Meatball Casserole in a baking dish
Meatball Casserole with frozen meatballs, marinara, pasta, and cheese—a tasty one-dish dinner
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This easy cheesy Meatball Casserole makes a complete family-friendly meal. It’s packed with juicy meatballs, perfectly cooked pasta, marinara sauce, and plenty of cheese. 

Meatball Casserole in a baking dish with penne pasta.

One Pan Meatball Casserole

Our easy Meatball Casserole recipe turns a multi-part spaghetti meal into a super simple one-dish meatball pasta bake dinner. Why prepare your pasta, meatballs, and sauce separately when you can simplify the steps and save time by baking them all together? 

This meatball pasta bake comes together in 10 fast minutes using frozen, fully cooked meatballs and store-bought sauce for speed and convenience. However, if you feel like fussing, you can certainly prepare each part of your pasta meatball casserole from scratch.

To make this pasta meatball bake, cook your noodles to al dente and dump them in a baking dish with the tomato sauce, Italian seasonings, and parmesan cheese. Mix it all together, add the meatballs on top, cover it with mozzarella, and bake until melted and golden brown.

Why We Love Meatball Casserole Recipes

  • Quick and easy to make with minimal work.
  • Uses a handful of simple ingredients.
  • Turns a classic spaghetti and meatball dinner into a one dish meatball pasta casserole dinner.
  • Casseroles are family-friendly comfort food.
  • Perfect make-ahead meal for busy weeknights.

Meatball Casserole Ingredients

Meatball Casserole ingredients.
  • Penne pasta
  • Tomato & basil marinara sauce: Feel free to use a store-bought jar or make your own pasta sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Frozen Italian-style meatballs: You can use fresh or fully cooked frozen meatballs.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Substitutions and Additions

  • Make With Other Meat: You can also use turkey or chicken meatballs as a substitute for the ground beef meatballs. Or if you prefer not to use frozen fully cooked meatballs, you can use homemade meatballs for this recipe.
  • Pick Your Pasta: You can substitute any short pasta in this recipe for the penne. I like to use rigatoni, rotini, shells, or cavatappi pasta if I do not have penne in my pantry. If you opt for long pasta, like fettuccine or spaghetti, you can break it into small pieces before cooking or leave it long, like in my Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs.
  • Vegan or Vegetarian Version: You can make this a vegetarian meal by using your favorite fresh or frozen meatless meatballs. To make this a vegan meal, use both plant based meatballs and dairy free cheese.
taking 1 Meatball from the casserole using a spoon.

How to Make Meatball Casserole

  1. Prepare Your Pasta: Cook to al dente and drain the pasta according to the package directions. (Image 1)
  2. Combine And Coat: Stir together the pasta, sauce, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt until the pasta is completely coated. (Image 2)
  3. Create The Casserole: Spread the pasta into an even layer, top with 6 rows of 3 meatballs, and cover with mozzarella cheese. (Images 3 and 4)
  4. Bake: Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. (Image 5)
  5. Serve: Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm. Enjoy!
Cooked and drained penne pasta and then add all the ingredients to the baking dish.
Put the cheese then bake and sprinkle some toppings.

Tips For Making The Best Meatball Casserole

  • Be sure to use a good quality jarred marinara sauce. You can use a homemade marinara sauce if you prefer.
  • I like to use good quality whole milk mozzarella cheese and shred it by hand. I find that it melts so much better than the pre-bagged shredded cheeses.
  • The pasta does not need to be fully cooked (cook only to al dente) since it will continue cooking in the sauce when baked in the oven.

What Can I serve with Meatballs Instead of pasta?

Instead of piling your meatballs on top of pasta, why not bake them in my homemade Garlic Bread Meatball Bombs instead? Or you can make Meatball Subs, serve it like a low carb Meatball Parmesan over zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or with cauliflower breadsticks on the side.

How to Store Meatball Casserole

  • To Store: Once baked, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze the baked and cooled meatball casserole in a tightly wrapped container for up to 2 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating. If you plan to freeze this meatball casserole, I suggest making it in a heavy-duty disposable aluminum baking pan.
  • To Reheat: Reheat in the oven or microwave until heated through.
Meatball Casserole with melted cheese on a white table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prepare my meatball casserole in advance?

You can make this meatball casserole up to 8 hours before baking it. You will want to assemble the casserole and store it in the refrigerator tightly covered with aluminum foil until you’re ready to bake.

Can I Make my own meatballs?

Yes, you can make your own meatballs. Feel free to use beef, pork, turkey, or chicken meatballs. However, if you are using frozen meatballs, be sure it is a good-quality brand and thaw them before assembly and baking.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

cheesy Meatball Casserole and penne pasta on a white plate.

Other Easy Dinner Recipes

5 from 4 votes
Meatball Casserole in a baking dish

Meatball Casserole

Serves — 6
Meatball Casserole with frozen meatballs, marinara, pasta, and cheese—a tasty one-dish dinner
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound penne pasta cooked to al dente (according to package directions) and drained
  • 32 ounce jar of tomato & basil marinara sauce MIDS brand
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley divided into 1½ tablespoons and ½ tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 18 frozen Italian-style meatballs 1½-inch sized, thawed
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
  • Add the cooked and drained penne pasta to the baking dish.
    1 pound penne pasta
  • Add the tomato & basil marinara sauce, grated parmesan cheese, 1½ tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt to the pasta. Stir to combine and coat all the pasta with the sauce and parmesan cheese. Be sure that your pasta is spread out into an even layer.
    32 ounce jar of tomato & basil marinara sauce, ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Place the meatballs in 6 rows of 3 meatballs each into the pasta and sauce. Push the meatballs gently down into the pasta so that they are nestled down but not covered by the pasta.
    18 frozen Italian-style meatballs
  • Top the entire dish of pasta and meatballs with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
    16 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • Sprinkle the remaining ½ tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley over the top and serve while still warm.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
  • To Store: Once baked, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze the baked and cooled meatball casserole in a tightly wrapped container for up to 2 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating. If you plan to freeze this meatball casserole, I suggest making it in a heavy-duty disposable aluminum baking pan.
  • To Reheat: Reheat in the oven or microwave until heated through.
Tips:
  • Be sure to use a good quality jarred marinara sauce. You can use a homemade marinara sauce if you prefer.
  • I really like to use a good quality whole milk mozzarella cheese and shred it by hand. I find that it melts so much better than the pre-bagged shredded cheeses.
  • The pasta does not need to be fully cooked (cook only to al dente) since it will continue cooking in the sauce when baked in the oven.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 710kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1633mg | Potassium: 835mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1389IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 539mg | Iron: 3mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Eating this as I write.
    My first time making this.
    I made one adjustment. I used all mozzarella cheese bc that’s the only cheese I like.
    It’s good, but a little dry. I’ll make this again, but I’ll use some more sauce.
    Thank you for another delicious recipe 😊