Slow Cooker Meatballs are a comforting meal made with ease! Tender meatballs simmered in a delicious Italian tomato sauce and served with spiralized noodles.
What is your ULTIMATE comfort food? At our house, it’s hands down spaghetti and meatballs! In fact, as part of my wedding vows, I promised to make it for my hubby at least once a month. Seriously, I did. I’ll admit, though. It’s been a challenge to keep up the pace of meatball production. I knew that I had to figure out a solution that didn’t require me to check the stove so often.
I finally figured out how to make the most tender meatballs without all of the work, and the secret is all in the magic of the Crock-Pot. This slow cooker Italian meatball recipe doesn’t get any easier than this, and I am super excited to share with you! I’ve added a few tricks to make this dish healthier so you can satisfy your craving and get a healthy serving of vegetables at the same time!
Jason’s grandma is the queen of meatballs. I’m so lucky that she shared her traditional spaghetti and meatball recipe with me! I’ve been making her recipe for years, but I wanted to see if I could transform it into a slow cooker meal. I can confidently say that I had success!
Oh boy, I LOVE my Crock-Pot. It was so easy to make the tomato sauce and slowly simmer the meatballs at the same time. I just added everything to the pot, after a few prep steps, covered for 2 hours and bam, dinner was ready!
To make a moist and tender meatball that has the right balance of chew and softness, I use a ratio of 1 pound meat, to 1 large egg and 1 cup of breadcrumbs. I used whole wheat panko breadcrumbs to add some whole grains.
You can adjust seasonings to just the way you like it, and even add different flavor combinations like my Thai coconut curry meatballs. I still brown the meatballs under the broiler before adding to the slow cooker, so it had a beautiful color and is mostly cooked.
We love pasta noodles. However, sometimes I’m craving protein without all of the extra carbs that leaves you wanting just to lay out on the couch after dinner. I’ve been using my handheld Spiralizer for tons of meals to add some extra vegetables to each dish.
I used zucchini and yellow squash in this recipe, but you can use whatever kind you like. I saute the zucchini noodles until just crisp-tender, so it can hold up to the sauce and not be super soggy.
Are you ready to grab a bowl and enjoy some classic Italian meatballs with me?
Oh man, I couldn’t wait to dig in! We always find ourselves circling the slow cooker pot in anticipation as it gets closer to being ready. Once the noodles and meatballs hit the table all is quiet, and they are gone in an instant. I was happy to see my toddler James even enjoy his own serving, and even dipped it in the extra sauce just like his DaDa!
The best thing about making these Italian meatballs in the slow cooker was able not to have to stir and check in every so often. I’ve found that to ensure I don’t get hot spots on the stove or burnt meatballs or sauce. I have to peak, stir and repeat. Not with a Crock Pot!
The even and consistent cooking temperature allow you to set it and forget it, and mine even shuts off once the time is done. Ah, the perfect no stress meal for any parent! I even got the chance to take James to the park and enjoy the afternoon instead of hanging out in the kitchen all day. I promise you are going to love this classic and comforting recipe!
What are the essential tips for making Slow Cooker Meatballs?
Slow cooking allows the food to be heated at a consistent temperature over a longer period. To make meatballs similar in taste to traditional stove top cooking, I do a few key things. 1) Always brown the meatballs in the oven on broil to add texture, color, and flavor to the exterior of the meatball. 2) Instead of sauteing the onions and garlic for the tomato sauce, I add them with olive oil and tomato paste in a microwave safe bowl to make the onions tender and develop flavor. 3) No peeking under the lid! Once you put the lid on, do not remove it. Once you let the steam and heat out it needs more time to get hot again, which mean longer wait for the meatballs. Learn more tips on my Slow Cooker 101 Guide!