Skip to Content

Cheesy Baked Orzo with Veggie Meatballs

This delicious one-pan cheesy baked orzo with veggie meatballs is ready in under 30 minutes and insanely tasty. Hearty, wholesome, classic comfort food at its finest – and with simple, basic ingredients.

a casserole pan with the cheesy baked orzo in a tomato sauce, and meatballs. Topped with basil.

Orzo is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite types of pasta. I made this incredible orzo mac and cheese last winter, and ever since then, I can’t get enough of easy cheesy baked orzo dishes – just like this baked orzo with veggie meatballs and gooey, golden mozzarella on top. This baked feta orzo is also pretty delicious!

More meatball recipes you’ll love are these harissa veggie meatballs with whipped feta and this simple meatball pasta. I’ve been loving cheesy pasta recipes recently (and so have you all, which makes me very happy!) – this French onion pasta and this baked feta pasta with butternut squash were two recent big hits!

Ingredients Required

The exact quantities needed for this recipe are provided in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!

an overhead photo of the ingredients needed for this baked orzo meatballs recipe

How to Make This Baked Orzo with Veggie Meatballs

To start with, find yourself a skillet or a casserole pan that is suitable for use both on the hob or in the oven. I have a relatively small, cheap one that is perfect for two portions – but size it up if you’re cooking for a family or plan to have leftovers. Bonus, this baked orzo actually requires just one pan!

Step 1: Sauté Garlic

Begin by heating butter in a skillet and sautéing minced garlic until it becomes fragrant.

Step 2: Add Tomatoes and Seasonings

Incorporate the chopped plum tomatoes, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes to infuse the flavors.

Step 3: Combine Passata and Orzo

Pour in the carton of passata and stir in the orzo, making sure the orzo is fully coated. You might also need to add a little stock or water if the mixture is too thick.

Step 4: Layer Cheeses and Meatballs

Evenly sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the orzo. Then, add the veggie meatballs, spacing them uniformly.

Step 5: Top with Mozzarella & Bake

Finally, layer the shredded mozzarella over the dish and bake it! Transfer the skillet to a preheated oven set at 190°C (375°F) and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese turns beautifully melted and bubbly.

Serving:

This cozy baked orzo and meatballs is perfect as a comforting, standalone dish. It pairs wonderfully with a side salad of mixed greens dressed in balsamic vinaigrette.

Variations

This recipe is made from pantry staples that most people will have at home already (my favorite kind of meal!). However, if you want to swap something out or adapt this recipe, here are a few suggestions:

  • Add meat: If you eat meat, you could use beef, lamb, or pork meatballs instead of vegetarian ones.
  • Add more veg: Adding in some red pepper, spinach, or courgette would all be great additions to this meal.
  • Alternative meatballs: If you’d like to avoid the ‘fake meat’ meatballs, you could make your own tofu or lentil (I recommend puy lentils) meatballs for just as much protein but a more wholefoods-friendly option.
  • Use gluten-free orzo: To make this baked orzo recipe gluten-free, you could swap out the orzo for a gluten-free option.
  • Different pasta: Alternatively, you could use something other than orzo. Rice, quinoa, or similarly small pasta like Garofalo pasta would potentially work (although are not versions I’ve tried).

Storage:

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or veggie stock to maintain the creamy consistency.

a close up shot of the baked orzo and meatballs with a top layer of melty mozzarella cheese

What vegetarian meatballs should you use?

I used the Linda McCartney tomato and basil meatballs for the specific meal photographed for this recipe. However, other vegetarian meatballs frequently recommended by my followers on TikTok and Instagram include:

  • Waitrose-own vegetarian meatballs
  • Aldi’s own-brand veggie meatballs
  • Quorn meatballs
  • Birdseye vegetarian meatballs
  • Richmond vegetarian meatballs
  • Ikea veggie meatballs
close up shot of cheesy baked orzo and meatballs

FAQs:

Q1: Can I use homemade veggie meatballs instead of store-bought?

A1: Absolutely! Homemade veggie meatballs work wonderfully in this recipe. Feel free to use your favorite plant-based meatball recipe.

Q2: Can I make this dish vegan?

A2: Certainly! To make it vegan, substitute dairy butter and cheese with plant-based alternatives. You could also opt to omit the cheese entirely – adding a scoop of plant-based cream cheese to the tomato sauce to make it creamy. Make sure you check that your veggie meatballs are also vegan-friendly.

Q3: What can I serve with Baked Orzo with Veggie Meatballs?

A3: This dish is delightful on its own but pairs perfectly with a side salad, garlic bread, or steamed vegetables for a well-rounded meal.

Q4: Do I need to cook the orzo before it’s baked?

No – add the raw orzo to the skillet. The pasta cooks within the sauce while it’s baked in the oven.

Cheesy Baked Orzo with Vegetarian Meatballs

Cheesy Baked Orzo with Vegetarian Meatballs

Yield: 2 portions
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This delicious one-pan cheesy baked orzo with veggie meatballs is ready in under 30 minutes and insanely tasty. Hearty, wholesome, classic vegetarian comfort food at it’s finest - and with simple, basic ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 7-8 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 carton passata (400g)
  • 200g orzo
  • 50g cheddar cheese
  • 40g mozzarella
  • 8-9 veggie meatballs
  • some fresh basil to serve
  • If needed: 60ml veggie stock for the orzo

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 180C.
  • Heat your butter in your skillet over a medium heat, then add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in the plum tomatoes and seasonings, cooking for another minute or two.
  • Add the tomato passata, orzo, and cheddar cheese (reserving a couple of tablespoons), and stir to combine.
  • If needed, you can also add a little vegetable stock - you want the skillet to be quite high in liquid to ensure the orzo cooks properly in the oven.
  • Add your vegetarian meatballs, dotting them evenly around the skillet.
  • Top the skillet with sliced mozzarella and the remaining cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and golden on top.
  • Top with the fresh basil and enjoy!

Notes

Best served fresh, but this recipe will keep in an airtight container for 3 - 5 days in the fridge.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

More pasta recipes to try:

Skip to Recipe