Pasta Bake loaded with meatballs, sauce, and scandalous amounts of melted cheese is exactly what you need tonight. Bonus: you don’t need to pre-boil the pasta, so be ready to eat and be happy with very little work!
Take advantage of frozen meatballs and either your favourite jarred or homemade sauce to make this delicious, hearty Pasta Bake that’s easy enough for any busy weeknight.
My life is all about quick and easy meals right now. Between driving my youngest son 3 hours round trip to ballet class every day 6 days a week, homeschooling, attempting to have more than a three word conversation with my husband, and get anything resembling a healthy amount of sleep every night, there just isn’t always time to cook as much as I’d like.
As a result, fast meals like this Meatball Pasta Bake are getting a lot of action in my kitchen.
I firmly believe that homemade meals don’t need to be time consuming or fussy. Don’t tell the “Must Make Everything From Scratch Or Else” police this but . . . .”homemade” doesn’t have to mean avoiding all convenience foods, either. (Gasp)
These days there’s no shortage of high quality, good tasting prepared (or semi-prepared) foods that make it easier than ever to cook a delicious meal no matter how busy life gets. This pasta bake recipe frozen meatballs to add heartiness and effortless protein to the meal.
Add some noodles, pasta sauce, plenty of cheese and then bake the whole thing in the oven and you have an impressive meal that everyone at your dinner table will go nuts over. And like I mentioned before, you do not have to boil the pasta first! It cooks in the sauce in the oven.
Easy Pasta Bake for an easy dinner!
If “quick and easy” is my number one priority for mealtimes currently, then my sons’ priority is “filling.” Teen boys are notoriously good eaters but my guys? My guys are endlessly ravenous bottomless pits whose appetites could put competitive eaters to shame.
Okay, I might be exaggerating just a tiny bit–but my point stands. When you have hungry teens in the house, filling and satisfying stick-to-your ribs types of meals are essential.
Also essential? Economical meals that can deliver on that promise without making my bank account cry.
This pasta bake is made up of easy to find and affordable ingredients AND it actually had my kids saying they were “full” after a full helping.
I mean, they still had room for ice cream, but there’s always room for ice cream in our house. I mean it melts down into the spaces the other food leaves in your belly, so…
I can’t over emphasize how easy and versatile this pasta bake recipe is either! It also makes what we’ll call a “healthy” amount of food so if you have a smaller family (or don’t have teen boys in your house), you’re likely to end up with leftovers that make a great second day lunch.
Something else I love about baked pasta dishes? Other than the pot you use to cook the noodles, everything comes together in one pan.
You can store the leftovers right in the baking dish covered tightly with foil. For longer storage, scoop into single serving containers and stash in the freezer to reach for when you need a quick lunch.
Pasta Bake Recipe
You can use just about any kind of pasta sauce you like in this pasta bake recipe. Jarred sauce works beautifully but I especially love it with the homemade sauce from this Chicken Pasta Bake. The flavour of sundried tomatoes in that sauce tastes amazing paired with meatballs.
Either store bought frozen meatballs or homemade meatballs will work here. Whenever I make these Make Ahead Meatballs can be made ahead of time then flash frozen and kept in the freezer for all your pasta bake needs. Whenever I make meatballs, I try to make enough that I’ll have extra for last minute meals like this one.
Looking for more easy baked pasta dishes?
Save this Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Tortellini Bake to try next. You’ll also like this Cheesy Baked Mexican Pasta that my friend Mary shared at Barefeet in the Kitchen.
Pasta bakes elevate ordinary pasta dishes into hearty and satisfying comfort food meals. With simple ingredients and just a few minutes of prep time, you can make a delicious homemade dinner any night of the week!
Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together the sauce, water, and ricotta cheese until even, then stir in the noodles, meatballs, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.
Lightly oil or spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer the mixture into the pan.
Crimp the foil over the baking dish, and place on a rimmed baking sheet before placing both pans in the oven. Bake for 55 minutes or until bubbly and the noodles are tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, discard the foil, and sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is fully melted, bubbly, and golden brown at the edges.
This pasta bake makes a complete meal all on its own. It would also be fantastic served with a light side salad like this Bresaola Parmesan Salad and a basket of Easy Garlic Knots.
Meatball Pasta BakeRate Recipe
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cups water
- 24 ounces pasta sauce
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 pound cellentani pasta or cavatappi, rotini, ziti, or elbow noodles
- 1 pound frozen meatballs homemade or purchased
- 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine water, sauce, and ricotta cheese in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is even in colour. Stir in the uncooked noodles, frozen meatballs, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Cover the pan tightly with foil, put on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 55 minutes.
- Remove the foil, scatter the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese over the noodles and return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned at the edges. Garnish with torn basil leaves, if desired.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
did you make this recipe?
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Linda Lyons says
I just made your meatball pasta bake, I followed instructions and ingredients to a tee. after 50 mins the pasta was still uncooked
I used small bowties, so it’s back in the oven for however long its gonna take , but I left the foil off this time
Hi Linda- I wish I had seen this earlier! I’d have popped more liquid in there and left the foil on. That’s so odd!
Can I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta?
Hi Susan- I imagine that’d work just fine! It’ll probably be a smidge different, of course, but I think it’ll be delicious!
A. Hill says
Should the meatballs be cooked?
Hi A.Hill- They should be fully cooked meatballs, whether they’re frozen or not. 🙂 Great question.