Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs

Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

I found myself dreaming of meatloaf the other day.

I told my kids about it (two sounding boards under 5) and they decided I was crazy. Meat that looks like a loaf of bread?! Absolutely not. Mom has lost her mind.

Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

I hastily switched the subject to meatballs and suddenly, the peanut gallery was on board. Meatloaf Meatballs were born.

(It’s all marketing.)

I started with my mom’s tried-and-true Meatloaf recipe and made a few changes.

Instead of oatmeal, I used breadcrumbs. I baked the meatballs in the oven to cook them through (and lose some of the grease) before transferring them to a slow cooker.

Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

The sauce has ketchup and brown sugar just like the usual Meatloaf Sauce. To turn the meatloaf-to-sauce ratio on its head, though, I also added a can of tomato puree (I also tested it with a can of crushed tomatoes; equally joyous).

I also added some onions (instead of in the meatballs themselves; it’s a texture thing) and a splash of lime juice.

Jackpot.

Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

I can’t remember the last time “meat loaf” was so fun to eat.

Save these Meatloaf Meatballs to your “Slow Cooker” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs

Yield: 8 servings

Cook Time: 3 hours 40 min

Total Time: 3 hours 40 min

Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree (see notes)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Set two wire racks on two rimmed baking sheets lined with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup water, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs and mix well (preferably with your hands).
  3. With wet hands, from the mixture into 1 1/4-inch meatballs (you will have about 65 to 75 meatballs).
  4. Arrange the meatballs on the wire racks and bake until browned, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, to a slow cooker add tomato puree, ketchup, remaining 1 cup water, brown sugar, onion, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
  6. Transfer baked meatballs to the slow cooker. Cover and cook until sauce is hot, 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 6 to 8 hours on LOW. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
Notes:
  1. 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes may be substituted for the tomato puree.
  2. To cook meatballs on the stove top, transfer baked meatballs to a large saucepan with sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Feed a crowd with Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs! Make the meatballs ahead (from scratch) and then let them simmer in the sauce in a slow cooker.

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3 comments

  1. They look good enough to eat and I intend doing just that next week.

    Thank you.

  2. What a super idea. We make patties and do basically the same thing your mom does with her recipe only I use tomato my own tomato soup recipe.

    We sear the patties then put them into the soup sauce then oven finish in a covered roaster.  This looks like a much better idea to in order to hold everything together while in the sauce.

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