Crockpot Meatballs are an effortless way to prepare tender and delicious meatballs!

No need to brown or pre-cook these meatballs, they cook perfectly tender and juicy right in the slow cooker and are sauced up with a rich and chunky tomato sauce.

Simple prep you’ll come home to a classic Italian style meal, easy as pie!

close photo of the inside of a crockpot meatball with tomato sauce

Crockpot Meatballs

Crockpot Meatballs are really easy to make, simply mix the meatballs and let the slow cooker do all of the work. While I often make homemade meatballs or All Purpose Turkey Meatballs, I love putting them into the slow cooker and coming home to a meal ready to serve!


Use lean beef in this recipe, you’ll want a little bit of fat for moisture and texture. These are not cooked first so you want to make sure you don’t have too much fat but a little bit of fat adds a rich flavor to the sauce.

Just like our oven meatball recipe these use simple ingredients like Italian breadcrumbs and seasonings, onion and parmesan cheese, they’re meatballs are packed with flavor.

These cook right in a simple tomato sauce which has great flavor! It’s a simple sauce with pasta sauce, diced and crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce), garlic, and Italian seasoning.

Once sauced up, crock pot meatballs cook low and slow in the crockpot keeping all the juices and flavors tucked inside every savory little meatball.

ingredients for crock pot meatballs on a counter

How to Make Meatballs in a Crockpot?

Once you try this crockpot meatballs recipe it will become your go-to! They’re so easy to make and no frying or baking (which means no extra dishes to wash).

  1. Combine the ground beef, seasonings, breadcrumbs, and egg together per the recipe below.
  2. Roll into meatballs and place raw meatballs in the bottom of the crockpot.
  3. Top with sauce. Cover and let the slow cooker do the work!

Uncooked meatballs in a black slow cooker

Do You Have to Cook Meatballs Before Putting Them in a Crockpot?

No, you do not have to cook meatballs before they go into the Crockpot!

If I am using ground beef in the slow cooker (when I’m making Crock Pot Chili or Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese) I often brown the ground beef. This recipe is specifically designed to skip the pre-cooking. Just mix, form into balls, and place in the bottom of the crockpot.

I use lean beef in this slow cooker Italian meatball recipe, the juices from the meatballs add amazing flavor to the sauce!

No browning required! If you’d like you can brown the outside of the meatballs in a frying pan but we don’t. The real beauty of this recipe is how quick and easy it is.

Ladle full of Crockpot Meatballs

What to Serve with Crockpot Meatballs

Crockpot meatballs can be served as an appetizer or made into a whole meal!

  • Serve it over your favorite pasta like spaghetti or penne.
  • Turn it into a meatball sub by serving it over a toasted hoagie roll, top it with mozzarella cheese and broil!
  • Mashed potatoes go with anything, why not meatballs!
  • Create a meatball casserole by adding fusilli, cover with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake at 375˚F for 20 min!

Overhead shot of Crockpot Meatballs over rigatoni

While this homemade crockpot meatball recipe calls for a tomato-based sauce, you can always change it up! Try it with BBQ sauce, sweet and sour sauce, mushroom sauce or a honey garlic sauce! The meatball recipe itself is just so versatile and is delicious with any sauce!

The meatballs can be prepared the night before and refrigerated. In the morning, simply add to the slow cooker, pour the sauce on and let the crockpot do the work! I’m pretty sure that once you prepare meatballs using this crockpot method, you will never go back!

Other Ground Beef Recipes You’ll Love

close photo of the inside of a crockpot meatball with tomato sauce
4.99 from 234 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Crockpot Meatballs

Tender juicy meatballs in an easy tomato sauce requires very little prep and has amazing flavor!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
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  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup onion finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parsley fresh, chopped
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese


  • 24 ounces pasta sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes canned
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes canned, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning


  • Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • Combine all meatball ingredients in a bowl. Using a tablespoon, form 24 meatballs. Place uncooked meatballs in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over meatballs and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve over pasta.
4.99 from 234 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 280 | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 703mg | Potassium: 901mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 815IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 4.9mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course, Slow Cooker
Cuisine American, Italian

Recipe adapted from The ShortCut Kitchen.

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close up of Crockpot Meatballs with a bite taken out and a title
close up of Crockpot Meatballs in a spoon with writing
Crockpot Meatballs cooked in the crockpot and close up with writing


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. Awesome! I actully just sear the meatballs in a heavy cast iron then just crock them in sauce for 2 hrs with a seared chopped onion and greeen pepper in the sauce.5 stars

  2. I’ve been using this recipe for about a year now and still tweaking it to my liking, but one issue I can’t ever fully resolve is how oily/acidic it can be. I’ve added tomato paste and made a flour roux, but it still doesn’t fully resolve the issue. Do you have any tips on how to get rid of all of the grease/oil? I like a thicker sauce but if I follow the recipe to a T then it’s very thin and acidic to the point where it doesn’t stick to pasta at all. I use 93/7 lean ground beef (no sausage, just replaced it with more beef).4 stars

    1. There will be a little fat from the beef, which I usually stir into the sauce. You can skim it from the top before serving or, alternatively, brown the meatballs which should remove a bit more fat.

      The sauce should thicken as it rests. You could also cook it uncovered for 30 to 60 minutes to thicken a bit more. For the pasta sauce, I like to use Rao’s marinara as it’s fairly thick and has great flavor. I hope that helps.

  3. I would like to make these for subs at a party.
    Can I double this recipe ? Or do the meatballs need to be on the bottom to totally cook thru ?
    Thank you !!5 stars

    1. Yes, this recipe can be doubled Donna. They don’t need to be on the bottom to cook thru but it may take slightly longer to come up to temperature and to cook so you want to ensure your meatballs reach 165°F before serving. Enjoy!

    1. I have never tried it so I can’t say for sure but I think it should work. I would love to hear how it goes for you, Tika!

  4. Could I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef (I know the beef adds great flavor to the sauce, but trying to use meat I already have). Will the turkey/chicken meatballs hold up just the same in the crockpot? Thanks!

    1. Hi Diane, ground chicken or turkey will both work great! I would love to hear how the recipe turns out for you

    1. Hi Alison, I have not made these without egg so I can’t say for sure. Since egg is a binder, I wouldn’t recommend omitting it altogether but maybe another reader has a suggestion on what to use as a substitute.

  5. I’m not sure I understand how to assemble the “Sauce” portion of the recipe entitled “Crockpot Meatballs”.

    The Sauce Recipe calls for 24 ounces pasta sauce (I assume store bought jarred sauce is ok here), plus several spices as well as 14 oz crushed tomatoes and 28 ounces of diced tomatoes.
    **If I opt to click on the link for “pasta sauce” and follow the Easy Marinara Sauce recipe that this link brings you to, I will include all the ingredients listed then use 24 ounces of the sauce that this recipe yields and THEN STILL add the 14 oz crushed tomatoes and 28 ounces of diced tomatoes the “SAUCE” section of the Crockpot Meatballs recipe calls for. Do I have that right?5 stars

    1. Yes, that’s correct. You’ll use prepared (homemade or bought) pasta sauce/marinara sauce and add crushed tomatoes (a zestier flavor), diced tomatoes (texture) and seasonings.

  6. Have followed this recipe many times with a few adjustments I usually cook it on low for 6 to 7 hours but this evening I’m cooking on high four hours. I just use the RAO’S sensitive marinara as the sauce. Followed all the instructions for the meatballs, except instead of a teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, I added a teaspoon of the Lipton onion soup mix. Excited to see how it turns out!5 stars

    1. Absolutely! I would use the same amount of sauce. So if replacing the crushed and diced tomatoes as well, I would use 66oz. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out Linda!

  7. I am wondering if I can use a higher fat content ground beef. If I do, are there any adjustments I should make? The beef appears to be more along the lines of 75% lean/25% fat. It’s from an Amish farm so it doesn’t say exactly, and it isn’t labeled as lean. :-) We use it for burgers and it does produce a fair amount of fat/grease that we drain from the griddle. But honestly, it has a consistently great, rich flavor so I was hoping to use it in this recipe.

    Would it be a better idea to partially cook the meatball in the oven to eliminate some of the grease, put in the crockpot, and finish them in there? Or completely cook in the oven and use the crockpot to keep them warm? Any ideas would be appreciated! It’s for a 40th anniversary party, and I am cooking for a crowd. :-)5 stars

    1. I haven’t tried with a 75% lean so I can’t say for sure Jackie. I use an 85% lean ground beef and the little bit of fat adds a nice flavor to the meatballs. If you are worried about the amount of fat, you can absolutely cook them in the oven and then keep them warm in the Crockpot! If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

    1. The diced tomatoes can be left out. You can add some extra crushed tomatoes but would suggest a total of 28oz crushed (skip the extra 14 oz). Let us know how it goes!

  8. i wanted to try this with bbq sauce as it will be made as an appetizer for my grandsons birthday coming up soon. How many bottles will we need? I think I will use about a pound and a half of meat. Do we need water? Thank you so much. Love your recipes5 stars

    1. You will want approximately 2 cups of sauce and no need for water. I hope this helps Hilda!

    1. I would suggest about 6-7 hours, you’ll want to ensure they reach 165°F. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out Sue!

      1. I’m making this tonight but doing the 4 hours on high. Will let you know how it comes out.
        Thank you for the recipe

  9. I was thinking of using a 93 ground beef for the meatballs but that might make them dry in the crockpot. Would a 85 ground beef be better for the crockpot?

    1. I use closer to a 85 ground beef in this recipe to get a bit of fat for moisture and texture. These are not cooked first so you want to make sure you don’t have too much fat but a little bit of fat adds a rich flavor to the sauce.

    1. I haven’t tried using Passata so I can’t say for sure AC. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!