You might remember that a week or so ago that I posted an uber delicious recipe for Italian Style Meatball Kabobs. And because we’re big fans of meatballs in this house, I knew it was a good idea to pick up two bags
just in case I messed up the first recipe so we’d have more on hand should the craving for meatballs ever strike us again (knowing full well that it totally would).
And as you’ve probably guessed by now, it was not even a week later before I was already eyeing that bag of meatballs, plotting their inevitable doom in our oven.
They’d barely settled into our freezer and already their days were numbered.
I’ve also been on a serious Italian comfort food kick lately, and wanted to continue this theme with a new dish… but what? What creative dish could I possibly make with meatballs? The only qualifier was that it couldn’t include spaghetti, because on the same trip I picked up the meatballs I also forgot to replenish my spaghetti supply.
I don’t know who designs grocery store layouts, but seriously, place an aisle display of spaghetti next to the frozen meatballs. Your sales will sky rocket.
So as it turns out, there are plenty of spaghetti-less meatball dishes you can make, and I ended up settling on this doozy from Pip and Debby. I made a few adjustments to our tastes (more cheese for me and Miracle Whip for him) and it then was time to get to baking!
I absolutely love dishes like this, too, because of just how easy they are from meal prep to table. You pretty much layer everything in baking dish and go.
Because who can resist a full layer of garlic bread as the base of the casserole? I know I couldn’t!
And then comes the mozzarella cheese. Because mozzarella cheese.
At this point you mix up some cream cheese, Miracle Whip, and Italian spices, and spread it across the cheese But I have to confess, I totally forgot to take a photograph of this step!
Clearly I was a little anxious to get to the eating part.
From there you add a whole jar of pasta sauce. There are plenty of great flavors on the market – pick something extra creative to make this dish uniquely yours. As for me, I went with a delicious cheese blend.
Next come the meatballs, and the absolute best part? They’re still frozen! No need to cook or thaw them beforehand.
Then finish it up by topping it with more (moar!) mozzarella cheese. Because mozzarella cheese.
Then all you have to do is
impatiently stare through the little door in the oven bake it for 30 minutes and viola, you now have an easy and flavorful dinner, chock full of Italian spices and meaty goodness.
I know we’re rounding the bend on the summer months and everything these days is grill grill grill, but I can’t help and take a final pause for some seriously delicious comfort food like this.
Plus, this dish made great leftovers!
notes & tips for this meatball casserole
- For the garlic bread, how much you need depends on the brand and the size of the garlic bread. For this recipe, I used Mama Bella’s New York Garlic Bread and used 2 of the pre-sliced loaves to cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. No matter which brand of garlic bread you use, keep in mind the size of the bread and the size of your dish. You only need one layer of garlic bread.
- A few readers have asked this question, so I wanted to post it here for clarity: the garlic bread should be baked before adding it to the casserole dish (if you’re using frozen garlic bread, just follow the instructions on the packaging). For the meatballs, they can be frozen.
- Another question from a reader was whether or not the garlic bread in this casserole was “soggy” after baking. I think we all might have a different definition of what counts as “soggy,” but I can confirm that the garlic bread is no longer crispy or firm once this casserole is baked. The bread becomes soft while baking. I think the real indicator of how soggy the bread will get would be the type of pasta sauce you use. Using a blended sauce with a thick, even consistency might avoid this more than a sauce that’s made to be chunky.
More comforting casserole recipes
Meatball Sub Casserole
Bake garlic bread per package directions, then set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, miracle whip, and Italian seasoning. Mixture doesn't need to be perfectly smooth but make sure it is thoroughly mixed.
- To assemble dish: Line bottom of baking dish with a single layer of cooked garlic bread (as pictured above). Sprinkle on 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top of the bread, then follow with the cream cheese mixture, spreading it out as much as you can. Cover the cream cheese with pasta sauce and then another layer of mozzarella cheese (also 1 cup). Arrange meatballs (still frozen) on the sauce and then top it all with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake dish, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and meatballs are hot.
- Serve immediately with oregano as garnish.
Recipe adapted from Pip and Debby.