Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs in Sauce

Serves: 4-6 Ready in: 5 1/2 - 7 1/2 hours

Meatballs are a family favourite so it’s not a bad idea to make a double batch of the meatballs and freeze half, then all you need to do is assemble the sauce, add the balls, turn the cooker on and leave it to do its thing.


For the meatballs

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – roughly 2 ½ slices bread made into crumbs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

For the sauce

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 600 -700 ml jar of passata
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs,
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaped tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca flour – see tips
Cooked pasta, rice or polenta to serve


    Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl or processor. Using wet hands form into balls. Refrigerate until needed. You can brown the meatballs in a frying pan at this point if you wish but it is not essential.

    Combine all the sauce ingredients except the arrowroot or tapioca flour. Whisk until combined then whisk in the arrowroot or tapioca flour. Season well with salt and pepper.

    Spoon half the sauce into the slow cooker. Place the meatballs onto the sauce then cover with remaining sauce. 

    Cook on High for 5 hours or Low for 7 hours or in accordance with timings recommended by your appliance manufacturer.


    Arrowroot and Tapioca flour are effective thickeners, both have the advantage of thickening a mixture gradually as it cooks whereas cornflour must be added at the end of cooking or will not maintain its integrity, breaking down during prolonged cooking. Both arrowroot and tapioca flour are gluten free, given a choice between the 2 arrowroot stands up better if you intend to freeze leftovers and also thickens fruit sauces without flavouring or spoiling the jewel-like colour.

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