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. 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.

  2. Jennifer says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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! 🙂

  5. 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

  6. Bonnie K says:

    Should this be covered in the oven?

    1. Tina says:

      I do not cover it in the oven.

  7. Bonnie K says:

    Thanks

  8. 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!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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! 🙂

  12. 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!

    1. Tina says:

      Yay! I am so glad to hear that your family loved this meal. 🙂

  13. 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!

    1. Tina says:

      Erica, I think thawed frozen meatballs are a great alternative to save time. I love that you modified some of the other ingredients to fit your dietary needs and that you still love it. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment because I think your tips could help others decide how they might want to modify this recipe.

  14. Kb says:

    Not easy to make but worth the effort. This was delicious. The whole family loved it.

    1. Tina says:

      So happy to hear that! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  15. Jane L. says:

    This one’s a keeper! Lots of steps, but worth it. I chose a day when I had the afternoon free, and it was fun putting it all together. I agree with using less salt. We love Worcestershire, so I added the full amount. We ate half (of half the recipe) and I froze the rest, so I am eager to see how it will taste re-heated. A full recipe would have yielded 4 meals for the two of us. Thank you for a delicious, comforting dish.

    1. Tina says:

      Jane, I’m so glad to hear that you love this! I love finding great recipes to share and see that others agree. I’m also glad to hear that my tips on the salt and Worcestershire were helpful. I know that I would have liked that information when I first followed the original recipe because everyone’s preferences are different.

      I figure there is a time and a place for time consuming recipes. I don’t always cook meals like this one but when I do I’m sure happy when it’s worth the time and effort. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  16. Terri says:

    Made this tonight and it was wonderful! I used frozen meatballs because I had them in the freezer and omitted the Worchesterschire sauce because I didn’t have it in the pantry. The whole family loved it.

    1. Tina says:

      Terri, I think it’s a great idea to use frozen meatballs because it makes the prep time much faster. 🙂

  17. Sarah says:

    I just finished making this but I could only fit about 2/3 of the meatballs in the dish with the 2 cups of shells. I poured in all the sauce and it seems like A LOT —- Are the measurements correct ? I’m thinking it was a double recipe that should have been halved. I’m worried it’s going to turn out soupy , but I did follow the recipe exactly. We will see!

    1. Tina says:

      Sarah, sometimes I cannot fit all of the meatballs into the baking dish if I make them on the small side and get more of them. I hope it turned out well for you, even if you had extra meatballs to enjoy another day.

  18. Michelle says:

    Made this tonight and it’s good, but needs more sauce. I would definitely double the sauce next time

    1. Tina says:

      I appreciate the input, Michelle!

  19. Kelly says:

    Tina, this recipe looks delicious and I’m going to try it this weekend, but with the lazy shortcuts, LOL. I appreciate the fact that you and so many others continue to share recipes online despite the people that comment on them as if being negative and rude were a contest. I admire your restraint in your patient replies to them.

    1. Tina says:

      Kelly, you made my week! You are so sweet. 🙂

  20. Michelle says:

    This is a delicious recipe!!!

  21. Jessica says:

    Just put this in the oven. I used frozen meatballs too to cut down on time. The sauce seemed kind of bland like it’s missing something but not sure what. Maybe after it comes out of the oven it’ll be better! Anyone else change up sauce recipe other than changing salt amount?

  22. Nancy Kless says:

    Thanks for your comment. I prefer to mix ground turkey with the beef so will try this

    1. Tina says:

      Using ground turkey is a great option!

  23. Arlene says:

    I made this last night, it was delicious and even better the next day! I made my beef broth using Better Then Bouillon. Anyone commenting that it was too saucy, not enough sauce, too many meatballs, etc…… just follow the directions and measurements exactly as posted because the proportions were perfect! Mine looked exactly like the picture too! I did use 1 tsp. of salt instead of 1 tbsp. and found it was enough salt, and I am one who loves salty food. 10 out of 10 for me.

    1. Tina says:

      Arlene, I’m so glad you love this! I pride myself on photographing food on how it actually looks when I cook/bake it so that you have a good guide of what to expect. 🙂

  24. Carol says:

    Loved this recipe Tina! You stated at the start it takes a long time to prepare, but every minute was worth it! Tastiest meatballs ever! You’re in a hurry? Follow the shortcuts. And make it more than once and you’ll shorten the time cause you know the recipe! Follow the recipe EXACTLY and it’s NOT runny or dry. I too want to compliment you on your willingness to post recipes and reply so promptly to people’s questions and comments. Ignore the nasty people with their “gross” comments!!
    Stay well😊

    1. Tina says:

      Carol, thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words and it’s made my week! 🙂

  25. Janeen says:

    Didn’t see where to add the milk step to the meatballs. Definitely couldn’t add 30 meatballs to the pasta but got close (24).
    Was pretty tasty! My family loved it! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tina says:

      Step 5 of meatball directions. I’m glad it was a hit! 🙂

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