Meatballs in Marinara


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

If you have a bit of space in your freezer, it almost always makes sense to mix up extra meatballs and freeze them for another meal, as the amount of prep work involved in making double the quantity is only negligibly greater.


  • 1 (28-ounce/794-g) can whole tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (100 g) fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (50 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup (13 g) chopped fresh parsley
  • pounds (1.6 kg) lean ground beef, or 1 pound (455 g) ground turkey and pounds (1.2 kg) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dried spaghetti or other long pasta



Put the tomatoes, carrots, garlic, a good pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper, and 1 cup (240 ml) water in the slow cooker.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, several grindings of pepper, and the parsley and stir well. Add the beef and use your hands or a stiff spatula to combine it with the milk mixture. Shape into 2-inch (5-cm) balls and put half of them on a waxed paper–lined tray in the freezer (when they’re firm, transfer to a freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months; thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then brown and slow-cook as below).

In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the unfrozen meatballs in a single layer (work in batches, if necessary, with a little oil for each batch) and cook, turning with a thin metal spatula, until lightly browned on two or more sides, 4 to 5 minutes total—they don’t have to be completely browned all over or cooked through. Transfer to the cooker, nestling them into the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the meatballs to a bowl. With an immersion blender, puree the sauce. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed, then return the meatballs to the sauce. Serve with the pasta.