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Italian-Style Slow Cooker Meatballs

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.


So who is ready for football season to begin?! I know that I have been waiting for this time ever since the season ended last year! Football is kind of a big deal in my family. My parents have always been diehard Steelers’ fans (as am I) when it comes to professional football, and huge Penn State fans when it comes to college football. Lucky for me, Zach is also a diehard Penn State fan. We all get pretty excited when this time of year rolls around. What is the best part about celebrating football season? Well, the delicious snacks that go along with it! Duh!


I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to spruce up a tailgate or a game day party. I plan for days in advance and stress the day of like it’s Thanksgiving. I’m not kidding. This is totally my life.

I thought these Italian-style slow cooker meatballs were the perfect way to celebrate the coming of football season.

They are easy, and there is nothing I appreciate more in this world than an easy recipe when I have to serve a lot of people.

These meatballs are as simple as throwing all of the ingredients in a bowl together, mixing, browning and slow cooking. You don’t even have to make the marinara sauce (unless you want to)!

What’s even better is that these meatballs can be made ahead of time. I like to shape the balls and either refrigerate them (if I’m using them sooner rather than later), or freeze them for a month or two before I know that I will need them.

They are great in a buttered roll, on top of spaghetti, or all by themselves!


Let’s talk about this fabulous beer pairing!

Beer Love:
Beer: Left Hand Brewing’s Chainsaw Ale
Brewed By: Left Hand Brewing
Style: American Strong Ale / Double ESB
Alcohol Content: 9.4%
Description: Left Hand Brewing’s Chainsaw Ale was the absolute perfect pairing for these meatballs. Although a limited release, this ale never seems to disappoint. It has a lot of herbal qualities that I just love when I crave a strong ale. The great thing about this particular beer, is that it is a strong ale kicked up a notch. It goes just a little bit above and beyond your average strong ale, and this I just love. It was the herbal, florally notes combined with hops that had me dying to pair these meatballs with this beer. I love hops and spice, and these meatballs have the perfect kick to them. They compliment each other well and highlight each other’s delicious flavors.


Happy Monday everyone! Here’s the recipe!


Italian-Style Slow Cooker Meatballs



Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage loose
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup asiago cheese finely grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dry marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30 ounces marinara sauce store-bought or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper more or less to taste
  • fresh parsley for garnish


  • In a large bowl, combine the beef, sausage, bread crumbs, asiago cheese, eggs, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Mix the ingredients together with a large spoon or your hands until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Shape the meat into 1 tablespoon-sized balls and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. You may need to do this in batches, depending on how large your pan is. Remove the meatballs from heat.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a slow cooker and lay them out evenly along the bottom. You may layer them on top of one another if your slow cooker is small. Pour the marinara sauce over top and sprinkle on the crushed red pepper. Cover. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6--8 hours on low.
  • Remove the meatballs from heat and serve on buttered rolls or as appetizers. Enjoy!



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I’m the voice, author, creator, and photographer behind Cooking and Beer. We started things about 10 years ago and Cooking and Beer has morphed and grown into what it is today: providing hundreds of recipes to thousands of people.

9 Responses

  1. Steelers?! You’re in Broncos country girl! ;-) I’m loving these Italian meatballs, so perfect for game day parties. I’m totally that person that stresses about the spread for the game weeks ahead of time like it’s Thanksgiving dinner, I clearly have issues. I see a party in our future!

  2. I have to admit, I’m not much of a football fan myself, but I do really love when everyone’s here at home, relaxed in front of the tv. It’s such a rare occurrence and it just feels so cozy. And I’m all about the food! These meatballs are perfect game day food. Love!

  3. These looks fabulous Justine! It’s like spaghetti and meatballs except you don’t have to deal with the annoying spaghetti part. Ha!

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Hello! I'm Justine.

I’m a blogger and web developer from the beautiful state of Oklahoma, where my loving husband, two adorable kids, and two mischievous dogs keep me on my toes 24/7. My idea of heaven includes endless summer days, getting lost in a good book, and whipping up some delicious homemade bread.


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