Baked Meatball Casserole – You’ll love how easy it is to make this dump-and-bake casserole recipe with frozen meatballs, your favorite jarred pasta, and lots of melty cheese. It’s perfect to prep ahead and feed a hungry crowd in under an hour!

Metal spoon holding a serving of meatball casserole to camera.

Why We Love This Casserole Recipe

What family can resist a yummy, bubbly, gooey, cheesy casserole? We sure can’t! And this Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole recipe has shot to the top of our list of favorites… It’s a simple, yet hearty and super kid-friendly, dinner you can serve any night of the week!

With basic ingredients like a box of pasta, a large jar of good-quality marinara, a package of frozen meatballs, a block of cream cheese, and a bag of shredded mozzarella, you can make an amazingly delicious dinner no one will turn down. Bonus: Leftovers are delish and great for lunch meal prepping.

From start to finish, the casserole is ready to serve in only 1 hour – but you can even prep or fully make it ahead and freeze for later. Either way, this easy crowd-pleasing favorite will make it to the top of your weekly meal plan rotation immediately!

Baked meatball casserole in a white dish, bubbly cheese on top.

Ingredients You Need

  • Dried pasta – like rigatoni, penne, ziti, or fusilli
  • Jarred pasta sauce – marinara, or whatever flavor you prefer
  • Water
  • Frozen meatballs – full-size or mini meatballs
  • SpicesItalian seasoning, crushed red pepper (optional), salt
  • Cream cheese – full fat or light
  • Mozzarella cheese – shredded
  • Chopped parsley – to garnish

Pro Tip: It’s important to remember that the flavor coming from such simple store-bought ingredients means those ingredients need to be good quality. Make sure to buy high-quality marinara for this recipe, as well as better frozen meatballs if you can find them. This will make a big difference in the overall taste and texture of the casserole. You can also experiment with different styles of jarred pasta sauces like vodka sauce, Arrabbiata sauce, or spicy Diablo sauce.

Dark gray plate with a generous portion of baked meatball casserole with pasta and cheese.

How to Make Dump-and-Bake Meatball Casserole

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Set out a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In the baking dish, combine the dried pasta, marinara, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and salt.

Adding herbs to the noodles.

Then pour the water over the top and gently stir to combine the ingredients. 

Arrange the frozen meatballs over the top of the pasta.

Hand adding frozen meatballs to baking dish with marinara and pasta.

Then cut the cream cheese block into small chunks and arrange the cream cheese pieces over the top of the pasta as well.

Get the Complete (Printable) Easy Meatball Casserole Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Layers of meatballs and chunks of cream cheese in marinara sauce, in white baking dish.

Cover the top of the pan tightly with foil. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. 

Once the timer goes off, remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the top of the pasta and meatballs with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Hand adding shredded mozzarella to the casserole.

Lower the oven temperature to 400°F. Then place the pan back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges.

Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve warm.

Baked meatball casserole in a white dish, bubbly cheese on top.

Make Ahead Tips

This is a wonderful recipe to prep ahead and bake later in the week. You can even make it in foil freezer pans and freeze it for later use!

If prepping ahead to bake later in the week, combine all the ingredients, reserving the water to add right before baking. Cover with foil and keep in the fridge until ready to bake.

If planning to freeze, combine all ingredients including the water. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.

Metal spoon holding a serving of meatball casserole to camera.

Serving Suggestions

I highly suggest serving this classic Italian-style meatballs casserole with a refreshing salad and crusty garlic bread.

We love our perfectly simple Steakhouse Caesar Salad or even just a handful of fresh greens with a light vinaigrette. For a salad with an extra bit of healthy goodness and pizzaz try a Crunchy Kale Caesar Salad.

And if you’ve got a bit of time, these Homemade Breadsticks are always a big hit and are great to make in bulk!

Dark gray plate with a generous portion of baked meatball casserole with pasta and cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you thaw frozen meatballs before cooking?

Nope! You do not need to thaw the meatballs before adding them to the casserole dish.

Should I sear meatballs before baking?

No, it’s not necessary to cook the meatballs first.

How long do leftovers last?

Cool any leftovers, then transfer them to an airtight container. The casserole will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze meatball casserole?

Yes, this dump and bake casserole recipe is wonderful to freeze! Cooled leftovers should be stored in an airtight freezer-safe container, and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Check out the recipe card below for full steps to make ahead and freeze the entire casserole.

Dark gray plate with a generous portion of baked meatball casserole with pasta and cheese. Fork is holding a bite to camera.

Looking for More Casserole Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Metal spoon holding a serving of meatball casserole to camera.
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4.80 stars (5 reviews)
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Easy Baked Meatball Casserole Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
You'll love how easy it is to make this dump and bake casserole recipe with frozen meatballs, your favorite jarred pasta, and lots of melty cheese. It's perfect to feed a hungry crowd in under 1 hour!
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Set out a large 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • In the baking dish, combine the dried pasta, marinara, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and salt. Then pour the water over the top and gently stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Arrange the frozen meatballs over the top of the pasta. Then cut the cream cheese block into small chunks and arrange the cream cheese pieces over the top of the pasta as well.
  • Cover the top of the pan tightly with foil. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  • Once the timer goes off, remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the top of the pasta and meatballs with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 400°F. Then place the pan back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve warm.

Notes

Ingredients Notes: it’s important to remember that the flavor coming from such simple store-bought ingredients means those ingredients need to be good quality. Make sure to buy high-quality marinara for this recipe, as well as better frozen meatballs if you can find them. This will make a big difference in the overall taste and texture of the casserole. You can also experiment with different styles of jarred pasta sauces like vodka sauce, Arrabbiata sauce, or spicy Diablo sauce.
Meal Prep Notes: This is a wonderful recipe to prep ahead and bake later in the week. You can even make it in foil freezer pans and freeze it for later use! If prepping ahead to bake later in the week, combine all the ingredients, reserving the water to add right before baking. If planning to freeze, combine all ingredients including the water.
Leftovers: Cool any leftovers, then transfer to an airtight container. The casserole will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days, and up to 3 months in the freezer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cup, Calories: 481kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 950mg, Potassium: 691mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 822IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 195mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Brittany Ervin
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