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

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 deeply 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 one I think 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 3 to 4 cups.

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!

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

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 extra tomato sauce on hand to serve with this casserole; simply because when serving rice balls which are usually served with some tomato sauce on top or next to it, same for this casserole.  It’s best to serve with some extra tomato sauce on the side.

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

You can also make this 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!

Have a great day!

*You can follow along below for our step-by-step on the recipe or just jump down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe card.

1.  First, cook 3 cups of rice with 6 cups of water, and follow directions on 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 chop meat while cooking.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add peas and 8 ounces 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, 8-ounces of marinara sauce and mix well. Rice will be sticky.

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

5.  Take half of 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.  Spead 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 with remaining marinara sauce, 8-ounces.  Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Top with the second 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.

COOKS NOTES:  You can make this casserole up to one day ahead before baking it.  Keeping 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, have some extra tomato sauce (heated) at the table for those who love it drowning in 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 our 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.  Have you tried our Easy Meat Lasagna with No Boil Noodles?  It too is perfect for the holiday season. 

Christmas is around the corner, but I still have some time to finish up my shopping and wrapping. Are you all ready for the holiday?  Baking cookies?  or maybe you’ll bring a dish as a guest?

Whatever y’all doing this weekend, we want to wish you a very Blessed Christmas!     

ENJOY!!  and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest!


Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas
Recipe type: Dinner Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 to 12
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.
  • 3 cups organic long grain rice uncooked
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ 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
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1+ ½ cup shredded part skim mozzarella
  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 chop 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 baking dish, roll the dish until bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.
  6. Take half of 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.
  11. Serves 8 to 12

Thanks for stopping by!

Anna and Liz


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  • 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.

  • Reply
    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
    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
    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
    June 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

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

  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
      November 29, 2015 at 4:18 am

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

  • Reply
    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
      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
    September 1, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    I quitе like reading a post that can make people think.
    Also, thank yoս for peгmіtting me to comment!

  • Reply
    simple vegan recipes for beginners
    November 7, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long
    as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My
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    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      November 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

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

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

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

  • 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
    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!

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