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Baked Orzo with Meatballs

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2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (20 ounce) package frozen precooked meatballs
1/3 cup beef stock
1 (16 ounce) package orzo pasta
2 cups frozen peas
1 (16 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup milk
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed
2/3 cup sour cream
1 (7 ounce) container basil pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Baked Orzo with Meatballs

This delicious and easy recipe for Baked Orzo with Meatballs is a hearty casserole that feeds a crowd.

  • Serves 6
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Baked Orzo with Meatballs is an easy and delicious, one dish meal recipe that is hearty and feeds a crowd. It’s a combination of three of my favorite foods: pesto, meatballs, and orzo pasta.

The orzo is cooked first, to a little less than al dente, then it’s added to a skillet with meatballs Alfredo sauce, sour cream, and pesto, then the whole thing is baked until it’s crusty and crisp on top and super creamy underneath.

You can add other ingredients to it, like Brussels sprouts or bell peppers if you’d like. Green beans would be delicious, as would corn or asparagus or broccoli.

Orzo is one of my favorite pasta shapes. It looks like rice, but it really is pasta. It’s tender and delicate and delicious in many recipes, such as Curried Chicken and Pineapple Salad.

If you don’t want to use pesto, just leave it out and increase the sour cream to 1 cup. See how adaptable these recipes are? Cooked recipes (i.e. not baked, like cakes or cookies) can be changed up as much as you’d like and they will still be delicious.

In fact, you can even make this recipe on the stovetop. Just cook the onions and garlic and simmer the meatballs until tender, then add the Alfredo sauce, milk, pesto, and sour cream. Stir in the pasta and peas and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbly. Then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serve this delicious recipe with some toasted garlic bread and a nice green or fruit salad for a complete and easy meal.

How to make the best Baked Orzo with Meatballs

  • Do not overcook the orzo pasta. It must be undercooked or it will get too soft as it cooks in the creamy pesto sauce. When you bite into the pasta to test it, you should see a line of white and the pasta should be a bit hard in the center.
  • Make sure the meatballs are heated to 160°F and test them with a reliable and accurate food thermometer.
  • This recipe reheats beautifully in the microwave oven. Just portion it out onto plates and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave for another 2 minutes. Be careful because the plates will be hot!

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the frozen peas into a colander in the sink.


Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 4 minutes.


Then add the frozen meatballs and beef stock to the skillet. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the meatballs are thawed.


Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook until almost al dente, about 1 minute less cooking time than the package suggests.


While the pasta cooks, add the Alfredo sauce to the skillet. Pour the milk into the Alfredo sauce bottle, cover tightly, and shake. Pour into the skillet. Add the cubed cream cheese and sour cream and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the cream cheese melts.


When the pasta is done, drain over the peas in the colander in the sink. Add the pasta and peas to the skillet along with the pesto.


Add half of the Parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir. Pour the meatball mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and top with the rest of the Parmesan.


Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling; and the top is browned and crusty and crisp.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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