Get ready for the easiest, juiciest, softest meatballs! These meatballs are my love note to cooking and actually are one of the things that inspired me to start Chop Happy.
These are my good luck anything is possible slow cooker recipe. Years ago, Tom entered me into a contest for Rachael Ray’s TV show. The contest was to be the author of the “The Great American Cookbook.” This was the recipe that took me all the way to the Top 10. Although I didn’t win, it changed my life forever. It sparked my ambition to share my easy comfort food recipes with other home cooks. The best part is the slow cooker makes dinner for you!
The secret to my meatballs (and my meatloaf ) is ricotta cheese. I used to get grossed out by the milk-soaked bread used in a lot of recipes, so I searched for an alternative. I was so excited when this worked. The other trick is using fresh herbs, not dried ones. With fresh herbs, I find that you get a subtle hint of familiar Italian flavors without overpowering the cheesy beefiness of the meatball.
Originally this recipe was done in an oven, but I wanted to make this even easier and let your personal chef, aka the slow cooker, make this for you.
I love hearing from you! If you have any questions or comments, please write them below the post! I hope you Chop Happy, Eat Happy and Smile Happy!
Slow Cooker Cheesy Meatballs Recipe
- 2 lb ground beef (80/20)
- 1/2 cup ricotta chesse
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic (grated or finely chopped)
- 1 handful parsley (chopped)
- 10 leaves basil (chopped)
- 2 tbs oregano (chopped)
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 bottles your favorite tomato sauce
- 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- First place the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, a pinch of salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, and all the herbs in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Next add the beef, a big pinch salt and pepper, and panko bread crumbs to the bowl.
- Combine gently all the ingredients until mixed well.
- Now roll into meatballs the size of golf balls and set aside.
- Pour all of the first bottle of sauce in the slow cooker. Nestle as many meatballs as you can get next to each other in the sauce.
- Next pour half of the second bottle of sauce over the meatballs.
- Now layer the remaining meatballs on the sauce and then top with the remaining sauce.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours
- When done enjoy!
- The meatballs freeze really well! They last 4-5 months in the freezer.
- If make your own sauce, use 3-4 cups of tomato sauce.
- A fun spin on this recipe would be to stuff meatballs with small chunk of mozzarella.
- To serve add fresh parm, some basil and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
MAKE THIS WITH THE MEATBALLS:
ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? COMMENT BELOW 🙂
With a grateful heart and an amazing tummy – Jay
I’m a little confused…. The recipe says cook on low for 4 hours but in the comments you say 8 hours. Is it 4 or 8 if cooking on low?
Okay so I doubled this recipe in a larger crockpot and I don’t know what to cook it on? Do I keep it on low for 8 hours then? Or do I put it on high now because there are more?
Hi! I you can just follow same 8 hours on low and it should cook great! So excited to see how it turns out!
Do you have directions how to make this in the oven or on stove top? It would need to sit in crockpot for 8 hours if I did that because of my work so trying to find another way.
Hi! Happy Today! Totally have a sheet pan version! Here is the link:https://chophappy.com/recipes/meals/sheet-pan-perfect/sheet-pan-cheesy-meatballs/
Hi! Can you freeze these before or after slow cooking? Thanks
Hi! Absolutely! Just defrost if its before cooking overnight in the fridge. After cooking will last in the fridge probably 3 months! Thank you so much! Happy Cooking!
Sounds AMAZING!!!! Can I brown them just a little before putting them in the crock or … is that a no-no?
Hi Eileen! Absolutely you can brown them! I have a fun way to do this. Put in on a sheet tray and drizzle olive oil on meatballs. Cook top rack 400 degrees 15 minutes. Or the traditional in pan method is great too. Sooo grateful for your comment! Happy Cooking!
I am soooo excited to make these!!! My family LOVES meatballs. Like i make several pounds at a time, but the small ones and it’s a pain. Love how easy this looks and the reviews are tremendous! Holy Happiness Batman!! I’m ready !!
Hi Peggy, Thank you so much for the comment!!! I cant wait for you to make it!!! You made my day!!! Happy Cooking!!!! With Super Gratitude Jay!
Dan G says
I converted this recipe for an Instant Pot pressure cooker. I made a homemade sauce first (in the Instant Pot). Then made the above meatball recipe with one change. I used a 50/50 combo of beef and pork. I cooked in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes with a 10 minute natural pressure release. They were a tad over cooked so I recommend 10 minutes cook time instead.
They were delicious regardless!
That is sooo cool you did this in an insta pot! Sooo grateful you like my recipe!!! Happy Cooking! With Gratitude Jay
Been wanting to make these forever! Finally had them tonight! My Italian mother and grandmothers would absolutely approve! They were delicious, thank you Jay!
Omg you are the best!!!! I am sooo grateful for your comment! You made my day! Thank you for making my recipe and Happy Cooking!
Fabulous meatballs, and I’m a picky Italian! Very tasty, and super easy! I usually avoid making meatballs because I don’t have the time. This solves that problem!
Thank you soooo much!!! I am so grateful! You are the best! With Gratitude, Jay
I don’t have a slow cooker so I baked these, and they came out so delicious. These meatballs taste so good on their own so I can only imagine how great they would taste with spaghetti! They are also great for parties because everyone will be raving about how tender, moist, and flavorful they are! Bon appetit!
Omg thank you so much for making them and the great review! I am super grateful! Happy Eating!!! With Gratitude, Jay
This recipe was superb!!! The meatballs were extremely flavorful! Easy to make! Making it tomorrow for Sunday dinner ?????
Hi Maria!!! Thank you so much for making my meatballs!!! Its one of my faves! You rock!!! Happy Cooking! With Gratitude Jay
Christine Mercado says
How much sauce if using homemade?
Hi Christine!! Thank you for the awesome question! I would say 4 cups would be perfect. I hope you love the recipe! Happy Cooking! With Gratitude Jay
Can you use 93% diet lean ground beef instead of the 80/20?
Hi Hedi! Thank you for the question. You can use 93% just be careful of it drying out with less fat content. Add more ricotta to meatballs to keep it moist! Hope this helps! Happy Cooking and let me know how it turns out. With Gratitude Jay
These were delicious but some reason were slightly dry on the inside. Any tips? I’m new to cooking.
Hi Charli! Thank you so much for the comment! Yes I would add more ricotta next time or make meatballs smaller so more sauce could get thru. That will help keep them moist. Also, a non slow cooker option: you can bake them on a sheet tray for 25 minutes (no sauce) at 350 degrees then drop in tomato sauce on the stove. I hope this helps! Super grateful you made my recipe. Happy Cooking and I hope you love cooking. With Gratitude Jay
Did u all make anything with the meatballs?
Hi Deb! Thank you for the comment! There is allot you can make with this! From adding spaghetti for spaghetti and meatballs. Also add meatballs to a sub roll add more sauce, top with mozzarella cheese, and bake 350 till cheese melts. Finally on its own with parmesan and a little drizzle of olive oil. I hope this helps. Super grateful! With Gratitude Jay!
This was delicious! Thank you so much for an easy meal that the entire family loved. I don’t always enjoy crockpot meals because the flavour is often lost. This was flavourful and the meatballs were tender.
Thank you sooo much Annette!! You made my day! I love that it was easy and flavourful! Happy cooking and Im suoer grateful that you made my recipe!! With Gratitude Jay
Erin McKain says
Tomato sauce like hunts etc not spaghetti sauce
Yes tomato sauce or you can use pre-jarred pasta sauce both work great! I love Rao’s tomato sauce. Happy Cooking! With Gratitude Jay
How much parmesan cheese
Hi Sharon! 4 tbsp of parm cheese. Hope that helps. Happy Cooking!