Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet
Oct 14, 2023
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Delicious hearty meatball skillet with bell peppers, diced tomatoes, garlic, Italian herbs and tender, beefy meatballs!
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Italian Meatball, Pepper, and Onion Skillet
A Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet is a comforting and flavorful dish that embodies the heartiness of Italian cuisine. This one-pan wonder combines tender meatballs, a rich tomato sauce, and a generous layer of melted mozzarella cheese to create a symphony of flavors and textures that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.
At the heart of this dish are succulent meatballs, made either from scratch with a blend of ground meats, breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices, or conveniently sourced from your local market. These meatballs are seared to perfection, developing a caramelized exterior that adds depth and character to the skillet.
The meatballs are nestled into a simmering tomato sauce, enriched with sautéed onions and garlic, infusing it with layers of savory goodness. As the skillet bubbles away, the meatballs absorb the flavors of the sauce, becoming incredibly tender and juicy.
However, what truly elevates this dish to extraordinary heights is the generous topping of mozzarella cheese. As the skillet moves into the oven, the cheese transforms into a golden, bubbling layer of decadence, blanketing the meatballs and sauce with its creamy, gooey goodness. Each bite is a perfect balance of savory meat, rich tomato sauce, and the irresistible pull of melted mozzarella.
The Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet is not just a feast for the taste buds but also a visual delight. As it emerges from the oven, the aroma fills the kitchen, and the sight of that perfectly melted cheese is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Whether served with a side of pasta, crusty bread, or enjoyed on its own, this skillet dish brings the warmth and comfort of Italian cuisine right to your table, making it a memorable and indulgent experience.
How to Make Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Meatballs: The star of the dish, meatballs, provide a hearty and savory component. Whether homemade or store-bought, they contribute meaty richness and a blend of flavors from the herbs and spices used in their preparation.
- Bell Peppers (any color): Bell peppers introduce vibrant color and a slightly sweet, crisp texture. They add both visual appeal and fresh, vegetal notes that complement the richness of the meatballs and tomato sauce.
- Diced Tomatoes (1 can): Canned diced tomatoes form the base of the tomato sauce. They contribute acidity, natural sweetness, and a robust tomato flavor that melds with other ingredients to create a flavorful sauce.
- Garlic (4 cloves, minced): Garlic, a flavor powerhouse, adds pungency and aromatic depth to the skillet. It enhances the overall savory profile of the dish and pairs well with both the meatballs and tomato sauce.
- Onion (diced): Diced onions provide natural sweetness and depth to the tomato sauce. They also contribute to the savory foundation when sautéed until translucent.
- Mozzarella Cheese (1 cup): Mozzarella cheese adds creaminess and a melty, gooey layer to the top of the skillet. It enhances the overall richness of the dish and offers a satisfying contrast to the tomato sauce and meatballs.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this method:
- Prepare the Meatballs: If you’re using pre-made meatballs, you can skip this step. If you’re making your own, follow your favorite meatball recipe and shape the mixture into meatballs. You can make them as small or as large as you prefer.
- Sear the Meatballs: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add the meatballs and sear them on all sides until they are browned and cooked through. Remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
- Sauté the Vegetables: In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil if needed. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and sliced bell peppers. Sauté them until they are softened and the onion becomes translucent, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Add Diced Tomatoes: Pour in the can of diced tomatoes, including the liquid. Stir to combine with the sautéed vegetables. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a pinch of Italian seasoning or dried basil for extra flavor.
- Return the Meatballs: Place the seared meatballs back into the skillet with the tomato and vegetable mixture. Nestle them into the sauce.
- Simmer and Melt Cheese: Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are heated through and the flavors meld together. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the meatballs and sauce. Cover the skillet again and let it cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Garnish and Serve: If desired, garnish the skillet with fresh basil leaves just before serving. Serve the Italian meatball skillet hot, either on its own or with pasta, rice, or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet
Use Quality Meatballs: Whether you’re making homemade meatballs or using store-bought ones, choose high-quality meatballs with good flavor. This forms the foundation of your skillet.
Sear the Meatballs: If using pre-made meatballs or making your own, sear them in the skillet before adding other ingredients. This step adds a caramelized crust and enhances the overall flavor.
Add Aromatics: Sauté diced onions and minced garlic in the skillet before adding the meatballs. This creates a flavorful base for your sauce.
Select a Good Tomato Sauce: Choose a high-quality tomato sauce or canned diced tomatoes with Italian herbs. It’s the heart of your skillet, so quality matters.
Season Well: Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and any additional Italian herbs or spices you prefer. Taste and adjust as needed for the perfect balance of flavors.
Choose the Right Cheese: Mozzarella cheese is the classic choice for a cheesy meatball skillet. Opt for fresh mozzarella or a good-quality shredded mozzarella for the best melt and flavor.
Layer Wisely: When layering the meatballs and sauce, place some sauce at the bottom of the skillet to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. Then, arrange the meatballs and top them with more sauce and cheese.
Use a Lid or Foil: Cover the skillet with a lid or foil during the final stage of cooking to trap heat and help the cheese melt evenly without drying out.
Avoid Overcooking: Don’t overcook the meatballs or simmer them in the sauce for too long, as they can become tough. Once the cheese is melted, remove the skillet from heat.
Garnish Tastefully: Finish the skillet with fresh basil leaves or parsley for a burst of color and freshness. These herbs add a lovely contrast to the rich, cheesy dish.
Serve Immediately: Cheesy meatball skillet is best enjoyed right out of the skillet while it’s hot and the cheese is gooey and melty.
Customize Toppings: Feel free to get creative with additional toppings like red pepper flakes for heat, grated Parmesan cheese for extra richness, or fresh arugula for a peppery bite.
Crusty Bread or Pasta: Serve your cheesy meatball skillet with crusty bread, pasta, or a side that can soak up the flavorful sauce and cheese.
Choose the Right Skillet: Use an oven-safe skillet if you plan to melt the cheese in the oven. Cast iron or oven-safe nonstick skillets work well for this dish.
Yes, you can use frozen meatballs if you’re looking for a convenient option. Thaw them according to the package instructions before searing them in the skillet.
To prevent meatballs from falling apart, make sure they are well-formed with a proper binding mixture (breadcrumbs, egg, etc.). Searing them over medium-high heat and handling them gently when flipping can help maintain their shape.
While mozzarella cheese is the classic choice for its meltability, you can experiment with other cheeses like provolone, fontina, or a blend of Italian cheeses for a unique flavor profile.
Meatballs are cooked through when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). You can use a meat thermometer to check their doneness. Alternatively, cut one meatball in half to ensure there is no pink in the center.
Yes, homemade meatballs can add a personalized touch to the dish. Ensure they are fully cooked and browned before adding them to the skillet. Our Best Easy Meatballs recipe is a knockout!
Yes, you can prepare the cheesy meatball skillet in advance and reheat it in the oven or on the stovetop until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It’s a great option for meal planning.
What to Serve With Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet
Pasta: Serve the meatballs and tomato sauce over your favorite pasta, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, or penne. The pasta will soak up the flavorful sauce and complement the meatballs perfectly.
Crusty Bread: Offer slices of crusty Italian bread or garlic bread on the side. It’s ideal for mopping up the delicious tomato sauce and provides a satisfying crunch.
Polenta: Creamy polenta is a comforting choice to serve with meatballs. Its mild flavor and creamy texture provide a lovely contrast to the savory meatballs and sauce.
Rice: White or brown rice is a neutral base that pairs well with the flavorful meatballs and sauce. It’s a great option if you prefer a gluten-free side.
Steamed Vegetables: A side of steamed broccoli, green beans, or asparagus adds a healthy and fresh element to the meal. The vegetables provide a nice balance to the richness of the meatballs.
Mixed Greens Salad: A simple mixed greens salad with a light vinaigrette dressing can offer a refreshing and crisp contrast to the hearty skillet dish.
Roasted Vegetables: Roast vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. They’ll add a sweet and savory element to the meal.
Italian Antipasto Platter: Create an antipasto platter with items like olives, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, and slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese for a Mediterranean flair.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy garlic mashed potatoes can complement the meatballs and tomato sauce beautifully, offering a comforting and hearty side.
Coleslaw: A simple coleslaw with a tangy dressing can provide a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the skillet dish.
Baked Polenta Fries: For a twist, make baked polenta fries as a crispy and satisfying side that pairs well with the meatballs.
Garlic Knots: Serve garlic knots as a delightful and flavorful bread option. Their garlic and herb butter coating complements the Italian flavors.
Cheesy Italian Meatball Skillet Recipe
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- 1 lb Meatballs (you can use pre-made or homemade meatballs)
- 2 bell peppers, any color, thinly sliced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil leaves (optional, for garnish)
- If you're using pre-made meatballs, you can skip this step. If you're making your own, follow your favorite meatball recipe and shape the mixture into meatballs. You can make them as small or as large as you prefer.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add the meatballs and sear them on all sides until they are browned and cooked through. Remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
- In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil if needed. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and sliced bell peppers. Sauté them until they are softened and the onion becomes translucent, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Pour in the can of diced tomatoes, including the liquid. Stir to combine with the sautéed vegetables. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a pinch of Italian seasoning or dried basil for extra flavor.
- Place the seared meatballs back into the skillet with the tomato and vegetable mixture. Nestle them into the sauce.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are heated through and the flavors meld together. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the meatballs and sauce. Cover the skillet again and let it cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- If desired, garnish the skillet with fresh basil leaves just before serving. Serve the Italian meatball skillet hot, either on its own or with pasta, rice, or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 477Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 97mgSodium 1062mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 5gSugar 8gProtein 24g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.