Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

We spent a week in a condo on fabulous Tybee Island, Georgia not long ago. I wanted to maximize our time on the beach, which meant that I wanted meals that I could prepare with minimal effort and time. Slow cooker spaghetti and meatballs was the perfect choice. And it was mighty tasty too. Yummy meatballs in a flavorful sauce, with the spaghetti already mixed in. It really doesn’t get any easier.
I always like a little kick in my spaghetti and meatballs, whether they’re from the slow cooker or not, so I added a bit of red pepper flakes. You can leave them out if you like.

The perfect side dish for spaghetti and meatballs? My gotta-have-it garlic bread.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (24 ounce) package frozen meatballs
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (48 ounce) container beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flake
  • 1/4 cup, plus more for serving, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into 1 1/2" pieces
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except for the pasta into a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 8 hours, stirring every hour or so.
  3. Add the broken pasta, stir, and cook another 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese for topping.

Salisbury Steak Meatballs

Never has the kitchen smelled so great as it did when I was cooking these Salisbury steak meatballs. The anticipation of dinner was making my stomach growl and my mouth water. Every bite was packed with savory flavors. Tender meatballs with a bit of tang from mustard. Rich beef-flavored sauce. Give me more! And more!
Salisbury Steak MeatballsI’m quite sure you’re going to see Salisbury steak meatballs on Life’s A Tomato again soon. I’m already thinking that I need to make a po’boy sandwich using these meatballs. Hmmm. Smothered in gravy. Yummy!

When I started cooking the onions a thought occurred to me: mushrooms. I think the next time I make this I’ll add a half pound of thinly sliced mushrooms in with the onions and let them cook down a bit. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms will definitely go well with the gravy.

Salisbury Steak Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
For the meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup mustard (Dijon, Brown, or Creole)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 2-1/2 cups beef broth (plus more if needed), divided
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (Dijon, Brown, or Creole)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Instructions
For the meatballs
  1. Place all ingredients except for the butter into a large bowl and combine well with your hands.
  2. Form into 2 ounce meatballs.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in batches, fry the meatballs on all sides until lightly browned. You do not need to cook them through completely, just give them some color and texture. Remove meatballs to a bowl or plate.
For the sauce
  1. Add the onion to the skillet that you used to cook the meatballs and saute for 2-3 minutes until starting to turn golden.
  2. Add 2 cups of the beef broth, the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and mustard and whisk to combine.
  3. In a small bowl or cup combine the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of beef broth. Slowly pour into the gravy while whisking.
  4. Add the meatballs to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add more beef broth if the gravy gets too thick.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles per package instructions. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to melt.
  6. Serve meatballs over noodles with gravy, garnished with chopped parsley.

 

Slow Cooker Fiesta Meatballs

I’ve done the meatballs-in-a-slow-cooker thing before. You know, the standard sweet-and-sour appetizer version. Great snacks for the big game. I wanted to do something like that traditional recipe, but with a little difference. A little kick and a lot more flavor. These slow cooker Fiesta meatballs are exactly what I was looking for. Eat them by themselves or on a roll as a sandwich, either way they’re great!
Slow Cooker Fiesta Meatballs
As easy as these slow cooker Fiesta meatballs are to make, I thought they were quite tasty. They were tender and juicy, and a bit spicy. Just like I like them!

Although I did use pre-cooked meatballs, homemade would be great (read: better). Next time (if I have time) I’ll use a batch of my cooked Italian meatballs. If you do use homemade you can cut the cooking time back since the meatballs won’t be frozen.

Slow Cooker Fiesta Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans Ro*tel tomatoes (I used medium with green chiles)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chiles
  • 1 large green bell, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, thawed
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker set on low and cook 4-5 hours.
  2. Serve as appetizers as-is, or on steak buns topped with pepper jack cheese.

Slow Cooker Spicy Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

I have a slow cooker (er, crockpot) for the same reasons everyone else does. I on occasion like a great, easy meal that I can toss into the pot and not have to fuss with. A Dutch oven over low heats works just as well, specially if you need to brown something first. For this spicy spaghetti and meatball soup it doesn’t matter whether you go low-and-slow in the crockpot or Dutch oven, the end result is great. It’s like having Campbell’s SpaghettiOs™ but with much better, richer flavor, and a nice kick. And really big meatballs. Who didn’t want more meatballs in their SpaghettiOs™ when they were a kid? Well, problem solved!
Slow Cooker Spicy Spaghetti and Meatball SoupI used packaged frozen meatballs for this slow cooker spicy spaghetti meatball soup, but our homemade Italian meatballs (made on the stovetop or in the Char-Broil Big Easy) would be great too. Outstanding, even.

You can leave out the red pepper flake, but I think you’ll want to add at least a little. And don’t be shy with the basil either.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try out my homemade SpaghettiOs. They’re fun to make and even more fun to eat.

Slow Cooker Spicy Spaghetti and Meatball Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except the pasta into a slow cooker. Add more basil or red pepper flake as desired.
  2. Cook on high for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Set slow cooker to high and add the pasta. Cook for another 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with more Parmesan cheese as desired.

Fire-Eater Chicken Meatballs

I was looking for something a little different for an appetizer to serve for the Superbowl. I’ve done the beef and pork meatballs, and those are great, but I wanted something new. I thought, let’s try chicken and turkey meatballs instead. But let’s make sure they aren’t bland. These fire-eater chicken meatballs are definitely not bland. They are tender and tasty by themselves, but made even more perfect with a kicked-up dipping sauce that also has a bit of sweetness to it.
Fire-Eater Chicken Meatballs

I am definitely going to use the meatballs in other dishes. I’m already planning to make meatball sandwiches with them. A hoagie bun, a few fire-eater chicken meatballs, a little of the sauce and some melted habanero cheese and I’m happy! Or, serve them over pasta with a spicy Alfredo sauce (made spicy by adding it a bit of the sauce).

I used my fire-eater spice rub to give the meatballs and the sauce a great kick. You can substitute any spicy mix you like. Just don’t be shy with it.

Fire-Eater Chicken Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20 meatballs
 
Ingredients
For the meatballs
  • 2 pound ground chicken (you can also use 1 pound of ground chicken and 1 pound of ground turkey)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Fire-Eater rub
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
For the sauce
  • 1 cup hot sauce (I used Cholula)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Fire-Eater rub
Instructions
For the meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Place the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Form into balls. Depending on how you want to serve them, make smaller or bigger balls. The cook time is for balls that are golf ball-sized so you might want to adjust the cook time depending on how large you make yours.
  5. Place balls onto the baking sheets. Do not crowd them.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they reach 165 F internal temperature.
  7. Brush the meatballs with a bit of the sauce and return to the oven for 2-3 more minutes to 'set' the sauce.
  8. Serve with more sauce on the side for dipping if serving as appetizers.
For the sauce
  1. While the meatballs are cooking, place all of the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer, whisking often, until the sauce thickens.
  3. Remove from heat until ready to use.

 

Sweet and Sour Meatball Sliders

Sweet and sour meatball appetizers have probably been around forever. I’ve certainly made them a time or two. I was looking for a different way to serve them. Something new. Something that makes people not realize they’re eating the usual sweet and sour meatballs.

Sweet and Sour Meatball SlidersThe crispiness (really a great contrast to the meatballs) and coolness of the cucumber really makes these sliders stand out in the crowd. As does the tomato. They’re quite yummy and addicting. Make a bunch for your next family get-together and watch them disappear. They assemble in just minutes, making them perfect for feeding a crowd.

Sweet and Sour Meatball Sliders
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 28 sliders
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (24 ounce) bag pre-cooked meatballs, thawed (I used Johnsonville)
  • 4 cups sweet and sour sauce (I made a batch of our easy sweet and sour sauce)
  • 28 slider rolls
  • 2 large cucumbers, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Skewers
Instructions
  1. Place meatballs and sauce in a large sauce pan or pot and warm over medium heat.
  2. Place a slice (or two if they are small) of cucumber on each slider roll bottom.
  3. Add a meatball with a little of the sauce. Note: I flattened the meatballs just slightly using a wooden spatula so they would look a little larger on the buns. If you're using larger meatballs you can probably skip flattening them.
  4. Add top bun and secure with a skewer and tomato.

 

Hawaiian BBQ Meatball Fried Rice

This is what happens when you’re sitting around, dreaming about food. You start by dreaming about appetizers, like maybe some awesome Hawaiian BBQ meatballs. You know, the old party standby. Yummy.

Then, your thoughts (I’m blaming the pineapple in the meatball sauce) turn to Hawaiian fried rice. Next thing you know, you’ve got Hawaiian BBQ meatball fried rice, and let me tell you, it’s good.

Hawaiian BBQ Meatball Fried RiceI loved the sweetness of the pineapple, the tangy bite from the BBQ sauce, and the bite from the vegetables. This came out really good. Not bad for just sitting around, dreaming!

Hawaiian BBQ Meatball Fried Rice
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
For the Hawaiian meatballs
  • 1 pound cooked meatballs (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 of a 20 ounce can pineapple chunks, with all of the juice
  • 1/2 cup (or more) your favorite BBQ sauce
For the Hawaiian fried rice
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 green onions, white and green parts chopped and separated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups cooked rice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 of a 20 ounce can pineapple chunks
Instructions
For the Hawaiian meatballs
  1. Place all ingredients into a medium pot over medium heat. Stir and heat thoroughly.
For the Hawaiian fried rice
  1. Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add the bell pepper and white parts of the green onions and cook until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Remove mixture to a plate.
  5. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan.
  6. Add rice and warm through, stirring often.
  7. Push rice to the side of the skillet and add the 3 eggs. Cook, scrambling, until done. Stir in to the rice.
  8. Add green parts of the green onions and pineapple chunks and stir.
  9. Add in the red pepper mixture and stir.
  10. Serve rice with meatballs and sauce.

 

Italian Meatballs

This is our go-to Italian meatball recipe. We usually double the ingredients and make a big batch (24 2-ounce meatballs), freezing some for later. They are perfect on sandwiches, over pasta, wrapped in bacon, you name it.

These meatballs really need to set up overnight in the fridge to be the right consistency and flavor. We always make 2 ounce balls, but you can make smaller ones if you like. I wouldn’t make them any bigger, though.Italian Meatballs

The meatballs can be cooked in the oven, on the grill, on a smoker such as the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker, or in a Char-Broil The Big Easy Oil-less Fryer.

Italian Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef (see note)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Note: If you use a high-fat ground beef, such as 80/20, you can use 1 pound of beef and 1 pound pork. The less fat in your beef, the more pork you'll want to use.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, using your hands.
  3. Shape into meatballs (we usually make 2-ounce balls) and place on a wax paper-lined pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Cooking on the stovetop
  1. Add meatballs to your favorite sauce (such as our pizza and pasta sauce) and simmer for 40 minutes.
Cooking in a smoker
  1. Smoke at 225 F for 2-3 hours over a light wood such as apple.
Cooking in an oven
  1. Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes.
Cooking on the Char-Broil Big Easy
  1. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
  2. Note: Meatballs are done when the internal temperature reaches 165 F.