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This Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole only needs 6 ingredients and you don’t even have to boil the pasta before! Quick to make because you ‘dump’ the ingredients into a casserole dish and let it bake. Family-friendly dinners don’t get any easier than this meatball casserole that uses convenient ingredients like frozen meatballs and jarred pasta sauce.
For more of my family favorite meatball recipes (that also use convenient frozen meatballs) be sure and try my Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs, Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Meatballs, and Easy Swedish Meatballs.
Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole Recipe
All my kids just adore pasta dinner recipes like this easy dump and bake meatball casserole! The flavors are mild enough, the prep time is less than 5 minutes, and it’s always a kid-favorite at the dinner table. Can’t ask for much more than that 😉
This meatball casserole literally gets ‘dumped’ into one baking dish and then the oven does the rest of the work for you. Frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce, and dried pasta make the prep time minimal and easy enough for anyone to do.
My family can’t get enough of simple pasta dinner recipes like this Easy Garlic Parmesan Pasta or my Creamy Tomato Beef Pasta. Pasta + Cheese is always a favorite!
Ingredients Needed to Make a Meatball Casserole
- Rotini Pasta – No need to boil this before preparing this casserole! This is what makes the prep so minimal because you simply dump the dry, uncooked pasta into the baking dish.
- Pasta Sauce – Use any flavor of pasta sauce you want! I usually stick with the classic tomato & basil but there are tons of options like garden vegetable, parmesan, spicy vodka, roasted garlic, three cheese, etc. You can even use up leftover pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce from a previous dinner.
- Frozen Pre Cooked Meatballs – These need to be completely thawed before preparing the casserole. I put the bag of frozen meatballs into the fridge the night before, or morning of, and they’re ready to use by dinnertime.
- Kosher Salt
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Optional Garnishes – If wanted, you can sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or chopped fresh parsley on top of the casserole before serving.
How To Make Easy Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole with Frozen Meatballs
It’s easy to make this meatball casserole with only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time! Everything literally gets ‘dumped’ into a 9×13 baking dish and you’re ready for the oven.
- Prep : Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. I use a ceramic baking dish, but you can also use a glass one or nonstick one.
- Dump and Bake : Dump in the dried pasta, water, pasta sauce, meatballs, and kosher salt. Cover the pan with tin foil.
- Cook : Set the cook time for 35 minutes. Stir everything together at the halfway point of the cook time (at about 18 minutes).
- Cheese : Once the original cook time is done, stir the casserole together again, and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over top. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole FAQ’s
Variations & Substitution Ideas
- Meatballs : Use any variety of frozen meatballs in this recipe. Homestyle, Italian, etc are all great choices. Make sure that you use the 14 oz package that is called for in the recipe below.
- Pasta Sauce : Again, as long as you use a 24 oz jar, you can use any variety of pasta sauce that you prefer. For even more meatball goodness use a ‘mini meatball’ pasta sauce, or a garden vegetable pasta sauce, or my personal favorite is the classic tomato & basil.
- Dried Seasonings : The purpose of this meatball casserole is to be an easy, dump & go type recipe, that requires very little effort on your part. Of course, you can spice this thing up as much as you prefer. Add some garlic powder, onion powder, basil, Italian seasoning, seasoned salt, etc. I prefer the simplicity of the kosher salt because it’s easy, so simple to make, and it’s kid-friendly.
- Cheese : Try adding more cheesy goodness to this casserole. Lay some slices of provolone cheese, or another variety of cheese, before you sprinkle the shredded cheese over top. You can even add some parmesan cheese as well.
Can I Make It Ahead of Time?
- Yes you can! Make this recipe even easier by preparing it ahead of time. Prepare the casserole as called for in the recipe and wrap it tightly in tin foil. Let it refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it that evening for dinner.
- I do not recommend preparing this the night before and letting it sit in the water all night.
- This recipe is really so simple to make that all you need is a few minutes prep time to put it together. I recommend assembling it right before baking it, but it can be prepared and refrigerated in the morning.
Do I Need To Stir It Halfway Through?
- I highly recommend making this dinner when you are able to stir it halfway through. Stirring the casserole allows all the pasta to be mixed into the water and soften during the cook time.
- If you’re not able to stir it halfway through the cook time, that is ok, but just realize that there will be some parts and bits of the pasta noodles that will have a crunchy texture due to them not being stirred into the water halfway through.
Can I Use a Different Pasta In This Dump and Bake Casserole?
- Yes you can, but make sure that it is about the same size as the spiral rotini pasta.
- Other pasta shapes that will work are penne pasta or the mini sized bow-ties. You can also try using medium shell pasta noodles. I have only ever made this casserole with rotini noodles so that is what I recommend. The bake time could be slightly different if using a larger or different pasta rather than rotini.
- I prefer rotini because it’s the perfect sized shape and it has all those grooves and spirals that hold in the pasta sauce.
Can I Use Homemade Pasta Sauce Instead of Jarred?
- Yes, of course! If you have extra pasta sauce this is the perfect way to use it up. I always seem to have leftovers when I make this Slow Cooker Italian Sausage and Beef Spaghetti Sauce. Even more meaty goodness with that one! You can also try making my Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce or my Easy Spaghetti Sauce Recipe.
- A 24 ounce jar of pasta sauce is equal to 3 cups.
- Serve with a side salad such as a bag of leafy greens and add some grape tomatoes and chopped cucumbers.
- I also like to buy the pre-mixed, ready to use salad mixes, at the grocery store like the Caesar salad.
- Serve with some of my Cheesy Garlic Bread, Easy Breadsticks Recipe, Garlic Parmesan Knots, or some of these gooey gooey Cheese Bombs that are made in the air fryer.
- Or try some of these sweet like candy Slow Cooker Sweet Glazed Carrots for a veggies side dish.
Here are a few of my helpful tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe in your own kitchen ♥
- Stir Halfway Through : This casserole turns out best when you stir it all together halfway through the cook time. This allows for all the pasta to be covered in the sauce and water mixture, which prevents the ends from drying out and having a crunchy texture when eating.
- Use a Good Quality Pasta Sauce : Because this recipe has so few ingredients, it’s important to use good quality ingredients that taste yummy. I like to use Classico pasta sauce or Rao’s Homemade pasta sauce. Rao’s is hands down the best pastas sauce, but it is pretty pricey. When I make this recipe I like to stick with the classic tomato basil pasta sauce, but you can use whatever you prefer.
- Kosher Salt : I recommend using kosher salt because it elevates the flavors of the ingredients without making the overall dish taste salty. Other salts can be used, like sea salt or table salt, but you may need less of it. Start at 1/2 teaspoon or 3/4 teaspoon and then add more if necessary.
- Thaw The Meatballs : This recipe does call for frozen meatballs but make sure they are thawed before adding them into the casserole dish. I just put the bag of frozen meatballs into the fridge that morning, and then take them out when it’s time to prepare dinner. If the meatballs are frozen, they will not cook and get hot in the amount of time the casserole cooks for.
- Meatball Size : You will need a 14 ounce bag of frozen meatballs. You can find this size at the grocery store. If you are using the larger meatballs, like what you get at Coctso, make sure they are thawed before use and you may want to cut them in half.
More Casserole Recipes You’ll Love
- Spaghetti Casserole
- Fiesta Chicken Casserole
- Beef Taquito Casserole
- Cheesy Taco Spaghetti Casserole
- Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- Taco Salad Casserole
Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole
- 1 box (16 oz) rotini pasta uncooked
- 3 cups water
- 1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
- 1 bag (14 oz) frozen precooked meatballs thawed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Dump the uncooked pasta into the baking dish, then add the water, pasta sauce, meatballs and salt. Cover the pan with tin foil.
- Bake for 35 minutes, stirring everything together hallway through.
- Once done, stir the pasta again and top it with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Serve with a garnish of parmesan cheese or chopped fresh parsley if wanted.
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Did you love this recipe?
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Can you make your own meatballs?
I’ve never used my own meatballs but it should work, just make sure to precook them. Let me know how it turns out!
To jazz this recipe up a bit, I sauted diced onion and fresh sliced mushrooms in with all other ingredients….very good!
I love that idea! Thanks for sharing!
Can I use whole wheat pasta?
I was concerned after the first 20 minutes when I went to stir, noodles were still uncooked. Another 15, noodles were cooked and watery sauce was thick. I enjoyed it, but it makes too much for a single person, I’ll be eating it for a week.
Glad you enjoyed it!
A+ kids and I loved it.
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it, and always a bonus when the kids like it too!