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. These rice balls are commonly known as "arancine." And one, my husband goes bonkers for!

We love it 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, I enjoy this rice ball casserole better (than in the form of rice balls) because it's baked rather than fried, and it makes clean up a breeze!

This is a rice casserole 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. And, I made it again for tonight. I used our mom's marinara sauce, which I had on hand. But you can use store bought sauce if you like. 

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....This is it!
There is a 2 step process to prepare.  One is the rice mixture and the other is the meat filling.  You can make this one day before and refrigerate until you are ready to pop into the oven.  This casserole will feed a large family, however, you can divide this recipe into 2 smaller trays, they will freeze one 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

  • 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
  • 18 ounces 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

1.  First, cook the rice with 6 cups of water, and follow directions on package. 
Transfer 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 of tomato sauce. Simmer on low heat then covered for 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine rice with eggs, pecorino cheese, 4-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.

Scatter with a layer of shredded mozzarella on top.

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

7.  Top with remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.

8.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.  Remove and cut into 12 squares. 

Serves 8 to 12
Print Friendly and PDF


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

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

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

  6. So interesting! My husband would flip for this and would say the same thing - it must be beef! Love it! Have a wonderful week :)

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

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

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

  10. Anonymous11:10:00 PM

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

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

  11. 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!😊

    1. 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!


Thank you for taking the time to write a comment!

It makes us smile knowing that you are reading our posts and trying our recipes! Please keep in mind, anything that sounds like a spam will be deleted.

Thanks for sharing on Social Media, and follow us on Instagram! ....Cheers!