Cheesy Baked Meatballs Recipe

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These cheesy baked meatballs can easily be served as a main course, or as an addition to something like pasta or rice.

Meatballs are a wonderful way to liven up a weeknight dinner. They are easy to put together and taste delicious with whatever you serve them with.

Finished Cheesy Baked Meatballs just out of the oven and still in a white casserole dish.

Baked Meatballs

Meatballs are quickly made, making them a very convenient option for dinner. Baked meatballs are even easier because you don’t have to stand over the stove, rotating and frying them in a skillet.

Meatballs In Oven

When you make meatballs in the oven, you also reduce the fat content considerably. Meatballs are often fried in a skillet, which takes a lot of oil and adds a ton of calories. Baking them in the oven avoids this which means you can enjoy the addition of cheese without all that guilt of a really high fat meal.

How Do You Keep Your Meatballs From Falling Apart?

It’s a delicate balance with meatballs. In many meatball recipes, it’s a combination of eggs and bread crumbs. However, I try not to use bread crumbs these days, so I used cheese instead. It does a good job of binding the meat together. I used shredded parmesan here, but grated actually does a better job of holding everything together, if that’s a concern for you.

Note that some meats are pumped with water before they hit the grocery store shelves. You may need to experiment with a few different brands to find one that either isn’t pumped with water, or at the very least, has the least amount of water of all the brands available to you. A high content of water will often make the meatballs fall apart as well.

Overhead view looking down into a white casserole dish filled with this Cheesy Baked Meatballs Recipe.

How To Cook Round Meatballs

If round meatballs are a huge deal for you here are some tips to help them keep their shape a little better. I have never had an issue with it, and these did pretty well. But some folks really like those truly round meatballs. So if that’s what you want:

  1. Once you have the meat mixture mixed together, set it in the fridge to chill before cooking (this is not in the recipe below)
  2. Remove from fridge and work quickly to form the meatballs before the meat warms up too much to hold its form. (Make sure your oven is preheated so they can go straight into the oven)
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to get evenly sized meatballs.
  4. You can roll the scoops of meat between your hand quickly and gently set it in the dish, or you can gently toss the meatballs between your cupped hands. This will press out any air, making the meatballs more compact and more likely to stay formed.

Baked Meatball Recipe

If you are dairy free, you can simply leave out the cheese. I add cheese for Mini Chef and leave it out for myself. I have never had an issue with them not sticking together. But ingredients vary, so you may need to play with that or add some bread crumbs in place of the cheese.

How Long To Bake Meatballs

Baking times can vary slightly based on the thickness of your meatballs. However, the average time is 20-30 minutes for small meatballs, and 30-40 minutes for larger ones. The main way to tell they are done, however, is to use a thermometer to ensure they have reached a minimum of 165 F.

One of the cheesy baked meatballs on a serving spoon held over the casserole dish it's being served from.

What You’ll Need

2 lb. ground turkey (or beef) – You can use lean or full fat meats. Even turkey breast or ground chicken will work. The flavor and texture will change slightly with reduced fat content in the meat, but they will still taste good and the sauce will help make up for any loss of moisture from the lowered fat content.

1 large egg – Use chilled or room temperature, but straight from the fridge is best if your focus is on keeping the meat extra cold, as mentioned above.

1 tbsp. garlic powder – You can use fresh garlic instead if you prefer. Use 3-4 minced garlic cloves if using fresh garlic.

1 tbsp. onion powder – This is in addition to the fresh onions called for below. It’s not too much, at least in my experience. If you are worried about the onion flavor being too strong, you can leave out either one. The fresh or the onion powder.

½ cup finely chopped red onions – Make sure you chop these as fine as you can get them. It makes a difference in the finished texture.

½ cup finely chopped mushrooms – Again, chop as finely as possible for the best texture.

½ cup finely chopped red bell peppers – Chop these about the same size as you do the onions. You can use any color pepper you prefer. Red pepper are the sweetest and tend to give the best flavor here, but any color will work.

1 tsp. ground black pepper – Pepper adds great flavor here, but if you don’t like it, you can leave it out.

½ tsp. salt – If you need to keep this lower in sodium, omit the salt as well. Particularly if your sauce is well salted. Keep in mind the parmesan adds a saltiness as well. I like it with the salt, but it may be too much for some folks and you can always add it when you serve them.

½ cup parmesan cheese – As mentioned above, grated is the best option here, but if shredded is what you have, it will work too.

4 cups prepared marinara – I have a clean marinara sauce that I buy and use often. But if you can’t find a good brand in your area, you can also make your own marinara. See the recipe link above for my recipe to make your own.

2 cups mozzarella – Shredded mozzarella is best, but other types of cheese will work as well. Any type of cheese you would usually enjoy with pasta will work well for melting over the top of these cheesy baked meatballs.

How To Make Cheesy Baked Meatballs

Individual ingredients for making this meatball recipe.

Preheat oven to 400 F. and chop all the veggies. The smaller the better. Having all your ingredients prepped and measured ahead of time makes this go much smoother and more efficiently.

The kneaded meat mixture in a neat ball in a mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to knead together all the ingredients, except for the shredded mozzarella.

Just made, uncooked meatballs sitting in a white casserole dish waiting for sauce and cheese before baking.

Form the meatballs and place them in an oiled casserole dish in nice neat rows.

Bake the meatballs without the grated mozzarella for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the mozzarella over the meatballs and return the dish to the oven.

Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the cheese is fully melted. The meatballs should be at least 165 F. when done.

Remove from oven, cool slightly and serve.

Cheesy Baked Meatballs plated with a side of rice on a white plate.

How To Store Cheesy Baked Meatballs

Cover them well or pack them up in an air-tight container. They will keep for 3 days in the fridge

How To Freeze Cheesy Baked Meatballs

The good news is, these will freeze really well! And there are two ways to do it.

  1. Before baking – Assemble the entire recipe. Cover the casserole dish (this is best done with a baking dish that has a tight fitting lid) and freeze for up to 4 months.
  2. After baking – Again, you’ll want to be sure these are in a freezer-safe container with a tight fitting lid or cover. Once baked, you may want to consider packaging these in single serving containers just for ease of use. But if you don’t have any issues with freezing and thawing the full number of meatballs, then feel free to pack them up together. To thaw, you’ll want to set these in the fridge for 24 hours.

How To Warm Up Meatballs Once They Are Cooked

Here again, you have options.

  1. Oven – Simply put the meatballs back in the oven at 325 F., and bake until they are warmed through. Times can vary by oven, but a general rule of thumb is approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Frying pan – You won’t use anywhere near as much oil to simply warm these up in a frying pan. It’s easiest to just put a bit of oil in, keep the heat well controlled, adjusting as needed during cooking, and use a lid that fits your pan or skillet. This method only takes about 5 minutes, give or take.
  3. Pot – Add a little extra marinara to a pot and simmer the meatballs until warm.
Cheesy Baked Meatballs plated with rice on a white plate in front of the casserole dish they were baked in.

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Cheesy Baked Meatballs Recipe

Finished Cheesy Baked Meatballs just out of the oven and still in a white casserole dish.

Cheesy Baked Meatballs

Delicious cheesy meatballs you can serve as a main course, or serve over other ingredients like pasta or rice.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 meatballs
Calories: 147kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

Equipment

  • Casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt (optional)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups prepared marinara (see recipe link above to make your own)
  • 2 cups mozzarella

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 F., and chop all the veggies fine. The smaller the better.
    Chopped ingredients on a white plate, ready to be used in this Cheesy Baked Meatballs Recipe
  • In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to knead together all the ingredients, except for the grated mozzarella.
    All the Cheesy Baked Meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl ready to be made into meatballs.
  • Form the meatballs and place them in an oiled casserole dish in nice neat rows.
    Bake the meatballs without the grated mozzarella for 30 minutes.
    Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the mozzarella over the meatballs and return the dish to the oven.
    Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the cheese is fully melted. The meatballs should be at least 165 F. when done.
    An overhead view looking down into a white casserole dish filled with raw meatballs, waiting to be topped and baked.
  • Remove from oven, cool slightly and serve.

Notes

Nutrition data for this recipe will depend on the amount of rice you make. Data will change depending on what type of meat you use.

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 566mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 561IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 1mg

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