How Million Dollar Recipes Got Their Luxurious Name

Million dollar cheese dip with crackers
Million dollar cheese dip with crackers - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Recipe names often do more than just explain the main ingredients. Recipes with descriptions like "marry me," "better than sex," or "crack" are catchy, hint at the indulgent nature of the finished product, and above all, are memorable. "Million dollar" recipes are perhaps the oldest, with a Million Dollar Cocktail having roots in the late 1800s to early 1900s, and the Neiman Marcus Million Dollar Dip which is thought to have originated in the 1950s.

Some of those other descriptions' origins are more obvious, but the full history of million dollar recipes is unclear (though there are some commonalities among recipes). Million dollar cake recipes, for instance, typically feature pineapple. Many recent recipes, including Million Dollar Spaghetti, include cream cheese. 

The moniker "million dollar" is used not because of the cost of the ingredients, but because the dish is rich and indulgent — thanks to ingredients like cream cheese — or because it tastes like a million bucks. The unifying theme is that these dishes provide culinary value and enjoyment.

Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained

Popular Million Dollar Dishes

Million dollar baked pasta in dish
Million dollar baked pasta in dish - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Million Dollar Spaghetti is one of the more recent viral recipes with an expensive-sounding name. The TikTok version's simplicity probably contributes to its popularity, with the most popular videos calling for an easy mix of ground beef, plus one jar of spaghetti sauce and Alfredo sauce. The mixture is dumped into a baking dish, topped with shredded cheese, and baked until the cheese is bubbly. Even those recipes that call for a homemade Alfredo sauce are simple and straightforward. Though different recipes include add-ins -- like onions and peppers -- the dish can be made without, or with whatever you have on hand to customize it.

TikTok is full of variations on this dish using other pasta shapes, plus additional recipes including million dollar casseroles and dips. The dips are typically made with cream cheese, bacon bits, and shredded cheese -- plus other ingredients unique to each specific recipe. Casseroles tend to feature combinations of meat (often chicken or turkey), Ritz crackers, cottage cheese, and, of course, softened cream cheese.   

An indulgent recipe roundup wouldn't be complete without dessert, and there's no shortage of those. Our Millionaire's Shortbread is so named because of its richness, which it gets from three tasty layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. Million Dollar Pie -- much like Million Dollar Cake -- features pineapple, sweetened condensed milk, Cool Whip, and — you guessed it — cream cheese.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.