Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

Super Tender Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs. Loaded with Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and garlic. They melt in your mouth and are incredibly tender. Simmered low and slow for 4 hours!


Who doesn’t love meatballs? Especially when they are cooked low and slow in a slow cooker. They are easy to make, versatile and can be made in advance and frozen for quick weeknight meals.

Rich, meaty, hearty and comforting. The perfect meal for busy weeknights or Sunday dinner.

This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people and always leaves tons of leftovers.

Super Tender Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

You will need a little bit of prep time to throw the meatballs together. The most time consuming part of this recipe is forming the meatballs.

As for the meat I use a blend of beef and pork. I always steer clear of the lean meat when I am making meatballs.

It’s important to sear the meatballs before adding them to the slow cooker. This helps to keep the juices inside. I brown the meatballs under the broiler on a sheet tray to get a nice caramelization on the outside. Toss them in the slow cooker and throw in some crushed tomatoes.

Italian Crockpot Meatballs

A quick tip for making your meatballs: Do not over mix. I combine the ingredients with my hands just until it’s combined. That’s it. When you portion the meatballs they tend to get a little sticky. I recommend wetting your hands with water before you start rolling out your meatballs.

This recipe makes tons of meatballs. Freeze the extras for a quick weeknight meal.

All you have to do is boil some pasta and dinner is served! Serve as a meatball sandwich or on a pile of spaghetti.

Tender Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

The sauce is super simple as well. Simmering the sauce low and slow for 4 hours makes the sauce super thick, rich and loaded with flavor. I add some crushed red pepper flakes, italian seasoning and bay leaves for extra flavor.

Serve with a big pile of spaghetti and dig in!

Love these Italian Meatballs? Here are some more meatball recipes to try:

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

4.84 from 42 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 About 24 meatballs
Super Tender Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs. Loaded with Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and garlic. They melt in your mouth and are incredibly tender. Simmered low and slow for 4 hours!


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 24 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil for serving if desired
  • parmesan cheese for serving if desired


  1. Add beef, pork, onion, garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined.
  2. Form into 1 or 2 inch meatballs. I made 24 meatballs.
  3. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Broil meatballs on high until browned on each side. About 4-5 minutes on each side.
  4. Add meatballs to slow cooker.
  5. Top with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with basil or parmesan cheese for serving, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Original recipe from Please do not publish my recipe or pictures without linking back to the original post. Thank you!

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 527 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 169mg56%
Sodium 520mg23%
Potassium 512mg15%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 345IU7%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 174mg17%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs


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Comments - page 1/4

  • These meatballs sound wonderful. I love it when meatballs are tender. Sometimes they are just dreadful – almost like little rubber balls. I bet your slow cooker method, along iwth not overmixing, solves that problem. This is my first visit to your site, and I will be back!

  • Mmm these meatballs sound like such a wonderful meal. I love that you brown the meatballs first before putting them in the slow cooker. It’s also great that this makes a lot so that you can freeze the rest for another time. Love this – pinning!

  • These meatballs look just perfect, Kelley! I’ve never tried cooking them in the slow cooker before, so I’m loving this idea. I bet your house smelled amazing when these were simmering!

  • Does it get any better than a big pot of meatballs?! I love everything about this! Total comfort food!

  • Vicky

    The meatballs will be tasty for sure. I added a few tablespoons of water to the mixture. The sauce Is cooking right now. I used 4Tbls of tomato paste from the tube. I tasted the sauce and it needed something, so added dried basil, oregano, about a half cup of red wine, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and the parm cheese rinds. I don’t know why I’m reviewing because I added extra ingredients. Like most recipes, it’s a good starting point with tweaks to fit your own taste. Vicky

      • Donna Williams

        I love this recipe. My boy’s love it & it’s easy & the meatballs always turn out moist & delicious!
        Thank you for the recipe.

  • Czarina

    I came across this recipe and it sounded delicious and easy to make. I don’t have fresh parsley, can I use dried parsley?

    Great recipes!

      • Shana

        Cook them per the recipe? But then you have all the sauce to freeze as well. Do you cook them a different way without the sauce for freezing?

        • Hi Shana,

          When I freeze these I freeze with the sauce as well and heat them up on low in a saucepan. I would highly suggest cooking them with the sauce. (It adds a lot of flavor and keeps the meatballs tender when they get simmered on low in the sauce).

          You could always scoop the meatballs out after cooking and freeze them separately from the sauce.

          Hope this helps & you enjoy! Thanks,


      • Claire

        1st time maker here ??‍♀️ and only 2nd time using the slowcooker so new to this. My meatballs are in the pot now.I made my meatballs slightly bigger than yours, do you think 4 hours cooking will still be ok? I browned then before they went in.

        • Nathan

          Hi Claire,

          Sorry for the late reply. 4 hours should still be fine, but the best way to know for sure is a thermometer, inserted in the center reading 160-165 degrees farenheit. I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you for commenting!


  • Scott Johnston

    I just made these meatballs. The taste is fantastic!! My girls requested I make the again. We ate the as is with a nice salad. Next time we’re going to make meatball subs with melted mozzarella. Thanks Kelly for this great recipe!!!

  • Julia

    This is amazing. Came out great! I did put a little marinara with crushed tomatoes. Also The cooking took a little over 3 hours on low. Didn’t you say 4 hours?

  • Stacy

    Great recipe! The meatballs smell and taste amazing. I love the red pepper flakes, gives it a kick.

  • Tabetha

    Can they be cooked for longer than 4 hours? I would love to start the crickpot before heading to work in the am, but do not work close enough to go home to turn to the crockpot on mid-day…

    • Hi Tabetha,

      I have not tried cooking it for longer than 4 hours so it is hard to say for sure. However I looked up a couple other slow cooker meatballs and some went for 6-8 hours so you should be fine. My other suggestion would be to cook for 6 hours and then the crockpot will automatically cook on the warm setting. If yours has that setting it should be good!



  • Amanda

    These are the best meatballs ever!!! Such an easy recipe, my 10 year old did much of the work!


  • Hello,
    I’m planing on making these tomorrow but I don’t have ground pork! Do I absolutely need it or can I just use ground beef?.

    • Kristen

      Meatloaf mixture is what I used. I pre made these for tomorrow yet forgot to brown them. So that will be my task for the morning lol


      I do my own version of these and use 2/3 ground beef to 1/3 hot Italian sausage. Then I throw a couple pounds of the sausage into the sauce so it cooks in. You’ll find you need to spoon off a fair amount of grease/fat but OMG….really good. Another thing is the crushed red pepper. I like mine really spicy so I put a lot in. What I’ve found is the flavor doesn’t fully integrate until the next day. So try making it the day before and reheating…totally changes the flavor profile and is just amazing.

  • Elizabeth

    I have been using this recipe for several months. Today I will just broil the meatballs for use in a variety of sauces. I have no idea how that will work out, but I have high hopes. I like the idea of having these on hand & frozen for those busy days when I know there is no time to cook. Thanks for such a great and easy recipe!

    • Hey Elizabeth,

      I run a site about freezer cooking and noticed a few comments on here about broiling the meatballs first and then freezing. But I know the USDA recommends that you never partially cook meat and freeze it. It can become a hot-bed for bacteria growth. So, I would recommend fully cooking the meatballs and freezing in the sauce OR freezing the meatballs raw and separate from the sauce. Then, just thaw them and broil before adding to the slow cooker. I hope that helps!

  • Barbara Knox Echard

    I received 5 Stars from my adult kids which never happens. Easy and Delicious!

  • Debbie

    They just went in crock & I can hardly wait. The recipe was soooo easy

  • Tanesha

    Goodness gracious! I don’t think I have ever left a review on a recipe I have used (and I have used lots). I could not pass up an opportunity to say how ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL this turned out! I didn’t change a thing and the entire family was saying, “umm umm good” including the picky eaters. Great job and highly recommended recipe.

  • jenny

    Pure goodness in these meatballs!
    I have made these at least 8 times now.
    They are soo good. Everyone ♡ them. They are so soft, moist & full of all the flavors. I actually get lots of begging for me to make these. crazy eady to make. I dont use spaghetti noodles, instead I serve with tortellini, salad, garlic bread….. the table is full of smiles when this is on it!

  • stacy david

    I wanted my home made spaghetti and meatballs for so many weeks now, But its to hot to do all that. Then i said well they have recipe’s for everything in the crock pot crock pot crackpot now, so here I am making my. Ooops.. YOUR MEATBALLS. LOL. Of course we Do dinner for lunch and lunch for dinner at my House so that my Husband is able to always or usually have a good lunch to take to work. Ya know it seems since we started this about a year ago I am eating lighter at 5 or 6 pm I have lost a couple pounds, So here I was worried about when taking this job I would be home alone at night. Lol. Well it all worked out great.

  • Susie Hicks

    I just finished this recipe….they’ll feed us and our good neighbors tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I’ll try to let you know. They smell great already.

    • Susie Hicks

      The ratings wouldn’t work…I give it 5 stars for the smell alone.

      • Hi Susie!

        I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know about the ratings!

        Thanks again,