This meatball sub bake is the perfect way to enjoy all that delicious flavor of a meatball sandwich in an easy to eat baked dish. This meatball sub casserole has everything we love about a meatball sandwich. Give this rich, cheesy Italian meatball bake a try. It’s the best Italian meatball casserole you’ll ever eat.
I have to tell you that this Italian meatball casserole recipe is a super easy family favorite. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you want.
On busy weeknights, I serve the basic meatball sub bake. Everyone loves it and let me tell you how easy it is. On days when you have time, I encourage you to spend some time adding different vegetables to your sauce and try making my homemade meatballs.
This Italian meatball bake is so different and definitely worth a try.
Most weeknights, however, this family-loved meatball sub casserole is an EASY weeknight dinner recipe is definitely a keeper, and keeping it simple is best.
Why We Love This Meatball Sub Bake
I have to tell you that there is nothing like using homemade meatballs in this easy weeknight dinner and I encourage you to try it at least once. Our Perfect Meatballs use ground beef or a ground beef pork blend to make the most incredible meatballs and I kid you not.
Ground meat, panko or bread crumbs, and a few other ingredients make these the best meatballs which is why they’re called perfect!
Whatever sauce you choose to use consider simmering it for a time after adding some chopped, sauteed vegetables.
I grab a skillet, add some oil and allow it to heat up over medium heat. The oil must be shimmering or when a drop of water is flicked in it dances or sizzles.
Then add your vegetables of choice, about half a cup or as much or as little as you desire. Saute until tender and add to your tomato sauce before adding it to your meatball sub bake.
The secret to this recipe being so simple is the refrigerated biscuit dough. It stands up to being baked with all the sauce in this recipe, and it adds a unique flavor and texture that makes this recipe something extra tasty that the family will love.
History of the Meatball Sandwich
I want to take a moment to talk about a North American favorite, the meatball sandwich. You might be asking yourself why a meatball sandwich would be termed as a North American favorite when it obviously come from Italy. Well, that’s the first thing we’re covering. Meatball sandwiches aren’t actually an Italian invention. At least not technically.
Believe it or not, no one knows exactly where or when this sandwich was invented, but most agree that it was sometime during the turn of the 20th century and that it was most definitely born in the United States.
It’s universally agreed that the meatball sandwich is an Italian-American invention first created by Italian immigrants. This is why the classic sandwich is made up of an Italian roll filled with meatballs, red sauce, and mozzarella cheese or provolone cheese.
Of course, these days you can find all manner of meatballs and cheeses used in meatball sandwiches. You can also find, you guessed it, meatball sandwich variations like this Italian meatball bake.
Meatball Sub Bake
This delicious meatball sub casserole – you can call it that, as well – has all the flavors of the classic meatball sandwich but in casserole form! This Italian meatball bake is filled with meatballs, sauce, and ooey gooey melted cheese. And it’s all on a bed of refrigerated biscuits. You might find that odd at first, but trust me, the flavor and texture of the biscuits works perfectly in Italian meatball casserole.
This recipe is so easy that I not only make it for weeknight dinners, but I’ve also been known to whip up a batch for potlucks, as well. I firmly believe that making this dish is always the right decision when you need something to feed a crowd.
Italian Meatball Bake Ingredients
This is an incredibly easy dish to make. It only takes a few ingredients and a little baking, and you’ll have one seriously delicious bake on your hands! If you keep your pantry stocked, you’ll most likely have all the ingredients you need to make this delicious casserole. The only thing you might have to buy is the frozen meatballs. Outside of that, everything else is probably already in your kitchen. Here’s what you’ll need.
- (1) 16oz bag of frozen meatballs
- 1 can of Pillsbury biscuits (16.3oz can, 8 biscuits)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- (2) 23oz jars of marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, if desired under mozzarella cheese
- cream cheese
Tips for Making the Meatball Sub Casserole
You’ll find the full printable recipe for this super easy meatball sub bake below, but there are a few simple tips to keep in mind. This is a super easy dish, as most casseroles are, but you’ll want to read over the tips for this Italian meatball bake carefully to ensure that you create the best final product possible.
Bake the Meatballs Before Adding Them to the Casserole
You do have to actually cook the meatballs for a short time before adding them to the rest of the Italian meatball casserole recipe. The directions below are for frozen meatballs so if you’re using homemade meatballs, you’ll have to adjust accordingly.
Coating the Biscuits
Since the canned biscuits will be layering the bottom of the dish, you want to be certain to coat them in the seasoning. They’re going to provide the “crust” as well as a delicious texture. They really do become more like Italian bread than biscuits when they’re cooked at the bottom of this casserole.
How to Know When the Casserole is Done Cooking
Since the meatballs are already cooked at this point, you just need to be certain that the bottom layer of biscuits is cooked all the way through. This should take about 40 minutes of time for this to happen.
Your cheese is melted nicely too.
If you find that the biscuits aren’t done cooking, just pop them back in the oven and cook in 5-minute intervals until the biscuits are done.
Fun Topping Ideas
Don’t forget that you can add your favorite toppings to this recipe as well. I love to add parsley, but you can add more cheese, chopped onions, some more tomato sauce, or even some bits of crumbled-up bacon. It’s totally up to you as to what you want to add as toppings.
Vegetables to add to Tomato Sauce
The great thing about this sub recipe is that you can add in as much, or as little as you want. This gives you the flexibility to easily change up the taste and flavor fast and with minimal effort on your part.
Some simple ideas on how to get more veggies into your diet are shown below. These veggies can all be added to the tomato sauce after they’re ideally sauteed.
- sweet bell peppers or hot peppers
- green beans
- yellow squash
- jarred roasted red peppers
Can I use homemade meatballs for this recipe?
You can if you have the time! I love that this recipe uses frozen meatballs but you can easily make homemade meatballs as well. I’ve actually done it both ways but I always use this method when I’m short on time – and it tastes delicious, too.
What side dishes go well with this delicious meatball bake?
I always whip up a delicious side salad recipe with this dish as well as some garlic bread or cheesy breadsticks. Since the casserole is hearty and full of flavor, you don’t really need to add anything too heavy to this dish.
I will say though that it’s important to be certain to have dessert! Don’t forget to make Andes Mint Cupcakes with Irish Buttercream Frosting as the perfect cupcake dessert to pair with this dish.
Meatball Sub Bake FAQ
Depending on the meatballs, you might be able to precook them in the microwave for a short time, too. Just follow the cooking direction on the bag and choose your cooking method.
How long does leftover Meatball casserole stay good?
As long as you keep it stored in the fridge, this should be good for 3-5 days after baking it.
How to reheat meatball sub casserole
This tasty casserole dish is super simple to reheat! Just cut a piece and pop it in your microwave! That’s literally it! You can always melt a bit more cheese on top as well.
Can you freeze this recipe for later?
I think that this recipe is best served fresh but you can always try and add some to your freezer for later.
Try This Meatball Sub Bake Today
If you love meatball sandwiches and you love casseroles, then this recipe is for you. I’ve long said that anything that can be made into a casserole SHOULD be made into a casserole, and this meatball sub bake recipe will fully cement that belief in you, as well.
This Italian meatball casserole has everything we’ve ever loved about the meatball sandwich, and it’s so easy to make and eat. It’s the perfect meal for a weeknight dinner or a potluck.
With all that meaty, cheesy, saucy goodness and the ease with which it can be made, it’s a dish that’s well worth giving a try. Once you’ve made this delicious bake, you’ll never look back.
You won’t be able to, frankly, because your family will never stop pestering you to make it. Give this recipe a try, and you’ll find that it quickly makes its way into your weekly dinner rotation. It’s so fast, so good, and so easy, it always seems to pop up on the dinner menu.
Love this simple meatball recipe? Here are some other simple dinner ideas to try!
- Simple Salmon Cakes
- Easy Cream Cheese Corn Casserole with Bacon and Ham
- Easy Flaky Cream Cheese Biscuits
Meatball Sub Bake
- 13 x 9 inch pan or casserole dish
- 1 bag (16 oz) frozen meatballs or our Perfect Meatballs
- 1 can (16.3 oz) refrigerated biscuit dough, (8)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 jars (23 oz) marinara sauce
- 1 - 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, if desired
- If you have time make sure to check out our Perfect Meatballs. They're called perfect meatballs for a reason. Otherwise your favorite frozen meatballs work great with this easy dinner recipe.
- Get out and measure all of your ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Once the oven is fully heated, place meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut each biscuit into quarters.
- Place all biscuit quarters in a medium mixing bowl. Add garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and olive oil to biscuits.
- Gently toss and coat biscuits evenly in the mixture.
- Pour coated biscuits in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Pour sauce over the biscuits inside the pan.
- Mix gently until biscuits are evenly dispersed and sauce is even across the dish.
- Add meatballs to the mixture. You do not need to stir the mixture again. Just be sure meatballs are evenly distributed and are about halfway submerged in the mixture.
- Top the entire dish with cheese. I start with parmesan cheese usually and then the mozzarella. Use as much or as little as you want. Place the dish inside the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- When cooking time is complete, remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with parsley. (optional)
- Enjoy every bite.
- When pre-cooking your meatballs, you can also place them in the microwave for 3-4 minutes before adding them to the dish instead of placing them in the oven.
- When your dish is complete, if the biscuits do not look cooked fully, you can return the dish to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until biscuits are fully cooked.
- Pairs wonderful with caesar salad and garlic bread.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days after cooking.