Tested and Perfected by Food and Wine
Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
© Fredrika Stjärne

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

  • ACTIVE: 25 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 4 HRS 15 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 6
  • MAKE-AHEAD

These meatballs are served in a bowl, but they are equally delicious with spaghetti or on a hoagie roll.

  1. Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  4. 1 large basil sprig plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
  5. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  6. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  8. 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  9. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  10. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  11. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes into a slow cooker and add their juices. Add the olive oil, tomato paste, basil sprig, crushed red pepper and half of the garlic. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until the tomato sauce is very flavorful.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the ground chuck with the remaining garlic and the bread crumbs, egg, 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roll the mixture into 18 meatballs, being careful not to pack them too firmly.
  3. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour longer, until no trace of pink remains in the center of the meatballs. Discard the basil sprig. Add 1 tablespoon of the sliced basil to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the meatballs into bowls, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sliced basil and serve, passing grated cheese at the table.
Make Ahead The cooked meatballs can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 2 days before serving.