Baked meatballs and rice, a comforting casserole dish that your children will love! A budget friendly recipe that you will keep making again and again.
You can't go wrong with this meatballs and rice recipe! It is everything that a nice, reliable, family recipe should be. It only needs a few simple ingredients, it is easy and quick to make and the comfort or coziness factor is huge.
And your kids will love every bite of it. Totally children food, if you ask me. Just meatballs and rice, with the veggies or salad on the side, so that nothing gets in the way. 🙂
Three ways of making meatballs and rice
When it comes to the rice layer nothing changes. You have rice, onions, garlic, butter, spices, and some broth.
But when it comes to the meatballs, there are several ways you can cook those.
- Mix ground meat with all the other ingredients, brown them on the stovetop, and bake with the rice. I use a mixture of pork and beef most of the time, but only pork or only beef is fine. Turkey meatballs are delicious as well.
- Sausage meatballs: goes faster. Remove the cases of some good quality sausages and form the balls. The sausages are usually spicy, so there is nothing else you will add to the mixture.
- Ready-made meatballs: either homemade leftover meatballs or homemade frozen ones. I sometimes have leftovers in the freezer. I defrost them quickly on the counter (it won't take long) and add them to the dish.
- Or frozen and defrosted ready-made bought meatballs. They are usually cooked and only need to be reheated. Or you can use cooked ones from a pack from the refrigerator section of the supermarket.
How to make?
- Chop the onion and garlic very finely. Place in a casserole dish of about 30x20 cm/ 12x8 inches.
- Add the butter and the oil, the hot chicken stock, and hot water. It is important that they are hot so that the butter can melt and the dish starts cooking sooner in the oven. Mix well until the butter is melted.
- Add the uncooked, washed rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
- Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- While the rice bakes, make the meatballs.
- Combine the ground meat with the grated onion and garlic. Add breadcrumbs, eggs, milk, dill, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Form the balls, scooping about 1 heaped tablespoon or ⅛ cup of the mixture and rolling it with wet hands. I had about 25.
- Brown in a little oil in a non-stick or cast-iron pan, about 5 minutes per batch and turning often so that they can brown on all sides. They should be brown but not cooked through.
- Remove the aluminum foil from the rice, you will not need it anymore.
- Nestle the meatballs into the rice.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the rice and the meatballs are cooked through.
- Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
What could you add?
- You can add 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste to the hot stock mixture and whisk well.
- Add one cup of frozen peas or diced carrots to the rice, both veggies that kids usually like.
- Five minutes before the cooking time is over, take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle it with Parmesan, a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan or grated Cheddar cheese.
Can you reheat the dish?
Definitely. You can reheat the leftovers in the same dish. Just make sure to evenly distribute the leftovers all over the dish. Reheat in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through, about 20 minutes, but check.
You can also reheat them on the stovetop. Mix everything together, add a splash of chicken broth or water to prevent the rice from catching at the bottom of the pan, and reheat gently, covered, on medium-low heat, and stirring often. To speed up the reheating process, halve the meatballs.
What to serve on the side?
Meatballs and Rice
- 1 small onion or ½ medium one
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cup hot chicken stock
- 1 ¼ cup hot water
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ cup long grain rice
- Meatballs Note 1:
- 20 oz ground meat Note 2
- 1 small onion or ½ medium
- 2 large garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup dried breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying the meatballs
- some parsley for sprinkling on top
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine: Finely chop the onion and grate the garlic cloves. Place them in a casserole dish of about 30x20 cm/ 12x8 inches. Add the oil, butter, salt, pepper, hot chicken stock, and hot water. Mix well until the butter is melted. Add the washed rice and dried thyme and combine it well.
- Bake: Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Combine: In a large bowl, combine ground meat, grated onion, and grated garlic, breadcrumbs, lightly beaten eggs, milk, chopped dill, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Form meatballs. Take a heaped tablespoon of meat (or about ⅛ cup) and form meatballs with wet hands.
- Fry in a bit of oil, in batches, for about 5 minutes per batch or until brown all over; they should only be browned and not thoroughly cooked through.
- Remove and discard the aluminum foil. Nestle the meatballs into the rice and bake for 25 minutes until the rice and the meatballs are cooked through.
- Serve: Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
- Quick sausage meatballs: remove the casings from about 600 g/ 21 oz sausages, form meatballs, brown on the stovetop as instructed in the recipe.
Ready-made frozen meatballs: defrost quickly on the counter. Place on the partially cooked rice and continue with the recipe as instructed.
- I use a mixture of pork and beef most of the time. You can use only beef, only pork, or ground turkey meat.