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.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs on a white plate with a side of mashed potatoes and roasted sliced cucumbers.

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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.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs in a slow cooker being stirred with a wooden spoon.

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.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs on a white plate with a side of mashed potatoes and roasted sliced cucumbers.

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

 

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.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs Recipe

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.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 606

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 purée (see notes)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Set two wire racks on two rimmed baking sheets lined with foil.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup water, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs and mix well (preferably with your hands).
  • With wet hands, from the mixture into 1 1/4-inch meatballs (you will have about 65 to 75 meatballs).
  • Arrange the meatballs on the wire racks and bake until browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, to a slow cooker add tomato puree, ketchup, remaining 1 cup water, brown sugar, onion, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
  • 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 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes may be substituted for the tomato puree.
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.

Nutrition

Calories: 606kcal
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

  1. 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.5 stars