Crockpot meatballs are one of easiest recipes to get going in just around 30 minutes for an quick and easy Italian dinner. Just get some fresh bread, parmesan cheese, and boil up some spaghetti (or your favorite pasta) for a delicious meal. The bonus: you’ll have incredible sandwiches for leftovers, and, meatballs are easily frozen or incorporated into other pasta dishes.
The tastiness of crockpot meatballs lie in the spices and tomato mixture marinating into the meat, while the sauce has time to age and taste better. Meatballs often taste better the next day, when the flavor really sets in, but will still taste excellent the same day.
This recipe doesn’t call for many ingredients. You can also decide for yourself how much fat you’d like in the meatballs. Some people like a leaner, more dense meatball, while others like a slightly fattier meatball made with a higher fat content ground beef. Usually between 85%-90% is a safe bet.
- * 2 pounds ground sirloin beef
- * 1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- * 3/4 cup grated cheese
- * 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- * 3 eggs
For the sauce:
- * 2 cans crushed tomatoes
- * 1 can diced tomatoes
- * 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- * 5 fresh basil leaves, large
- * 2 Tbsp olive oil
- * 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- * 1 tsp sea salt
Directions for the sauce:
1. Combine the olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Sauté the garlic lightly until just brown. Add remainder of the ingredients to the crockpot.
2. With a fork or vegetable masher, mash the tomatoes until it is part of the sauce, not just chunks.
3. Bring the sauce to a near boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer on low.
Meatballs almost always taste better the next day. Why? The sauce combines and has time to truly combine and absorb into the meatballs, while the spices fully become part of the sauce, not just separate specks of spice.
Unlike many other crockpot meals, this one might take a while from start to finish. However, it’s preparation time is minimal. Once you shape the meatballs, you’ll be ready to just throw them in the sauce and let them simmer until dinner.
1. Combine the beef in a large bowl with the bread crumbs, grated cheese, and eggs. Stir well.
2. Using clean hands, combine the ingredients, along with the basil. Smoosh the ingredients and beef well together until thoroughly combined.
3. For leaner meatballs and a less greasy sauce, preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Place the meatballs on a wire rack resting on a cookie sheet. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the meatballs have cooked slightly to release some of the fat while cooking. You can also cook the meatballs in the crockpot only for a more tender, juicy meatball.
4. Add the sauce to the crockpot and turn the sauce on high. Add the cooked (or uncooked) meatballs to the sauce. Cook on high for 2 hours, then switching to low for an additional 4 hours. More time may be required for meatballs not cooked in the oven first (approximately an extra 90 minutes).
5. Test a meatball before serving. Internal cooked temperature should be 160 degrees F. Cut open the meatball to see if the inside is pink as well. If the inside is slightly pink, cook the meatballs another hour and recheck. Serve immediately with your favorite pasta or in a sandwich!
6. Cool the crockpot meatballs thoroughly before placing in a fridge. A hot crockpot can heat up a fridge in no time and spoil your other food.
Remember to stock up on your favorite cheeses like provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, and buy a box of your favorite pasta. With a loaf of Italian bread and a salad, this is more than a complete meal!