Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs
Easy crockpot recipes are my specialty, and these slow cooker meatballs could not be simpler to make! The meatballs require no pre-cooking or pre-browning, and simmer low and slow in tomato sauce for a flavorful, hearty, family friendly dinner you’ll make again and again.
If you love the flavor of hearty, slow simmered meatballs, but want a simple and easy way to make them without all the fuss of pre-browning or standing over the stove all day, then do I have a recipe for you!
These easy crock pot meatballs are a dump and go slow cooker recipe, meaning the meatballs require no pre-cooking or pre-browning, and since they cook low and slow, most of the cook time for this easy dinner is hands off.
These slow cooker Italian meatballs in tomato sauce get tons of flavor from simple, easy to find ingredients like breadcrumbs, parmesan, and garlic.
Visual Guide: How to Make Slow Cooker Meatballs
Serving Suggestions & Storage Tips
My favorite way to serve this simple slow cooker meal is as a spaghetti and meatballs dinner!
Just cook up a pound of spaghetti, drain, then toss with the marinara directly in the slow cooker.
Serve the spaghetti tossed with the marinara and meatballs on top, sprinkled generously with parmesan and basil.
These crockpot meatballs also make an amazing meatball sandwich!
To make a meatball sandwich, simply warm a hoagie roll or bun, fill with meatballs and marinara, top with parmesan cheese or mozzarella cheese, and serve.
Slow cooker meatballs keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in a sealed container. This recipe also freezes well, store in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
Onion: Look for a small yellow or white onion for this recipe, though a small red onion will also work. Don’t skip the onion, as it adds moisture to the meatballs.
Egg: For an egg free option, make these egg free meatballs, then cook in the slow cooker in place of the beef meatballs per the instructions in this recipe.
Garlic cloves: Fresh garlic is preferred, but 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder can also be used.
Italian breadcrumbs: If using plain breadcrumbs add ½ teaspoon no-salt added Italian seasoning. For a gluten free diet be sure to use gluten free breadcrumbs.
Parmesan cheese: Fresh, finely grated parmesan works best for this recipe. For dairy free, make these dairy free meatballs, then cook according to recipe instructions, below.
Lean ground beef: I used 90% lean ground beef, as it has enough fat to add flavor without making the sauce too greasy. If you prefer to use turkey, I recommend this slow cooker turkey meatball recipe.
Marinara sauce: Look for a good quality marinara sauce, since the flavor will significantly influence the final taste of the dish.
Follow my step-by-step video here:
Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs
- 1 small yellow onion, ends removed and peeled
- 1 large egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup Italian breadcrumbs*
- ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds 90% lean ground beef
- 3 cups marinara sauce
Optional Serving Suggestions
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Chopped basil
- Place a box grater into a large bowl. Using the largest holes, grate the onion into the bowl.
- Add the egg to the bowl, and whisk until combined. Add the garlic, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and mix well.
- Add the ground beef and gently mix until the breadcrumb-cheese mixture is well incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Gently form 24 meatballs (about 1 ½ ounces each).
- Pour half (1 ½ cups) marinara into a 6-quart slow cooker. Slowly drop the meatballs into the sauce so they are all in a single layer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the remaining (1 ½ cups) marinara over the top. Do not mix or the meatballs could fall apart.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.