Meatball bake with crunchy topping

This gorgeous golden-crumbed meatball bake is a guaranteed hit with kids and adults, making it a must for your next gathering.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Main
Servings 6
Kid Friendly



  • cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme leaves finely chopped (or ¾ tsp dried herbs)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ onion grated or very finely chopped
  • 300-400 g beef mince
  • 300-400 g pork sausage mince or pork mince or just use all beef mince
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Tomato and spinach sauce

  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme or rosemary leaves chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 700-800 ml tomato passata bottle or 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 200-300 g spinach leaves or baby spinach chopped


  • 3 slices sliced bread about cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon thyme or rosemary leaves finely chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • Mix breadcrumbs, herbs, milk and onion in a large mixing bowl and leave for a few minutes for breadcrumbs to soften. Add minces and salt and, using clean hands, mix everything together until well combined. Roll into walnut-sized balls and set aside on a plate.
  • Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan on medium high heat. Brown meatballs (in batches) all over for a few minutes, shaking the pan frequently, but do not cook all the way through – you want them just browned on the outside. Arrange meatballs in a large baking dish. Wash or wipe out pan with paper towels if necessary and return to the heat.
  • Add a little olive oil to the pan and cook onion for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add garlic and thyme or rosemary and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, passata or tomatoes and spinach and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour sauce over meatballs, covering evenly. Toss bread with cheeses and thyme or rosemary then scatter over meatballs and sauce. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for about 15 minutes until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is bubbling.


Simple, delicious and made from scratch. There’s a lot to love about my meatball bake recipe. It’s easy enough to be enjoyed for a special family dinner and it’s impressive enough to serve to guests at a casual dinner party. I think it’s a lifesaver that it can be made ahead of time (and freezes very well!), simply pop it in the oven when you’re ready to roll out the food, and serve with lemon and parsley fettuccine and a big, leafy green salad.