¼teaspoondried garlic powderoptional for more flavor
salt & pepperto taste
To make the sauce
1teaspoonground paprikasmoked or regular both work
½teaspoonsaltor less to taste
Make meatballs: To make the meatballs, mix all ingredients in a large bowl (I use a hand mixer with the dough hook attachements for easy and mess-free work) and shape into small meatballs. I use 1 teaspoon meat mix per meatball for a good appetizer size; make sure to firmly shape the meatballs or they disintegrate in the sauce.
Cook meatballs: Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add some oil. Cook the meatballs until browned on the outside and entirely cooked through. OR bake the meatballs at 425°F for 10-12 minutes.
Slow cook with sauce: Once the meatballs are cooked, mix all sauce ingredients together in a 3-4 quart slow cooker. Add the meatballs and cook on low for 3-4 hours. The meatballs keep in the slow cooker for another 1-2 hours.
Ground beef: I prefer lean ground beef here. If you use a fattier ground beef, please note that a lot of the grease may drain out into your glaze as the meatballs cook. For a leaner version, feel free to use ground turkey!
Barbecue sauce: I prefer a smooth barbecue sauce here (over one with large pieces of things like onion etc.). Pick one you like the flavor of – it’s a pretty big part of the dish 😉
Worcestershire sauce: feel free to leave this one out if you don’t have it on hand. You can also use 1 tablespoon soy sauce as a replacement.
Meatballs: Feel free to use frozen meatballs instead of making your own. See my tips below for using frozen meatballs for this recipe!
To use frozen meatballs
You’ll want fully cooked meatballs for this recipe, or you’ll have to defrost and cook them first. Otherwise they could fall apart in the sauce and you’ll end up with BBQ spaghetti sauce.If you’re using fully cooked, frozen meatballs (either homemade or store-bought), it’s easier to use them frozen. THAT BEING SAID, do so at your own risk because using frozen foods in crockpots isn’t generally recommended. Since the frozen meatballs are fully cooked, I myself do it. I check the internal temperature of the meatballs before serving with a thermometer to make sure it has reached 160°F (see more about safe meat temperatures here).
There’s no need to stir! You should actually never open your crockpot while it’s on (unless the recipe says so), because the heat in there decreases super fast. And stirring the meatballs too much will make them scraggly and will eventually break them up too much – not a nice result!
Use the appropriate crockpot size: If you want to make a larger batch, use a larger crockpot, too. You don’t want to stuff your crockpot to the brim with meatballs and sauce. They will have a harder time heating through and the sauce won’t get as nice and sticky.