Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
What makes this recipe extra easy (and mess-free) is that there’s no browning the meatballs required. Once you have your meatball mixture ready, simply drop the formed balls into the sauce and let the slow cooker do its thing.
Not only do the turkey meatballs get incredibly flavorful and tender from bubbling away in the slow cooker, but the homemade sauce gets tastier and tastier by the hour. With delicious Italian ingredients like dried oregano, fresh garlic and the essential Parm rind, the low-and-slow simmering sauce becomes seriously sweet, aromatic and flavorful.
You can fully prepare this the night before – sauce, meatballs and all – then stick it in the fridge overnight. Turn the slow cooker on in the morning while you go about your day, and you’ll have some perfectly tender and delicious meatballs awaiting you! Serve them with crusty bread, tossed with pasta, with roasted vegetables or even an arugula salad.
Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
For the Sauce:
- Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to season
- 3 large cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 1 3 inch piece Parmesan cheese rind
For the Meatballs:
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground dark turkey meat
- 1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links casings removed
- For the Sauce: In a 4 quart slow cooker, add the cans of tomato, dried oregano, salt, pepper and garlic cloves. Stir to combine and set aside.
- For the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, egg, and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the ground turkey and sausage meat. Using your fingers, gently mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (24 to 26 meatballs).
- Add the meatballs to the slow cooker with the tomato mixture. If you need to make a second layer of meatballs, gently press on the first layer to submerge and add the next layer on top. It's okay if they aren't fully covered in sauce.
- Nestle the parmesan rind into the sauce. Cover and cook for 5 hours on high. After the 5 hours, remove the cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high to reduce the sauce slightly. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.