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 MeatballsYou 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 MeatballsThe 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.

Super Amazing Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

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

  • 4.8
  • 36 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 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
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 (24 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ 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.


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  • 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

  • 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,


  • 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

  • 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,


  • Allie

    This recipe is excellent! I’ve made it several times now and love it every time!

  • Bernadette O'Keefe

    Hi greetings from a cold winters day in Australia. Came across your page looking for slow cooker recipes. I wanted to make something for my daughter who is laid up with a bad back. I doubled the recipe so we could have a meal as well. I’m not sure about my weight conversion bc I have ended up with 96 meatballs😀😀. So plenty for everyone. My slow cooker is really big so I like to fill it when it is on. You should smell my kitchen…. yummy. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is the best meatball recipe ever! I have made it several times, and it never disappoints! I will continue to make it for many years to come!

  • Laura B

    Can I form the meatballs the night before and leave them in the refrigerator until I’m ready to brown them and put them in the crockpot?

  • I’ve made these meatballs on numerous occasions. Super easy to make and are always delicious. Although, sometimes I do put a bit of sugar in the sauce, which is just my prefer.

  • Very tasty. Definetly will be making these again and browning them before putting them in the slow cooker was great. Really enjoyed them, thank you.

  • Jim

    Do you use two 24-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, or 24 total ounces of crushed tomatoes?

  • Jessica

    This recipe is amazing! I made the meatballs for a housewarming party and literally everyone loved them! My only modification was not using 100% of the tomato paste and sauce, so that the tomato flavor wouldn’t overwhelm the meatballs. But besides that, I followed everything else exactly, and this is now one of my top go-to recipes to prepare! Thank you!

  • Andrea

    I’m wondering if I could cook these on the “high” setting for 2 hours, instead of “low” for 4?

  • Alexis

    These were awesome! Definitely a hit with my 4 year old daughter who doesn’t like much…but she loved these! And they were equally loved by the adults.

  • Rich

    My family LOVED them. I added more garlic and Italian seasonings a more salt to our family’s tastes. To the sauce I added wine and roasted the garlic and fresh tomatoes first then put it all in the crock pot. I cooked on high for 2.5 hours and it was very flavorful.
    Today…meatball subs for lunch. 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe!

  • NHL

    I took these neatballs to an office pitch-in. They were a big hit. The sauce kept them moist and flavorful. (Note: when you remove the lid to serve them, they will need to be stirred to look their best.) I will make these again.

  • Emma

    Hi! I’m going to make these for an upcoming party and serve meatball subs. When you do subs, how many meatballs do you put on them? I was thinking 3-4?

  • Bobby

    I have meatballs already made up. I want to make barbecue meatballs in crock pot. I need help. 🙏

  • Cyndi

    When making ahead an freezing… do you freeze with sauce after cooking in slow cooker or freeze meatballs raw?

  • Dawn

    Made these yummy meatballs for our new years eve dinner last night. They were very easy to make and tasted wonderful over spaghetti. Loved cooking them in the crockpot as it made our house smell delicious and made for incredibly tasty and tender meatballs. Thanks for the recipe Kelley!

  • Barbara

    I can’t believe this is like my meatball recipe except I use soaked bread and bread crumbs and I never thought to cook it in a crockpot . It taste better than cooking it on the stove .My family very much enjoyed it thank you

  • Antonette

    My supermarket doesn’t carry 24oz cans of tomatoes. What can I substitute the 24oz cans with?

    • Hi Antonette,

      I would either add two 14.5 ounce cans of tomato sauce. The extra sauce won’t hurt anything!

      Thanks & Enjoy!


  • Joel

    Do you need to broil the meat balls? Or can you just get away with only cooking them in the slow cooker?

  • Sarah

    can i ask a question please – is it a total of 24oz of crushed tomatoes to this recipe or 2 x 24 oz?

  • Christine in Los Angeles

    When I make meatballs (or hamburgers, or meatloaf), I put a cube of mozzarella in the center … mozz, plus basil, plus tomatoes … you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven.
    Thank you for the recipe.
    God bless

  • Catrina Hayes

    Hi Kelley, I want to make your recipe for a bridal shower of 30 women. Do you think doubling the recipe would be enough? I wanted to triple it but I think my crock pot is too small. If doubled, how much time do they need to cook? More than 4 hours?

    • Hi Catrina!

      Doubling the recipe should definitely be plenty. I don’t think they should have to cook much longer than four hours I would give yourself five to be safe.

      Thank you and I hope you enjoy!


  • Angela O'Looney

    Thank you. I just wanted to check if pre browning the meatballs is best. I’m doing them with tagliatelle. I’ll let you know how they turn out. I bought meatballs from the supermarket that are a mix of pork and beef. They look nice enough although I would usually make meatballs myself. However, these were so cheap and convenient that I thought why not.

    • Hi Angela,

      Pre browning the meatballs adds lots of flavor but is an optional step. If you have the time I would suggest doing it.



  • Casey

    I decided to try these meatballs yesterday and they turned out amazing! My fiance is very picky but he couldn’t stop eating them. My brother saw pictures of the ones I made and I have to make them for him in a few days. Thank you for sharing this easy and unbelievably good recipe.

    Side note: I put extra crushed tomatoes in the crock pot to make more sauce to pour over mashed potatoes. Perfect meal!

    • Hi Jazmin,

      No you don’t have to make the sauce. You can just make the meatballs.

      Thanks & Enjoy!


  • Dave Arseneau

    Great recipe……

    After too much experimentation, I’ve decided that a Very liberal amount of fresh chopped parsley does wonders for meat mixes…. along with the proper amount of bread crumbs, and….some egg of course.

    The parsley cuts through any salty ingredients..did I say it aids in digestion?

    Adding parmesan to the mix and/or the sauce enhances the flavour..

    My passion is to use some allspice in my sauce, a small amount of chicken broth, olive oil, also…

    As a classically trained French cook who has done time in many kitchens in N.A,, including Marriot and Movenpick, we were tasked with developing test menus…

    As the Communard, my meatballs were always a hit.

  • Chad Cudney

    Second time making them and they so soft and delicious! I brought them to work for the guys I work with and nothing but compliments..I suggest getting sub rolls for bombers.

  • Olivia Nadile

    First off, I rarely ever leave reviews on recipes but with these meatballs I HAD to! Not only were they delicious but a breeze to make. Cooking and cleanup was easy, using the broiler to brown them and the slow cooker to finish them was genius! I doubled the recipe to bring to a potluck and everyone couldn’t stop raving about them, the sauce too! Cooking on low over 4 hours really developed the flavor. Nobody believed me how simple the recipe was. The only things I tweaked was adding extra garlic and milk to the meatball mixture to bind things a little more. Other then that it’s definitely a recipe to keep in my rolodex.

  • The meatballs no sweat don’t even need to cook first to know they would be great. But the sauce I was looking for a simple yet tasty sauce. I think this may be it, have made hundreds of meatballs but store bought sauce never does justice to a good meatball. Tomato paste cought my eye it’s what I used to fix the store bought sauce. Thank You I’ll be trying out soon.

  • Valerie

    Have made this recipe several times now and every time it’s been EXCELLENT! So tasty and the meatballs come out very tender. Gotta be from the slow cooking. Thanks for a great recipe! Keeper!

    • Hi Danielle,

      I have not tried this in the instant pot yet. I think it should work out fine though!

      Thanks & Enjoy!


  • Hi

    This recipe yielded dry meatballs. Skip the broil phase, in my opinion.

  • Carly

    These meatballs are amazing and are an easy meal to come home to on a busy weeknight. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t turned the broiler on but instead the oven. So, I ended up baking them for 15 mins at 350 degrees. I added a fair amount of sautéed fresh garlic and a hefty bunch of fresh basil before turning the slow cooker on. The sauce was outstanding and the meatballs were super juicy. My Italian grandparents would have certainly approved!

  • Colleen Kramer

    It’s 2018, just made this recipe. I made 1 1/2 batches for my large group. I used 2 lbs beef, 1 lb Italian Sausage (because that’s what I had). EXCELLENT! So glad I did not have to fry them. The broiling was quick and easy and most importantly browned them enough that they did not fall apart in the slow cooker. But they were MOIST and DELICIOUS. Big hit from all my family. Going into our favorites for sure! Thanks. (We ate them as meatball subs). Leftovers were sent home to be used with spaghetti.

  • Mel

    I don’t have tomato paste and can’t go get it right now. Any substitutions you’ve used?

  • Brian

    This recipe is amazing!! I made 40 meatballs, just a little smaller then a golf ball size. Lightly toasted up mini sub buns with garlic butter and mozzarella cheese first, then added 6 meatballs and sauce per bun, then topped with provolone cheese and broiled till nicely melted over everything. Best meatball sub I have had in ages!!!!!

  • Eileen Angelica

    Kelley can I make the night before and reheat the next day?

  • Eileen Angelics

    If I make these today can I reheat them tomorrow in the crockpot?

  • Kirstan

    This is my go-to meatball recipe – have made it at least 5-6 times now. Delicious every time! Thank you! Makes a lot, but freezes very well.

  • Stephanie

    I made these meatballs today for a Buffalo Bills game #Billsmafia and they were AMAZING!!!! I made 2 crockpots worth and everyone loved them so much I barely have any left!!! The only thing i did differently was I sauteed my onions and garlic before I mixed them with everything. Great recipe and will definitely be used again!!!

  • Stephanie

    Even on a greased cookie sheet these fell apart when I tried to flip them to brown the other side. 🙁
    I will have to start over and will chill the next batch before broiling.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I’m so sorry to hear this! Sometimes it helps to have damp hands when rolling too.

      Hope this helps! Thanks!


  • Debra Anderson

    I never leave comments, but on this recipe I had to.
    Best meatballs I had in a long time.Tasted just like my Mom’s.

  • Anita Morgan

    I use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to help form the balls and for size consistency 🙂

  • Lucy ang

    Hi. I just finished getting everything prepared in the lining of my slow cooker (in the refrigerator) to cook tomorrow morning. When I come back from work I love cook spaghettis. I’ll see what my family think of your recipe. Thank you for such clear instructions. Best. Lucy.

  • Lucy ang

    Hi. I just finished getting everything prepared in the lining of my slow cooker (in the refrigerator) to cook tomorrow morning. When I come back from work I’ll cook spaghettis. I’ll see what my family think of your recipe. Thank you for such clear instructions. Best. Lucy.

  • Bob

    I have made this before i did broil the meatballs but tonite im pressed for time if i cook them on high how long should it take. Btw this is the best recipe i added veal with the meat. Stuck to the rest of recipe worked out great.

    • Nathan

      If you don’t have time for the slow cooker you can always bake them in the oven. Bake for about 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees. Or until a thermometer reads 160 inside. They will not have the same texture as if they were cooked slowly in the crock pot but they should still taste delicious! Hope this helps.


  • Pamela

    I am making them for a potluck and we don’t eat pork. Do you think it would be good with ground turkey and beef or all beef?

    • Hi Pamela!

      You could do all beef or all ground turkey. They would both be great substitutes.

      Thanks & Enjoy!


  • Diane

    Wow! These slow cooker meatballs are amazing. I followed your recipe with no changes and it was a bit hit. They full of flavor, tender and melt in your mouth!!! My husband literally could not get enough. I made a double batch and frozen half of it for enjoyment the following weekend. It was just as perfect. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  • Kayla Hall

    I browned these and then froze them as I had made too many for my crockpot. I want to thaw them and use them in spaghetti. Are they safe to eat after being thawed and then cooked?

  • Mary

    I find if you add a 1/3 of a cup of milk in the mixture it keeps them from drying out after being frozen

  • Lorna

    Hi. My son is very allergic to eggs. Do you have substitute item you recommend?

    • Hi Lorna,

      There are a couple different options. You could add some oats as a binder or soak some cubed bread in milk to act as a binder as well.

      I hope that helps! Thank you!