My friend, Mary Jo, loves cooking like I do, except she's a natural and I’ve had to work at it! Almost every time we talk, she’s working on a meal for someone, even though her life is very stressful, to say the least. I’ve often heard her say that cooking food for others is her ministry, her way to give back. “I can’t be a missionary, I can’t help out a lot at Church, this is what I can do at this stage in my life and I love it.” 🙂
This recipe for meatball sub casserole is easy to make, but does take a little time. It goes really fast if you’re on the ball like she is and always have some meatballs made ahead and in the freezer. Yeah, that’s not me.
Note: See below for a variation I added for meatball subs not in a casserole, which is also very tasty. AND I added info on how I made this keto-friendly too, it's delicious no matter how you eat this!
Meatball Sub Casserole
- 1/4 Stick of butter – for buttering the 11×14 glass baking dish.
- One loaf of bread. I used a loaf of fermented bread from our local baker. I tried to find some thick Italian bread at the store like Mary Jo suggested, but couldn’t find any without trans fats and high fructose corn syrup! ***See the comments below for some great grain-free options!
- Cream cheese mixture — see recipe below.
- Meatballs — see recipe below. Here's where you an find a healthy source for safe meat.
- 24 ounces or so of your favorite pasta/spaghetti/marinara sauce. I use organic sauce from a glass jar.
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese — or both.
- Butter the bottom of an 11×14 glass baking dish. Place thick slices of bread in the bottom of the pan. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of each slice of bread. Be generous, this is the best part! Place meatballs on the bread. Spread pasta/spaghetti sauce on top. Sprinkle cheese around. Bake at 350* for 35-45 minutes until hot and cheese is melted.
- 1 pound ground beef – Find a healthy source for safe meat.
- 1 pound ground pork I didn’t have this the other day so I just used all ground beef.
- 1 cup bread crumbs or use almond flour if you're eating grain-free
- 1/4 cup milk or broth if you're eating dairy-free
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 egg or 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 onion chopped small (or 1 Tablespoon dried onion)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Mix together well. Use a baller to drop them into a pan with hot bacon grease (or ghee or coconut oil) and brown on all sides. (Or just a spoon will work fine,too.) These are kind of a pain, even with my huge awesome stainless steel electric frying pan, because you have to keep standing there and turning them as each batch cooks. But maaaaaaaan are they good. I love meatballs! Mary Jo then puts them into a 9×13 pan in the oven with a little beef stock and foil over the top so they stay warm. I think I’d do that if I were serving them right away, but I knew that for this recipe they’d be baking in the oven and getting hot again.
- ***Tiffany in the comments just had a great idea: bake these in the oven so you don't have to stand over them as they cook and it will be easier! I tried it and it IS so much easier! I didn't brown them first either and they were so good!
Cream Cheese Spread
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 c. homemade mayo
- 1 T. Italian seasoning
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- Blend together until it's smooth and fluffy. (You may have extra leftover, use it as a yummy cracker or veggie dip.)
Just want to make meatball subs? (Not a meatball sub casserole)
For meatball subs I used some fermented multi-grain buns from a local baker, or you could easily make your own homemade buns. I buttered and baked them buttered side down for about 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Then add a spoonful of red sauce on the inside of one of the buns, a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture on the other bun, place your meatballs, sprinkle the cheese on and put them into the oven open-faced just to melt the cheese. I often use the broiler so it goes faster, but keep your eye on them or they'll burn fast. Put the sides together and enjoy!
Thanks Mary Jo. 🙂
If you try either the meatball sub casserole or just the subs, let me know what you think!
More you might like:
- Homemade Dinner Rolls to use for your meatball subs or meatball sub casserole (SO easy!) (Or cinnamon rolls or pecan rolls!)
- More main dish recipe ideas that your family will love!
- All Kitchen Kop recipes and kitchen tips in one spot
Meal Planning Help!
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Amanda B says
I just made a this the other night with some thick slices of sourdough boule from our local co-op. It was sooooo yummy! The meatballs seemed a little dry for my taste (maybe too much breadcrumbs) so I just added a bit more milk to the mixture before frying them in some delicious bacon fat and they were just right. Thanks for sharing 😀
This looks yummy!! How did this recipe freeze? I am apart of cooking club and think this recipe sounds perfect!
Sorry I don’t remember, but it must’ve been good or I’d have probably remembered that!
Instead of using any kind of bread can you use egg plant instead?
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Try it and let us know! 🙂
casey wolf says
You gotta sister?
This looks so delicious! I will have to make this next week, if I can find some spaghetti squash or something as I am gluten free too. Question: how do others make their meatballs grain free/gluten free? I know some people do ground oats for gluten free, but I’d love to know how to make them grain free. Any ideas? Also, I always bake my meatballs in the oven because I’m too lazy to mess with the stove method, but I’ve never had a problem with them being pale… they always look delish! Maybe it depends on the temp they’re cooked on?
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Try these grain-free meatballs! https://kellythekitchenkop.com/2010/08/low-carb-sausage-balls.html
I should add that to the post…..
Made this for dinner tonight, turned out excellent. Only change I would make is the milk in the meatball recipe. Maybe 1/4 of a cup or less, it was far too much liquid.
I’ll go make that change in the post, thank you!
Is there a reason why the meatballs can’t be baked in the oven?
No, what a great idea, and prob much faster!!!!!!!!! Now I’ll need to edit the post again, that’s too good to leave down here in the comments!!
I was just talking to Mary Jo about this, and she reminded me that if you’re going to do them in the oven, you should first broil them on each side so they’re “browned”. Otherwise they’ll stay a pale, unappetizing color. Then turn the oven back on (off broil) to finish cooking them all the way through.
I laready have meatballs in the freezer! I’ll save this for when I also have some homemade whole wheat sourdough bread and homemade cream cheese from our goat’s milk. What a treat! I suppose while I’m at it I could make my own mozarella too, mmm! Thanks!
This LOOKS FANTASTIC! I am going to make this this week. I will sub out the bread for spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, batatas or some rutabega, since I am grain-free gluten-free. Thanks for the idea Kelly!!
GREAT IDEAS! I’m adding a note in the post to check here for these grain-free options. 🙂