Cheesy Italian Pasta and Meatballs is pure comfort food! Tender and juicy meatballs baked in an easy homemade marinara sauce and cheesy pasta for the perfect meatball pasta!
Is it just me or does anyone else crave major comfort foods when the seasons change?? I know I sure do and I usually reach for pasta dishes to satisfy my craving. And to make it even better, pasta dishes with lots of cheese like this cheesy Italian meatballs and pasta. It has tender and juicy meatballs baked in an easy homemade marinara sauce and cheesy pasta to make the perfect meatball pasta recipe.
A few other great pasta dishes I have is this One Pot Italian Sausage Pasta, Cheese Ravioli in Creamy Mushroom Sauce, or this One Pot Bacon Alfredo. They always seem to go over great with anyone that tries them just like this Cheesy Italian Pasta and Meatballs will! I mean, who can say no to cheese and pasta?
I was trying to make this more of a grown-up mac and cheese dish but I just don’t feel like I could actually call it that. The sauce bakes right into the cheesy pasta and creates this super creamy, luscious, saucy pasta dish. It’s crazy good but I couldn’t call it mac and cheese. It’s more like spaghetti and meatballs only better!
Some tips about this Cheesy Italian Pasta and Meatballs:
- Make ahead tips for the meatballs: You can make the meatballs, shape them and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t squish them together though. Or after shaping them place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then place in plastic freezer bag for up to 1 month. To use, thaw in a single layer, covered, in the refrigerator. You can also cook the meatballs as directed in the recipe then when they are cooled freeze them in a single layer until solid. Once frozen place in a plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Make ahead tip for the sauce: Combine all of the sauce ingredients and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (This actually makes the sauce a little more flavorful because the seasonings have more time to flavor the sauce. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Another make ahead tip is to cool the baked pasta dish then wrap well in foil to prevent freezer burn and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Can also use ground turkey in place of the ground beef. Just be sure not to overcook so they don’t become too dry.
- Don’t overwork the meat when combining the ingredients to make the meatballs. Don’t use a mixer, use your hands!
Ingredients to make Cheesy Italian Pasta and Meatballs:
- Crushed tomatoes
- Italian seasoning
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Dried basil
- Tomato paste
- Slice bread
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Ground beef
- All purpose flour
A few serving suggestions: serve with a simple side salad and crusty bread to wipe up that awesome sauce. Or serve with your favorite steamed vegetable and garlic bread.
Cheesy Italian Meatballs and Pasta
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 slice bread crust removed and cut into very small pieces
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 oz rigatoni or penne pasta cooked
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Start cooking your pasta.
- In a large bowl combine the ingredients for the pasta sauce and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the bread and milk. Add the Parmesan, eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Add in the ground beef and mix to combine. Don't overmix or your meatballs can become tough. Form into twelve 2 inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
- While the meatballs are cooking prepare the cheesy pasta. In a large 12 inch cast iron pan or other oven going skillet cook the onion, garlic and butter until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and cook over medium low heat until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir in the cooked and drained pasta. Top with reserved pasta sauce. Place meatballs on top then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.
- For make ahead tips see post.