This cheesy meatball casserole has melty cheese and marinara sauce. Enjoy this easy weeknight meal that the whole family will enjoy. Make a large batch of meatballs and freeze some for later when you are short on time.
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Make the Meatballs Ahead of Time
If you are like me, during the week, I am often short on time. When I get home from work, everyone is hungry, and I have 30-60 minutes to get a healthy, nutritious, and scrumptious meal on the table.
Therefore, on the weekends when I do have a bit more time, when I make meatballs for this dish, I double the meatball recipe portion. Cook them through, let them cool, and freeze them in airtight containers.
Then, on those nights when I am rushed. Out come those extra meatballs are ready for the sauce and cheese and baking.
It does take longer to bake because the meat has been frozen, but that is okay, it gives me a few more minutes for myself before feeding everyone. I just cook it until it is hot and bubbly. Generally, an extra 20 minutes will do it.
Make an Easy, Cheesy Meatball Sub
This can be enjoyed just as is for a great meal. However, why not make it a sandwich?
We have a sub shop near us and one of the sandwiches they serve is the meatball sub! Toast the bun, add your favorite vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, and a few pickles just for starters. You have just made a copycat meatball sub at home.
Variations to Making the Meatballs
First off, these meatballs are made by combining ground beef and pork. These little nuggets can certainly be made with one type of ground meat or a combination. They are perfect for chicken, turkey, pork, beef, or wild game such as deer or elk for instance.
Swap out the pork in this recipe for Italian sausage. This generally comes in links; therefore, just make a slit down one side and remove the casing. It can now be cooked just as you would ground pork. Additionally, at our local grocery store, the Italian sausage comes in mild, medium, and spicy options. If you like spice, this would be a great pairing with the beef.
Another way to add spice to the meatballs is to add a teaspoon or red pepper flakes.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Meatballs
While I generally make this in the oven this can be done in a slow cooker. Just layer the ingredients in the slow cooker the same way and cook it on high for 2 ½ hours or low for 5 hours.
Add Veggies to the Casserole
This is a perfect recipe to sneak in a few vegetables for an additional healthy meal. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or green beans would cook up quickly and compliment the flavors nicely.
My niece serves these meatballs over spaghetti squash.
Cheesy Meatball Casserole is a Freezer-Friendly Meal
If you are someone that likes to meal prep ahead of time. This is a perfect one for putting all the ingredients together ahead of time in a container that is safe going from the freezer to the oven.
Additionally, if you have leftovers, let them cool and store in a freezer storage bag or other container that is safe going from the freezer to the oven. However, generally, I like to thaw this overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven. This will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.
I like to freeze the meatballs and just take out enough for a small meal. Pop them into a cast iron skillet with the marinara sauce and cheese and you have a lovely and delicious meal.
Cheesy Meatball Casserole
- 3 pounds Ground Beef family pack
- 1 Pound Ground Pork
- 6 Cloves Garlic Minced or 3 TBL.
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley Chopped
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese Shredded
- 1/2 Cup Romano Cheese Shredded
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
- 1 Cup Saltine Crackers Crushed
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Milk
- 2-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil for frying meatballs
- 32 Ounces Marinara Sauce
- 4 Cups Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- This recipe is enough for two 9 X 13 pans. Therefore, if you wish to make a smaller batch, decrease the amounts.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, saltine crackers, eggs, and milk. Mix until everything is well mixed together.
- Roll into meatballs. I like to use a 1-inch cookie scoop. The ball shape is almost done for you. Once scooped, it just takes a few rolls in the hand to make the round shape. If you prefer a larger meatball, use a larger cookie scoop.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, fry the meatballs about 10 at a time in a 12-inch skillet. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, and brown the meatballs on both sides for 2-3 minutes. They will be about half way cooked at this point. The oven baking will finish cooking them all the way.
- As each batch of meatballs is cooked, place them in a 9 X 13 or other casserole dish that has a bit of the marinara sauce spread on the bottom.
- Once the meatballs are all seared, and in the pan, add more of the marinara sauce on top. (A total of half the jar should be used for each 9 X 13 pan). Add 2 cups of the mozzerella cheese and 1cup of the cheddar cheese on top of each pan. (there are enough for 2 pans of meatballs).
- Cover pans with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and the meatballs are fully cooked. Generally, the sauce will be bubbly and the cheese fully melted. It is done.
- Garnish with parsley if you wish.
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I hope that you liked this recipe. If you are looking for more ideas on what to make, here are a few other recipes that you may enjoy.
You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has worked in restaurants for many years. Her many crochet patterns and quilt patterns are enjoyed by many. In her professional career, she has worked in management in a wide variety of businesses including higher education as a dean of a division. All the while attending college part-time to achieve her doctorate in higher education with an emphasis in e-learning.