One Pan Meatball Casserole is one of those dump it and forget it family favorites that everyone loves. It makes a great freezer meal and I’ve adapted it for the slow cooker and instant pot.
One pan dishes are the kind of recipes that motivate me to make dinner. I love the thought of few dishes and easy prep! Some of my favorite one pan meals include Easy Beef Stroganoff, Cottage Pie, and One Pan Jambalaya.
This is one of those magical dinners where uncooked noodles, sauce, and meatballs are all added to a casserole dish and baked together in the same pan! It doesn’t get much easier then that, and it’s the type of warm and comforting meal that everyone in your family will love!
Ingredients you’ll Need:
- Uncooked ziti pasta: or penne noodles
- Marinara sauce: homemade or store-bought
- Milk: makes it creamy, but additional water or broth can be substituted.
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and salt
- Cooked meatballs: I like to use my homemade chicken meatballs.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Optional toppings: parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)
How to Make Meatball Casserole:
- Mix. In a large baking dish stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, milk, spices and meatballs.
- Bake. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 40 minutes.
- Stir and check. Check the pasta—we want it to be al dente (firm, but almost perfectly cooked). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven for a few minutes.
- Add cheese. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered at 425 degrees F. for 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the sauce to thicken up.
Want to make a smaller batch? Cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8’’ or similar size dish.
Can I use frozen meatballs? I suggest thawing the meatballs first, so that everything bakes in as quick of time as possible. If you bake the dish with frozen meatballs it will take longer to bake.
Slow Cooker: Prepare as directed, but leave out the milk and add an additional 24 oz jar of marinara sauce. Be sure the ziti noodles are covered with sauce. Cook on HIGH for 2 – 2 ½ hours, or LOW for 3 ⅓ -4 hours or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top during the last few minutes of cooking and return the lid to allow the cheese to melt. Optional: place under broiler for a few minutes to toast the cheesy top.
Instant Pot: Here is my very similar Instant Pot version. https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/instant-pot-penne-pasta-with-meatballs/
Make Ahead Instructions: This meatball casserole can be assembled completely the night before, but I wouldn’t do it any sooner than that or the noodles may have a mushy texture after baking.
Freezing Instructions: Prepare the meatball casserole up until baking. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before baking, or to bake from froze, baked covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and uncovered for 15-20 minutes longer.
CONSIDER TRYING THESE POPULAR DINNER RECIPES:
- Beef Stroganoff
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas
- Italian Grilled Cheese
- Gourmet Baked Mac N Cheese with Bacon
- Crispy BBQ Chicken Wraps
One Pan Meatball Casserole
- 16 oz. package uncooked ziti pasta
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Meatballs , fully cooked, thawed
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella (or Italian blend cheese)
- Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil , oregano, and parsley for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a 9x13 inch baking dish stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, milk, spices and meatballs.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Uncover; stir. Check the pasta for doneness. We want it to be al dente (firm, but almost perfectly cooked). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven for a few minutes.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the sauce to thicken up.
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