Cheesy, meaty, warm, and cozy. Meatball Casserole has all of the essential components for a truly comforting dish that’s perfect after a long workday or for a weekend family gathering.

Easy meatball casserole recipe topped with mozzarella and parsley in a deep pot

Pin this recipe on Pinterest to save for later

Pin It!0

Whenever the air grows crisp and the days become short, I begin to crave some solid comfort food (like Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs) to cope with what’s truly the end of what any reasonable person (a.k.a. anyone who doesn’t live in the upper Midwest) would consider nice weather.

Meatball casserole is the epitome of stealthy healthy comfort food (same with these Lentil Meatballs).

  • Zesty homemade meatballs made with a blend of Italian turkey sausage and ground turkey are lean, yet juicy.
  • A package of thawed frozen spinach is nearly imperceptible and adds nutrition.
  • Whole wheat pasta adds heartiness and whole grain goodness in every bite.
  • Melty mozzarella cheese oozes and stretches with every forkful.
A close-up photo of a wooden spoon scooping easy Meatball casserole with pasta and parsley

5 Star Review

“Just made this dish last night for dinner and it is INCREDIBLE. My husband, son, and I all loved it!”

— Sharice —

How to Make Meatball Casserole

Meatball casserole is food for the soul.

This rich, hearty, and healthy meatball bake will transport you to your own personal little slice of Italy with its aroma of rich tomatoes, tender sausage, and melted cheese.


The Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Pasta. Requires no more work to cook than regular pasta but offers far greater health benefits in the protein, fiber, and nutrient departments.

Substitution Tip

You may of course use regular white pasta in this recipe if it is your preference. You could also opt for a wheat-free variety made from lentils, chickpeas, or rice. Take note that the cooking time may need to adjust slightly since other pasta types may require more or less time to reach al dente.

  • Ground Turkey. Lean and packed with protein, you’ll never guess that these turkey meatballs are not made with beef (nor are these Baked Turkey Meatballs).
  • Italian Turkey Sausage. Adds flavor, moisture, and extra fat to keep these meatballs moist and succulent. (These Cranberry Turkey Meatballs are another turkey meatball moisture marvel.)

Substitution Tip

If you cannot find Italian turkey sausage at your local store, you may swap for lean ground pork, Italian chicken sausage, or your favorite Italian pork sausage. While the pork options are not as lean as turkey, they will still yield delicious results.

  • Whole Wheat Bread. Binds the meatballs and acts as a second hidden source of whole grains.
  • Egg. More binding + moisture.
  • Parmesan Cheese. Adds a salty, nutty component to the meatballs.
  • Spinach. A pack of frozen, thawed spinach with its mild taste is nearly imperceptible in the final dish.

Market Swap

Feel free to swap the frozen spinach for a few handfuls of sauteed fresh spinach, kale, or Swiss chard. You could also sneak in sauteed and finely chopped bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, or even some pitted Italian olives.

  • Mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella cheese is both stirred into the noodles AND layered on top in thick, heavenly slices.
  • Onion + Garlic. For a little zip and zing.
  • Prepared Red Pasta Sauce. My no-shame shortcut in this meatball casserole bake that saves both time and hassle.
  • Oregano + Parsley. For a blast of Italian herby freshness in both the meatballs and the sauce.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. For a touch of heat. Feel free to adjust the amount (more or less) to suit your taste preferences.
A pot of turkey meatball casserole topped with fresh mozzarella and herbs

The Directions

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Prep the meatballs and brown in a skillet.
  3. To the skillet, add the aromatics and herbs, then stir in the jarred pasta sauce and spinach.
  4. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer in the sauce until fully cooked.
  5. Stir in the cooked pasta and half of the cheese, then top with the remaining mozzarella, and transfer the skillet to the oven.
  6. Bake the meatball casserole at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted edges are bubbling. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover meatball casserole can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • To Freeze. Freeze meatball casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • To Reheat. Warm gently in the microwave, with extra tomato sauce to prevent the casserole from drying out.

Meal Prep Tip

Mozzarella meatball casserole is an excellent option for a make-ahead meal.

To make ahead, rather than assembling in a skillet, combine the pasta, sauce, meatballs, and cheese in a casserole dish. Cover, then refrigerate (or freeze) until you’re ready to bake.

To serve, bake as directed until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.

Healthy meatball casserole in a deep pot made with with Italian turkey sausage, mozzarella, pasta, and tomato sauce

What to Serve with Meatball Casserole

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Skillet. Investing in a quality skillet is well worth the cost if you’re a regular in the kitchen.
  • Mixing Bowls. A nested set of glass mixing bowls has endless uses and is compact for storing.
  • Pasta Pot. Makes it easy to boil pasta to al dente and drain with ease. Plus, the 12-quart size is perfect for making extra family leftovers.

The Best Cast Iron Skillet

This Staub 11-inch cast iron skillet is made in with the highest quality enamel for durability, easy cleaning, and superb and even heat retention and distribution.

Mozzarella Meatball Casserole. FINALLY a healthy pasta recipe your entire family will love! Made with ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, spinach, and lots of fresh gooey mozzarella cheese

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

When making this dish, remember that meatballs are an expression of love.

They need to be shared, so call a friend!

Frequently Asked Questions

Could I Make Meatball Casserole with Frozen Meatballs?

I have not made this recipe with precooked freezer meatballs so it would be an experiment. I would pick up this recipe at step 6 of the recipe card, warming the meatballs in the sauce until heated through, then bake as directed.

Could I Make this Meatball Casserole with Different Meatballs?

Sure! If you have a different meatball recipe you love, mix, shape, and brown them according to the recipe then finish the casserole as directed. These Baked Chicken Meatballs are one option to consider.

Can Meatball Casserole be Prepared Gluten Free?

I have not attempted to make this recipe gluten free so it would be an experiment. To make gluten free, you could try swapping for my Whole30 Meatballs and opt for a gluten free pasta variety. As always, check your labels to ensure they do not include gluten or wheat additives and are processed in a gluten free facility.

Mozzarella Meatball Casserole. FINALLY a healthy pasta recipe your entire family will love! Made with ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, spinach, and lots of fresh gooey mozzarella cheese

Meatball Casserole

5 from 7 votes
Meatball casserole bake is an easy, versatile, and healthy recipe made with Italian turkey sausage, red sauce, pasta, and mozzarella cheese.

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 6 ounces whole wheat pasta any shape you love
  • 2-3 slices whole wheat bread for making 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 8 ounces spicy Italian turkey sausage casings removed
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided, plus additional for tossing the pasta
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 32 ounces prepared red pasta sauce about 3 1/2 cups
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach squeezed dry
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella half shredded or torn, half cut into thin slices (part skim is OK but do not use fat free), about 2 cups total

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until barely al dente according to package instructions. You want it to still be firmer than you would ordinarily eat it, as it will cook further in the oven. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.
  • Pulse the bread slices in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Measure 3/4 cup crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, turkey sausage, egg, salt, Parmesan, and parsley. With your fingers or two forks, mix lightly until the ingredients are combined, being careful not to compact the meat.
  • Form the mixture into 2-inch balls. You should have about 28 or so balls total.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep, oven-proof skillet over medium-high. Add the meatballs, then cook, turning a few times, until all sides are browned, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate.
  • To the skillet, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and cook until beginning to brown and soften, about 4 minutes, then add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the jarred pasta sauce and spinach. Return the meatballs to the pan and let simmer in the sauce until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked, add the drained pasta and the 4 ounces shredded mozzarella to the skillet with the meatballs and sauce, then gently stir to combine. Top with the remaining 4 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese, then transfer the skillet to your oven.
  • Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly crisp on top and the edges are bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then enjoy!

Notes

  • TO STORE: Leftover meatball casserole can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze meatball casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm gently in the microwave, with extra tomato sauce to prevent the casserole from drying out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 579kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 40gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 137mgPotassium: 1017mgFiber: 8gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 6878IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 371mgIron: 8mg

Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account to easily save your favorite projects and tutorials.

Register

Related Recipes

Hold the canned condensed soup! Here are some of my favorite healthy casseroles:

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Share this Article

Pin0

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

You May Also Like

Free Email Series
5 Secrets for Cooking Tasty and Healthy
My secrets for making wholesome meals you'll WANT to eat.

Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

Leave a Comment

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




22 Comments

Leave a comment

  1. Erin, I noticed a few things about the recipe — and have a couple of comments. 

    On the ingredient list, it reads prepared tomato sauce (so I bought tomato sauce, no salt added) but the body of the recipe reads prepared marinara sauce which makes more sense. I used a bottle of spaghetti sauce and added a little of the tomato sauce to get to 32 ounces.

    The ingredient list mentions 10 oz. of frozen cut spinach, but the directions omitted when to put it in. I added it to the sauce as it was simmering.

    I thought that 6 oz. was way too small amount of pasta —  With all the meatballs, I used closer to 12 oz. 

    Finally, I thought 400 degrees was too hot  — I am guessing all we are trying to do is melt the cheese on top? I adjusted the time and temp — 

    It turned out great, but just wanted to include my comments. And, as always, maybe I missed something.

    Thanks! I enjoy your website, your comments, and suggestions (nice that you included that part skim cheese is OK but not fat free. That type of information is helpful for those of us who want to cut calories wherever possible but not lose the flavor of the dish. 5 stars

    1. Hi Judy, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! I’m sorry for the confusion between the pasta sauce vs. tomato sauce terminology, and I updated the ingredient list to “tomato pasta sauce” to be more clear. The spinach is added in step 5, along with the sauce (which is right when you put it in!), and I’m glad you were able to find the right the noodle amount for you. We tend to prefer a higher sauce+meatball to pasta ratio, but that’s completely personal preference. Thanks so much for taking time to leave your comments, and again, I’m so happy to hear that you liked the dish!

  2. Just made this dish last night for dinner and it is INCREDIBLE.  My husband, son, and I all loved it!  Those meatballs alone are freaking delicious and I could have had a whole plate of those for dinner :)  My husband has the idea to made those meatballs again, but try forming them into tiny balls and put them on top of pizza as a topping! I tend to agree that those would make an awesome pizza topping… :) I left out the red pepper flakes and increased the amount of pasta noodles slightly, but other than that I made the recipe exactly as written.  It’s going into our regular rotation for sure.  Erin, I am such a big fan of yours!  This food blog has become my favorite go-to place to find yummy healthy recipes.  If you ever happen to be in Salt Lake City, Utah, doing a food demonstration or tour or anything, I seriously want to meet you!   5 stars

    1. Sharice, this comment brings me so much joy. I totally agree that the meatballs are great as a meal unto themselves (love that pizza idea too!). Thanks so much for trying the recipe and for your kinds words. It would be so fun to meet you!

  3. I had my doubts but this recipe is a keeper!  I followed it almost exactly except I used regular Italian sweet sausage (pork). The recipe came out really delicious,  and I’m one of those people who typically makes everything from scratch and avoids recipes with already-prepared ingredients.  My family loved it. I will be making this again, and again. 5 stars

    1. Adam, thanks so much for taking the time to leave this great review! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  4. Erin
    Would love to try this recipes. I love meatballs . They happen to bring back happy memories of my child. The only thing stopping me is the spinach, kidney stones spinach is a no no. Can I leave it out? I love your recipes. Keep up the great work. Thanks

    1. Hi Jan! I have not tried the recipe without the spinach, but you could experiment by leaving it out. I think it would still be delicious! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  5. Hi Erin
    Tried this recipe without the spinach. It turned out delish. I put half the meatballs in the freezer, if hadn’t I think my husband would have eaten them all
    Thanks again5 stars

  6. I can easily find ground turkey, but where do you find Italian turkey sausage? I can’t seem to find it anywhere around me. Could I just double up on the ground turkey? Thanks!

    1. Hi Allison! Italian turkey sausage is typically sold in a package with sausage links in the refrigerated meat section. I have not tried the recipe without the Italian turkey sausage, but another reader has reported success with using a mix of ground turkey and Italian pork sausage, which may be easier to find. I hope this helps!

  7. Well this took me to flavor town. I love this recipe! I just used whatever I had on hand since we’re in q haha. Ground venison and venison breakfast sausage for the meatballs, and some Mexican blend shredded cheese instead of the mozzarella ? and dried parsley instead of fresh. But it didn’t matter! It was such a good recipe that the substitutions worked just perfectly. Thanks so much for the best recipes as always! Also my husband loved it as always ? 
    Love Rachael 5 stars

  8. Ummm silly question? Is the bread fresh or stale for breadcrumbs? I have never put fresh bread in a food processor. It seems like it would just make a ball.

    1. Hi Dawn! I used fresh bread, and it worked well (make sure to pulse it, not run it constantly). If you prefer, you could tear your bread into a few big pieces first. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  9. This recipe looks delicious! I’m doing some freezer meals before baby shows up. Do you think this recipe would freeze and reheat well?

  10. made your recipe last night. after going to 3 stores i finally found ‘jenno itialian turkey sausage’ but it was in a log i guess u call it…could not find ‘sausage in casing’ anywhere. when i put it on top of the ground turkey i was not aware of the consistency. it was 1 lump & was difficult to incorporate into the gr turkey without mushing it together which u said not to do, so i did my best. it was tasty!
    next time i think i will use your baked turkey mtball recipe. i have used Anne Burrell recipe for turkey meatballs which i have also used for meatloaf. she uses cilantro & water chessnuts & its very good. forgot to add that i added crimini mushrms & kalamata olives in my casserole. those additions were awesome.5 stars

  11. just defrosted & re-heated some of the casserole i made the other night. added more cheese & marinara sauce, it was sooo good!5 stars