These slow cooker meatballs are Italian style and made with ground beef, parmesan cheese, herbs and spices. They’re slow simmered to tender perfection in the crock pot and are perfect served over spaghetti or as a hearty appetizer.

Crock pot meatballs are my very favorite type of meatball  – they’re melt in your mouth tender and surprisingly easy to make! Serve your meatballs with a side of garlic knots and broccoli for a complete meal.

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Slow cooker meatballs served over spaghetti, topped with parsley and parmesan cheese.

I am currently in love with my slow cooker all over again. Fall is here, and my crock pot comes in quite handy for quick meals that don’t leave you or your family hanging, like these slow cooker meatballs. A delicious and hearty meal that’s perfect for those cooler nights.


The first step in this recipe is to make your meatball mixture, which is a combination of ground beef, onion, garlic, herbs, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. You can shape your meatballs as big or as small as you like, I typically make mine about 1 1/2 inches in size. I use 90% ground beef for my crock pot meatballs as it’s not overly greasy, but has plenty of flavor.

Ground beef, onion, garlic, herbs, cheese and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl.

Can you put raw meatballs in a slow cooker?

Technically yes, you can put raw meatballs in the slow cooker. I prefer to broil mine first because it guarantees that your meatballs will hold their shape and they won’t stick together during the slow cooking process. Broiling the meatballs takes just 10 minutes more and is so worth the extra time.

Raw meatballs on a baking sheet.

Tips for Slow Cooker Meatballs

  • Make sure to mince your onion finely for these slow cooker Italian meatballs so they’re adult and kid-friendly.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd if need be.
  • Use your favorite store-bought marinara sauce to ensure the final dish will be to your liking.
  • You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef if you prefer.

Broiled meatballs in a slow cooker.


What’s great about meatballs is that they’re so versatile. You can serve them as a hearty appetizer on a toothpick or toss them over some cooked spaghetti and make a dinner out of them. These slow cooker meatballs are also great as a pizza topping, in a baked pasta dish, or in a calzone.

I love these meatballs because they taste like they came from a restaurant. They’re so tender and packed full of flavor from simmering all day in the crock pot.

Slow cooker meatballs with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

I don’t know about you but taking a few minutes to prep dinner in the morning is worth coming home to a finished meal. Long days are a constant with school in session. Having a great recipe like these slow cooker meatballs make it just a little easier.


Slow Cooker Meatballs Video

4.92 from 48 votes

Slow Cooker Meatballs

AuthorSara Welch
Slow cooker meatballs served over spaghetti, topped with parsley and parmesan cheese.
These slow cooker meatballs are Italian style and made with ground beef, parmesan cheese, herbs and spices. They're slow simmered to tender perfection in the crock pot and are perfect served over spaghetti or as a hearty appetizer.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 hours 10 minutes
Total Time4 hours 25 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 28 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce


  • Preheat the broiler. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Place the ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, onion, egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. If it's hard to get everything to mix together, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time until a smooth mixture forms.
  • Shape the meat into 1 inch meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Broil the meatballs until browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Place the meatballs in the slow cooker. Add the marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir gently to combine.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Top the meatballs with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan cheese, then serve.


Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 106mg | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 1309mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1160IU | Vitamin C: 21.6mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 6.5mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made these tonight for my Daughter’s family and they’re fabulous. Since my Grandson needs gluten free, I used ground up pork rinds with Italian seasoning in them for the bread crumbs and they came out perfectly. This is a great recipe. I will make it again and again and again.

  2. Could I use crushed saltines in lieu of the bread crumbs? I have everything but the bread crumbs. If so, should I add other seasoning?

  3. So excited to eat these ! got the link from a friend who made them for a Friendsgiving! If I double the recipe, can I keep the same cook time on high?

  4. 5 stars
    I made these meatballs (doubled recipe; should have tripled!) for my daughter’s soccer team. They raved about them and came back for seconds; what a compliment! Thanks for a truly delicious and easy recipe that will now become part of my permanent rotation.

  5. 5 stars
    Best meatball recipe I’ve ever used! These meatballs were a huge hit! This is my new go-to recipe. Thank you!

  6. Do you think it would be safe to broil them the night before, refrigerate them and the next morning toss them into the slow cooker?

    1. Yes that should be fine I’d just add another 3-4 minutes to the cook time to make sure they’re cooked completely.

  7. I love these meatballs! Could you please let me know what the serving size is considered to be for nutritional information? Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    This is now my new meatball recipe. You absolutely nailed it! These made me an instant hero at the dinner table. Thank you so much. One variation I tried the 2nd time around was a half pound of ground pork and 1lb. of the ground beef and aside from it having a bit of grease to strain off the top, it was equally as delicious.

    1. I agree. I have tried a lot of meatball recipes and this is the best. Think I’ll be sticking to using this one for ever. Although I broiled them and they were practically done so I just put them in some home made sauce in a pan on the cooktop and they were delicious. Thanks

  9. 5 stars
    please help me! thank you for this recipe, amazing. i’m making it as we speak. i don’t have the tomatoes but i can go get some. i just wanted to ask, why exactly we add the tomatoes and tomato sauce to the balls in the crock pot and is it an absolute must must? lol. like can i do without it this time or is it an absolute necessity to be as delicious as everyone says it is?

    1. It just makes a heartier sauce to use both, and you need to have enough sauce to thoroughly coat your meatballs and pasta. If you’re not using the tomatoes I’d add more tomato sauce.

      1. 5 stars
        oh my goodness!! i just knew i wouldn’t get an answer in time!!!! thank you soooooo much, truly. do you think i’d be okay to dice my own tomatoes? and add a small amount of extra sauce?

  10. I love these meatballs and I want to make them again for a larger group. Is it best to freeze them before or after cooking them?
    Also, whats the best way to defrost the leftovers? (As if… 😉)

    1. You can freeze them either way! If you freeze uncooked you can put them in the slow cooker frozen, you’ll just want to increase the cook time. If they’re already cooked, thaw in the fridge over night then reheat in a pan on the stove over low heat.

  11. I usually put these in raw. I don’t have trouble with them sticking together. I love these! I made them today and along with grated Parmesan I added some fresh.

  12. 5 stars
    These were the best meatballs I have ever made (way better than my Italian mother in laws recipe)! Served with spaghetti and a salad and the whole family loved it! I have prepared many of your recipes and they are all wonderful!
    You need to have a show on Food Network!

      1. 5 stars
        This recipe is outstanding! My son loves meatballs at restaurants and I never thought I’d be able to make something comparable or, I dare say even better! These are the tastiest, most tender meatballs and sauce I’ve ever had! I doubled the recipe and frozen half with sauce and they are great re-heated that way as well! Thanks SO much!

    1. 5 stars
      I was skeptical if this recipe, and delightfully surprised!!! Wow… I accidentally bought cilantro by mistake and threw it in anyway and best mistake ever!!! Love this recipe. I used 8oz of tomatoe sauce vs 15..still good. Ty so MUCH

  13. 5 stars
    Super tasty base recipe. I recommend making the meatballs the night before cooking, let it all join up overnight in the fridge. Definitely broil before crock pot. Try subs: get great Italian rolls, combo provolone and mozzarella! Abbondanza!!

  14. 5 stars
    I’m working from home, loaded the crook pot up and the smell in the house all day was making me so hungry! Loved the meatballs and the left overs were just as good.!