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. sretko tomic says:

    In full description, I like your Swedish Pasta Tina.

    1. Tina says:

      Thank you!

    2. Andrea says:

      Why are you still making meatballs in a skillet? So much easier to put them on a cookie sheet and bake them.

  2. Victoria Cooke says:

    This looks delicious! I can’t wait to make this.

    1. Tina says:

      Thank you!

      1. Joyce says:

        I made this and love it. I substituted the homemade meatballs for store bought to cut down on time. I used egg noodles instead of the shells.
        Delicious!!!!

        1. Tina says:

          Yes! I love those great short cut substitutes! Thank you for stopping by!

        2. Brenda Norville says:

          My thoughts exactly.i hate making meatballs, but the recipe sounds great.

          1. Tina says:

            Thank you!

        3. Judie says:

          Did you use frozen meatballs?

          1. Joy says:

            Did you thaw the frozen meatballs?

  3. Heather says:

    This was delicious! I used 1 1/2 tsp of salt; even that was a bit too much. I think I will completely omit the salt the next time I make iT. We love Worcestershire, so I kept that as a 1 Tbsp. This will definitely be a regular in our house from now on. Thank you!

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Heather! I’m glad that you took my suggestion to start little with the salt (even if you’ll less or none next time). It’s funny how everyone’s tastes are different, as even my husband and I had different opinions on how much was the perfect amount. Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Robert says:

    Didn’t see where you add the parsley.

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Robert. Thanks for pointing out my miss! I fixed it. It’s step 6 of making the gravy.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Made this for my son and I. Spend 3 hours preparing this, was so looking forward to trying it when it was done and well it was so nasty I ended up throwing it all away.

  6. Kris says:

    Absolutely will try this dish soon. We love Swedish meatballs, and I love a good casserole! Being an avid grilled and smoker, I had a busy weekend a while back and opted to toss a pan of meatballs on the smoker as I had so much cooking to do outside anyway…hand over fist, smoked meatballs turned out better than I could have imagined and offered up a flavour profile that was over-the-top amazing. So for anyone whom also smokes meats?? Next time you fire up the smoker? Add a batch of these meatballs. (I smoked them on a foil wrapped pan, and they were smoked only, not cooked. I then chilled and froze them and bagged them until days later when I cooked them for the recipe). Truly amazing tho, and Fam has voted we shall never just pan cook meatballs again! (Even for spaghetti lol!!!) 👍🏻☺️

  7. Kris says:

    I look forward to trying this, but plan to smoke the meatballs first (adds a depth of flavour soooooo good!!) thank you for sharing what sounds like a great recipe! Love Swedish meatballs and absolutely love a good casseroule!!

    1. Tina says:

      Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Lauren says:

    Tastes good but yes, definitely a recipe that takes way too long. Took me about 2.5 hours from start to finish to make. I have a toddler and a 4 month old, I don’t have that time to spend cooking lol.
    Also, we ended up needing to cook it in the oven for 45 min at the end because the inside of the meatballs were still pink after 30 min.

    1. Tina says:

      Lol… that’s why I gave my readers the heads up that this recipe takes time. When I was in the middle of making it I told my husband, “If I had known that it was going to take this long I may not have tried it but I’m in it to win it now.”

    2. Gail Carlson says:

      Lauren,
      Make your meatballs in advance and freeze them, then when your ready so are they. Also, I always bake my meatballs. Enjoy.

      1. Tina says:

        Great tip, thank you!

  9. Lindsey says:

    These meatballs are excellent, truly delicious. Following the recipe exactly for the sauce, to me it seems something is missing, not bad, just not great. BUT, my whole crewoved it including my 2 extremely picky eaters. All in all, I call that a win.

    For those complaining about the amount of time this recipe takes to cook must not have read the instructions all the way through before starting… For someone who cooks on a regular basis, it wasn’t bad at all… Any homemade meatball recipe takes time and the sauce is done in the time it takes the pasta to cook, so, not sure where the problem is.

    Great share. Thank you.

    1. Tina says:

      Thank you!!!

  10. Mary McFadden says:

    I don’t have heavy cream, could I substitute evaporated milk instead

    1. Tina says:

      You can use regular milk (not evaporated milk) instead but it will not be as creamy.

  11. Vickie Stone says:

    Made this tonight. It was delicious! I knew when hubby when back for seconds it was a keeper recipe! I did omit the salt because of other comments but kept the worchestshire at 1 tablespoon. Thanks for the great recipe!

  12. Cathy says:

    I haven’t tried it… but wandering if IKEA frozen meatballs would work instead of making meatballs ( before I get crucified I have arthritis in my hands, I find rolling meatballs tedious and painful)? Any thoughts?

    1. Tina says:

      Cathy, I have not tried that, but I bet it would work.
      If you try the pre-made meatballs, let me know how you make out.

  13. Jody says:

    I used frozen meatballs! The recipe turned into a quick meal. I could make ahead, letting the meatballs thaw and have ready after a busy night of running kids. Everyone LOVED it and asked for me to put it my rotation of meals. Thank you!

    1. Tina says:

      Awesome! I love that used a shortcut. I’ll have to try that now too. 🙂

    2. Carol says:

      Wondering if you used frozen meatballs, would you need to thaw them night before, or put them in frozen?

      1. Tina says:

        I think either option would work, but if the meatballs are frozen then it may require more cooking time in the oven.

  14. Daniel Fewster says:

    Hello Tina, my name is Dan. Currently I live in a Veterans home where once a month a vet is tasked with making diner for the rest of the house. Is there a chance that you could tell me what the ingredients would be if I was cooking for 25? Since its also on a budget would buying store-bought meatballs impact things terribly? If not, could you incorporate that into the enlarged recipe? I would really appreciate, especially since my cooking skills stop at doctoring up Hamburger Helper. Thank you

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Daniel. I would multiply the recipe and make a few 9×13 pans. As far as whether to buy premade meatballs… since every location is different you should price the ingredients & compare it to see which way is cheaper. Good luck!

  15. Pat says:

    Recipe looks amazing. Making it right now. Can I bake meatballs to cook them rather than cooking in a pan?

    1. Tina says:

      Pat, yes, I think you can bake these meatballs.

  16. Bev says:

    This recipe looks so good. you could use evaporated milk, just dilute it by a thiArd. my mom taught me that years ago. Also, when i make meatballs I do a huge batch. Bake them in the oven 375 for 25 minutes, then freeze them. That would shorten the prep time. Looking forward to this on Sunday!!

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Bev. While I’ve never tried evaporated milk, the below article says you can use it as a substitute for milk with adjustments (in other words add water like your mom taught you).
      I hope that helps!

      https://www.livestrong.com/article/481078-how-to-use-evaporated-milk-in-place-of-fresh-milk/

  17. Deb says:

    This recipe was great! My husband said it was fantastic! I did a few things differently only because I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients on hand. I used only ground beef instead of both pork and beef. I baked the meatballs instead of frying them and they turned out moist and delicious. For the sauce I didn’t have heavy cream so I substituted 1% milk and a tablespoon of light sour cream. Had the whole dinner done in 1-1/2 hours. Absolutely will be making this recipe again! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Tina says:

      Deb, I love how you still made this recipe work with what you have & it still tasted great. It’s one of the reasons why I like this meal. Thank you so much for stopping by & taking the time to comment!

  18. chris putnam says:

    Spray the pan before adding pasta, or no?

    1. Tina says:

      Hi. You do not need to spray pan before adding the pasta.

  19. Rachel says:

    This looks great! How many frozen meatballs would I use?

    1. Tina says:

      Rachel, I would use as many frozen meatballs that would fit in the pan and that you desire per serving. This recipe made about 30 meatballs and I didn’t have enough room to put them all in the baking dish.

  20. LT says:

    I made this tonight. I’d make it again but I’d probably make some changes. (Who has parsley on hand? Especially during a pandemic? I’m not sure how much of a difference that would make anyway.) I used chicken broth because some of the family doesn’t eat beef. I kept the Worcestershire sauce because the taste is intrinsic to Swedish Meatballs – at least to me. I used both beef and chicken meatballs from IKEA, meaning I had to bake them first, which worked out with the time I spent boiling the pasta. I didn’t have shells and couldn’t put my hands on the egg noodles (which I would have preferred), so I used Rigatoni. Probably won’t do that again. And the sauce only thickened slightly. I’ve made tons of gravy over the many, many decades I’ve been cooking and I should have used my own instincts on this because the roux just didn’t seem thick enough. I ended up adding a little cornstarch slurry. The seasoning was fine. I probably did a tsp of salt and then added about 4oz shredded Swiss cheese at the end.

    So yes, I’d make it again. It’s a great way to use IKEA meatballs. I thought I might try doing this over mash potatoes in place of noodles sometime!

  21. Gina says:

    Hello and thank you for this recipe post. I’m making this tonight but doubling the sauce recipe as I’m making a larger dish. However, I’ve discovered I have only one 32-oz box of Unsalted Beef broth and about half a box of Unsalted Chicken broth. Will it be okay to mix the 2 flavors (beef and chicken broths) or will it alter it too much? Also, could I use half the amount of heavy cream and maybe add equal part of sour cream? I ask because I’ve made swedish meatball dishes before and we seem to like the sour cream in the sauce. Please advise. I’m excited to make this as a baked pasta dish! Thank you very much for this!

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Gina. Chicken broth does taste different to beef broth so the the final result will probably taste different, but not necessarily bad. I’ve never mixed the 2 flavors together. While I’ve never tried sour cream in the sauce, I think that you can add some, but the texture may be different. If you end up experimenting, let me know how you made out.

    2. Gina says:

      Sorry I haven’t followed up ’til now. It did turn out excellent! There were no leftovers whatsoever! I did combine the beef broth with only half of the chicken broth and it was fine. I did try adding sour cream but only about 2 tbsp after doubling the heavy cream (I made a larger amount of this dish) so I don’t know if the sour cream made any difference. I also ended up adding a little salt since the broth was unsalted. Overall, it was delicious. I thank you for sharing this recipe; it is a keeper!

      1. Tina says:

        You made my week!!! Thank you kindly! 🙂

  22. Alyssa says:

    This recipe is AMAZING! I just spent all afternoon prepping for it and making everything. Just AMAZING. My boyfriend loves it. It’s super creamy and flavorful, though I did add a bit more spices to the sauce than was suggested/required.

    1. Tina says:

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear that!

  23. Sheri Barnett says:

    I made this for dinner 2 nights ago and it was a lot of time and prep. I kept telling my husband these had better be some good meatballs. The whole thing, pasta, sauce and especially the meatballs were OUTstanding! I mean really outstanding. Those meatballs, I could eat those all day long. Nice.

    Thanx for sharing.

    Sheri

  24. IUL says:

    I spent 2 hours on my feet making this, and I didn’t sit down during the 30 minute refrigerator time. There is way too much liquid, and too many meatballs for the small amount of pasta. Double the amount of pasta and cut the broth down to 3 cups, and leave out the water. The meatballs are very good but the sauce was very bland. We had to add salt and pepper to our plates to make it palatable. Plenty of leftovers, especially meatballs, for 2 people, so we will enjoy it after we dress it up a bit. Not sure I’ll spend the time to make this again, though.

  25. Beth says:

    This looks so delicious! Im only up to the meatball stage and I was able to make 52 meatballs lol- I will freeze half and save for another day! 😃

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Beth! I too got a lot of meatballs out of the original recipe but I love that it is kind of an extra meal. 🙂

  26. Sharon says:

    Planning to make this for my elderly mom and aunt. They need extra vegetable so I’m going to try adding some wilted spinach to this. Hope it works.

  27. Jennifer says:

    This dinner was amazing!! I even got a hug from the hubby because he loved it so much!! Yay!

  28. SarahT says:

    Made this for my family & they all loved it! So easy & quick! Made it with thawed frozen meatballs. Next time I may add sour cream just to see how it changes it.

  29. Janet says:

    Can this be made in advance. I’d like to have it all put together in a baking dish the day before I plan to serve it. I’m concerned that the pasta shells will absorb too much of the sauce so perhaps it would be better to prepare the meatballs and the sauce in advance but cook the pasta and assemble it shorty before baking. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Janet. I absolutely agree with you for the reason you stated. I would make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time. Then cook the pasta and assemble it just prior to baking it.

      1. Janet Lopez says:

        Thank you for replying so quickly to my question!

        1. Tina says:

          I appreciate you taking the time to stop by! 🙂

  30. Jennifer says:

    Made this meal and it was amazinggggg but your definitely right the salt was not needed. Next time I make this I won’t use any salt at all because all the flavors you put together got drowned out by all the salt looking forward to more recipes

  31. Bonnie K says:

    Should this be covered in the oven?

    1. Tina says:

      I do not cover it in the oven.

  32. Bonnie K says:

    Thanks

  33. Karen says:

    Holy cow, this looks SO good BUT….save yourself a lot of time IF you live near an IKEA store, & buy a bag of their frozen meatballs & 1-2 pkgs of their dry gravy mix, to which you only need to add water & heavy cream (but I always add milk…healthier & tastes just as good). SUPER EASY & quick!!

  34. Ms cook says:

    Not sure why you would bother to bake this…just use a big pot to cook the meatballs, drain the grease from the pot after removing the meatballs, then make the sauce in the pot. Don’t bother cooking the pasta, either. Just let it simmer in the sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes or so. (Cut the flour in half, as the starch from the pasta will help thicken the sauce.) Save yourselves a little time and fewer dishes to clean.

  35. Laurie L. says:

    Your “print” hyperlink doesn’t work 🙁

    1. Tina says:

      I just tried it in chrome and Microsoft edge and it works fine for me.

  36. Ashley says:

    So perfect! A delicious addition to me repertoire. My family was in heaven. I didn’t change a thing. No shortcuts people! It’s worth every step to make it as is. My son kept saying, “This is cuisine!”

    1. Tina says:

      I love that! 🙂

  37. Leigh says:

    I followed the recipe step by step. I agree that it takes longer than you would think, it’s very easy just a lot of steps but more than anything the cooking the meatballs but it was all worth it! This dish is DELICIOUS, the whole family loved it! Thank you!

  38. Erica says:

    So I read all the comments and used thawed frozen meatballs. I also used a chickpea pasta as we are watching our carbs. I have to say that I can’t imagine how long this would take rolling your own meatballs but it came out so tasty that I see no need to do that. I left out the salt but kept the Worcestershire and since I was slicing green onions for a salad I threw some on top after it come out of the oven. We all loved it! I was worried because my sauce didn’t thicken much on the stove but – once it came out of the oven it was perfect. Kinda rich so I wouldn’t make often but definitely will be a weekend meal in the rotation! Thanks so much!

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