Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

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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.

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara in crockpot

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 full of Italian meatballs

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.

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

Crockpot Italian Meatballs

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.

close up of crockpot Italian meatballs -wide

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.

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I love my slow cooker and am so excited to share my crockpot Italian meatballs and marinara sauce. I also have a recipe for smoked meatballs and they are amazing!

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

Helpful Tips:

  • 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:

  • 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.

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Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

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Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Crockpot Italian Meatballs and Marinara

Donna Elick
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.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Slow Cooker
Servings 36 1 tablespoon Meatballs



  • 30 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, 2 14.5 ounce cans
  • 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



  • 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.
  • 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.


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well, do not over mix or you will have tough meatballs.
  • Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, portion out meat and place on a plate. After all meatballs have been scooped onto plate, roll into balls.

Donna’s Notes

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


Serving: 1 | Calories: 36cal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 221mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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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. 5 stars
    Meatballs in the crockpot are the absolute best. They are so good on sub rolls sprinkled with mozzarella! The perfect dinner!

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