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Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high

Spaghetti and meatballs is one of those recipes I have permanently stored in my head. It's stuck there not only because I've made it so many times, but I've spent years trying to figure out the perfect meatball. It all started in college when a group of friends and I would get together once a month and have dinner. Each of us would bring something, and one month it was my turn to bring the main dish. I've always loved meatballs and thought there was nothing to it. So, I called my mom (forgetting she didn't cook and probably never made a meatball in her life) for the recipe. This was my first mistake. Her instructions seemed simple enough: throw meat in a bowl, mix with seasonings, form into balls and fry in a pan. Ten minutes later I had practically set my apartment on fire and all I had to show were black, scorched balls of meat that were raw on the inside. With just minutes to get to the party I ran to the local restaurant/bar and begged for every meatball they had. Needless to say, they were a hit and everyone was impressed, but I was too embarrassed to tell them I didn't make a single one. Unfortunately for me, my meatballs were such a hit that it was requested at every one of our dinners, and by the end of my college career I was broke. It wasn't a total loss because I met my husband, who was a musician that frequently played at the restaurant that supplied me with my meatballs.

Years later, I am proud to say I figured out how to make a great meatball, but it wasn't until recently that I realized they are even better and easier when cooked in a slow cooker. Here's my version of a leaner meatball made with ground turkey, herbs, and parmesan cheese - all made in a slow cooker. Serve over spaghetti, with vegetables, or on a bun for a complete meal.

by Meredith Steele

What you'll need

  • 3 cups (24-ounce jar) marinara sauce
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs

Helpful Tip:

To make a complete healthy meal, serve over cooked vegetables or whole-wheat spaghetti.


Makes 8 large meatballs.

How to make it

  1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking oil. Pour 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine turkey, egg, cheese, parsley, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Add breadcrumbs and mix with your hands until well combined. Form into balls about the size of a tangerine (around 2 inches in diameter). Place meatballs in the slow cooker and pour the remaining marinara sauce over the meatballs. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Serve.