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.
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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.
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.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Macaroni- I used elbow macaroni, but any small pasta works great, like fusilli and shells.
- Water- helps cook the pasta.
- Olive oil- any neutral oil works.
- Tomato sauce- or pasta sauce or marinara sauce.
- Italian seasoning- to give the sauce some flavor.
- Salt and pepper- for more flavor.
- Mini meatballs- fully cooked and thawed completely if using frozen meatballs.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese- parmesan works great too. You could even use both!
- Fresh basil- for garnish.
By the way, you can use a lot of these same ingredients to make this meatball sub casserole, dump and bake meatball casserole, meatball soup, and pizza casserole, so you'll definitely want to check that out next! For something a little different, try my Iowa ham balls recipe!
How To Make Meatball Casserole
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.
Pour the tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, olive oil, salt, and pepper into the dish as well. Gently stir all of them together until they combine. 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
Cover the baking dish 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, 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. Serve warm with fresh basil as a garnish and extra parmesan cheese for some more 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. Enjoy!
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Transfer any leftovers 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 4 days. Alternatively, if you want to store your leftover meatball casserole for even longer, you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
To reheat, 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen meatballs?
Yes, frozen meatballs work great. You'll just want to make sure that you thaw them first in the fridge before adding them to the casserole.
Can I make this casserole ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can either assemble the casserole up until baking and store it in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for up to 3 months. For the refrigerated casserole, bake as directed, and for the frozen, thaw in the fridge or add 30 minutes of baking time.
What to serve with meatball casserole?
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
- Pepperoni pizza casserole
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni
- 14 oz. tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon 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 sauce as well.
Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 29g