There's no need to thaw meatballs first in this 3-ingredient easy baked meatballs recipe! They're smothered in marinara sauce and ooey gooey mozzarella for an irresistibly simple family meal.
Why you'll love it
When you've got hungry mouths to feed on a busy weeknight, few things are more annoying than waiting for meatballs to thaw. In this simple baked meatballs recipe, I've eliminated that step. It's a dump and bake meal, so busy mamas can focus on more important things. No headaches figuring out how to cook frozen meatballs here. Right from frozen, that's how! In my home we affectionately call this dish Triple-M for meatballs, marinara, and mozza.
It's budget-friendly comfort food done right. Apart from being really easy, the beauty of these cheesy baked meatballs is that you can serve them in all sorts of ways. With pasta, over mashed potatoes... whatever you like. It makes a big batch, so feeding a crowd is effortless, especially if there are picky eaters involved. I mean, who can resist all that melty cheese?
What you'll need
- Meatballs - we're using frozen cooked meatballs for convenience. Use your preferred variety. Italian style would be tasty.
- Marinara sauce - I picked up a jar of Mezzetta, but you can use your favorite brand. Make sure it's one you enjoy the taste of since it has a starring role!
- Mozzarella - it's a great melting cheese that pairs perfectly with the marinara
- Mezzetta, Rao's, and DeLallo are some of my go-to brands for marinara, or use a Homemade Marinara if you've got more time.
- This recipe is written for 1" pre-cooked frozen meatballs that you'd find in your grocery store. You can use larger meatballs, but cooking time will need to increase, or thaw them beforehand.
- Meatballs are cooked when 160F in the middle. Use an inexpensive instant read thermometer to monitor when they're the right temperature.
How to make baked meatballs
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish, and add in the frozen meatballs in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then take it out of the oven.
Pour in the jar of marinara, and toss to coat the meatballs. Spread out the meatballs evenly, and top with the shredded cheese. Return to the oven, and cook until hot and bubbly!
Substitutions and variations
- It's not necessary, but you can broil this to get the cheese browned. Just make sure to watch it very carefully.
- Sub the mozzarella for another easy-melting variety such as cheddar or a Tex-Mex blend no problem to change it up.
- If marinara isn't your thing, you can swap it for another tomato-based jarred pasta sauce if desired.
What to serve with baked meatballs
- I am always tempted to eat them as-is with a giant slice of my addictive Extra Cheesy Garlic Bread along with a side salad. I suggest mixed greens with my Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing. It's a tried and true combo in my home.
- Or serve over pasta. You can't go wrong with a riff on spaghetti and meatballs.
- Another great option is rice or Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Pair it with a super simple veggie dish like my Easy Brussels Sprouts and Bacon, and it's a winning weeknight dinner.
Leftovers and storage
- The meatballs will keep 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Warm slowly over a low heat in a covered saucepan or microwave. If reheating the entire casserole dish, warm in the oven at 350F until the meatballs reach 160F inside.
- I don't recommend freezing leftovers due to the dairy.
Hope you'll enjoy this hassle-free oven baked meatballs recipe as much as I do! Talk to me in the comments below with any questions, leave me a review, or tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Easiest Baked Meatballs
- 24 ounces frozen cooked meatballs see note
- 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce use your favorite brand
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the middle position.
- Grease a 9x13 casserole dish (I use Pam cooking spray) and add the frozen meatballs in an even layer. If using thawed cooked meatballs, skip to step 4.
- Bake the meatballs 20 minutes, then take the casserole dish out of the oven.
- Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and stir/toss until combined. Spread in an even layer, then sprinkle the cheese over top.
- Return the meatballs to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly (meatballs should be 160F in the middle). Optional: broil the cheese for a few minutes to brown it.
- This recipe is based on 1" frozen cooked meatballs. If your frozen meatballs are much larger, you may need to increase cook time. If in doubt, for step 3, follow the oven directions that are printed on your package of meatballs, and then continue on with the recipe as normal. You can use cooked homemade meatballs if you prefer, just ensure they're 160F in the middle prior to serving.
- The serving size is based on a 24 oz. bag of frozen meatballs where everyone gets about 5-6 meatballs each (approx. 45 1-inch meatballs total). You can definitely use however many meatballs you want - this is a very flexible recipe. If you're making this with fewer meatballs, you could always add less sauce and cheese and bake it in an 8x8 vs. a 9x13.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.