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Scooter’s Spaghetti Baked with Cream Cheese and Topped with French-Fried Onions

Scooter’s Spaghetti Baked with Cream Cheese is a one-dish masterpiece. French-fried onions sprinkled over layers of spaghetti, cream cheese, and flavorful marinara make for a main-dish that’s hard to stop eating.

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

What kind of recipe makes your all-star list?

If you are like me, it must be:

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

Recipes you can make ahead of time get bonus points.

Scooter’s Spaghetti Casserole baked with cream cheese fulfills all these requirements. The first time or two seems like a bit of trouble. But with a little experience, you won’t need the recipe.

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 her recipes: Crunchy Almond Chicken, Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, and Warm and Toasty Nuts with Rosemary and Shallots.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes. But don’t add the French Fried Onions.

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.

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. Sprinkle them evenly over the top of the casserole 5 minutes before baking is completed.

Ingredients and 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.


Gluten-Free Version of Scooter’s Spaghetti Version (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 Baked 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.

Do you need some bread with that spaghetti?

Pin the picture below to save for later.

Pinterest Image for Scooter's Spaghetti

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at

Thank you for visiting!

Scooter's Baked Spaghetti with French-Fried Onions

Baked Spaghetti with Cream Cheese

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

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


  • 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)


  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.)


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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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!


Thursday 18th of June 2020

You're welcome. Glad everybody liked it!


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!!


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

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


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!


Wednesday 18th of March 2020


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?


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!!


Sunday 31st of March 2019

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