This easy baked meatball casserole is the ultimate comfort food! Made with frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce, and melted cheese, it’s a crowd-pleasing dish that comes together in minutes.
Can I prepare this in advance?
Yes! Assemble the raw casserole up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Add 5-10 extra minutes to the baking time.
Can I freeze this?
Absolutely! Prepare the casserole as directed. Let cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
What sides go well with this casserole?
Bread, salad, roasted vegetables, or garlic knots are perfect alongside the casserole. You can also serve it over pasta or polenta for a heartier meal.
What type of pasta sauce works best?
Any tomato-based pasta sauce will work well. Marinara and meat sauces are typical, but you can also use alfredo, vodka, or pesto sauce for a creamy casserole.
Can I use fresh meatballs instead of frozen?
Yes, substitute 16-20 ounces of homemade or store-bought fresh meatballs. Bake the casserole 5-10 minutes longer until the meatballs are cooked through.
How can I make this vegetarian?
Use vegetarian meatballs or soy protein crumbles instead of traditional meatballs. Everything else stays the same.
What if my casserole seems dry?
If the casserole looks dry partway through baking, tent it with foil to prevent over-browning. You can also stir in a splash of milk or pasta cooking water if needed.
- 1 pound frozen meatballs (about 36 meatballs)
- 24 ounces (680g) pasta sauce
- 16 ounces (454g) shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup (10g) chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Grease a 23x33cm (9×13 inch) baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
- In a large bowl, combine the frozen meatballs, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Spread into an even layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. The casserole will firm up slightly as it cools.
- Serve warm directly from the baking dish alongside crusty bread, a salad, or steamed vegetables.
- Use your favorite flavor of jarred pasta sauce. Traditional marinara or meat sauce works well.
- For extra flavor, add minced garlic, Italian seasoning, or red pepper flakes to the sauce.
- Top with additional shredded mozzarella or Parmesan before baking for an extra cheesy casserole.
- Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave or oven.
Here are some useful tips for making the perfect meatball casserole:
- Use high-quality jarred pasta sauce – Rao’s and Buitoni are excellent options that will elevate the flavor.
- Don’t overcrowd the baking dish – leave a little room between the meatballs so the sauce can coat them evenly.
- Sprinkle a layer of grated mozzarella on top about 5 minutes before the casserole is finished baking for an extra gooey, melted cheese layer.
- Let the casserole rest at least 5 minutes before serving – this helps it set up and makes it easier to scoop out nice portions.
- Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and grated Parmesan before serving for a pop of color and added flavor.
- Serve with crusty garlic bread for dipping into the sauce. Warm, buttery rolls are also delicious.
- Accompany with a simple side salad of mixed greens, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and balsamic vinaigrette.
- For a creamy, rich sauce, stir a few tablespoons of heavy cream into the pasta sauce before assembling the casserole.
- Cook the frozen meatballs first before assembling the casserole to help render out excess fat and prevent a greasy bake.
- If reheating leftovers, add a splash of pasta water to the casserole to revive and moisten it before warming it up.
Let me know if you have any other meatball casserole questions!
Enjoy this super easy and delicious meatball casserole! It’s the perfect meal for busy weeknights or potlucks. Let me know if you try it!