4-Cheese Meatball Casserole
Loaded with ooey gooey cheese, this 4-Cheese Meatball Casserole is one the whole family will love! Beefy meatballs are baked along with pasta in a creamy, cheesy sauce that’s so good everyone will want seconds!
Meals like this 4-Cheese Meatball Casserole are so hearty and delicious that they’re right near the top of my comfort food favorites. This is an easy dish to make, and you can even get the meatballs ready ahead of time so that they’re ready for the final bake.
4-Cheese Meatball Casserole
Who doesn’t love meatballs? These tasty meatballs are loaded with garlic and Parmesan so there’s flavor through and through. And when they bake in the sauce with the pasta – well, magic happens. There are 2 more kinds of cheese in the sauce and another on top as a garnish, so this is definitely a dish for cheese lovers!
I love putting this dish out for the family or whenever we’re having casual dinners with friends. It’s saucy, hearty, flavorful, and there’s something about meatballs that just makes everyone want to have seconds!
Why I love this recipe
- Prep the meatballs ready ahead of time, and then just bake the dish before serving. This cuts down on time in the kitchen before eating!
- You can use whatever pasta shape you have on hand!
- I love switching up the cheeses – see all my suggestions below!
- This dish feeds a crowd and is perfect for potlucks and other gatherings.
Gather these ingredients
It might seem like a long list of ingredients, but there’s nothing unusual on this list, I promise!
- Ground beef
- Ground pork
- Bread crumbs – Use dried crumbs, not fresh.
- Parmesan cheese – Grated.
- Garlic – Fresh cloves have the best flavor!
- Parsley – Fresh.
- Pasta – I like using medium-sized shells or rotelle.
- All-purpose flour
- Milk – Whole milk will give your sauce the creamiest flavor.
- Cheddar cheese – Shredded.
- Gruyere cheese – Shredded.
- Salt and pepper
- Pecorino Romano cheese – Grated.
- Panko bread crumbs
You’ll also need
- A baking sheet with raised sides and parchment paper for easy cleanup
- A 9 x 13 casserole dish
How to make this 4-Cheese Meatball Casserole
- Preheat your oven to 450-F and line a baking sheet with raised sides with parchment paper.
- Combine the ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, minced garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. You can use your very clean hands or a wooden spoon to mix.
- Roll the meat mixture into 1.5-inch balls and place them on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through. Set them aside.
- While your meatballs are baking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package recommends. Drain but reserve some of the pasta water; set the pasta aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk while cooking for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Simmer, while over low heat, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cheddar and Gruyere cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the drained pasta to the sauce and mix well to combine.
- Turn the oven down to 400-F.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or grease it with butter.
- Add the pasta and cheese to the baking dish, making sure to get all the cheese sauce out of the pot.
- Arrange the meatballs on top of the pasta and mix gently to cover the meatballs. It doesn’t have to be pretty!
- Sprinkle the Panko breadcrumbs over the top, followed by the Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the dish is hot and bubbly.
- Serve with chopped parsley and serve immediately!
Tips & substitutions
- Use good quality Parmesan for this recipe – the fresh flavor makes all the difference!
- You can make the meatballs ahead of time, but you can also prepare the sauce and boil the noodles in advance, too! Keep the noodles and sauce separate and pop them into the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the dish and bake. Add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if the meatballs, sauce, and pasta are cold.
- If your baked meatball casserole starts getting too brown, cover the top loosely with foil.
- Can’t find Pecorino Romano cheese? Use Parmesan instead.
- Any short pasta will work well in this family-friendly casserole. Try penne, fusilli, or your favorite shape.
- If your cheese sauce is very thick, thin it with some of the reserved pasta water.
Casseroles like this 4-Cheese Meatball Casserole are a 1-dish dinner, but I’ll often pair pasta casseroles with sides like garlic bread, a refreshing salad, or even a veggie-packed soup to start the meal.
Any leftover meatball casserole should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Check out these awesome casserole recipes while you’re here
Get the Recipe:
4-Cheese Meatball Casserole
For the Meatballs:
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta:
- 1 pound pasta, medium shells or rotelle
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano, crumbled or finely grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Fresh parsley, minced, for serving
Make the meatballs:
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Add the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic cloves, parsley, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl. Use your hands to combine until mixed.
- Continuing with your hands, roll the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a parchment (or foil) lined sheet pan.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and just cooked through. Set aside.
For the pasta and cheese:
- Cook the pasta al denté, about 1-2 minutes less than package directions. Taste to make sure it’s the texture you want before draining the water and setting the pasta aside (keep the pasta water).
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Pour in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent any lumps. Keep whisking about 2-3 minutes until smooth. Stir in the cheddar and Gruyere cheese until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste. Optional to add 1/8 - 1/4 cup of pasta water back into the pan if the sauce is too thick. Add the drained pasta and gently mix.
- Reset the oven to 400°F.
- Next, in a 9x13 prepared pan (either grease with butter or spray with cooking spray), add the pasta mixture, scraping all the cheese sauce into the pan. Place the cooked meatballs on top and gently mix the pasta up and over the meatballs. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs on top, followed by the Pecorino Romano cheese, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Top with fresh chopped parsley and serve right away!