick/sad friend?

Here’s my requirements. What about you?

  • Easy but scrumptious.
  • Made from ingredients you are likely to have in your pantry
  • Something most people (including kids and picky eaters) will like

This baked spaghetti is a winner! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Note: Don’t miss the gluten-free version with zucchini instead of pasta.

Scooter's Baked Spaghetti with French-Fried Onions -- Individual serving of Scooter's Spaghetti

Recipes you can make ahead of time get bonus points.

Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole baked with cream cheese fulfills all my requirements. Make it the day before if that’s helps.

The first time or two may seem like a bit more trouble than plain spaghetti. But with a little experience, you won’t need the recipe. It will come together in a hurry.

Who or what is “Scooter?”

Scooter is one of my favorite people from way back. She is an excellent cook. I’m so happy she is willing to share her recipes. 

If you like this one, check out more of these recipes she has also shared with me: Crunchy Almond Chicken, Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, and Warm and Toasty Nuts with Rosemary and Shallots.

Hints for making this ahead of time:

Assemble all layers except the onions and cover with plastic wrap, then foil. (Spaghetti sauce will cause small holes in the foil where it touches.) Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

But don’t add the French Fried Onions when you first assemble the casserole. Hold them back until 5 minutes before the spaghetti is ready to serve.

Sprinkle over the top and return to the oven for about 5 minutes to get crispy. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

Inidividual serving of scooters spaghetti on a plate

Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes–before you bake it. Cover assembled but unbaked spaghetti casserole (without onion rings) with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. (The plastic wrap is important. Spaghetti sauce can eat holes in thin aluminum foil.)

When you get ready to bake it, remove the plastic wrap and cover it with foil until the casserole is heated through. Remove foil halfway through baking to allow the cheese to brown.

Whether you refrigerate or freeze, don’t forget about the French Fried Onions. As previously mentioned, sprinkle them evenly over the top of the casserole 5 minutes before baking is completed.


What you need to know about the ingredients and possible substitutions:

*GROUND BEEF: Substitute breakfast sausage or Italian sausage for a portion or all of the ground beef. I like to use 50% beef and 50% hot breakfast sausage.

Leave out the meat for a vegetarian meal.

*SPAGHETTI: I like to use thin spaghetti. Not as thin as vermicelli but slightly skinnier than traditional spaghetti although that will work just as well.

*SAUCE: My favorite sauce is Victoria White Linen Marinara Sauce. It contains less sugar than most. It’s available at Costco as of this writing. Also seen on Amazon.

Have a favorite spaghetti sauce recipe? Go ahead and use it in this recipe. You will need about 3 to 3-1/2 cups of sauce.

*CREAM CHEESE: Neufchâtel is a good replacement for cream cheese if you’re trying to cut the fat. Read more about Neufchâtel on this informative post.

You could leave out the cream cheese, but please don’t. It won’t be the same. Even if you think you don’t like cream cheese, it’s magic in this recipe.

*FRENCH-FRIED ONION RINGS: Don’t be tempted to leave these out! It would be like ordering a cheeseburger without cheese. What’s the point?

The onion rings and cream cheese layer make this recipe extra special and unique.

If you need gluten-free and/or grain-free, check out these onion rings available at Asian supermarkets and Amazon. They are fried but without a batter coating.

Variation:

Gluten-Free Version of Scooter’s Spaghetti (with zucchini noodles)

Gluten-free version of Scooter's Spaghetti with shallots and zucchini noodles
Scooter’s Baked Spaghetti made with zucchini instead of spaghetti

Substitute zucchini for the spaghetti for a gluten-free, veggie-packed version. Use a spiralizer or a mandolin to make noodles from 3 medium zucchini. No peeling is necessary.

Squeeze as much moisture out of the zucchini as you can before assembling the casserole.

Scooters-Spaghetti-making-zoodles with zucchini
Making zoodles and using paper towels (or an old tea towel) to squeeze out the moisture

To keep this recipe gluten-free, substitute pan-fried shallots for the onion rings.

You will need at least 4-5 shallots for this recipe. Sautè sliced shallots in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Fry at med-low temperature until brown, stirring frequently.

Crispy Shallots
Pan-fried Crispy Shallots

How to make Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole with Cream Cheese:

cooking spaghetti

#1 Prepare 8 ounces spaghetti according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

frying ground beef

#2 Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain excess grease if necessary.

spaghetti and sauce in a skillet

#3 Add spaghetti sauce to ground beef and heat on medium-low.

cooking veggies in better in the microwave

#4 Combine butter, peppers, and onions into a microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes.

cream cheese mixture with veggies

#5 Add softened cream cheese and milk. Stir until smooth.

How to assemble the layers:

spaghetti layer

First layer: Cover the bottom of the dish with 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce, then all of the cooked and drained spaghetti.

cream cheese layer

Second layer: Spread the cream cheese evenly over the spaghetti.

sauce layer

Third layer:  Meat and spaghetti sauce (all of it)

parmesan layer

Fourth layer:  Parmesan cheese (I use about 1/2 cup). Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and heated throughout.

toasting French fried onions in last 5 minutes of the baking time

Last layer: In the last 5 minutes of baking, sprinkle French-Fried onions over the top.

Put the casserole back into the oven until onions are toasty. Keep your eyes on it. The onions can burn faster than you can answer the door.


Remember that I warned you earlier that this casserole would take a little extra time the first time or two you make it. It’s not as easy as stirring it all up in a big bowl. Believe me when I say it’s worth it to so you can enjoy all the different textures going on in this dish.

Do you need some bread with that spaghetti?


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    Did you enjoy this recipe? You can help others (and me) by leaving a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. No comment required. Thank you.

    Hope to see you again soon!
    Paula

    p.s. Questions? Email me: paula at saladinajar.com.

    Yield: 10 servings

    Scooter's Spaghetti Casserole with Cream Cheese

    Scooter's Baked Spaghetti with French-Fried Onions

    Layered spaghetti casserole topped with French-Fried onions is a family favorite!

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 35 minutes
    Total Time 55 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/2 cup chopped green peppers (I usually omit or substitute red peppers)
    • 1/3 cup chopped onions
    • 8 ounces cream cheese
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    • French-fried onions (small can)

    Instructions

    1. Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
    2. Brown ground beef, then drain excess grease.
    3. Add spaghetti sauce to ground beef and heat.
    4. Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft.
    5. Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well. (If cream cheese is not soft, nuke it for 20-30 seconds to make it easy to spread.)
    6. Using a 12 x 8-inch baking dish (or something close), assemble in the following order: thin layer of spaghetti sauce, cooked spaghetti, cream cheese/vegetable mixture, remaining spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese (amount subject to your own taste)
    7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
    8. Top with french-fried onions and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient--don't let them burn.)

    Notes

    Make this ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze without the French Fried onions. Don't forget to add them 5 minutes before casserole is finished cooking.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    10 servings

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 200mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 17g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Expanded and updated on January 14, 2020.

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    Debbie

    Wednesday 17th of June 2020

    Made this again last night for our son and daughter-in-law and grandson and it was a hit. My daughter-in-law said I need that recipe. Enjoyed sharing the story of “Scooter’s Spaghetti! Thanks Paula!

    Paula

    Thursday 18th of June 2020

    You're welcome. Glad everybody liked it!

    Andrea

    Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

    I found this recipe many years ago on your blog, and have made it many, many times. It's our family's absolute favorite dish and has gotten rave reviews at every gathering I've made it for also. We've since gone vegan, but make exceptions occasionally for cheese in a couple of our favorite dishes because ...cheese. This is one of those dishes. I use Morningstar Crumbles in place of ground beef (and vegan butter) to make it vegetarian. I just made a double batch tonight with the plan to freeze one to give to my parents. Thank you for sharing!!

    Paula

    Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

    Morningstar Crumbles? I must try that. Thanks for your kind words. Always fun to hear about recipes on repeat.

    Tonya

    Tuesday 17th of March 2020

    This is so delicious! I like to saute the green peppers and onions til soft with the butter in a pan instead of microwaving. I think that it really kicks the flavors up a notch!

    Paula

    Wednesday 18th of March 2020

    Tonya,

    Thanks for sharing your method. Sounds good. I have done the same thing with mushrooms. Glad you like the recipe.

    Elizabeth Brown

    Monday 30th of December 2019

    I just placed this in a 9x9 and placed in the fridge for a friend tomorrow. How long do you suggest baking? Does 20 covered and about 15 uncovered (prior to onions) sound reasonable?

    Paula

    Monday 30th of December 2019

    Sounds about right to me. Wish I was your friend.

    Jamie Spano

    Saturday 30th of March 2019

    Thank you SO much for this recipe. I've been using it for years, it NEVER disappoints & everyone loves it!! It's my #1 go to recipe for any function or family get together. LOVE it!!

    Paula

    Sunday 31st of March 2019

    Thanks for coming back to say so, Jamie. You're the best!