If you're looking for a simple recipe for busy weeknights, you'll love this easy meatball casserole recipe! It features simple ingredients with minimal prep - making it the perfect meal for your next family dinner.
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Easy recipes are my favorite to make for dinner, and this meatball pasta bake is no exception. If you're ever wondering what to do with meatballs, this dump-and-bake meatball recipe is sure to be an easy solution. (After all, what's better than delicious juicy meatballs in a new family favorite recipe?!)
Meatball casserole with frozen meatballs also makes a great dish for gatherings and parties. With such simple ingredients, you can make a big pan for a large crowd. It's sure to be a huge hit, and everyone will beg you to share the recipe.
And if you are a meatball lover, try these Cheese Stuffed Mexican Meatballs and serve them as an entree with rice, or as an appetizer. We love them both ways!
Not convinced you should make this pasta bake with meatballs. Here's why your whole family is going to LOVE this frozen meatball casserole:
- Features basic ingredients - with common ingredients such as store-bought meatballs, pasta sauce, uncooked pasta, and cheese, a trip to the grocery may not even be required!
- Easy prep - meal prep will be so easy with casserole. It makes a great freezer meal as well.
- No cooking pasta - you don't have to cook the pasta in this dish. Just dump it uncooked into the pan.
- Delicious - between gooey cheese, flavorful spaghetti sauce added to penne pasta, and the perfect blend of seasonings, you'll have your family begging to make this again and again!
- Perfect for busy weeknights - prep only takes minutes and can be modified for the crockpot, so it makes a great dinner recipe for those busy nights!
- Great for using leftover meatballs - Meatball casserole with frozen meatballs is my favorite recipe for when I have leftover meatballs in the freezer that I need to use up.
Meatball Casserole Ingredients
- Uncooked pasta - I used rotini, but you can use any variation you'd like, such as ziti or penne pasta.
- Spaghetti sauce - Ideal thickness and flavor for this baked casserole, but marinara sauce can also be used.
- Milk - You'll need about 1 cup to make this dish creamy.
- Water - About 2 cups are used to cook the pasta.
- Meatballs - I used frozen meatballs, but you can also use homemade or turkey meatballs.
- Seasoning - For flavor, you'll need garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, and salt.
- Cheese - Shredded mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on top.
- Garnish - Optionally, you can add parmesan cheese and herbs for garnish.
How to Make Meatball Casserole: Step-by-Step
Step 1. Before you get started, preheat the oven to 425F. Prep a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2. In a 9x13 casserole dish, add the uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, milk, water, meatballs, and seasonings. Stir to combine.
Step 3. Next, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the casserole for 45 minutes in the oven. Remove the foil and check if the pasta is done. It should be firm and cooked through. If the pasta needs more time, replace the foil and bake for several more minutes.
Step 4. Remove the foil from the casserole and sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for about ten additional minutes until you're left with gooey, melted, and bubbly cheese.
Step 5. Let the casserole thicken for about 10 minutes, then serve hot with your favorite side dish, such as our favorite wedge Caesar salad or garlic bread. Optionally, garnish with parmesan cheese and herbs.
- Try different noodles: You can use any variation of noodles you'd like in this dish. You could even use zucchini noodles if that's up your alley!
- Use different meatballs: Try the Italian variety of meatballs, chicken meatballs, or give turkey meatballs a try.
- Add cream cheese: Adding cream cheese to a meatball casserole will make it extra creamy.
- Choose your favorite cheese: I used mozzarella for this recipe, but you can use any cheese you like. Try asiago cheese, creamy ricotta cheese, or any other family favorite.
- Add mushrooms: This could add even more delicious flavor!
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
Want to freeze your meatball casserole for later? Cook the pasta and meatballs, then freeze for up to three months. Defrost the casserole and bake covered at a low temperature until warm.
This meatball casserole recipe can also be made in a slow cooker. You'll want to cook the pasta first and add some extra sauce instead of the water and milk.
Do you cook meatballs before or in sauce?
For this meatball casserole recipe, I used frozen meatballs and dumped them in the pan. Thawed meatballs require less cooking time and may burn while the pasta cooks.Can I make meatball casserole in a slow cooker?
Yes! You will need to cook the pasta before adding to the slow cooker. Use extra sauce in place of the water and milk.What kind of pasta is best with meatballs?
For a meatball pasta bake, I like to use rotini. However, use whatever kind of pasta is your favorite! Penne pasta, ziti, or even elbow pasta would work well.
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Thank you for stopping by the One Hot Oven blog. Please leave a comment to say hello or tell me what you are baking; I always love hearing from fellow bakers. Have any questions or want to chat about the recipe? Please visit my about page for information, and I’ll be happy to help!
From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.
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- 16 ounces rotini pasta can use ziti or penne pasta
- 24 ounces spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups water
- 14 ounces frozen meatballs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- parmesan cheese and herbs for garnish
- Heat the over to 425℉.
- In a 9" x 13" baking pan, add the uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, milk, water, meatballs and seasonings. Stir to combine
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and check the pasta to see if it is done. The pasta should be firm and cooked through. If the pasta needs more time, replace the foil and bake for several more minutes.
- Remove the foil from the casserole and top with shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Let the casserole sit to firm up, about 10 minutes, then serve hot.
- Cover any leftover pasta in a sealed container for up to three days.
- Freeze the baked casserole for up to three months and let it thaw before reheating.
- Place the casserole in the microwave or in a low-temperature oven to reheat it.
- For meal prep, bake the casserole, let it cool, and then portion it into individual freezer containers.