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Meatball Pasta Bake Easy & Cheesy Dinner

Cheesy meatball pasta bake designed to please young and old, penne pasta in an easy tomato sauce, beefy meatballs and gruyere cheese.

A simple recipe of 3 elements, pasta, sauce & meatballs that can all be made days in advance before throwing in the oven.

Cheesy meatball pasta bake served in individual stoneware bowls.

Cheesy Baked Penne with Meatballs

It’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned pasta bake recipe for comfort food goodness. Big bowls of cheesy comforting pasta in a sauce and a bit of protein.

As a student, I’d make massive tuna pasta bakes and eat them for days. This beef meatball pasta bake is scaled back in size and makes two generously portioned individual meals.

The meatballs are a shift away from the meatballs that I use in my spaghetti and meatballs recipe. They use only beef and are super simple but the addition of sundried tomatoes adds a lovely deep flavour to them.

I usually make a double batch of meatballs when I am making this recipe and freeze them up and throw them into a variation of my meatball soup.

You could also use them to stuff my BBQ stuffed onions too!

The sauce is a picture of simplicity. Some oil infused with garlic, beef stock, tomato passata and some herbs, add a pinch of sugar and season with salt and you are good to go.

Finally a cheesy topping, and into the oven… Grab a glass of what you fancy and dinner is served.

If you are cooking for a vegetarian be sure to check out my Gnocchi alla Sorrentina or goats cheese cannelloni recipes for more gooey pasta bake recipes.

Meatball being removed from a cheesy meatball pasta bake with a fork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different pasta?

Of course, but no one likes slimy, soggy pasta, so go for something with some body and structure. My choice is usually penne or rigatoni, you could also go for something like orecchiette or even fusilli

How much salt should I add to the sauce?

This will really be defined by your stock. We are reducing this by half to increase the beef flavour in our tomato sauce, but this also increases its saltiness. Have a taste and add salt as you see necessary, it is often very little or none at all.

How far can I make this in advance?

The meatballs can be made up to 3 or 4 days in advance and kept in the fridge. They can also be frozen for 3 months and defrosted the night before cooking.

The sauce can also be made 3 to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can I use a different cheese?

Yes. I love the almost sweet and nutty flavour of Gruyere cheese, it is my favourite cheese to add to polenta. I also think that it matches really well with pasta dishes.

But you could use something like raclette, comte, or even shredded mozzarella, the latter has the least flavour.

Individual meatball pasta bake with a cheesy topping served in stoneware bowls.

Serving Suggestions

This easy meatball pasta bake recipe really is the epitome of a complete meal.

It is rare for me to hanker after serving it with anything although my wife always wants to eat this with garlic bread because that’s the kinda lass she is!

I do however like to top with either some shredded or chiffonade, to give it a fancy name, of basil.

Simply take 10-12 large basil leaves and roll them up like a cigar, then slice into ribbons 1-2mm thick.

This also works really well with a sprinkling of peppery rocket (arugula for my American readers) or watercress.

Meatball being removed from an individual cheesy meatball pasta with a fork.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Oven or air fryer.
  • Baking tray if you are cooking the meatballs in the oven.
  • 28cm or 11″ frying pan.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Chopping board.
  • kitchen knife.
  • Grater.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring, just cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • 1 Litre (1 quart) baking dish or 2 X 500ml (2 cup) gratin dishes.
Close up of a meatball being removed from an individual cheesy meatball pasta with a fork.
Yield: 2 Servings

Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

A pasta bake is such a comforting recipe and this beef meatball pasta bake is gloriously tasty, cheesy and very comforting!


For The Meatballs:

  • 250g (9oz) Minced Beef
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • ½ Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 25g (2 Tbsp) Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil
  • 10g (2 Tbsp) Dried Bread Crumbs
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ¼ Tsp Pepper
  • Spray Oil

For The Sauce:

  • 250ml (1 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Beef Stock
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Oil form the Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Pinch Sugar
  • ½ Tsp Dried Thyme
  • ½ Tsp Dried Basil
  • ½ Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Dried Parsley
  • Salt to taste

And The Rest:

  • 150g (~1⅓ Cup) Penne Pasta
  • 75g (¾ Cup) Gruyere Cheese


  1. Bring a 20cm or 8" saucepan of salted water (1½ teaspoons in a pan this size) to the boil.
  2. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into a 2-3mm (⅛) dice and place in a bowl.
  3. Mash the garlic cloves and add to the bowl with the sun-dried tomatoes.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs and mix well.
  5. Form this mix into 14 meatballs approximately 25mm (1") in diameter.
  6. Spray the meatballs and bake in a fan-assisted oven at 200°C or 400°F for 10 minutes. 220°C or 450°F in a conventional oven. You can also do this in an air fryer at 200°C or 400°F for 7-8 minutes.
  7. By now the water should be boiling add the pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 60-90 seconds less than the packet instructions. This will be around 8-10 minutes.
  8. Heat a 28cm or 11" frying pan or skillet over a medium-high heat and when hot add the cooking oil for the sauce.
  9. Crush the garlic cloves with the heel of your hand, add them to the oil in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Pour in the beef stock for the sauce and reduce by half.
  11. Add the tomato passata followed by the dried oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, and a pinch of sugar.
  12. Have a taste and season with salt to your liking (remember we are adding lots of cheese)
  13. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes.
  14. By now all of the elements should be cooked, combine them together in a 1-litre (1 Quart) ovenproof bowl to bake them in. I personally prefer two individual 500ml gratin dishes but a 24cm skillet would work just as well.
  15. Grate and sprinkle over the Gruyere cheese and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 180°C or 350°F.
  16. Add lots of fresh basil if you can get some before serving.


Using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes works exceptionally well in this recipe.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1069Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 245mgSodium: 1951mgCarbohydrates: 75gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 60g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Carol Ryan

Saturday 21st of August 2021

Made this for lunch today best dish ever. So easy and quick to make. The sauce was very tasty I'm never going to buy a jar of sauce again nor meatballs. Definitely going to make this a regular for lunch. X

Brian Jones

Saturday 21st of August 2021

Glad you enjoyed it Carol, I love this sauce too, it is great for saving, I often make an extra-large batch and freeze it up, it is great stirred through pasta and finished sprinkled with parmesan and basill, but it is fab with a pork chop too!


Wednesday 31st of October 2018

What a delicious looking pasta dish. I would love to try this.

Brian Jones

Friday 2nd of November 2018

Thank you Jemma, it is super simple!

Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry

Thursday 25th of October 2018

What a delicious looking pasta bake! We've been eating a lot of turkey recently and I just know that the kids would love this dish!

Brian Jones

Friday 26th of October 2018

It is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Jacqueline Debono

Thursday 25th of October 2018

This looks like a truly delicious pasta bake. I've never used turkey meatballs with pasta. Must try it!

Brian Jones

Friday 26th of October 2018



Thursday 25th of October 2018

A pasta bake is always a great comfort food option. This looks really hearty and filling, but with some greens too :)

Brian Jones

Friday 26th of October 2018

Cheers Danielle!

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