Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas (+video). 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 and 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 them 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 cleaning 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 prepared 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 classic bolognese sauce and just adds frozen peas to it.
Both recipes are fantastic!
If you are 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 it until you are ready to pop it into the oven.
- Keep in mind, that 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 for 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 “it’s 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 the Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat and Peas:
1. First, cook 3 cups of rice with 6 cups of water, and follow the directions on the package, including adding some butter (2 tablespoons) 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 the 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 (prepared marinara sauce). Simmer on low heat, covered for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
3. Next, Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204C).
Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, Pecorino cheese, and pour in 1 cup (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, and roll the dish until the bottom and all sides are coated with breadcrumbs.
5. Take half of the rice mixture and cover the bottom of the dish and press down to form a layer. Then add the entire meat and peas mixture to cover the rice. Spread an additional ladle (about 1/2 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 mixture and spread with the back of a spoon to help spread the rice evenly.
8. Top the rice with the remaining marinara sauce about 8-ounces (1 cup). Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. Then top with a final 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.
To Prepare in Advance:
- You can make this casserole up to one day ahead before baking it.
- Keep in mind, that 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. (like I do!)
…THANKS for PINNING!
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!
Additional Comfort Food Recipes…
- Easy Meat Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles
- Gluten-Free, try our Best Zucchini Lasagna!
- Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna
- Traditional Hungarian Goulash (The BEST Goulash)
- Green Bean Creamy Casserole
- Mom’s Sunday Meatballs
- Braciole – Sicilian Style!
Mother’s Day is around the corner and we’re always looking for ways to feed the family with a delicious one-dish meal. Try this one!
WATCH OUR VIDEO: How to Make our Rice Ball Casserole? (1-minute):
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
- FOR THE RICE MIXTURE:
- 3 cups organic long grain rice uncooked
- 6 cups of water
- 3 eggs
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
- FOR THE MEAT and PEAS MIXTURE:
- 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
- 28-ounces (3 + 1/2 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 marinara sauce heated, for serving
- First, cook the rice with 6 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and follow the directions on the package. Transfer rice to a large mixing bowl, add the butter, mix, and set aside to cool.
- 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 the heat.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, (204 C).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 ladle (or about 1/2 cup, or more if needed) of marinara sauce over the meat and peas mixture. Then scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.
- Add the remaining rice and press with the back of a spoon until the layer is even.
- Top with remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
- 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.
- Serves 8 to 12
Yield:10 to 12 servings
Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 413Total Fat: 14.1gSaturated Fat: 5.9gCarbohydrates: 50.7gFiber: 3.3gSugar: 7.2gProtein: 19.5g