Home Recipes Easy Meatball Casserole

Easy Meatball Casserole

This meatball casserole is so incredibly good, I can’t stop making it!  

It combines all the classic flavors of pasta, savory meatballs, gooey cheese, and a rich tomato sauce into a one-dish meal.

The best part? You don’t even have to boil the pasta first! I’m telling you, dinner doesn’t get any easier than this.

I like to finish mine off with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and Parmesan for an extra pop of flavor. It’s just to die for! 

Cheesy and meaty homemade meatball casserole with pasta
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Why You’ll Love This Meatball Casserole

One-Dish Dinner: This meatball casserole is a complete meal in just one baking dish. Clean-up is a breeze!

Crowd-Pleaser: With tender meatballs, savory sauce, and gooey cheese, it’s a hit with everyone.

Budget-Friendly: This meatball casserole is an affordable way to feed a crowd.

Easy Meal-Prep: It can be assembled in advance and refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake. So you always have a delicious, homemade meal on hand.

Ingredients

  • Uncooked Short Pasta: I like to use ziti, rigatoni, or penne. No need to pre-boil, it cooks right in the dish!
  • Pasta Sauce: Use your favorite marinara or tomato-based sauce.
  • Frozen Fully Cooked Meatballs: Using pre-made, frozen meatballs keeps prep quick and simple.
  • Salt: It enhances all the flavors and balances the dish.
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: It’s melty, gooey, and irresistible when browned and bubbly on top. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional): They add a subtle spiciness to complement the sauce.
  • Chopped Parsley and Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional): The perfect finishing touch to take it to the next level.
A bowl of meatballs and ziti pasta with tomato sauce with 9x13 inch casserole on the background

How to Make Meatball Casserole

This dish couldn’t possibly be easier! 

1. Prepare. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. Mix the ingredients. In the prepared baking dish, mix together the uncooked pasta, water, pasta sauce, thawed meatballs, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir until evenly combined.

3. Bake. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

4. Check for pasta doneness. After 35 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. If the pasta is still a bit firm, cover and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

5. Add the cheese topping. Remove the foil and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the top of the casserole.

6. Bake again. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

7. Cool before serving. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Comforting homemade meatballs and baked ziti pasta with tomato sauce and a hint of mint in a white plate

Tips For the Best Meatball Casserole

These tried-and-true tips will make your casserole shine.

  • Make it extra bubbly. For an extra golden and bubbly cheese topping, broil the casserole for the last 1-2 minutes of baking. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
  • Give it a rest. Allow the casserole to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. This gives the sauce a chance to thicken and the flavors to meld.
  • Select your sauce. Marinara is an excellent choice for its rich, slow-simmered taste. For a spicier kick, try arrabbiata sauce or add red pepper flakes.
  • Vary it up. Mix in sautéed onions, bell peppers, or mushrooms for added veggie goodness. Or use Italian sausage or mini ravioli in place of meatballs.
  • Amp up the garnishes. Add a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese before serving.
Flavorful homemade meatball casserole featuring baked ziti pasta, tomato sauce and melty cheese

How to Store

If you have leftover casserole, follow these steps to store it.

To Store: Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. Ensure it cools completely before storing.

To Freeze: Freeze in an airtight freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

To Reheat: Reheat portions in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Or, bake covered at 350°F (175°C) for 20-30 minutes.

Meatball Casserole

Course: Main CourseCuisine: American
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Calories

420

kcal

This easy meatball casserole is the epitome of comfort food! Pasta, meatballs, a tasty sauce, and gooey cheese come together in a dump-and-bake meal.

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces uncooked short pasta (like ziti, rotini, or penne)

  • 3 cups water

  • 24 ounces jar pasta sauce

  • 1 (14-16 ounce) package frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Fresh chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • In the prepared baking dish, mix together the uncooked pasta, water, pasta sauce, thawed meatballs, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir until evenly combined.
  • Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
  • After 35 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. If the pasta is still a bit firm, cover and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove the foil and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the top of the casserole.
  • Return to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
  • If desired, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

2 thoughts on “Easy Meatball Casserole”

    • Hi Lynn!
      Yes, you can make this in the slow cooker! Here’s how:

      1. Use 2 jars of pasta sauce instead of sauce and water.
      2. Pour 1/2 jar into the crockpot and top it with 1/2 of the pasta and 1/2 of the meatballs.
      3. Sprinkle half of the cheese over and pour the rest of the jar over the cheese.
      4. Add the rest of the pasta and meatballs and top them with a full jar of sauce.
      5. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or until the pasta is tender.
      6. Add the rest of the cheese and cook for another 10-20 minutes, then serve!

      And you can even swap the pasta for frozen ravioli, if you like!
      I use two 16 ounce packs of frozen cheese and spinach ravioli. Layer them like the pasta (still frozen).

      Reply

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