Easy Italian Meatball Appetizer

Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner.  Just add French bread.  Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner. Just add French bread.

Whew!  Are you as tired as I am?  Giving a big party, a busy vacation, holiday prepping and tasty new recipes are all fun.  But non-stop activity can take a toll. And the holidays have barely started!

Even a food blogger can need a cooking break!

So, with the biggest activities still on the horizon, I decided to reprise a super easy Italian meatball appetizer that I posted December 2016. And happily it’s a dish that can also works as dinner—just add salad.  Can’t beat that!

The idea came from my teenage nieces who made a version of this (sans French bread) as an appetizer one Thanksgiving.  They started with a pasta recipe designed as a dinner entree and re-purposed it.  Genius!   Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner.  Just add French bread. 

How This is Different

Most of the meatball appetizers around are the meatball-on-a-toothpick type.  While those are admittedly easy to serve, this gives you a big flavor bonanza.

Plus you get the extra health value from the tomato sauce and the fresh mozzarella cheese. 

Even the baking pan cooperated, going right to the table.  Sliced French bread completed the dish.   How easy can a tasty, hot appetizer get?!  Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner.  Just add French bread. 

Step by Step Directions

I put this appetizer together very quickly. 

I poured the frozen meatballs into a pan. Pour packaged meatballs into baking dish

Topped with jarred sauce, covered it and popped everything into a 375-degree oven.  Top meatballs with jarred pasta sauce

35-45 minutes later, when everything was hot, I topped with slices of fresh mozzarella and put it back uncovered for another 10 minutes until the cheese was soft and melty.  I added the French bread to the oven for the final cooking time. Top with sliced fresh mozzarella

Can I Serve This for Dinner?

I will confess, I have done this for dinner too.  Hey, some of my most fun dinners have been “let’s eat a bunch of appetizers” meals!  If you add a salad, which is always delicious with Italian food, you’ll take the meal to two servings of vegetables, which is what I like to see. 

Other options? You can serve with pasta or even ladle onto hoagie rolls for a tasty meatball sandwich!  Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner.  Just add French bread. 

Meatball Options (including Vegan)

I chose to base this recipe on frozen, pre-cooked meatballs for the ease of preparation, but there are many other options.  The meatballs I originally used are no longer available and the only others I found at my small town grocery had (gasp!) preservatives.  But checking online it looks like there are lots of good options if I’d planned a little earlier. 

If you have a great homemade Italian meatball recipe, that should be delicious in this!  Making meatballs from scratch will add to the prep time but might be worth it for the flavor.  I have even heard of people keeping homemade meatballs individually quick frozen in their freezers.  Someday!

And if you are looking for a good meatball recipe, consider this meatball recipe from NYC Patsy’s Restaurant, beloved since 1944!

I also considered taking some Italian sausages out of their casings and rolling into meatballs.  There is an organic rancher nearby with amazing sausage that would go readily into this!  You could also do sausage slices, though those might be a little harder to break up with a fork.

If you do substitute raw meatballs or sausage slices, be sure they are up to temperature (165F) before you serve this.

And the above list has vegan options as too.  Then you’d just need to change our the cheese and you’d have a vegan version.  

Tips and FAQs

Jarred sauces are very flavorful today and a wonderful option for cooking shortcuts.  There are even lots of organic choices.  For this dish, a thicker sauce will work better. 

Exhausted AND in a hurry?  While this recipe has very little working time, it does cook nearly an hour.  And sometimes you don’t have the elapsed time to spare.  In that case, you could do a microwave Italian Meatball Appetizer—or just thaw the meatballs in the microwave to get a head start.  Pull together bagged frozen meatballs, jarred pasta sauce & sliced fresh mozzarella for an easy, tasty Italian Meatball Appetizer! Or dinner.  Just add French bread. 

 

5.0 from 6 reviews
Easy Meatball and Mozzarella Appetizer
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
One bag of Pesto Meatballs, a jar of pasta sauce, some fresh mozzarella & French bread later & you have an easy, tasty Meatball & Mozzarella Appetizer!
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 16-18 ounces of prepared precooked meatballs (packaged, deli or your favorite recipe)
  • 1 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 1 loaf French bread
Instructions
  1. Place meatballs into a large lidded baking dish or casserole.
  2. Cover with pasta sauce.
  3. Bake, covered, until meatballs are warmed through (35-45 minutes from frozen, less if thawed)
  4. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella, then return to oven until cheese is soft and melty (about 10 minutes).
  5. Serve with sliced French bread
Notes
Serves 4-6 as a meal, more as an appetizer.

 

It’s time to start planning our holiday parties we all need some delicious and festive recipes to serve! Check out all these amazing holiday appetizers as part of the #FavoritePartyFood blogging event hosted by Jennifer from Take Two Tapas

FAVORITE PARTY FOODS

21 thoughts on “Easy Italian Meatball Appetizer

  1. cheri

    Phew is right! and it is always nice to have a few shortcuts up ones sleeve, these look great. Happy New Year Inger……..

    1. Inger Post author

      I am enjoying the other exhausted commenters. Now I know I’m in good company! Best wishes for a great 2017 Tammy!

  2. grace

    this should’ve been obvious but i’ve never seen it before! it’s hard to resist that combination in any capacity. 🙂

  3. David

    Sigh… I wish I could eat some prepared foods like this, especially now that good quality products can be found. This would make life do much simpler when I need something really quick and tasty. But 99 of 100 times these products have garlic… sigh again. So I will just have to man-up and make my own chicken meatballs and sauce and throw this together! Happy New Year! xo

    1. Inger Post author

      You know I used to do six lasagnas at a time and freeze them (gotta start doing that again!) In your shoes, I’d probably do a meatball assembly line and freeze individually… Hmmm

  4. John / Kitchen Riffs

    We like appetizers for dinner too! And wow, this is an amazing one — loaded with flavor. Although we often make our own meatballs, we also like some of the frozen ones available in our grocery store — the ones we’ve tried have been really good quality. Fun dish — thanks.

  5. Kathleen Pope

    Perfect for a heavy holiday appetizer, I would eat this for dinner too! And I hear you, the season has barely begun and I’m already pooped!

  6. Jennifer

    I made these last night as an appetizer but we all sat around the pan and ended eating them up for dinner. They are so delicious!

  7. Rebecca

    This is a great Italian dish! It’s so appetizing and I love that it can be served as a meal if one chooses!

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