Slow Cooked Turkey Meatballs

I have often wondered whether the slow cooker is the answer to nearly every food-related question I have in life.

How can I walk in the door from work and have dinner waiting patiently to be plated?

How on Earth can I transform an inexpensive cut meat into something fall-apart-tender and juicy?

How can I avoid twelve dirty pans, pots, and mixing bowls? Who can I pay to clean them?

Can chocolate be slow cooked?

Why don’t all meals cook themselves?

No, really, can we slow cook chocolate?


And…well…I was mostly right. The slow cooker is the answer to nearly every food-related question I have, though, I have yet to work out the logistics on slow-cooked chocolate.

My most recent questions have been related to one of my top ten favorite foods: The Meatball.

Admittedly, I don’t think meatballs require too much tender loving care. They’re fairly self-sufficient. They’re dependable enough that just about any recipe, any variation, any ol’ thang will make my heart sing. Because I believe it’s the sauce that matters most. No meatball that’s worth a damn is without a marinara to match. (And the absolute best sauce, the far-and-wide find of my entire existence, the only sauce I can say is perfect with one hundred percent certainty and without batting one eye at all of my months spent living in Italy, is the sauce made by my stepfather, my dad, Paul.)

What I crave, at least once a week, are those rich, vibrant Italian flavors. The intoxicating smell of garlic and onions when they spit and sputter in a hot pan with olive oil. Basil and oregano. Sharp and salty parmesan. Sweet, sweet, sauced tomatoes.

It’s understood that the longer your sauce simmers, the more robust its flavor. The better and stronger the marriage of spices to tomatoes. And since we both know that the slow cooker is sure-fire succulence when it comes to meat, well…meatballs in the slow cooker just make sense.

Slowly simmered and cooked directly in your favorite marinara, these meatballs are simple. They’re perfectly moist and tender, while still holding on dearly to their cute round figure.

So friends, it’s not going to get much easier than this. It might not even get any better (until we figure out those logistics on slow cooking chocolate).

Slow Cooked Meatballs

This time, I used ground turkey because it was on sale at the market. Ground beef works just as well, if not better flavor-wise. Combine the meat with fresh bread crumbs, parmesan, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and milk. Use your hands to mix everything well. Be careful not to overwork your meat though, as that can lead to really tough, firm meatballs.

Form the mix into balls that are roughly 1 1/2″ in diameter. Any size will do.

Scatter your onion over the base of your slow cooker. These will soften and enhance the sauce as they cook.

Place the meatballs over the onions. Then pour two cups of your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara sauce evenly over everything. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the meatballs are tender and cooked through.

Slow Cooked Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 6 Servings

Calories per serving: 190

Fat per serving: 4g

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs:
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Remaining Ingredients:
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. in a large bowl, use your hands to mix all meatball ingredients. Form the mixture into balls roughly 1 ½-inches in diameter.
  2. Scatter the onion over the base of your slow cooker. Put the meatballs on top, in a single layer. Pour the sauce evenly over the top, tossing to coat every meatball. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Notes

Nutrition Information: Calories 190, Fat 4g, Carb 15g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 4g, Protein 21g

Nutrition based on using marinara with 80 calories per 1/2 cup serving

http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2010/11/11/slow-cooked-meatballs/

Comments

  1. says

    These look delicious! I’ll have to make them when I’m home because my husband’s nervous about leaving an appliance plugged in all day.

    Would still love to grab a cup of coffee sometime!

  2. chelsea says

    This is so funny that you posted this today because I was just looking for more slow cooker recipes. However, I would so love if you started doing nothing but Thanksgiving recipes, cooking for the mother-in-law and I’m very nervous! I don’t know if I can trust some of the recipes out there!! But I trust you!! I have made quite a few of your recipes and they have all turned out delish!!

    • says

      Leah, if you come to my house and eat meatballs you get a two for one deal: Dinner and me singing, “On top of spppaaaagghhheeeetttiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, all covered in cheeeeeeese….I lost my poor meatball….when..” You get the idea.

  3. says

    Holy guacamole! That’s the best looking plate of meatballs I’ve ever seen, and I can’t believe they’re that easy to make. I’ve always baked my meatballs, and now you come up with this. Amazing! This is on my short list now. Thanks for sharing them. I feel like you just gave me the winning lottery numbers!

  4. Marna says

    Meatballs look great and I printed out the Passion Cookie recipe from yesterday. My husband will LOVE those.

    If you want chocolate in the CP, check out recipes for Triple Chocolate Mess (yes, that’s really the name.) To say that it’s amazing is an understatement.

  5. says

    Yum, yum and yum. I’ve never thought to do them in the crock pot! I usually sear them so they are nice and crunchy on the outside, then nestle them in my sauce to finish cooking.

    Can you believe my Italian husband doesn’t like meatballs that much? WTF?!

  6. says

    I’ve never tried to slow cook my meatballs.. I shall. Thank you. I also combine meats.. ground turkey or chicken or beef. A little of each, a lot of one, etc… great flavors. Thanks for all your humor too.. love it!

  7. Katherine says

    1. I love the way you write, it is so intimate and entertaining.
    2. You always have the best tips hidden in these posts that non-cooks like me juuusssttt don’t know.
    3. there never is a 3.
    Thank you!

  8. says

    These look super yummy! I’ve been looking for a meatball recipe (never made them before! stage fright) and more slow cooker recipes, so this is the best of both worlds! Thank you for sharing – I hope mine turn out yummy.

  9. Amanda says

    These look SO good! I had a quick question. If I doubled this recipe, would the cooking time be the same? I have 4 children. I double EVERY recipe! :)

  10. says

    This recipe is delicious! I wasn’t sure about the milk at first, but it works so well, I’ce added it to my list of go-to meals that the family love, and I’m just about to make a batch now for tonight’s dinner. Thanks :)

  11. Chelsea says

    This recipe looks perfect to christen my new crock pot! If I wanted to do them faster though, say in two hours instead of four could I set it to high, maybe with more sauce? Or would that burn them? Thanks!

  12. Veronike says

    SOO good. I just made these the other night and my boyfriend loved them. I added some peppers and more onions and it was just delicious. Keep the good recipes coming!

  13. Birttany says

    I have been searching for a slow cooker meatball recipe! I usually put in ground Italian pork sausage too, it adds SO much flavor :)

    Thank you!

  14. Autumn says

    OMG I am so glad I found this recipe!!! I have been wanting to make meatballs and was planning to on Saturday!! So what a better way than to put them in a slow cooker!!! I can’t wait!

    Thanks and I look forward to telling you how the turned out!

  15. Jessie says

    I have made these awesome meatballs twice now and they seriously taste like restaurant quality or better! I have been searching for this meatball recipe for 13 years now and I finally found it!! Thank you!

  16. Chad says

    Great simple recipe. I went with a beef/pork blend, italian seasoning instead of only oregano, and substituted cilantro for basil.

  17. Kristie says

    Andie, thank you for posting this recipe. My meatballs are cooking in the Crock Pot as we speak!! Can’t wait til they’re done!!

  18. Ronnie says

    Hi there, thanks for your recipe. I’m just making this in country Western Australia! It’s a Perfect cold weather/busy farming people recipe. I’ve made an Italian sugo sauce with tinned tomato, capers, fresh parsley & basil, teaspoon chopped anchovies, tablespoon white sugar and a good splash of white wine. Thank you so much. It smells delish in my kitchen. Regards from Australia!

  19. Rebecca Copeland says

    What is the calorie count for this? It was delish! Have you ever encountered a lot of grease? I think it’s grease. What would you do if that happened? Try to spoon it out?

    • Heather says

      Grease happened to me 1st time I cooked them too. I just heated the meatballs in oven to rid some of the grease before putting in crockpot. Worked great! (375° for 10 min)

  20. says

    I love this recipe! When you started talking about warming chocolate, you made me think of the new fondue warmers from Velata. I am going to try sauce in them now…check out my website to see the Velata.. https://fondueyouwantit.velata.us. You made me think about something great to use the system for!

  21. Gigi says

    This picture was the standout of all the images! Started too late to have them today, but all is ready for my husband (!) to assemble first thing in the morning for a late lunch. (We have dinner at lunch, and appies for dinner.). The one thing I am totally upset about, and can’t believe, is that you rave about your dad’s marinara as the best you’ve had in the whole wide world, but you don’t give us the recipe! Gyp! It’s the brightness of the sauce that attracted me, and then you say to use a jar of marinara? That’s just wrong to tease like that!

  22. Elizabeth says

    I’ve made these meatballs several times and they’re WONDERFUL. I don’t think I’d ever make meatballs another way again! Thank you so much Andie.

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