This Cheesy Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe is one your family is going to absolutely LOVE. So easy to make and even more delicious to eat!
Meatball Pasta Bake
You guys, prepare yourselves for THE biggest food coma, because this pasta bake means business. Juicy homemade meatballs buried in a rich tomato sauce, baked with gooey cheese on top. After trying this meatball pasta bake you’ll never have to wonder ‘what to serve with meatballs for dinner?’ ever again! Here’s why you’re going to LOVE it:
- Homemade Meatballs – Here I’ll show exactly how to easily get soft and juicy homemade meatballs.
- Flavoursome – Not just a cheesy pasta bake, the entire dish is BURSTING with flavour!
- Family Dinner – Perfect to feed a family and easily made ahead of time!
For this pasta bake I do make my own meatballs, just because it’s too easy and delicious not to! I’ve got a detailed post on Homemade Meatballs so definitely check that out, but in summary, here are my 3 top tips for juicy meatballs.
How to make the best meatballs
- Use a Panade (mixture of starch and liquid that you add to meat to keep it moist).
- Use a combo of pork and beef, make sure it’s non-lean and don’t overwork it when making the meatballs.
- Don’t cook them all the way through, allow them to finish poaching in the sauce.
Arguably the most important step is using a panade. This ensures the meatballs stay nice and juicy during and after the cooking process. Here’s how easy it is to make a panade:
How to make a panade for meatballs (quick summary)
- Soak cubed bread in grated onion & garlic, Worcestershire sauce and milk.
- Mash with a fork.
- Add in the rest of your meatball ingredients apart from the meat.
- Stir to combine.
- Gently work in your meat.
How to make Meatball Pasta Bake
Right, meatballs out the way, let’s talk pasta bake. Here’s what you’ll need:
Meatball Pasta Bake Ingredients
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Tomato Passata (pureed tomatoes in US) & Chopped Tomatoes
- Onion & Garlic
- Basil & Parsley
What Cheese to use?
For this recipe I always use cheddar. You could also do half and half cheddar/mozzarella if you want some extra cheese pull 😋
What Pasta to use?
I LOVE rigatoni in this pasta bake, just for the pure fact that the tubes are wide enough for the sauce to settle in. Any other short cut pasta would work though. Whatever you choose, make sure you only just cook it until al dente. You want it still a little bit hard before you combine with the sauce.
How to make a meatball pasta bake (quick summary)
- Cook meatballs to get a nice browning on the outside.
- Fry onion, sun dried tomato and garlic in a saucepan.
- Pour in sauce and seasoning. Add meatballs.
- Simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Combine with pasta.
- Top with cheese and bake.
What to serve with Meatball Pasta Bake?
- Cheesy Pesto Garlic Bread
- Pull Apart Caprese Bread
- Roasted Garlic Bread
- Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Garlic Butter Potato Skins
- Feta Bruschetta
Can I prepare Meatball Pasta Bake in advance?
Absolutely! I recommend cooking everything, but allowing it to cool before combining in the dish (just so the pasta doesn’t bloat and the sauce thins). It’s also extra important to only cook the pasta until al dente if you’re resting it over night. Just cool, combine and cover in the fridge and add 5-10 mins onto baking time if cooking straight from the fridge!
If you like the sound of this meatball pasta bake, definitely make sure you check out my Easy Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake, Taco Pasta Bake and Broccoli Pasta Bake! If you’re looking for more similar recipes give these a ganders too:
Unique Meatball Recipes
- Cranberry Turkey Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (stuffed with blue cheese)
- Crispy Gnocchi and Sausage Meatballs
- Homemade Meatball Subs (stuffed with cheese)
- BBQ Meatballs
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full meatball pasta bake recipe shall we?!
How To Make Meatball Pasta Bake (Full Recipe & Video)
Cheesy Meatball Pasta Bake
- 9" x 13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
- Large Pot (for boiling pasta)
- Large Deep Pan
- Large Mixing Bowl (for meatballs)
- Wooden Spoon
- Baking Tray (for meatballs - optional)
- Box Grater
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Ingredients (check list):
- 9oz / 250g Ground Beef (15%+ fat)
- 9oz / 250g Ground Pork (15%+ fat)
- 2 thin slices of White Bread, cubed
- 1/4 cup / 60ml Milk
- 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, finely diced
- 1/2 cup / 40g Parmesan, finely grated
- 1 medium White Onion, grated
- 2 cloves of Garlic, grated/minced
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Egg
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 24oz / 700g Tomato Passata (pureed tomatoes/tomato puree in the US)
- 2x 14oz/400g cans of Chopped Tomatoes
- 8 Sun Dried Tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, finely diced (plus extra to garnish)
- 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, finely diced
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- 10.5oz / 300g Rigatoni (or other short cut pasta)
- 1.5 cups / 150g Cheddar, grated (or cheese of choice)
- Olive Oil, for frying
- In a mixing bowl, soak 2 slices of cubed bread in1/4cup/60ml milk, 1 medium grated onion, 2 cloves grated/minced garlic, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and mush with a fork. Stir in 1/4cup diced parsley, 1/2cup/40g parmesan, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 egg, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Gently work in your pork and beef, then form your meatballs. Make sure you don't overwork the meat.
- GRILL/BROIL: lightly spray with oil then pop under grill for 6-10mins or until golden brown. Flip once half way and shake about to evenly cook. Make sure you get a nice colour on them, they don't need to be cooked right through, they will finish poaching in the sauce.
OR FRY: heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and fry for 4-5mins or until golden, shaking frequently. Again, just focus on getting colour and don't worry about being cooked right through.
- Fry 1 medium diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic & 8 diced sun-dried tomatoes until soft. Pour in 24oz/700g passata & 2x 14oz/400g cans of chopped tomatoes. Add 1/4 cup parsley, basil & seasoning to taste, then stir your meatballs. Simmer for 15-20mins, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Meanwhile, cook 10.5oz/300g pasta in salted boiling water until JUST al dente. You want it still a bit hard otherwise it'll go soft and mushy when baked. Combine with pasta in a baking dish, top with cheese and bake at 200C/390F for 15-20mins, or until golden and gooey. Serve with fresh parsley!
Quick 1 min demo!
If you loved this Meatball Pasta Bake recipe then be sure to Pin the recipe for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!