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5 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Meatballs and Marinara

Slow cooker meatballs and marinara is a great dinner that requires little prep time.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 418kcal
Author: Jennifer Farley


Onion mixture:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes


  • 4 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • kosher salt


For the onion mixture:

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer half of the onion mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

For the marinara:

  • Add wine to the remaining onion mixture in pot and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then transfer to a slow cooker.

For the meatballs:

  • Add sausage, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, garlic and salt to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add beef and cream to bowl and knead with hands until well combined. Lightly shape mixture into 2-inch round meatballs (about 12 total). Microwave meatballs on large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 4 to 7 minutes. Nestle meatballs into slow cooker, discarding rendered fat. Cover and cook until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 hours on low. Let meatballs and sauce settle for 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface and stir in Parmesan and basil. Season with salt to taste. Serve.


Microwave the meatballs on a large plate or in a casserole dish to contain the rendering fat. This recipe makes enough to sauce 1 1/2 pounds of pasta.
Adapted from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook


Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 576mg | Potassium: 430mg | Vitamin A: 460IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 2.8mg