We are back with another Italian favorite: crockpot meatballs! This meatball recipe in the crockpot allows the meatballs to slowly cook for hours and leaves you with these juicy, tender meatballs full of classic Italian flavors. You won’t regret making this!
So, I am clearly still riding the Italian food train.
First, I made this chicken bruschetta a few weeks ago and is what started this phase in my life where I am obsessed with recreating and perfecting classic Italian recipes in the slow cooker.
Then, I decided to make this beef bolognese sauce in the slow cooker to toss with some pasta and I just have to say- that was the best meat sauce I have ever tasted. I was super impressed!
After I made those two dishes, I thought to myself, “What else can I make?”, and it hit me…meatballs!
Who doesn’t love a bowl of spaghetti topped off with a couple of homemade meatballs? It took a few versions but I finally perfected my recipe for Italian meatballs in the crockpot and I’m very excited to share it with you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Crockpot Meatballs
Before I share my recipe for crockpot meatballs, here are a few questions I have gotten from our readers that I wanted to share:
Should I Brown The Meatballs Before Putting In The Slow Cooker?
This is a personal preference in my opinion. You can drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a pan and add the meatballs to brown them a bit before adding them to the crockpot. You can also oil a sheet pan and place it in the oven to brown them as well.
If you want to be left with minimal cleanup, you can just add the meatballs raw straight into the tomato sauce.
It’s up to you!
Can I Make These Meatballs Gluten-Free?
Yes! This recipe called for Italian breadcrumbs to hold the meatballs together but you can easily swap it out for some almond flour or almond meal.
Do I Have To Add Ground Pork To The Meatballs?
No. I added the ground pork because it adds another layer of flavor and some added fattiness to the meatballs.
If you prefer to have all beef, go for it! Just make sure to buy 80/20 ground beef or if not, you will end up with a very dry and crumbly meatball.
Can I Use A Homemade Marinara Sauce?
100%! I decided to use this tomato basil marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s because it was easy and it’s delicious. But, if you have some homemade marinara sauce stocked up in your freezer, you can add it to the crockpot.
Crockpot Meatballs With Marinara Sauce
These are the ingredients you will need to make this delicious Italian recipe:
- Ground beef (80/20 mixture)
- Ground pork
- Italian breadcrumbs
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Pepper flakes
- Diced tomatoes (low sodium)
- Marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil marinara)
How To Make Italian Meatballs In The Crockpot
In a medium-sized bowl, add the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, egg, thyme, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Gently combine everything with your hands or a spatula until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
Once that’s done, it’s time to start forming the meatballs!
Take a golf ball-sized portion of the ground meat mixture and gently roll them in between your palms until you have a symmetrical ball. Place them into your 6-quart slow cooker as you go until you have formed all of the meatballs.
Layer the diced tomatoes and marinara sauce over the top of the meatballs.
Cover with the lid and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 7-8 hours.
Once the meatballs are done, garnish with some shaved parmesan cheese and some fresh basil if you like!
- Make sure to not overwork the meat. That will result in some tough meatballs.
- Have a small slow cooker? That’s okay! You can layer the meatballs on top of each other.
What To Serve With Homemade Meatballs
You can’t NOT pair up these delicious homemade Italian meatballs with some al dente spaghetti and top it off with some extra marinara sauce.
But, I understand if spaghetti is not your favorite type of pasta. You can use these other options:
- Angel hair
If you are looking for some low-carb options, you can swap put the pasta for some zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
As you can see above, I enjoyed my meatballs next to a side salad. There’s no wrong way here to enjoy a crockpot meatball. 🙂
Also, don’t forget to make some garlic bread! I highly recommend making some of this homemade bread in your crockpot and add some of your favorite butter and garlic to serve with these juicy meatballs.
I love to save it till the end and clean my bowl of any leftover meat and sauce with a piece of garlic bread. So yummy!
More Crockpot Recipes
If you loved this recipe for Italian meatballs in the crockpot, check out some of our best recipes from The Slow Cooking Club:
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20 mixture)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes, low sodium, 14.5 oz
- 1 jar of marinara sauce, 24-26oz (I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil marinara)
In a medium-sized bowl, add beef, pork, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, egg, thyme, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Combine until ingredients are well incorporated.
Once done, create golf ball-sized portions of meatballs and place them into your 6-quart slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker, you can layer the meatballs on top of each other.
Layer diced tomatoes and marinara sauce on top of the meatballs. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
Once done, garnish with shaved parmesan cheese.