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Meatball Casserole

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Sink your teeth into this hearty meatball casserole! It’s an easy one-dish dinner that combines tender baked meatballs with pasta and a zesty tomato sauce. Topped with melty cheese, this comforting casserole is sure to satisfy the whole family. Whip it up for a filling weeknight meal or feed a crowd at your next potluck. 

With humble ingredients like ground beef, breadcrumbs, and canned tomatoes, this budget-friendly meatball bake delivers big flavor without much fuss. Let the oven do the work, and enjoy this classic Italian-inspired casserole!

Meatball casserole top view

What is Meatball Casserole?

The Meatball Casserole is a classic Italian-American dish that brings together the richness of juicy meatballs, hearty marinara sauce, and delectably melted mozzarella cheese. This one-pot wonder, with the added goodness of pasta, is a favorite at dinner tables, providing a comforting, warm, and savory delight.

What to pair with Meatball Casserole?

Complement the rich flavors of cheesy meatball casserole with sides for a satisfying meal. Here are some delicious side dishes that pair perfectly with meatball casserole:

  1. Garlic Bread or Breadsticks: The classic accompaniment to any Italian-inspired dish. Dip them in the extra tomato sauce for an extra treat.
  2. Caesar Salad: The cool, crisp romaine lettuce with creamy dressing offers a fresh contrast to the rich casserole.
  3. Roasted Vegetables: Roast broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, or a medley of veggies to serve alongside for a healthier option.
  4. Garlic Knots: Soft, buttery garlic knots soak up any leftover sauce wonderfully.
  5. Caprese Salad: Ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic dressing complement the Italian flavors.
  6. Garlic Parmesan Green Beans: Crunchy green beans tossed in garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil add brightness.
  7. Focaccia Bread: The dimpled, herb-topped Italian bread makes a great side for mopping up sauces.
  8. Roasted Potatoes or Potato Wedges: Crispy roasted potatoes make a hearty starch accompaniment.
  9. Steamed or Roasted Broccoli: A simple green veggie side allows the flavors of the casserole to shine.
Ingredients in making Meatball Casserole

What are the ingredients to make a Meatball Casserole?

  • Macaroni
  • Frozen meatballs (thawed)
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil
Process in making Meatball Casserole

How to make Meatball Casserole

Now that you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to make the meatball casserole. All you have to do is follow the steps below:

  1. First, prepare this cheesy meatball casserole by first preheating your oven to 400°F.
  2. In a casserole dish, combine the uncooked pasta with tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, olive oil, and 1 1/2 cups of water. 
  3. Gently stir everything together, then arrange the meatballs over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
  4. Remove the foil, top with shredded mozzarella cheese, and return to the oven uncovered for 8-10 more minutes until the cheese melts.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil before serving hot.

Can you prepare the Meatball Casserole ahead of time?

You can easily prepare meatball casserole ahead of time for convenient meal prep. One option is to fully assemble the entire unbaked casserole up to 24 hours in advance. Follow all the steps by arranging the meatballs, then refrigerate until ready to bake. When you’re ready, bake it straight from the fridge, adding 5-10 minutes to the covered baking time. Remove the foil, top with cheese, and finish baking as directed.

Another method is to partially prep components separately ahead of time. Meatballs can be fully cooked and refrigerated or frozen up to 3 months in advance. The tomato sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated. 

On the day of baking, simply assemble the casserole with your prepped meatballs, sauce, and other ingredients, then bake according to instructions. Having these components ready gives you a head start for easy assembly later.

Meatball Casserole Pin with text overlay

Can You Freeze Leftover Meatball Casserole for Later?

You can absolutely freeze leftover meatball casserole for later! Baked meatball casserole makes an excellent freezer meal. Allow any leftovers to cool completely, then transfer them to an airtight freezer-safe container or wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Properly stored, the frozen meatball casserole will keep for 2-3 months.

When ready to eat, there’s no need to thaw first. Simply remove the desired portion from the freezer and bake at 350°F (175°C) until heated through, about 1 hour if reheating from frozen. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.

The pasta may absorb more moisture when frozen, so have some extra sauce or broth on hand to help rehydrate it during reheating if needed. Freezing meatball casserole is a convenient way to enjoy future easy meals.

Yield: 8

Meatball Casserole

Meatball casserole side angle
Savor the deliciousness of our budget-friendly Meatball Casserole, featuring tender meatballs simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce and layered with gooey melted cheese. This easy-to-make dish brings comfort to your table without breaking the bank.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz macaroni
  • 10 oz cooked frozen meatballs (thawed)
  • 14 oz marinara Sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Place the pasta in a casserole dish. Add the tomato sauce, Italian herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add 1 ½ cups of water and give it a gentle stir. 
  3. Add the meatballs and cover the casserole with aluminium foil. Bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Uncover the casserole and add the mozzarella cheese over the top. 
  5. Bake the casserole uncovered for another 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve hot, garnished, with some fresh basil.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 619mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 11g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

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