Sunday, August 18, 2019

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Tender cheesy meatballs are slow cooked in a flavorful sauce made with ingredients from your pantry. Whip it up and toss it in the crockpot to cook, the meatballs cook right in the sauce! How much easier could it be? This meal just about cooks itself.

Did you know that I bought my first crockpot when I moved out on my own? I purchased my first one so I could make prepare dried beans.

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

My mom never used a slow cooker so I guess I never really 'got it' until I had one of my own.

Well that was 8 slow cookers ago. Now I have them in every size from a warmer to a 6 quart.

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

I use them all the time, wings, beans, shredded meat sandwiches, make ahead chicken, candy, sides, and so much more.

It is not uncommon to catch 4 of them on my counter on Sunday making food for the week or a meal for a friend.
Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Not to mention they are the ultimate food warmer for parties.

What on earth took me so long? I have no clue, but now I am in love.

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

I love my slow cooker and am so excited to share my crockpot Italian meatballs and marinara sauce.

The perfect dinner. Just boil some pasta when you get home and voilà dinner is ready 10 minutes later!

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Helpful Tips to make Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara :

  • Mix until just combined. Overmixing will create a tough meatball and that isn't good for anyone.
  • Use a scoop to make uniform-size meatballs; this way you handle them less and they will cook evenly.
  • If you lightly coat your hands with olive oil before rolling the meatballs, they will form better and crack less.
  • Make a few batches of meatballs ahead and freeze them for easy dinners. To freeze, allow meatballs to come to room temperature and place in a freezer bag. I like to flash freeze them on a cookie sheet and then transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer bag. It makes it easier to grab as many meatballs as I need.

What you will need to make Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara :

  • Slow Cooker-
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon scoopperfect for meatballs, cookies, ice cream for portioning out leftovers! I have had this set for years and use them all the time.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Check out more of our favorite ground beef crockpot recipes: 

Copycat Maid-Rite
Sriracha Honey Slow Cooker Meatballs
Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Yield: 36 (1 tablespoon) meatballs

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Tender cheesy meatballs are slow cooked in a flavorful sauce made with ingredients from your pantry. There is a time and a place for fresh tomatoes and herbs and this simple recipe isn't it. Whip it up and toss it in the crockpot to cook, the meatballs cook right in the sauce! How much easier could it be? This meal just about cooks itself.
prep time: 25 minscook time: 4 hourtotal time: 4 hours and 25 mins


  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • meatballs, uncooked (recipe to follow)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 88%)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup marinara
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order they are listed, except meatballs and bay leaves.  Process until your sauce is the consistency you prefer. Cover bottom of crockpot with sauce crockpot. Reserve remaining sauce to pour on top of meatballs.
  2. Gently place 1 layer of meatballs in crockpot. Pour sauce over top, until covered. Continue adding meatballs until they are all in the slow cooker.  You may have to layer them, just be sure the bottom layer is thoroughly coated in sauce before you add the next layer. Pour remaining sauce over top. Add bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well, do not over mix or you will have tough meatballs.
  2. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, portion out meat and place on a plate.  After all meatballs have been scooped onto plate, roll into balls.


  1. If you lightly oil your hands the meatballs will form better and crack less.
  2. You can prepare meatballs the night before and refrigerate to cut down on prep time.


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Originally published 3/2/15


  1. These look delicious! My kids love meatball subs, so I really need to start making something like this.

  2. This is a great recipe. Very tasty, quick and easy to put together. I accidently bought Italian stewed tomatoes instead of the diced tomatoes the first I made and it was delicious so that is what I always use. I usually make a double batch of the marinara and the meatballs. I don't cook my meatballs in the sauce. I make them up and bake off in the oven. Then add to the cooked sauce just to warm. Anyway you make it this recipe is good.

  3. I think 3 total tblspns of Italian seasoning in this recipe is a little heavy. I believe 3 tspns total would be fine. Also, I browned my meatballs before putting them in the crock pot. Other than that a great recipe.

  4. I am in love with your cooking pages. They call mostly for things you already have and not a20 ingredient recipe. I love Crock Pot cooking also. I have three of them. Please keep them coming!

  5. Love everything made as simple as possible. Thank you for this one ....

  6. How long can they last in freezer? I am guessing it typically isn’t a problem but just checking.


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