Satisfy your lasagna craving the easy way with pasta-meatball casserole

If there’s one meal that screams comfort to me, it’s lasagna. There’s nothing to not love about layers of pasta, meat, cheese and sauce, but all that deliciousness comes at a cost: far too much prep time and work.

If you want all the comfort of lasagna in a meal you can actually make during the week and not have to sit there, cursing noodles that stick together and/or rip while having a million prep dishes to wash after you finally get it in the oven, then this skillet casserole is for you. It’s got everything you love and want in lasagna, in a way easier package and far less cleanup.

meatball pasta casserole
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows; Graphic: Tiffany Egbert/SheKnows

Mozzarella, pasta and meatball casserole

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes


  • 2 cups dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 12 ounces store-bought, precooked meatballs (fresh or frozen)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, sliced


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, and cook according to the package directions. Drain, and set aside.
  3. While the pasta cooks, to a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.
  5. Add the garlic, red pepper and Italian seasoning, and cook for another minute.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the pasta sauce, spinach and meatballs. Stir everything together, and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Add the drained pasta to the skillet, and toss to combine.
  9. Lay the sliced mozzarella pieces on top, and place the skillet in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the mozzarella has melted and the pasta ends are crispy.
  10. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
slow cooker recipes
Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

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