Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


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

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Photo: © Fredrika Stjärne
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 15 mins


  • Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 large basil sprig plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck

  • 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • 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.

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