This meatball casserole recipe is full of flavor. It combines tender meatballs with a tomato sauce, al dente elbow macaroni, and melty mozzarella cheese to make a ridiculously easy - yet delicious - one pan meal that the whole family is sure to love. Best of all, only 5 minutes of prep are needed to make this cheesy meatball casserole!
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The Best Meatball Casserole
If you love spaghetti and meatballs, just wait until you try this meatball casserole recipe. It's got all of the same components as "normal" spaghetti and meatballs, but it's even easier to make. Basically, all you have to do is pile everything into a casserole dish and let it all bake together!
Honestly, as far as easy casserole recipes go, this meatball casserole might be one of the easiest - and most delicious - ones I've ever made. Just 3 simple steps - and 5 minutes of prep time - are all you need to follow to make this dish of deliciousness.
How good does that sound?
Pretty good, right?!
Seriously though, this cheesy meatball casserole recipe is right up there with my Philly cheesesteak casserole recipe and cheeseburger casserole recipe. And that's saying something because both are two of the most popular casserole recipes on my blog.
Now, another thing to love about this easy meatball casserole is that you only need 8 basic ingredients to make it. In fact, I bet you already have most - if not all - of them at home already!
Anyway, here's what you'll need to make this meatball casserole recipe:
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 14 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 10 oz. fully cooked mini meatballs (thawed completely if frozen)
- 1 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil, for garnish
Pretty simple, right?
Ingredient Substitutions & Suggestions
While I recommend making this cheesy meatball casserole with the ingredients listed above, you have some wiggle room for what you can use.
First off, you can use fresh meatballs or frozen meatballs to make it. If you're using frozen meatballs, make sure that you let them thaw completely. I usually put the frozen meatballs in the fridge to thaw the night before I make this recipe.
With that said though, if you want to use homemade meatballs, you can use the recipe of your choice - or make my famous Iowa ham balls recipe.
Now, as far as the cheese goes, I definitely recommend using mozzarella cheese to make this meatball casserole. I think it just tastes the best on this dish, but, with that said, any shredded cheese will work. Also, if you want to add some more cheesy goodness to this already cheesy meatball casserole, you can sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella cheese before you bake it.
For the pasta, I used elbow macaroni, but any smaller-sized pasta will work great in this casserole as well. I've made this meatball casserole with both fusilli and shells in place of the macaroni and each time it turned out great.
Lastly, as you may have noticed above, I used tomato sauce as the base sauce to make this casserole. However, if you'd like to use marinara sauce instead you totally can do that too. Also, for what it's worth, if you do go with the marinara sauce - and you'd like to make this cheesy meatball casserole even more saucy - I recommend replacing not just the tomato sauce with it, but also the water as well.
How To Make Meatball Casserole
As I mentioned earlier, this casserole recipe is about as easy as it gets!
Again, just 3 steps are all you'll need to follow to make it. All you have to do is add the macaroni, tomato sauce, and seasonings to the dish, then add in the meatballs and cheese and bake.
Yeah, it's really that easy!
Anyway, let's stop wasting time and get cooking!
Step 1: Prep The Casserole
First things first, you'll want to preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Then, you can take out your favorite 9x13-inch casserole dish - or a dish similar in size - and add the elbow macaroni, or pasta of your choice, to it.
Then, you'll want to pour the tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, olive oil, salt, and pepper into the dish as well. Now that those ingredients are in the dish, you can gently stir all of them together until they combine.
Once they're combined, you can finish off the casserole by adding the meatballs on top. With that said, I like to just scatter the meatballs evenly on top, but you can arrange them in rows if you want.
Step 2: Bake The Meatball Casserole
So, now that you've added all of the ingredients to the baking dish, you'll want to cover it tightly with aluminum foil and bake the meatball casserole for 35 minutes.
Then after 35 minutes are up, you can uncover the casserole and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of it. Also, feel free to go heavy handed with the mozzarella cheese when you do - it'll end up making this a super, super cheesy meatball casserole.
Anyway, once you've added the cheese on top of the meatballs, you'll want to bake the casserole for another 10 minutes - or until the cheese has completely melted.
Step 3: Garnish And Serve
Finally, once the cheese is nice and melty, you can take the casserole out of the oven.
Then, you can serve this meatball casserole warm with fresh basil as a garnish, and some extra parmesan cheese for some extra flavor.
Oh, and for what it's worth, whenever I make this recipe I always make this Italian cheese bread as a side. It's just so good dipped in the sauce, and sometimes I'll even put some meatballs on top of it too. So, if that sounds good, you might want to make that recipe as well.
How To Store Meatball Casserole
This recipe for meatball casserole will make 4 large servings. So it's the perfect amount for a big family dinner.
With that said though, you can always double - or triple - the recipe if you're feeding a crowd, or just want to make sure you have leftovers.
Oh, and speaking of leftovers, you can transfer any that you have to an airtight container - or just cover the casserole dish tightly with a lid/foil. Stored either this way, the casserole will last in the fridge for about 3-5 days.
Alternatively, if you want to store your leftover meatball casserole for even longer, you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
How To Reheat Meatball Casserole
Now, if you end up with leftovers, they are best enjoyed warm.
So, to reheat your leftover meatball casserole, I recommend using the oven. Just put the leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F and heat it for around 10 minutes - or until the casserole is fully warmed.
Alternatively, if you want an even quicker method for heating it up, you can microwave single-servings of this casserole in 30-second increments until it reaches your desired temperature.
Wrapping It Up
Well, that's how to make a meatball casserole!
This casserole is loaded with flavor from the marinara sauce, to the tender meatballs and melty gooey cheese, it's just so, so good. I honestly can't think of a better recipe that you can make for a family dinner on Sunday night.
Anyway, I hope you love this recipe as much as we do at our house.
As always, if you make it, be sure to leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
More Casserole Recipes
If you're looking for more easy and delicious casserole recipes, we have a bunch on the blog that you'll want to check out next!
Here are some of our most popular ones:
- Sausage casserole
- Chicken pot pie casserole
- Paula Deen corn casserole
- Walking taco casserole
- Broccoli rice casserole
- Pineapple casserole
One Pan Cheesy Meatball Casserole (Prepped In Just 5 Minutes)
This meatball casserole recipe is full of flavor. It combines tender meatballs with a homemade marinara sauce, al dente elbow macaroni, and melty mozzarella cheese to make a ridiculously easy - yet delicious - one pan meal that the whole family is sure to love. Best of all, only 5 minutes of prep are needed to make this cheesy meatball casserole!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Casserole
8 oz. elbow macaroni
14 oz. tomato sauce
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
10 oz. fully cooked mini meatballs (thawed completely if frozen)
1 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Place the pasta, tomato sauce, water, Italian herbs and olive oil in a casserole dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper and give it a gentle stir.
- Add meatballs. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake the casserole for 35 minutes.
- Uncover the casserole and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
- Bake the casserole for another 10 minutes.
- Serve the casserole warm, garnished with some fresh basil.
You can substitute the tomato sauce for the marinara sauce. If you do, I recommend substituting the water with more marinara sauce as well.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 623
- Fat: 10
- Carbohydrates: 56
- Protein: 29
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