Meatballs are quite possibly my favorite food. They’re at least one of my top 5, and when someone asks me they are usually the first food to come to mind. My mom has always made meatballs in the slow cooker, so that’s almost always the only way I make them as well. The meatballs stay really moist and tender and the sauce soaks up a lot of the meaty flavor when cooking all day. This is a great recipe to prep in the morning and come home to after work, or to cook overnight and then reheat for dinner. The meatballs are delicious served over pasta, on rolls as meatball subs/sandwiches or just on their own as a meaty, saucy main course.
I decided to make my own marinara to slow cook the meatballs in and I’m so excited about how delicious it turned out. I’ve been getting more confident in creating my own sauces and just taste testing until they seem right. This one is tangy and tomato-y and takes on a rich, meaty flavor from the meatballs. Usually when I make these meatballs I just dump some store bought sauce in with them (which is why I hadn’t blogged about them up until now), but this sauce was so easy to throw together and so delicious I will definitely make this one from now on. I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and put together a sauce so that I could share these with you – they’re my favorite!
Slow Cooker Meatballs & Marinara
Source: meatballs slightly adapted from my mom, sauce is an Emily Bites Original
½ cup plain bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind that comes in the green plastic shaker)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup skim milk
1 lb 95% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
1.In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, a tablespoon of the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, eggs and milk and stir until well combined. Add the ground beef mix together with a spoon or your hands until thoroughly combined. Separate the meat mixture into 16 even pieces and roll each into a ball.
2.Mist a large pot (or the pot/insert of your slow cooker if it is made for stove top use – mine is but you should check first!) with cooking spray and bring over medium heat. Place the prepared meatballs in the pot and brown the outsides (about 2 minutes on each side). Do not cook through. When the outsides are browned transfer the meatballs to your slow cooker.
3.In a medium skillet, bring the teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and a bit golden. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant. Transfer the onion & garlic to a large mixing bowl.
4.Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, salt, sugar and the bay leaf to the onions and garlic in the bowl. Stir to combine and then pour over the meatballs in your slow cooker. Stir to cover/coat the meatballs. Cook meatballs on low for around 8 hours. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Yields 8 (2 meatballs and a little over 1/3 cup extra sauce) servings. WW P+: 5 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per serving from myfitnesspal.com: 219 calories, 22 g carbs, 6 g fat, 19 g protein, 5 g fiber