Casseroles/ Kid-Friendly Recipes/ One Dish Meals/ Rice and Grains

Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas

Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas by

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Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas.  This rice ball casserole is stuffed with a blend of chopped meat, peas, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, in an all-in-one delicious casserole, then baked until the mozzarella on top is melted.

It makes an easier alternative to making the original  Sicilian rice balls which are large rice balls stuffed the same way, only they are coated with breadcrumbs then deep-fried.  These Sicilian rice balls are commonly known as “arancine,” and one my husband goes bonkers for!

We love Sicilian rice balls best in a casserole version, making it so much easier to pull it all together and still enjoy the same deliciousness you get from the original rice balls.

The fact is, I enjoy this rice ball casserole much better (than in the form of rice balls) because it’s baked rather than fried, and it makes clean up a breeze!






Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is a meal your whole family will love!  

I made this a few weeks ago for my Sicilian husband and for some guests who were staying with us.

I used our mom’s marinara sauce, which I had on hand.  But you can use your favorite store-bought sauce if you prefer.  For this recipe, you will need a lot of tomato sauce, about 4 cups and more.

Our mom always made this dish into a casserole with all the same fantastic ingredients.
So amazingly delicious!  Only she prefers to make it with her bolognese sauce and just adds frozen peas to it.

Both recipes are fantastic!

If you’re looking for the perfect one-dish meal containing carbs, protein, and vegetables? Then this Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is it!





COOK’S NOTES and TIPS for Best Rice Ball Casserole:

  • This is a 2 step process to prepare.  One is the rice mixture and the other is the meat filling.  You can make this casserole one day before and refrigerate until you are ready to pop into the oven.

  • Keep in mind, you will need a lot of prepared marinara sauce on hand to make and serve with this casserole; simply because these rice balls (aka Arancini) are usually served with some extra tomato sauce on top, or next to it.  So have extra marinara sauce heated, when serving.

  • It’s best to use Long Grain Rice.  You need sticky rice to make this casserole.  Instant rice will not work. 

  • Rice ball casserole will feed a large family; however, you can divide this recipe into 2 smaller trays and freeze one before baking.  They freeze well and up to 3 weeks.

  • You can also make this a little healthier and less fattening using ground veal, chicken or turkey, but my husband says “its not Sicilian if you don’t use beef! “..Lol… Either way, this is a dish everyone should try!


BEST Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas makes an easy and fabulous meal for the whole family to enjoy!

Enjoy and have a great day!



*Follow along with our Step-by-Step directions, or jump down to the bottom for our full recipe card.

How to Make Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas:

1.  First, cook 3 cups of rice with 6 cups of water, and follow directions on the package, including adding in some butter and 1 teaspoon of salt to the water.  When rice is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the additional butter, mix and set aside to cool.

2.  In the meantime, using a medium skillet, sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add the ground beef and cook meat until browned and well cooked.  Using a wooden spoon, break the chopped meat while cooking.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add peas and 8-ounces (1 cup) of tomato sauce.  Simmer on low heat, covered for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.




3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, Pecorino cheese, and pour in 8-ounces of marinara sauce and mix well.  Rice will be sticky.

4.  Spray one 13 x 9 casserole dish, including all four sides, with cooking spray.  Add breadcrumbs to the baking dish,  roll the dish until bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.



5.  Take half of the rice mixture and cover the bottom of the dish and pressing down to form a layer. Add the entire meat and peas mixture to cover the rice.  Spread an additional cup of marinara sauce evenly over the meat and peas mixture.




 6.  Scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.




7.  Add the remaining rice and press with the back of a spoon until the layer is even.




8.  Top the rice with remaining marinara sauce, 8-ounces.  Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.   Then top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.





9.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.  Remove and cut into 12 squares.


Prepare in Advance  

You can make this casserole up to one day ahead before baking it.  Keep in mind,  you will need to take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up to room temperature before baking it, at least one to two hours before baking.  Also, when serving, you will need to have extra tomato sauce (heated) at the table for those who love it drowning in the sauce! 



     …THANKS for PINNING! 


Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat & Peas by


Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas is one of the most popular recipes on our blog!

I decided to revive it from our archives because I think it’s a perfect casserole to make during the holiday season.  This dish is so delicious!  You might want to add a green salad as a side, and dinner is done!

Have you tried our Easy Meat Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles?  It too is perfect for the holiday season.   

Also, for Gluten-Free, try our Best Zucchini Lasagna!

New Year’s Eve is around the corner, and we’re always looking for ways to feed the family with a delicious one-dish-meal during the holiday season.  Try this one!

Whatever y’all doing this weekend, we hope it is filled with loved ones, family and friends!     



Yield: 8 to 12

Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas

Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas

Rice Ball Casserole ~ is stuffed with a blend of chopped meat, peas, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese all into one delicious casserole, then baked until the mozzarella on top is melted. This makes an easier alternative to making the original Italian/Sicilian rice balls which are large rice balls stuffed the same way, only they are coated with breadcrumbs then deeply fried.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 3 cups organic long grain rice uncooked
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove- diced
  • 1 medium onion- chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 24-ounces (3 cups) Mom's Quick Marinara Sauce - divided
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano grated cheese
  • organic olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1+ 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
  • extra tomato sauce heated, for serving


  1. First, cook the rice with 6 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and follow directions on the package. Transfer rice to a large mixing bowl, add the butter, mix and set aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, using a medium skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook meat until browned and well cooked. Using a wooden spoon, break the chopped meat while cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas and 8 ounces (1 cup) of tomato sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, pecorino cheese, 8-ounces (1 cup) of marinara sauce and mix well. Rice will be sticky.
  5. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish, including all four sides, with cooking spray. Add breadcrumbs to the baking dish, roll the dish until bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.
  6. Take half of the rice mixture and cover the bottom of the dish and pressing down to form a layer.
  7. Add the entire meat and peas mixture to cover the rice. Spread an additional cup of marinara sauce over the meat and peas mixture. Then scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.
  8. Add the remaining rice and press with the back of a spoon until the layer is even.
  9. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
  10. Cover with foil and Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove foil and BAKE for another 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted. Remove and cut into 12 squares. Serve with extra sauce heated.
  11. Serves 8 to 12


Hello friends!  Are you cooking or baking with us?  If you make our best rice ball casserole stuffed with meat and peas, let us know and leave a comment and a star rating!  Sharing your experience and insights will not only help those who read them, but will help us too!

Have fun and snap a photo and hashtag it on Instagram; be sure to tag us @2sistersrecipes, and on Pinterest.  We’d love to see what you cook and share your photos with the world!  🙂

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Happy Cooking!  🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

  xo Anna and Liz



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  • Reply
    December 28, 2019 at 8:55 am

    This is a great idea for any leftover rice. Love it. I even have some leftover ricotta mixture from making involtini that would be a nice extra layer? Great and comforting. Happy New Year!

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      December 29, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you Mimi!! That’s sounds delicious! Same to you, have a Happy and Healthy New Year!!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Sounds delicious but can it be frozen? If yes, at what point should it be frozen?

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      July 3, 2019 at 2:06 pm

      Hello Silvana, I think you can freeze it before you bake it, (and freeze only up to 2 weeks). Then put it into the fridge overnight to defrost. Let is sit on the counter for at least one to 2 hours before baking it. Keep in mind, it may need more baking time as well. Then I would serve it with some additional tomato sauce at the table to add on top of each serving. Usually rice absorbs most of the sauce and it may get dry after you freeze it (it’s just a guess). I have never frozen this dish, so I am just guessing here. Please let us know how it turns out for you! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Karen Edwards
    January 9, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Anna and Liz, is it ok to use instant rice? If so, it calls for 3 cups rice and 3 cups water. It is the Minute brand premium long grain instant rice. OR, is the long cooking long grain tastier?

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      January 9, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Karen, I hope this is not too late. I have never used instant rice for anything and really can’t say how it will work with this recipe. We prefer only to use the long grain rice. But if you want to test it to see if instant rice will work, try using 1/4 of the ingredients and make a very very small casserole. I hope this will helps.

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    December 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I love this idea…a crowd pleaser, I’m sure.

  • Reply
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      November 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Yes, that’s fine! …as long as you link them to my recipe and blog. Thanks

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    Sweet P
    April 18, 2017 at 1:17 am

    This looks delicious! Might add some chopped red bell pepper with the onion, but this recipe sounds like pure comfort food! I love a dinner where I can clean up while it cooks!😊

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      April 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      We are so glad you like this recipe !! It is a satisfying meal – perfect crowd pleaser too!
      Enjoy and thank you for taking the time to write a comment!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2015 at 4:10 am

    HI Ladies! I made this rice dish for friends, and they loved it, thanks and keep the recipes coming!
    Mike G

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      November 29, 2015 at 4:18 am

      Thanks Mike! Glad your friends enjoyed it. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I love rice casseroles. They are a welcome switch from pasta, and people just gobble them up! This one looks fab!

  • Reply
    Abbe@This is How I Cook
    June 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    What a great change from using pasta! I like balls but this rocks!

  • Reply
    Barbara Bakes
    June 10, 2014 at 3:22 am

    This is such a great idea. I love rice balls, but I'm usually to lazy to take the time to make them.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    June 9, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    So interesting! My husband would flip for this and would say the same thing – it must be beef! Love it! Have a wonderful week 🙂

  • Reply
    June 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    What a great dinner this will make! thanks for a fabulous recipe!

  • Reply
    SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    August 15, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    What a delicious and hearty casserole! This would be perfect for a big, family gathering.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Ooooh, I have all of these ingredients on hand right now! I think I gotta try this!

  • Reply
    by Anna and Liz
    August 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you Vicki and welcome to our blog! You're absolutely right, this casserole is comfort food for sure! We hope to see you again real soon, enjoy. We'll stop by your place to see whats cooking too.

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    August 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I love this recipe! It's the perfect dish for kids and adults will love it as well. This is definitely comfort food.

    Nice blog, glad I stopped by.

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