This Cheesy Baked Meatball Casserole features fun, mini meatballs topped with your favorite marinara and loads of melty cheese! Baked in a casserole dish, this easy dinner idea is a huge hit with kids!
An Easy Casserole Recipe My Kids Love
My kids love, love, love, meatballs. They are full of flavor, fun to make, and perfect with pasta! Why wouldn’t kids love them, right?
I love making meatballs because everyone is happy and they’re so easy to make.
Know what my kids love even more than plain meatballs? Meatballs that have been covered in their favorite marinara sauce and heaps of cheese! Cheese, cheese, cheese! 🧀
This cheesy baked meatball casserole is simply the best! You get perfectly baked meatballs that soak in the sweet, garlicky marinara.
Topped with melty, gooey, cheese served on warm fresh rolls or on the side of your favorite pasta and you have a simple dinner that the entire family will enjoy.
What You’ll Need
For this recipe, you’ll need all of the ingredients to make meatballs, plus some extra, super flavorful aromatic add-ins. If you happen to have a stash of frozen meatballs you’ve previously made, you can go ahead and skip right down to the marinara sauce. 🙌
Here’s what you’ll need:
- cubed fresh sliced bread
- yellow onion
- ground beef
- ground pork
- Italian Seasoning
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- marinara sauce
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- chopped fresh parsley
How to Make a Baked Meatball Casserole
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Mix the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl combine the bread cubes and milk. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all the milk.
- Shred the bread: Using two forks, shred the bread into tiny pieces and add the grated onions, egg, garlic, beef, pork, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix it all together until thoroughly incorporated.
- Make the meatballs: Chill the mixture for 15 minutes so it’s easier to roll the meatballs. Form the mixture into 18 to 24 meatballs, they should be about the size of a ping pong ball.
- Bake: Arrange the meatballs in a baking dish. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Remove from the oven.
- Top: Add marinara sauce over the meatballs. Add shredded mozzarella.
- Continue baking: Bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and cheese is melted.
- Garnish and serve: Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Tips for Success
To make sure your cheesy meatball casserole turns out the best, follow these simple tips:
- After you combine your meatball mix together, don’t forget to let the mix chill! This will make it easier for you to form the meatballs and it will keep your meatballs from flattening while they bake.
- Try to form your meatballs into similar sizes. This way, they will cook evenly.
- Be sure to distribute your shredded cheese evenly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids fighting over who got more cheese! 🙄
- For a super quick and easy dinner, use frozen meatballs and jarred marinara. Simply allow the meatballs to come to room temp before baking or adjust your baking time based on the instructions on the package. There’s no shame in needing a super easy and fast dinner on a crazy busy weeknight.
One of the things I love about this meal is that I can mix things up based on what I have available to me at the time. Here are some variations I suggest:
- Use ground turkey instead of the mixture of ground pork and beef. This will give you a more lean meatball.
- You could also use previously made frozen meatballs. I love to keep homemade meatballs in my freezer to pull out for an easy weeknight dinner. This saves the most labor intensive steps in making this dinner!
- Swap the mozzarella cheese for provolone, parmesan, or any Italian cheese blend.
- Swap the fresh parsley for fresh basil or oregano.
This casserole is just so delicious. I love to serve it up with fresh warm rolls or flatbread. We make our own meatball sandwiches out of them. My kids love this cheesy meatball casserole served up alongside their favorite pasta shapes.
If you’re avoiding carbs or not in the mood for pasta, you can simply serve this casserole along side zoodles or with a large Italian style salad.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Allow the casserole to come down to room temperature. You can either tightly cover the casserole dish or transfer the meatballs over to an airtight container.
- If you transfer the meatballs, try to scoop them from the bottom to keep the layer of cheese on top intact. Then, you can keep them in your fridge for about 3-5 days.
- To reheat your leftovers, simply place the casserole dish in a 400˚F oven and bake until the meatballs are warm and the cheese has remelted.
Cheesy Meatball Casserole
- 2 cups cubed fresh sliced bread, crusts removed
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 small yellow onion, grated
- 1 large egg
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- In a large mixing bowl combine bread cubes and milk; let stand 5 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all the milk.
- Using two forks, shred the bread into tiny pieces and add grated onions, egg, garlic, beef, pork, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper; mix it all together until thoroughly incorporated.
- Chill mixture for 15 minutes so it’s easier to roll the meatballs.
- Form the mixture into 18 to 24 meatballs, they should be about the size of a ping pong ball.
- Arrange the meatballs in a baking dish.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Remove from oven.
- Add marinara sauce over the meatballs.
- Top with shredded mozzarella.
- Bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until sauce is heated through and cheese is melted.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.