This is basically the very same tried and true meatball recipe that I make the conventional way (over and over again…my people will tell me if they ever tire of it, I’m sure!). I usually start them in the oven, and then finish them in the sauce on the stove. But now, here we go, they are adapted for the slow cooker. Because, yay, slow cookers.
Italian Meatballs in the Slow Cooker
The beauty of the slow cooker is of course the proverbial set it and forget it appeal. Instead of monitoring them in the oven, and then in the sauce, you plunk them into the sauce in the slow cooker and just stroll away for 4 hours, up to 6.
What Size Should Meatballs Be?
In this recipe (and in these photos) you will see 1 ½ inch size meatballs, which in the words of Goldilocks we find not too big and not too small. You can make bigger or small meatballs as you like, and the cooking time will be pretty much the same, perhaps a little longer for meatballs 2-inches or larger.
This works best if you have a large slow cooker with a lot of surface area on the bottom. A larger appliance prevents them from squishing a bit as they cook, but you can stack a light second layer on the bottom layer if you need to.
What Pasta to Serve with Meatballs:
There are really no rules to this. Any long skinny noodle nice to twirl with meatballs, such as linguine, fettucine, thin spaghetti. My family even likes angel hair, though I usually pair that delicate noodle with smaller meatballs. You can also serve these with stubbier cuts of pasta like ziti, penne, cavatappi, and rigatoni.
Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs: A perfect classic meatball recipe, adapted for the slow cooker.Tweet This
What the Kids Can Do
Tear the bread into pieces, combine it with the milk and egg, and form the meatballs (wash hands very thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after!) Pull the parsley from the stem and chop with an age appropriate knife.
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs:
- Spinach Parsley Pesto Garlic Bread
- Mixed Greens Salad with Pears and Balsamic Dressing
- Sautéed Haricot Verts with Red Onions and Shallots
- Best Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Other Slow Cooker Comfort Food Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Fall Apart Pork Butt with Brown Sugar, Garlic and Herbs
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Beef Chili
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Loin
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Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
- 1 slice plain bread
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 large egg , lightly beaten
- 1 pound ground beef (90/10%)
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese , divided
- 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups tomato sauce for pasta, store-bought or homemade
- Tear the bread into small pieces and place them into a large bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and use your fingers to work the bread and milk together into a paste. Mix in the egg. Add the beef and pork, half the Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to combine the mixture gently but thoroughly.
- Form the meat mixture into nice round meatballs, about 1½ inches in diameter.
- Place the Tomato Sauce in a slow cooker. Gently add the meatballs to the slow cooker with your fingers or a spoon, tucking them into the sauce, and spooning over some of the sauce so that the meatballs are lightly covered with sauce.
- Set the slow cooker for 4 hours on low, 6 if you have meatballs that are larger than 1 ½ inches in diameter.
- When the meatballs have completely cooked through you can leave them on warm while you make the pasta of your choice. Serve the rest of the Parmesan to sprinkle over the meatballs as you all like.
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