Slow Cooker Meatballs

I feel a teensy bit like Dirty Delia Smith when she brought us her How To Cheat series which rocked the foodie world, as I bring you this new recipe. I say only a teensy bit as it’s not that naughty to use a pack of store bought but good quality sausages to make slow cooked meatballs, is it?

Slow Cooker Meatballs-2

Having spent a wee while resting on my laurels, I’ve had some time to reflect on life. The things which make me happy and those which make me sad. It truly is a marvellous thing to have the time to sit on your favourite chair and ponder life, read a book or listen to music whilst drinking tea, coffee, wine, a cocktail or three… Simply marvellous.

However busy I do get, I love my work and it feels less painful to have to go in early or give up an evening here and there than it ever has. I feel truly fortunate to have arrived here and when I just know I will be seduced by the lure of the takeaway if faced with arriving home mentally exhausted if not physically, then having something blipping away in the slow cooker as I walk in the door will help keep my body as healthy as my mind!

This meal took 20 minutes to prepare before work then another 15 minutes to boil some pasta and serve up when I got home. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy sausage meat from your butcher then do get yourself some of that rather than go to the bother of skinning sausages whilst still in your slipper socks and onesie…

It was my lovely friend Jen who gave me the idea for this meal (remember Jen – she’s my partner in crime when it comes to homemade ice cream). So thank you Jen! As I happened to have both a pack of pork and leek sausages and one of minced beef in the freezer, I went with that combo but you absolutely could use minced pork, different sausages, minced lamb even. I wouldn’t use turkey or chicken as they might dry out after a day of cooking but something with a little fat will do nicely.

That plus a portion of my slow cooked, full-bodied tomato sauce which is already jam-packed with tomatoes, onions, carrot and celery so there’s no need to add more and make this recipe unachievable in the no-more-than half an hour I imagine anyone is willing to give up that early in the day! If you haven’t made a batch recently, a jar of passata would make an acceptable if less rich perfectly serviceable alternative.

As I have what I think of as pasta guilt which I define as the guilt over the sheer volume of nutrient-poor refined, white carbs forcing one to compensate with extra veg, I add a can of sweetcorn and a cup of frozen peas to my cooking pasta.  Which makes this a very simple meal which will welcome you home with the aroma of slowly simmering, twice cooked tomato sauce and garlicky meatballs, no muss, no fuss.

Slow Cooker Meatballs
Using some tasty sausages is a great way to inject flavour into your meatballs and cooking them in the slow cooker means you can do this midweek in a rush, and come home to the most tender meatballs ever.
Servings: 4
: 644 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 400 g minced beef or pork or lamb
  • 400 g top quality sausages or sausage meat
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 300-600 ml of tomato sauce* depending on how saucy you like it
  • 3-4 tbsp of grated mozzarella cheese or as much parmesan as you like
  1. In a large bowl, put your minced meat, skinned sausages or sausage meat. Grate over the garlic and sprinkle with the herbs. The sausage will have all the binding agents you need in the form of breadcrumbs but you may want to add some seasoning here.
  2. Squeeze the meat together and mix with your hands until all the ingredients are fully combined. If your slow cooker pan can go on the hob, heat it with the olive oil and toss in 1 inch diameter meatballs as you make them to brown them lightly. If not, do this in a large sauce pan. Don’t make them too small or they may fall apart.
  3. Pour over your tomato sauce and shake the pan to mix it in – stirring may break them up so a wiggle will do you. I quite like my meatballs not swimming in sauce so add the lower amount of sauce but you may like to add a bit more – remember, there will be little evaporation in the slow cooker and you aren’t trying to make meatball soup so be judicious!
  4. Pop the lid on and transfer to your slow cooker base (or pour into the pan from your saucepan if your crock isn’t hob safe) and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Sprinkle with the cheese as you put the pasta on to serve with. I add a cup of sweetcorn and a cup of garden peas to my pasta but please do as you prefer. A side salad and some lovely bread would make an excellent alternative serving suggestion or microwave a baking potato if you can’t bare to deal with anything more complicated at the end of another long hard day at work.
Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 644 Calories from Fat 468
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 52g 80%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Cholesterol 151mg 50%
Sodium 1166mg 49%
Potassium 766mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 3g
Protein 35g 70%
Vitamin A 9.5%
Vitamin C 7.8%
Calcium 10.1%
Iron 22.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. Jen Collins 07/10/2014 at 09:35 - Reply

    Yaaay, I see my name :-). This is my go to recipe for a quick and easy dinner. If I use chicken or turkey I add some cheese (usually parmesan) to the mix to stop them drying out.

    • Jo Blogs 07/10/2014 at 12:31 - Reply

      Fan at last Jen ;). I can’t wait to try other combos of meats and flavourings. Definitely a recipe I see myself repeating regularly :)

  2. Debbie Spivey 07/10/2014 at 12:40 - Reply

    Yum! Yum! Yum! The combination of meats has to be awesome!

    • Jo Blogs 07/10/2014 at 12:42 - Reply

      I do like beef and pork together – or pork and lamb :)

      • Debbie Spivey 07/10/2014 at 12:44 - Reply

        I’ve never used lamb, but I would love to. I have a local butcher that has it fresh, just not always available. Thanks for sharing!

        • Jo Blogs 07/10/2014 at 12:45 - Reply

          It’s a pleasure – enjoy your meatballs :)

  3. NickkiT 10/10/2014 at 11:56 - Reply

    Well these meatballs are simmering away in my slow cooker as we speak Jodie :-) I’ve stuffed some with cheddar cheese – no idea how they will turn out but my boys love cheese stuffed meatballs so I thought I’d give it a go! My slow cooker will be getting a lot of use from next week – I’m starting my new job at the pharmacy and I’m going from working 12 hours a week to 35! So I’m on the lookout for lots of make ahead meal ideas x

    • Jo Blogs 11/10/2014 at 07:45 - Reply

      I hope you liked them Nikki – funnily enough I had some for my lunch yesterday too :). And congratulations once again on the new job xxx

  4. Lesley Mclellan 31/03/2016 at 21:36 - Reply

    Made these today! Not sure how to post the pic I took of the family devouring them but they were fab!! A definite hit! Loving your recipes Jo xx

    • Just Jo 31/03/2016 at 22:17 - Reply

      Aw you can share it on any of my social media accounts Lesley but I don’t think you can add a pic to the blog. Sounds like this one went down really well!

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