Filed Under: Beef, italian, main-dish, slow-cook, Under 20 Mins

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs with Garlic Bread

Try to use extra-lean ground beef in this recipe as this allows you to add the meatballs directly to bubbling sauce without first browning them. If using a lower-percentage lean ground beef it is recommended that you brown meatballs first, to render off some of the fat before adding to the sauce. Cooking time would be the same either way

April 8th, 2012

Recipe and Styling by Paula Bowman

Make ahead: If you are going to be away from the slow cooker for a longer period of time, tomato sauce can be simmered on low heat for 6 hours and turned up to high before adding meatballs. Meatballs can be stored, tightly sealed in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Any extra sauce or meatballs can be frozen for up to two months.

Ground turkey could be substituted for the ground beef and pork this recipe. Cooking times would be the same.
4 (16 meatballs total)
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
  • 2 cans whole plum tomatoes (796 mL cans)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic, divided, plus one whole clove
  • ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for garlic bread
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garlic bread
  • 4 sub buns or ciabatta buns, sliced in half lengthwise
  1. Add tomatoes to slow cooker and crush using hands or the back of a wooden spoon. Add tomato paste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Stir, cover with lid and cook on high until sauce is bubbling and beginning to thicken, about 3 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix ground beef, ground pork, 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese, egg, parsley, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into 16 (¼-cup sized) meatballs. Transfer meatballs to a rimmed sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

  3. Once sauce has cooked to bubbling, submerge meatballs into tomato sauce, cover with lid and cook until cooked through, about 1½ hours more. Discard bay leaf.

  4. When meatballs are cooked through, heat broiler to high. Arrange sliced buns on a rimmed sheet pan, cut side up and brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until crisp and brown on the topside, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cut garlic clove in half and rub cut side of garlic on toasted side of each bun. Divide meatballs with some tomato sauce among four bowls and garnish with remaining ¼-cup Pecorino cheese. Serve garlic bread on the side. Meatballs can also be served on top of garlic toast, sandwich style garnished with Pecorino cheese.

Nutrients Per Serving

812 calories, 47 g fat, 56 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 2,128 mg sodium. Good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and calcium . Excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, iron and zinc.

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs with Garlic Bread
Photography by Carlo Mendoza

3 responses to “Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs with Garlic Bread”

  1. Aaron says:

    How is this a 20 prep time if you have to cook sauce for three hours?

  2. gail says:

    prep time means the time it takes to prepare something, With recipes that means putting a dish together, so their directions, (unless you have difficulties) are correct, prep time 20 min. I hope I was able to clear things up :) good-luck to you

  3. mamarazzi says:

    I love this dish. My whole family (age 5-37) enjoys this.

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