Swedish Meatball Pasta Bake

This is the kind of comfort food dish that you make on the weekend.

Think Swedish meatballs meets a casserole and that’s what we’ve got going on here today. Nifty, right? I tend to prefer casseroles in the winter time. Maybe it’s because they tend to be heavier and ideal for cold nights. Which means if you’re counting calories then save this recipe for a day when calories don’t count (like the weekend or on vacation 😉 ).

As a heads up, this recipe takes a bit of time to make, which is the real reason why I suggest making this on a weekend. It’s not difficult to make, but there a lot of steps. It took me way longer than I thought it would.

When I made this, it reminded me that I don’t like making meatballs. I find them kind of a pain to make. Does anyone else feel that way? The meatballs in these pictures are a little bigger than what the recipe calls for. I didn’t look at the package of beef that my husband picked up because I assumed it was the amount that I needed. My bad. The meatballs still came out great though.

My husband would have liked more pasta but I think that would ruin the integrity of this dish. I think that the ratio of carbs to sauce/gravy is key to a good casserole and it’s spot on here. Dry casseroles do not make for good eats.

While I did enjoy this meal, it’s not really something that I crave or gravitate towards. Give me a chicken rice soup or zucchini ravioli and I’m a happy camper. My husband ate all of the leftovers by eating it for several days in a row as lunch, so kudos to him for taking one for the team because this recipe made a lot of food.

Swedish Meatball Pasta Bake Recipe
(Makes about 6 servings)

Note: This recipe requires 30 minutes of chilling time.

Ingredients for the Meatballs:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups plain panko bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 85/15.)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Ingredients for the Pasta:

  • 2 cups shell pasta

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef broth (I used low sodium, equivalent to a 32 ounce box.)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce * (See Note below.)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon salt * (See Note below.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

*Note: My husband likes this recipe as is. However, I prefer less salt and Worcestershire flavor and would reduce these amounts in half. Therefore I recommend that you start with less salt and Worcestershire, taste the sauce, and add more to your liking if needed.

Directions for the Meatballs:

  1. Add the panko bread crumbs to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
  3. Add the finely chopped onion, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir often.
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to low/medium, and add the milk. Stir everything together and bring it to a simmer.
  6. Once the onion mixture has come to a simmer, pour it from the pan into the bowl of panko bread crumbs and stir everything together. The mixture will be very thick. Set this bowl aside to cool.
  7. In a separate extra large bowl, add the eggs and beat them.
  8. Then add the ground beef, ground pork, and cooled onion mixture. Mix everything together. (It’s gross, but it’s easiest and quickest to do using your hands.)
  9. Form about 30 balls and then chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  10. Once the meatballs are done chilling, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat up the oil.
  11. Add the meatballs to the skillet in batches and cook them until they are browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Batches made it so the pan wasn’t over crowded which made flipping them and seeing when they were done easier.
  12. Transfer the meatballs to a dish and set them aside.

Directions for the Pasta:

  1. Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the box, drain it and add it to a 9 x 13 oven safe baking dish.

Directions for the Sauce and Assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (This is not part of the sauce steps but you’ll want the oven preheated by the time you are done with these steps.)
  2. Place the meatballs into the baking dish, nestling them into the pasta.
  3. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.
  4. Add the flour, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the beef broth, water, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and bring it to a simmer. Stir often.
  6. Reduce the heat to low/medium, and add the parsley and heavy cream. Stir everything together constantly and cook it until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
  7. Carefully pour the sauce over the meatballs and pasta.
  8. Bake the Swedish meatballs, pasta, and sauce in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Slightly adapted from: The Beach House Kitchen

Comments

  1. Rachael says:

    Hope it tastes better than it looks. My sauce never thickened, it’s very…VERY soupy.

    1. Melissa Lewis says:

      My sauce was thin too. I used egg noodles. It seems to have thickened with the baking!

  2. Carla says:

    I made this 2 nights ago and had the leftovers today for lunch and it was so delicious. I even think I liked it better leftovers. My husband NEVER EVER eat leftovers and he had seconds. This is a keeper!

    And, yes it thicken up as it bakes. ❤️

    1. Tina says:

      That is awesome to hear! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Emily says:

    If I want to freeze this dish, at what point should I do that? Before baking?

    1. Tina says:

      Emily, yes, I would freeze before baking.

  4. Cristina says:

    I did not have any issues with the sauce thickening…however, the meatball mixture was very soft…there was really no rolling into balls…I just spooned them into the skillet… And, my family did not like the texture of the meatballs…while they were done/cooked and well browned on the outside…the inside texture was very soft/mushy. I feel like the 2/3 C of milk was too much liquid.

    1. Sherie Lea says:

      Great meatballs as long as you follow the recipes. I had no problems and it was a great dish! Thank you

      1. Tina says:

        I’m so glad that you like this dish! 🙂

    2. Tina says:

      Hi Cristina. It sounds like you made the meatballs correctly because this kind of meatball is tender.

  5. Holly says:

    This was a tasty change of pace for our household. However, it seemed like it took nearly two hours from start to finish. It’s definitely not something I could make during the work week. I suggest putting in some time saving suggestions in order to make cooking go faster.

    1. Mandy says:

      We did it with frozen meatballs. Cuts way down on prep time and can definitely be a weeknight meal with this substitution.

  6. Ashley Simmons says:

    Very good, lots of compliments, going back for seconds and husband said this was a keeper! I had family staying with us so made 1-1/2 this recipe adding an extra pound of lean beef. I didn’t have beef broth so used beef bullion. With that and my butter being salted I took your suggestion and scaled back on salt and Worcestershire sauce. Thanks!

  7. Jillian says:

    I doubled the meatball ingredients (since that was the biggest pain to make) and froze the other half. My sauce turned out perfect consistency per following the exact recipe. This was DELICIOUS!!!!! My kids loved it and I will DEFINITELY make again!

    1. Tina says:

      Yay! 🙂

  8. Lorna Andrejewskik says:

    I am a pescatarian and do not like beef. Do you think Impossible Burger ground “meat” would work in it’s place?
    My husband loves Swedish meatballs and I haven’t made them in years. I would love to try this.

    1. Tina says:

      I have not cooked with impossible burger ground “meat” so I’m not sure. If you end up trying it, I’d love to know how you make out.

  9. Lori says:

    About to pop in the oven, looks delicious! I’ll let you know how my 3 teenage boys like it:)

    1. Tina says:

      Lori, I hope your boys loved it!

  10. Vickie says:

    Yummy yummy yummy. But I cheated I used frozen meatballs. This is now in our rotation of meals my picky eater husband loves. So glad I found this recipe.

  11. Sara A Wickum says:

    I thought this casserole was good…the only thing I would have done different was to double the sauce.

    1. Tina says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Sara!

  12. Kelli says:

    If I use frozen meatballs, do I need to cook or warm them before or just place the frozen with the shells in the casserole pan?

    1. Tina says:

      Kelli, I have not tried cooking it with frozen meatballs, but I think either approach would work, however, you will likely need more cooking time if the meatballs are frozen.

      1. Joy says:

        I always use frozen and just place them among the noodles!

        1. Tina says:

          Awesome! Thanks for the information, Joy!

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