Cheesy Meatball Casserole is a great dinner recipe everyone will love. Packed with spinach and a yummy creamy tomato sauce, plus it’s covered in melty cheese – the pure warming comfort food!
This recipe is Trim Healthy Mama (THM S), low carb, keto and gluten free friendly (if using certified gluten free products).
Man, I love meatballs.
Didn’t you know?? Well, maybe take a look at my Easy Homemade Meatballs and then you’ll know how much I can gush over these little guys.
Cheesy Low Carb Meatball Casserole
Anyways, the other day I was almost out of groceries and had to whip up something comforting and filling for my hungry bunch of lion cubs.
I decided to defrost ground meat to make meatballs, but halfway through I realized I was out of eggs to bind the meatballs. Anyways, figured out I could sub in sour cream snd psyllium husk, so if you don’t have any eggs or are allergic, meatballs work without eggs, too!
I also decided to make these grain free, so I skipped the oats I usually add and instead added defrosted shopped spinach with all excess liquid squeezed out to add some bulk and stretch the meat.
This turned out to be such a nice THM S dinner, nicely low carb and absolutely scrumptious, so I decided to write down my recipe and make it again for the blog, and here it is now!
My tips for the best meatball casserole:
Use a mixer for the meatballs
Making healthy homemade meatballs is the easiest thing ever if you know a few tricks.
My way to make them super quick and easy is to just throw all ingredients into a large bowl and then mix it all together with a mixer. You can use a handheld mixer with the dough hooks attached, but for a batch of this size using a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment works better.
Then just portion out meatballs with a small cookie scoop (mine is about 2 teaspoons, I don’t like large meatballs), roll into balls and bake!
Don’t skip pre-baking the meatballs
I know it’s tempting to throw everything into the dish at once and cook it that way for convenience, but it’s really necessary to give the meatballs 15 minutes in the oven by themselves.
Otherwise they’re not very firm and could crumble and disintegrate into the sauce.
Make sure you drain the meatballs before adding the sauce
See, that’s another reason to pre-bake the meatballs. The spinach, no matter how well you squeeze it, will give off water as it cooks.
You need to drain most of the liquid that oozed out of the meatballs as they baked, otherwise the sauce will end up as soup.
Add the cheese right at the end
I want cheese on top if a casserole to be melty and bubbly, not burnt to a crisp.
That’s why I add it only for the last 3-4 minutes of baking. That way it’s nice and creamy.
Can you freeze this recipe?
Yes, you can! Freeze the pre-baked and cooled meatballs in the uncooked sauce in a casserole dish.
- use a dish suitable for freezing
- label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months)
- make sure all the components of the dish are defrosted and piping hot all the way through before serving
To defrost, just place into the hot oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and piping hot all the way through. Then add cheese and finish baking as directed in the recipe.
What can you serve with this low carb meatball casserole?
This is a dish that really calls for a comforting side, right? 🙂
Here are a few ideas for s meal sides that go well with these meatballs:
- mashed cauliflower – perfect for all that sauce, plus a dressed leafy green salad on the side
- spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles with a squish of olive oil
- plenty of sautéed low-starch veggies such as zucchini, broccoli and kale
Grab the printable recipe here:
Cheesy Meatball Casserole
For the meatballs:
- 2 pounds ground meat beef, pork or sausage; or a mix
- 1 cup defrosted frozen chopped spinach excess water squeezed!
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese I used mozzarella
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons psyllium husk can substitute sour cream + psyllium with 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Black pepper to taste (I only use a tiny bit because of my kids)
For the sauce:
- 1 28- oz can diced tomatoes not drained
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Cheese optional (I used a mix of mozzarella and grated parmesan)
- Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 430°F. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl (I like using my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment to do this – quick and easy!). Shape into meatballs and place in a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish in a single layer (it’s ok if they sit close together). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully drain excess liquid from the dish.
- Make the sauce: While meatballs are baking, mix all ingredients for the sauce in a large measuring jug.
- Bake the casserole: Pour sauce over drained meatballs, stirring a little to coat them all. Bake for 15 minutes. Top with cheese and bake until bubbly, about 3-4 minutes.