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There’s no prep necessary for this Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole! It’s the perfect easy dinner solution for your busy weeknights – and your family will love the cozy comfort food!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Rosina Food Products®. All opinions are 100% mine

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who finds it incredibly important, but also incredibly difficult, to serve a home-cooked meal most nights.

Not only do I like to be in charge of the ingredients that my kids are consuming, but I also like to spend that small amount of time together as a family.

Even when my toddler only sits at the table for 5 or 10 minutes – it’s better than nothing!

There’s no prep necessary for this Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole! It’s the perfect easy dinner solution for your busy weeknights – and your family will love the cozy comfort food!

Easy dinner recipes like this dump-and-bake meatball casserole are my favorite way to get a quick supper pulled together when I don’t have a lot of time.

Because homework, soccer practice, and two-year-old temper tantrums always seem to get in the way of my elaborate cooking dreams!

An overhead shot of a meatball and rice casserole in a white dish

With help from delicious prepared ingredients like these fully-cooked Rosina Italian Style Meatballs, a cozy, kid-friendly dinner is ready for the oven in about 5 minutes!

Even with my crazy schedule, I can manage this one!

Ingredients – What You Need to Make this Italian Meatball & Rice Casserole

  • Marinara sauce
  • Diced tomato with garlic and herbs
  • Water
  • Long grain rice
  • Rosina meatballs
  • Shredded mozzarella & parmesan
  • Freshly chopped parsley

There’s no prep necessary for this Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole! It’s the perfect easy dinner solution for your busy weeknights – and your family will love the cozy comfort food!

The Meatballs

The Rosina Italian-Style Meatballs have a great, authentic taste, and they’re incredibly versatile.

I can pick them up at Walmart on my regular grocery run and keep them in the freezer for last-minute meals – whether I want to toss them in a slow cooker, serve them over pasta, or add them to a soup.

For this particular dish, I don’t even need to thaw them first – PERFECT for the days that I fail to plan ahead (and there are plenty, believe me)!

The Best Rice to Use

I recommend using long grain rice for this recipe such as Basmati or Jasmine rice as it creates a creamy and comforting texture but still has a bite to it.

You could also use a risotto rice such as Arborio but the dish will be much creamier and softer in texture.

A close up of a meatball and rice casserole on a serving spoon

Since the rice bakes slowly in the dish, it absorbs TONS of flavor from the marinara sauce.

It also becomes thick and creamy – a lot like risotto, which also cooks slowly to draw out the starches in the rice.

This is so much better than risotto, though, because there’s no need to stand at the stove and stir a pot for ages!

There’s no prep necessary for this Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole! It’s the perfect easy dinner solution for your busy weeknights – and your family will love the cozy comfort food!

Top Tips for Making this Meatball and Rice Casserole

  • When using Rosina frozen meatballs you do not need to thaw them first before cooking
  • Feel free to add extra herbs and spices to change it up such as red pepper flakes or fresh basil
  • I like to use mozzarella and parmesan but any good melting cheese you have will do
  • When using mozzarella make sure to use pre-shredded so there isn’t a lot of excess moisture
  • Leftovers can be eaten cold or reheated but make sure the casserole is piping hot throughout
  • Since the meatballs were already frozen I don’t recommend you re-freeze this dish

If you have picky eaters in your house, this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The classic Italian flavors come together in a fun, kid-friendly dinner that’s also easy for Mom!

Enjoy, friends!

More Rice Casserole Recipes You Might Like:

Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole

4.38 from 16 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 392 kcal
A zero prep and incredibly comforting Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole made with a few simple ingredients. This meal is super easy and effortless!


  • 3 cups 27 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1 can 14.5 ounces Basil, Garlic & Oregano diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 26 ounce package Rosina Fully-Cooked Italian-Style frozen meatballs (you do not need to thaw the meatballs)
  • ½ cup 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  • Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  • Stir marinara sauce, tomatoes, water, and rice together in a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Add meatballs and stir to combine.
  • Cover the baking dish tightly with a lid or foil.
  • Bake for 60-75 minutes or until the rice is tender. During the final 5 minutes of cooking, remove dish from oven, uncover, and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Place back in the oven (uncovered) for the final 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with parsley just before serving.


When using Rosina frozen meatballs you do not need to thaw them first before cooking
Feel free to add extra herbs and spices to change it up such as red pepper flakes or fresh basil
I like to use mozzarella and parmesan but any good melting cheese you have will do
When using mozzarella make sure to use pre-shredded so there isn't a lot of excess moisture
Leftovers can be eaten cold or reheated but make sure the casserole is piping hot throughout
Since the meatballs were already frozen I don't recommend you re-freeze this dish
Keyword: Italian Casseorle, Meatball Casserole, Rice Casserole
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: The Seasoned Mom

Want to try this meal? You can keep up with Rosina Food Products, Inc.® on Facebook, and you can also save $1.50 with a coupon at Walmart!

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Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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  1. You always make the best casseroles, Blair! Love this meatball version. My husband would devour this in no time!

    1. Thanks so much, Gayle! Casseroles are just too easy (and everyone seems to love them around here)! 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh! This looks amazing, Bair. I love the photo of the steam coming off the casserole!! It makes me want a bowl right now.

      1. I’m going to try this tonight! I have some Swiss chard I need to use, so I’m going to mix that in with a little onion and garlic to really make it a one dish meal! Can’t wait to try

  3. I’m all about no prep. You know easy is practically my middle name when it comes to cooking. Your pictures look amazing as always!

  4. are these meatballs GF? PLEASE say yes! cause I NEED! haha love this dump and bake. You are so creative!

    1. I think that Rosina does have a gluten free version, Lindsay! Definitely keep your eye out for them!!

  5. Oh yum! This is definitely calling my name! Pinning. Love that it’s easy too. 😉

  6. 5 stars
    Meatballs AND rice casserole? Mmmm, yes please! I’ll grab a plate! 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious! I do most of the cooking in my house and with all these hungry mouths and my busy schedule, cooking every night can be difficult. I can’t wait to try this, I love a meal I can put in the oven and enjoy a glass of wine while it cooks. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks, Olivia! This meal is perfect for enjoying that glass of wine. Less work = more drink! 🙂

  8. I see no reason why you couldn’t use all “low/no added-Sodium” ingredients to make this casserole. Do you cook often?

    1. Hi, Rose! I don’t think so. Brown rice takes a lot longer to cook than white rice, so it likely wouldn’t be done in time. You could probably use a par-boiled brown rice (like Minute Rice) since it’s already almost completely cooked. I’m just not sure how that would affect the amount of liquid in the dish. Hope that helps, and let me know if you give it a try!

  9. Do you think this would work in a crockpot? I know my family would love this, but an hour cook time won’t work for us during the week. 🙂

    1. Hi, Amy! I do think that it would work in a crock pot! If you’re using white rice, I would try the LOW setting for 2.5-3 hours (maybe 4 hours). Let me know how it works if you give it a try! 🙂

  10. I just made this after trying another failed recipe online and this turned out great!! I love it! So glad I came across this recipe, absolutely a keeper!!

    1. Hi, Misty! That’s wonderful! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! I’m a big fan of dump and bake dinners like this too, so be sure to check out some of my other recipes on the site. Lots of dump and bake options! 🙂

  11. I have some picky eaters that wouldn’t like the diced tomatoes. Would I need to add about a half or cup of water to make up for the liquid in the can and then just flavor as necessary?

    1. Hi, Chrystal! Yes, you’ll just want to add some additional liquid. I’m not sure exactly how much, but about 1/2 cup sounds like a good place to start. You can always add some more during cooking if it needs it. You can add more water or marinara sauce. 🙂

    2. Crystal just blend your diced tomatoes to purée them, it will blend right in the sauce and picky eaters won’t even notice.

    1. Hey, Kristen! Yes, you can use the arborio; however, the texture will be different in the end. The arborio rice is a shorter grain than the long-grain white, so when it’s cooked the result is chewy, thicker, grains that stick together. It’s totally fine to use the arborio, but the final dish will be thicker and stickier — a lot like a risotto! 🙂

      1. Hi, JC! You might be able to cut the time back by 5-10 minutes, but it won’t be a drastic difference in the overall cooking time because you still need to make sure that the rice is tender. Hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Hollie! Yes, the basmati should work fine as an equal substitute since it’s a similar long grain rice. Enjoy!

    1. Hi, Haley! It depends on the meatballs. If they’re small enough to cook through in the time that it takes your rice to cook, that should be fine. The other consideration is the type of meat that you use in the meatballs. If they’re going into the dish raw, then you want to make sure that you’re using an extra lean ground meat (ground turkey breast or extra lean ground beef would be best). Otherwise, the meat will make the casserole greasy as it cooks because you won’t be able to drain the grease from the dish.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  12. Have never before commented on a blog but wanted to leave my feedback for you.
    I stumbled across this recipe after planning to make spaghetti and meatballs and realising I had no pasta but plenty of rice. My kids LOVE LOVE LOVED it! Tuesday is traditionally take away night because I am too busy to cook but this will be our Tuesday night go to.
    FYI we are in Australia. I used a jar of dolmio tomato and basil pasta sauce in place of marinara sauce and used the pre rolled frozen (uncooked) Italian style meatballs from the butcher section at Woolies. I added some zucchini and capsicum but followed all the other instructions.
    Honestly easiest thing I have EVER made thank you!

    1. Hi, Mel! Thanks so much for letting me know! I’m glad that it was a hit and that it made your life a little bit easier. 🙂 I have tons of other similar dump-and-bake recipes on the blog, so feel free to use the “search” bar to find other ideas that your kiddos might like, too!

  13. 3 stars
    I am making this right Joan as we speak! I was just browsing looking for EASY dinner ideas, and thank God I came across this recipe, and thank God I had ALL of the ingredients on hand!! I am only seeing one typo here, I was sooo confused when I went to get my marinara out of my cabinets, you posted “3 cups I.e. 27 oz” my jar is 24 oz, which is in fact 3 cups, not 27 oz lol, I thought I was losing my mind for a second, but cannot WAIY to try this tonight!! Thank you

  14. I found this on Pinterest over the weekend and it’s in the oven right now! I added some fresh spinach to try and sneak some veggies in so my kiddos would eat it without thinking too much of it, so hopefully that won’t affect things too much! It smells so good right now and I can’t wait to try it! I wish I had found your site sooner – these dump and bake recipes are going to be a lifesaver!!

    1. Hi, Jessica! Yes, you can definitely use homemade meatballs — just make sure that they’re fully cooked before they go into the casserole. 🙂

  15. Could I put a part of his together and freeze it before baking it? I have never frozen anything no with rice before….I ask because I’m going to a freezer Melanie making party and need gluten free dish ideas .. this looks like a good candidate as long as I buy gluten free meatballs.

    1. Hi, Jentri! Unfortunately, raw rice does not freeze well in casseroles, since it breaks down and loses its texture. You can certainly assemble and freeze anyway — just be aware that the rice may be a bit mushy after thawing and baking.

  16. I am currently cooking this casserole in the oven, and the center is not cooking! The edge of the pan is perfect but I can’t get the center to cook fully.

    1. Hi, Vince! Yes, I think it would work fine in a slow cooker; I just haven’t tested it myself so I can’t give you a specific cook time. Just make sure that you keep a close eye on the rice, since rice can easily become overdone and gummy if left too long in the Crock Pot. 🙂

  17. 5 stars
    I want to thank you for this recipe. This was my mom’s special treat for herself on Sunday night. Sometimes I would sneak a small portion for myself. She is gone now and this is especially good to find this. Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Oh my goodness, that brings tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing that sweet memory with me. I just made one of my grandmother’s recipes last night, and one bite instantly reminded me of meals with her. It’s amazing how food can do that! xoxo

        1. Hi, Joan! If you do, it will require some testing and tweaking. Brown rice absorbs liquid differently than white rice, and also takes a lot longer to cook. You’d likely need to add some extra liquid to the dish and bake for almost twice the time.

  18. Would like to make this in the slow cooker with penna pasta instead of the rice mentioned which we don’t use, we only use white minute rice. Would pasta work also?

    Monica Junge

    1. Hi, Monica! I think that would probably work! I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t give you specific cooking times for the Crock Pot, but a reader recently tried my dump-and-bake meatball casserole in the slow cooker with pasta and she said it was perfect on LOW for 5-6 hours. Hope that helps!

      1. Yes it does help, thanks so much for getting back to me. I will try it, I have a bag of frozen meatballs in the freezer!

      1. 5 stars
        I was looking for something quick and easy since I’m busy with 3 children. Oh my goodness this dump and bake casserole is so delicious! I did season it more with basil, oregano and garlic.

  19. 3 stars
    Making it was so easy, but the rice came out uncooked. More water needed. Put it on for the longest time possible.

  20. 5 stars
    Had some leftover cooked rice and really nice meatballs and was looking for something different…this did the trick. I didn’t add the marinara as the meatballs had their own and did half a can of diced stewed tomatoes..cooked in the air fryer for 30 min then added the cheese and put back in for 10 more….YUMM thanks so much for the inspiration!

    1. Awesome! I’m so glad that you were able to tweak the recipe to make it work with the ingredients you had on hand. Thanks for your note!

  21. 5 stars
    Delicious recipe! Super simple and a quick meal , I love it.
    I was wondering if using uncooked quinoa would work instead of rice?

    1. Hi, Whitney! I’m not sure — I’ve never tried it. I think it would probably be okay, but I don’t know exactly how long you would need to bake it. Let me know if you give it a shot! 🙂

  22. 4 stars
    I love how quick and easy this recipe is. I would love if I could chop and some veggies. Do you have any recommendations on which ones would work well?

    1. Hi! Small broccoli florets (or steamed crisp-tender larger broccoli) would work. You could stir peas in towards the end (since they don’t need long to heat through), or add some cut frozen green beans at the beginning. Zucchini would be a nice addition as well, but you might want to saute it for a few minutes before adding it to the dish. Hope that helps!

  23. My family always made rice and meatballs for Easter. My grandmother used to add in sliced hard boiled eggs and we used American cheese instead of mozzarella. Thank you for posting this recipe because my grandmother never left me ingredient amounts and I always had to guess so now I know the secret!

  24. 5 stars
    This sounds really good. How should I adjust the recipe if i want to use quick cook brown rice?

    1. Hi, Cynthia! I haven’t tested it with quick-cooking or instant rice, so I don’t have specific instructions to share. The quick brown rice will not absorb nearly as much liquid as the long grain white rice. You can probably omit the water altogether, and then reduce the total baking time significantly. I would check the rice after about 30-45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s nice and tender (but not mushy). Hope that helps!

  25. I am trying this out tonight, I made too many meatballs last night and didn’t want pasta two nights in a row. I told my lovely and talented wife to stay away, I wanted to Suprise her!

  26. Iv made this before and loved it:)
    I don’t have frozen meatballs this time, but was thinking of making meatballs from scratch. Would this work if I threw them in without cooking them first?

    1. Hi, Samantha! Homemade meatballs will work well in this dish, but I would cook them (or at least brown them in a skillet) before adding them to the dish.

  27. I used enriched long grain rice and baked it for 70 minutes covered and the rice is still crunchy. Can u tell me what I’m doing wrong? Should I be using a different rice? We really liked the flavors so I’m hoping to figure it out

    1. Hi Katie,
      We’re sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe. Did you follow everything else exactly (13×9 dish, measurements, etc.)? A common reason why rice may turn out crunchy is that it was not fully submerged in liquid. So, depending on the rice you use, you may need to add an extra splash of water. For the best results, we highly recommend opting for Basmati or Jasmine rice!

  28. can you help me understand the cups vs ounces in the recipe above. Is it 3 cups or marinara or 27 ounces? same with the cheese. Thanks looking forward to making this!

    1. Hi Abby,
      Apologies for the confusion. It’s 4 cups or 27 ounces and 1/2 cup or 2 ounces. Hope that helps!

  29. 2 stars
    The only thing that tasted good was the marinara and the meatballs. The rice has taken 2 and 1/2 hours to cook and it’s STILL not fully cooked. Still crunchy.