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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!
Making this right now, here in England….brilliant recipe wonder if you could do this in a slow cooker?
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. 🙂
Absolutely delicious! And so simple to put together – thank you!
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!
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
Can you use brown rice?
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.
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?
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!
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!
Awesome! Enjoy, Monica!
Made this once a while back and it was delicious!!!!!!!
Thank you for an awesome recipe
Thanks, Kay! I appreciate you taking the time to come back here and leave a note. 🙂
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.
Thank you, Tamara!
Making it was so easy, but the rice came out uncooked. More water needed. Put it on for the longest time possible.
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!
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!
Delicious recipe! Super simple and a quick meal , I love it.
I was wondering if using uncooked quinoa would work instead of rice?
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! 🙂
Followed exactly but the rice didn’t cook properly.
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?
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!
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!
Oh, good — well I’m glad that you can recreate a nostalgic favorite, Jill! 🙂
This sounds really good. How should I adjust the recipe if i want to use quick cook brown rice?
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!
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!
That’s so thoughtful, Joe. I hope it was a hit!
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?
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.
Super quick and easy – my 2 year old and almost 1 year old ate it up!
Wonderful! Thank you, Stacey!
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
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!