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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!
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!
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
- Long grain rice
- Rosina meatballs
- Shredded mozzarella & parmesan
- Freshly chopped parsley
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.
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!
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!
More Rice Casserole Recipes You Might Like:
- Dump and Bake Shrimp & Rice Casserole
- Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
- Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- Sausage, Red Beans and Rice Casserole
Dump and Bake Italian Meatball and Rice Casserole
- 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.
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
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!
You always make the best casseroles, Blair! Love this meatball version. My husband would devour this in no time!
Thanks so much, Gayle! Casseroles are just too easy (and everyone seems to love them around here)! 🙂
Wow ! Meatballs and rice that’s what I need now 🙂 The casserole looks amazing, Blair !
Thank you, Ruwani! Total comfort food!
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.
Thanks so much, Jen!
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
Sounds great, Jen. Hope you enjoyed!
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!
Thanks, Megan! And I agree — EASY is the only way to go!
are these meatballs GF? PLEASE say yes! cause I NEED! haha love this dump and bake. You are so creative!
I think that Rosina does have a gluten free version, Lindsay! Definitely keep your eye out for them!!
Oh yum! This is definitely calling my name! Pinning. Love that it’s easy too. 😉
Thanks so much for the pin, Michele!!
Meatballs AND rice casserole? Mmmm, yes please! I’ll grab a plate! 🙂
Thanks, Marsha! 🙂
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 🙂
Thanks, Olivia! This meal is perfect for enjoying that glass of wine. Less work = more drink! 🙂
would love to make this recipe, but it really has too much sodium.
I see no reason why you couldn’t use all “low/no added-Sodium” ingredients to make this casserole. Do you cook often?
Yep, you can definitely do that Marcy. 🙂
Can you use brown rice instead of white?
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!
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. 🙂
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! 🙂
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!!
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! 🙂
Has anyone used couscous to replace the rice?
Hi, Amy! No, I haven’t tried couscous in this recipe.
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?
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. 🙂
Crystal just blend your diced tomatoes to purée them, it will blend right in the sauce and picky eaters won’t even notice.
Could I use aborio rice instead of “long grain white” ?
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! 🙂
What if my meatballs aren’t frozen? How long should I bake the dish for? Thanks
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!
Could i use basmati? I already have a ton of it ib the cupboard
Hi, Hollie! Yes, the basmati should work fine as an equal substitute since it’s a similar long grain rice. Enjoy!
Could I use fresh uncooked meatballs as a substitute?
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! 🙂
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!
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!
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
I hope that you enjoyed it, Michelle! 🙂
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!!
Can you substitute the meatballs for homemade ones?
Hi, Jessica! Yes, you can definitely use homemade meatballs — just make sure that they’re fully cooked before they go into the casserole. 🙂
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.
Sorry my phone autocorrected some words….:(
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.
Would love ideas for converting this to instant pot for a quicker meal! Thank you
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.