These slow cooker Italian meatballs are a quick and easy take on a classic recipe that easily feeds a crowd. Serve them with spaghetti or in a sub for a delicious meal!Jump to Recipe
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Coming from an Italian family, I’ve eaten more than a few meatballs over the years. In meatball subs, on top of spaghetti, on top of pizza, as a delicious appetizer… the list goes on and on. And with these meals, I’ve tried all different shapes, sizes, and styles of meatballs.
But of course, the best meatballs of all come from within the family. There are my Nana’s classic Italian meatballs she learned to make from her mother, and then there are my mom’s meatballs that she learned to make from my Nana. As most hand-me-down recipes go, there are some slight differences between the two, but both are equally delicious.
Having grown up on the family recipe, I couldn’t wait for my day to finally learn how to make them. But I faced one problem: there isn’t really a family recipe.
Neither my Nana or my mom actually measure what goes into their meatballs. They’ve both been making their recipes for so long that it’s just second nature and comes out perfect every time. So one day, my mom and I tried to guess how much of each ingredient she was using as she eyeballed her measurements. I took some notes, and then eventually tried to make them on my own.
Then I tried again, and failed again.
I can’t remember how many times I tried replicating the recipe, but each time they just didn’t come out right. Too bready, too greasy, overcooked, falling apart, you name it – and on top of that, I couldn’t even come close to replicating the Italian gravy the meatballs were supposed to cook in.
So one day, I decided to throw in the towel on the family recipe and do some research. If I could never make meatballs as good as my mom’s or my Nana’s, I’d just have to make my own. And they would be different, and that would be okay.
Finally, after some trial and error using what I’d learned from meatball recipes online and the knowledge of what ingredients my mom cooked with, I found success. And that’s how these Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs came to be.
Since I had struggled so much to even cook my mom’s meatballs properly (let alone getting the texture right), I turned to my trusty slow cooker to get the job done. And all I can say is, if you’re really struggling to cook something too, throw it in a slow cooker and see what happens. Most likely, it’ll do all the work for you and turn out perfectly.
With a simple no-cook sauce that gets blended and poured over the meatballs before turning on the slow cooker, this recipe is a quick and easy way to make delicious meatballs for a crowd. Whether you’re serving them in sub rolls for a hearty lunch or over spaghetti for dinner, they’ll probably be gone before you know it.
(But in case they’re not, these meatballs store for up to 4 days in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer!)
So even though they’ll never truly be as good as my mom’s or my Nana’s, these meatballs are the best I’ve ever made, and the third best I’ve ever eaten. Plus, I managed to impress Alex with them, and he’s never been the biggest fan of meatballs.
Try the recipe below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup onion minced
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- Salt & pepper
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 6 oz canned tomato paste
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tbsp onion chopped
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Lightly grease a 4-qt (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.*
- Shape meat into 16 equal-sized meatballs.*
- Place meatballs in a single layer along the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Next, combine all sauce ingredients in a blender. Blend for 15-30 seconds or until consistency is smooth.
- Add sauce to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
- Serve hot as an appetizer, over spaghetti, or in meatball sandwiches!