Cheesy Meatballs Casserole

When you think of ultimate comfort food, Cheesy Meatballs Casserole surely tops the list! This dish combines gooey, melty cheese with tender, flavorful meatballs, all baked to perfection. It’s a hearty, feel-good meal that’s perfect for any day of the year.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to create this comforting classic at home. We aim to make the cooking process easy, as well as fun. Get ready to wrap yourself in the warm, cheesy goodness of this delightful recipe.

History and Origin of Cheesy Meatballs Casserole

Believe it or not, the concept of meatballs dates back centuries and spans numerous cultures around the globe. From Italian polpette to Swedish köttbullar, meatballs have made their mark worldwide. But it’s the marriage of these savory balls with casserole-style cooking that birthed the beloved Meatballs Casserole.

This dish, as we know it today, likely found its roots in America, evolving from various ethnic influences into a comfort food favorite. It seamlessly blends the hearty, familiar essence of meatballs with the convenience and warmth of a casserole. Now, that’s a culinary win worth celebrating!

Ingredients for Cheesy Meatballs Casserole

Ready to whip up this comforting dish? First, gather your ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef – For a leaner option, consider ground turkey or chicken.
  • 1 pound ground pork – Keep it diverse, or for a single meat version, simply double up on your preferred ground meat.
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs – For a gluten-free alternative, opt for GF breadcrumbs or rolled oats.
  • 1 egg – Acts as the perfect binder. For vegan variations, a flaxseed or chia seed egg works wonders.
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese – Nutritional yeast can be a great vegan substitute, bringing in that cheesy flavor.
  • 1/2 cup milk – Almond, soy, or oat milk will do the trick for those avoiding dairy.
  • 1/2 cup diced onion – A crucial ingredient for that mouth-watering aroma and taste.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced – Because what’s a meatball without garlic?
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning – This blend is key for that classic flavor.
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley – Fresh herbs make everything better.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt – To taste, but don’t skimp!
  • ½ teaspoon pepper – A little goes a long way.
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup butter – Vegan butter substitutes can easily be used for dairy-free needs.

Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or opt for the substitutes, this Cheesy Meatballs Casserole will surely be a hit. Gather these ingredients, and let’s get cooking!

cheesy meatballs casserole

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now, with all your ingredients ready, it’s cooking time! Follow these easy steps to bring your Cheesy Meatballs Casserole to life. Don’t worry; we’ll make sure the process is as fun and straightforward as possible.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). This perfect temperature ensures everything cooks evenly.
  2. Mix your meats: In a large bowl, blend the ground beef and pork. This combo promises juiciness and flavor.
  3. Add the mix-ins: To your meat, stir in breadcrumbs, the egg, parmesan, milk, diced onion, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix until just combined—overmixing might make the meatballs tough.
  4. Shape the meatballs: Scoop about a tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll it into balls. Aim for uniform size to ensure even cooking.

Cooking the Cheesy Meatballs Casserole

  1. Brown the meatballs: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the meatballs and cook until they’re just browned but not fully cooked through. This adds an irresistible layer of flavor.
  2. Assemble the casserole: Spread a thin layer of your favorite marinara sauce at the bottom of a baking dish. Place the browned meatballs snugly in the dish. Don’t be shy to pack them; the more, the merrier.
  3. Cheese it up: Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella (and some extra parmesan, if you like) over the meatballs. Cheese lovers, this is your moment.
  4. Bake to perfection: Slide your casserole into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, and the meatballs are cooked through.
  5. Garnish and serve: Once out of the oven, give your masterpiece a final touch by sprinkling some chopped fresh parsley on top. Serve hot and enjoy the melted cheese pulling apart as you scoop out the meatballs.

Remember, cooking is not just about following steps; it’s about having fun and putting love into what you make. Feel free to get creative with your unique version of this delicious Cheesy Meatballs Casserole!

Tips and Tricks for Success

Making the perfect Cheesy Meatballs Casserole can be as easy as pie. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, these tidbits will help ensure your casserole turns out delectable every time:

  • Don’t Overmix: When combining your meatball ingredients, mix until just incorporated. Overworking the meat can lead to tough meatballs, which we want to avoid for a tender, mouth-watering casserole.
  • Uniform Size: Try to make all your meatballs the same size. This not only helps in making sure they cook evenly but also makes for a more visually appealing dish.
  • Pre-Cooking: Browning the meatballs before adding them to the casserole helps to lock in flavors. Plus, it gives them a nice texture contrast against the soft, melty cheese.
  • Cheese Matters: While any cheese is good cheese, choosing a good quality mozzarella (and parmesan) can elevate your dish. For an extra gooey casserole, consider a blend of cheeses.

Serving Suggestions

cheesy meatballs casserole in an oval casserole dish

Once your Cheesy Meatballs Casserole is bubbling hot and ready to delight, consider these serving suggestions to round out your meal:

  • Garlic Bread: There’s nothing quite like a piece of warm, buttery garlic bread to scoop up the gooey cheese and rich marinara sauce. It’s a match made in heaven.
  • Green Salad: Balance the richness of the casserole with a light and refreshing green salad. A simple mix of arugula, spinach, or mixed greens with a vinaigrette dressing can add a crisp contrast.
  • Roasted Vegetables: For a heartier companion, roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and onions can accompany your meatballs well, adding a caramelized sweetness.
  • Pasta: If you’re looking to double down on comfort, serve the meatballs over a bed of spaghetti or your favorite pasta. It’s classic for a reason.
  • Rice or Polenta: For a gluten-free option, consider serving the casserole with a side of fluffy rice or creamy polenta. Either choice offers a delightful bed to soak up the sauce.
  • A Glass of Red Wine: For those of age, a glass of robust red wine complements the flavors of the meatballs and cheese wonderfully, elevating your dining experience.

Choose one or a combination of these suggestions to create a meal that’s both satisfying and complete. Enjoy your culinary creation with friends and family for a memorable feast!

Variations and Customizations

Creating a dish that caters to various tastes and dietary needs is a mark of a great cook. With this Cheesy Meatballs Casserole, the possibilities for customization and variation are plentiful. Here are some ideas to inspire you to tailor this dish to your liking:

  • Meat Alternatives: For a vegetarian version, consider using plant-based meat substitutes for the meatballs or opt for lentil and mushroom-based meatballs. These alternatives can mimic the texture and richness of meat while keeping the dish vegetarian.
  • Gluten-Free Options: Swap out traditional breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal to make your meatballs gluten-free. Ensure all other ingredients used are certified gluten-free, especially the marinara sauce.
  • Spice It Up: If you prefer a bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes to the meat mixture or sprinkle some on top before baking. You could also mix some chopped jalapeños into the cheese for an extra spicy kick.
  • Different Cheeses: While mozzarella is a classic choice for its meltiness, don’t hesitate to experiment with other cheeses. Gouda, provolone, or a mix of cheddar can add different flavors and textures to your casserole.

These variations and customizations allow you to adapt the Cheesy Meatballs Casserole to fit any dietary need, taste preference, or pantry availability. Feel free to get creative and make this dish uniquely yours, ensuring it becomes a beloved staple in your cooking repertoire.

Conclusion

The Cheesy Meatballs Casserole is more than just a dish; it’s a warm, comforting experience that brings people together. Whether you follow the recipe to the letter or add your twist, the result is sure to be delicious. Remember that the best meals are made not only with great ingredients but with great love and care.

As you experiment with different variations and serving suggestions, you’ll find that this casserole can suit any occasion, from a busy weeknight dinner to a special gathering with friends and family. Enjoy the process, indulge in the flavors, and, most importantly, share the joy of cooking and eating with your loved ones.

With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to making a Cheesy Meatballs Casserole that’s sure to impress. Remember, the key to great cooking is not just in the recipe but in making it your own. Happy cooking!

casserole dish of cheesy meatballs casserole

Cheesy Meatballs Casserole

homemadefoodfromscratch
When you think of ultimate comfort food, Cheesy Meatballs Casserole surely tops the list! This dish combines gooey, melty cheese with tender, flavorful meatballs, all baked to perfection.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 1 9×13 casserole dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound pound ground beef
  • 1 pound pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs or oatmeal
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parmesean
  • 1/2 cup cup milk
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 1 garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper to tast
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup butter

Instructions
 

Mix Meatballs

  • Lightly beat egg in a large bowl.
  • Stir in crumbs or oatmeal, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, seasonings.
  • Add all meats and gently mix with hands until combined (do not overmix).

Form Meatballs

  • Use a meatball or ice cream scoop or your hands to shape meat into balls about the size of a ping pong ball.

Sear Meatballs

  • Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the meatballs on medium heat on all sides for around 2-3 minutes, getting a good sear on all sides, then remove from heat and set aside.

Layer Casserole

  • Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of marinara sauce. Place the meatballs evenly into the baking dish and pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top.
  • Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the baking dish.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, uncover the baking dish, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Notes

Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 929mg | Potassium: 711mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 741IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 4mg
Keyword cheesy meatballs casserole

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