Slow cooker meatballs

Slow cooker meatballs

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Meatballs taste so good when pan fried to develop that crusty, brown outer layer (caused by the maillard reaction), and the accompanying tomato sauce that’s boosted by fond you deglaze at the end. When you have the time, energy and money to cook down your own tomatoes and make a sauce, fry and deglaze the meatballs and simmer on a heavy-bottomed pan for 60 minutes, you can make really delicious meatballs and tomato sauce for pasta, bread, rice or mashed potato. However, on the days when flavour unfortunately loses out to time, when the kids have sports after school and work bleeds past 5pm and the house is a mess, you have to take shortcuts. 

This shortcut, cooking meatballs and sauce in the slow cooker, can provide both convenience AND flavour, even if it’s a bit different from your usual spaghetti and meatball. This sauce is very meat-forward (with the extended cook time), without that smoky and caramelised flavour from pan drying, but it is still sweet, tangy, meaty and delicious — a treat on nights where the alternative would be vegemite and cheese toasted sandwiches. 

Plus, if you miss that fried meat flavour, you can attempt to add it back with liquid smoke, or by broiling the meatballs before serving. Honestly though, you won’t miss it when enjoying the rich, warming sauce.


  • 1 large can or 2 small cans of chunky tomato
  • 1 small can of crushed tomato
  • 1 can tomato paste 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  •  24 small to medium meatballs


1.  In the slow cooker, combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chopped onion, minced garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, sugar, and bay leaf. Stir to mix well.
2. Add the meatballs to the sauce, ensuring they are fully submerged.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, stirring if possible.
4. Once the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, remove the bay leaf. 

5. Serve the meatballs and sauce over pasta, rice, or with crusty bread for a delicious meal.