Slow Cooker Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce


My husband grew up in a traditional Italian family, which meant big pots of meatballs and gravy simmering on the stove every Sunday. Yes, gravy – that’s what Italians in the New Jersey area call red pasta sauce!

I have his grandmother’s recipes, but I rarely make them because I don’t have the time. These quick and easy meatballs simmer all day in the slow cooker instead of the stove, which makes them much better for a busy lifestyle. The smell of them simmering all day in the slow cooker smells almost as good as having a pot of gravy on the stove all day!

This makes very tender meatballs in a thick sauce. They’re perfect over pasta or on long rolls for meatball subs. If you want a thinner sauce, mix in some jarred tomato sauce fifteen minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Serves: 4 servings, double the recipe to have 6-8 servings

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ½ large onion, shredded
  • ⅓ c. plain breadcrumbs
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ c. fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ c. parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, shredded onion and breadcrumbs. Roll ground beef mixture into 1-1 ½ inch balls. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan cheese.
  3. Spread ½ cup of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the meatballs on top, and then cover with remaining sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Serve over pasta or on long rolls. Top with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Kate is a home cook living and working in New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

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  1. looks delicious! how many meatballs does this make? (I’m new to meatballs!)

  2. This looks so good! Will be dooing this soon–you say you have the recipe for it cooked on stove-could you share that recipe as well? Is it the same as above just on the stove?

  3. Do you really need to cook these 8 hours? I have had them in for 4 and they look pretty much done – I’m afraid I’ll burn off all the sauce if I leave them in another 4 hours. Thanks!

    • Marie, every slow cooker cooks a bit differently. Especially if your crock isn’t very full, it may cook faster. If you feel they are done, give them a test to make sure and don’t worry about cooking for the extra time, if you don’t need too.

      • Thanks! Yeah my crockpot tends to cook a little fast anyway. I appreciate the website – so glad I found it. I made the Chicken & Dumplings and Chicken Fajitas and my family loved them. Finding a site that has good food that I can prepare for a reasonable cost is always a blessing. Thank you!

  4. thanks so much – I wanted to make spaghetti & meatballs but in this heat, no way. I’m making these this weekend!

  5. I’ve had problems with meatballs falling apart in the crockpot. Do these stick together?

  6. Mrs. Labbe says:

    I made this for my family last week. We spent a Summer vacationing in Italy and yearned a good Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe. This hit the spot. Easy, quick, and sooo good! I am gluten-free so used corn flakes pulsed into crumbs in place of bread crumbs and Barilla Gluten-free Spaghetti. This will be a regular in our dinner mix. Thanks!

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