Slow Cooker Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs, anyone? So why not do one better and try some slow cooker meatballs!
Nothing goes together better than this perfect pair, and luckily there is a healthier way to do them. Conventional options are less than ideal, merely because store-bought noodles are made with refined white flours making them a less favourable choice. The good news is that spaghetti squash topped with slow cooker meatballs is a very tasty alternative.
Now, if you have made spaghetti squash before, you are likely thinking “But Red, it get all mushy and stringy!”. I know, I’ve been there too, but now I’ve got the secret. The trick to getting the most noodle-like spaghetti squash is the way you cut the squash itself. Most people cut their squash length-wise, but the trick is to cut the squash horizontally right down the middle. Doing so, helps to ensure you get longer strands of noodles, and allowing the squash to cool a little before removing the strands ensures your noodles are less watery and mushy.
You can certainly make meatballs and sauce on the stove top, and this recipe will work just as well for it, but doing them in the slow cooker its slightly less work, and helps to ensure the meatballs are nice and tender, and allows the sauce to concentrate in flavours as it simmers all day.
Just call me Nonna; “Mangia, mangia!”
Slow Cooker Meatballs
I made my particular recipe with all grass-fed beef because it’s what I had on hand, but doing a mixture of 50% beef and 50% pork will help to ensure you get a very tender and juicy meatball.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Mains
- Cuisine: Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
- 1lb. grass-fed beef (or beef and pork mixture)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes OR 1 700ml jar passata
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste (optional – helps to thicken)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed chillies
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 4-quart slow cooker or larger
- Prepare the meatballs. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Using your fingers work the mixture together; work only until all the ingredients are evenly combined.
- Roll meat mixture into balls (about golf ball size) and set aside.The mixture should make 18-20 meatballs.
- Prepare the sauce. In the slow cooker, add the diced onion and minced garlic at the bottom, cover with tomatoes, tomato paste, add spices, and stir to combine.
- Add the meatballs to the slow cooker, laying them out evenly throughout the sauce. Don’t worry if they aren’t submerged completely in the sauce, this will happen naturally as they cook.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. The meatballs are ready when they are no longer pink. They should be done around 4 hours, but I typically allow them to simmer for up to 5-6 hours.
- While the meatballs are cooking, prepare your spaghetti squash. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Slice the squash in half. You cut it in half either way, but you get longer strands when you cut it horizontally.
- Using a large spoon, remove the seeds from each side of the squash. You are looking to remove the seeds and excess pulp, but not the flesh of the squash. (Note: The seeds can be kept for roasting for a snack!)
- Place the squash on a roasting tray and transfer to the oven. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Check the squash after 30 minutes to gauge cooking.
- The squash is done cooking when you can pierce a fork thru the skin and the flesh separates easily into spaghetti-like strands. If the noodles are still a bit crunchy, return squash to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
- When the squash is done cooking, use a fork to scrape out the flesh from the skin into strands. I find allowing the squash to cook for 5-10 minutes helps to more easily remove the strands.
- When the meatballs are done cooking, stir the sauce to make sure everything is well combined.
- Serve 3-4 meatballs with a dollop of sauce over strands of spaghetti squash.