No need to pre-cook when you use this easy crockpot meatballs recipe! By using lean ground beef and your slow cooker you only have to make the mixture, form the meatballs, and drop them in you slow cooker. These will NOT fall apart! Your life just got SO much easier!
Ingredients for this recipe: at least 90% lean ground beef, 93% or 98% is actually better, fresh bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese (the kind in the big, green container – not fresh) Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, marinara sauce – homemade or store bought, sourdough hoagie rolls, cheese
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Use the Crockpot All Year Long!
Slow cookers aren’t just for hearty stews and frigid temperatures. They work just as well to keep the kitchen cool in the summer time!
There’s no way I want to cook in the summer.
I mean, when it’s 110F outside the oven is not getting switched on – no way, no how, no time. I’ve developed my very own intense ability to produce heat in the last year and I don’t need help being uncomfortably hot, thank you very much.
I do love a slow cooker, crock pot, magical kitchen appliance — whatever you want to call it. I mean, you throw raw stuff in there in the morning and at night? BOOM, you have a meal. And it works great for most things but I haven’t liked meatballs in the slow cooker much.
Easy Meatballs with No Pre-Cooking
In the past when I put the meatballs in uncooked they’d fall apart but if I put them in cooked they’d just get dry. What’s a mom to do?
Well this mom decided to figure out how to make it work.
It’s the balance of ingredients and the amount of sauce that you cook them in. I came up with these easy crockpot meatballs that are tender, juicy, and don’t fall apart.
They work in everything but I especially like them in Italian meatball sandwiches with a thick layer of melty, gooey cheese on top. The combination of sourdough bread with a crispy, flaky crust and those buttery tender meatballs oozing in marinara that’s soaking into the bread, and then the melty-gooey-stringy-when-you-bite-into-it cheese on the top?
It’s decadent. Luxurious. Oh so delicious!
Crockpot Meatballs FAQs
Here are some of the questions I am most frequently asked about this easy slow cooker recipe.
How long to cook meatballs in crockpot?
I like to simmer these on low for about 6 hours but they could go 8 if you needed them to.
Can I use ground turkey?
Absolutely! Any lean, ground meat will work in this recipe.
How long to cook frozen meatballs?
If you’ve frozen the uncooked meatballs and want to just put them in the crockpot frozen then you’ll want to set it on low for about 10 hours. If they are thawed 6 hours is about right.
How do I make meatball subs?
This recipe is perfect for homemade meatball subs! Since the meatballs simmer in the sauce for so long they are infused with the flavor of the marinara. Just warm some sub rolls from the store or a baguette sliced in about 4 pieces. Slit the top open almost to the bottom but not through the bottom and spoon your meatballs and sauce in there. Sprinkle with Mozzarella and put them under the broiler until the cheese melts.
Tips for Easy Crockpot Meatballs
You can make a huge batch of the meat mixture and form it into balls then flash freeze them uncooked and put them in a freezer container or bag.
You don’t even really need to thaw them – just dump the amount that you need into the sauce and slow cook for 8 to 10 hours. If they aren’t frozen 4 to 6 hours is about right. Just poke one of them with an instaread thermometer and make sure they’re 165F in the center.
More Great Tips
- Cook on low never on high. The meatballs are likely to fall apart on high.
- You can substitute all Parmesan for the breadcrumbs if you want to – just make sure you’re using the shelf stable Parmesan on the shelf not the fresh kind from the deli.
- Use a VERY lean ground beef. If there’s a secret to making these that’s it. The more fat that’s in the beef the more fat will be in your sauce and the meatballs will be more likely to fall apart. Plus there will be a thick layer of grease at the top of your sauce and it’s kind of gross.
- Don’t add onion or vegetables to the meatballs. Too much moisture. Use onion powder and garlic powder.
- Don’t add too much sauce – you can always add more before serving.
- For sandwiches be sure to heat the bread up to get the crust nice and crispy.
- This quick homemade baguette makes great hoagie rolls!
More Easy Dinner Recipes
Much as I wish we could, we do not live on Italian meatballs alone. Here are some other family favorites.
- Homemade Italian Meatballs are great if you are looking for a more traditional Italian recipe.
- Garlic Glazed Meatballs are so good with a sticky sweet – savory glaze. They take just under 30 minutes and make great appetizers.
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Cheese Grits is pure homecooking! It’s comfort food that makes everyone happy.
- Slow Cooker Swiss Steak is another family favorite that works better in a slow cooker than it does the traditional method.
- Braised Pork and Red Cabbage is a hearty meal for the cooler months but honestly I get hungry for it in the summer, too.
You May Need
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If you need a slow cooker this is a great one. It’s BPA free and 3 1/2 quart which is a good size for smaller families. If you want something bigger take a look at this 6 quart one. It’s the one I get for my kids when they move out.
Crockpot Meatballs Recipe
This is the only meatball recipe I ever use anymore. It’s just delicious and so easy to make!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars!
Easy Crockpot MeatballsPrint Add to Collection Go to Collections
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 90% lean 98% lean is better
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, fresh
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (the kind on the shelf, not fresh)
- 1 -1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cups marinara, or favorite pasta sauce
- Mix all of the ingredients except the marinara together in a large bowl with your hands to be sure the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Form into 16 to 24 meatballs.
- You may stop and freeze at this point.
- When ready to cook add the marinara to a slow cooker.
- Add the meatballs and spoon some of the marinara over the top.
- Cook on low 4 to 6 hours (if thawed) or 6 to 8 hours (if frozen)
- Add to heated sourdough hoagie rolls and top with Mozzarella or Provolone.
- Broil for a minute or three, or until the cheese melts and bubbles.
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