Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Meatballs

Tis the season for slow cooker recipes! I have always been a big fan of tossing some fresh and wholesome ingredients in the crock pot and letting it go for a few hours for a super simple meal. I especially love when I get home and my house smells so good and the food tastes delicious without much effort.

Who else is with me?!

So, I plan to share slow cooker recipes or slow cooker versions of recipes from now until spring so we all have endless options for easy meals that taste great. Today’s special: Italian Chicken Meatballs that are swimming in tomato sauce, greens and melty cheese.

The meatballs take just a few minutes to mix and roll and they have chicken (you could also use a mix of turkey, beef and/or pork), garlic, onion, Italian herbs, Dijon (for flavor and moisture) and Parmesan. The marinara can be store-bought, or you can make your own with olive oil, onion, garlic, Italian herbs and crushed tomatoes. And I stir in leafy greens like spinach or kale for a boost of nourishment. Plus, there’s cheese.

These meatballs also make the perfect dish-to-pass for any work or family potlucks, so add them to the list for the next gathering!

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Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Meatballs

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 2-3 hrs+
  • Total Time: 26 minute
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker


Super easy semi-homemade slow cooker chicken meatballs.


  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (24 oz.) jars tomato basil marinara
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves or chopped kale
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, Dijon, onion powder, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Form mixture into 2-inch balls and place in the bowl of a crock pot.
  2. Add the marinara and spinach or kale into the crock pot and gently stir to combine. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours. Serve with fresh basil.


Cooking Tips: To make the meatballs in the oven, bake on a greased wire rack at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Serve with marinara. Sometimes store-bought marinara can lack flavor, so I suggest amping it up by adding fresh and/or dried herbs.

Serve with: Roasted vegetables.


  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 311
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 544mg
  • Fat: 19g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 15g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Cholesterol: 134mg

Keywords: slow cooker, crock pot, meatballs, meatball, chicken, marinara


  1. Rachel J on October 22, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    This looks so good!

    • Julie Andrews on October 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks Rachel! I hope you have a chance to give it a try!

  2. Cynthia W on November 6, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    This looks and sounds yummy 🙂

    • Julie Andrews on November 7, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      I hope you give them a try, Cynthia!

  3. Sonia P on November 19, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for the recipe! If I use gluten free uncooked oatmeal instead of the bread crumbs, would that make this gluten free?

    • Julie Andrews on November 19, 2019 at 9:48 am

      You’re welcome, Sonia! As long as the other ingredients you choose are GF, yes! Other than the breadcrumbs, the ingredients in the meatballs are naturally GF, but take a look at any packaged products like the marinara and Dijon just to be sure.

    • Hope on November 19, 2019 at 2:00 pm

      Almond meal or flour makes a fine GF AND lower carb substitute in this type of recipe.

      • Julie Andrews on November 19, 2019 at 3:45 pm

        Great idea, Hope!

  4. Jazmin R on November 19, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    What are the instant pot cooking instructions?

    • Julie Andrews on November 19, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Jazmin – I haven’t tried this one in the Instant Pot yet. When I do, I’ll update the recipe instructions! Have you ever made meatballs in the IP before?

  5. Kiva J on November 20, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Julie Andrews on November 20, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      You’re welcome! Enjoy, Kiva.

  6. Molly on November 20, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Do you have a substitute instead of breadcrumbs to make it paleo?

    • Julie Andrews on November 20, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Sure! You could use almond flour or ground flaxseeds, 1:1 ratio.

  7. Lisa B on November 20, 2019 at 10:35 am

    LOVE the idea of sharing some slow cooker recipes Julie! My slow cooker gets a lot of use this time of year…will definitely give this meatball recipe a try – they look delicious.

    • Julie Andrews on November 20, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      I’m also a big fan of the slow cooker! I’ll be sharing more recipes throughout the chilly months. 🙂

  8. Irene on November 20, 2019 at 11:26 am

    the meatballs look really good I like the greens in it for more nutrition. I have a farm so all my beef is lean and no chemicals.

    • Julie Andrews on November 20, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      That’s awesome, Irene! You could definitely use lean ground beef in this recipe. And I’m always looking for ways to get some greens in. 🙂

  9. Michael Machell on November 21, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I tried out this recipe yesterday using the slow cook (4-5 hours on low to medium heat) approach. I did not have fresh spinach, so I substituted a package of frozen spinach instead. The meal was easy to prepare and was delicious. I may make it again as we have family visiting next week for the holidays. The easy preparation for a significant amount of very delicious and healthy food makes it a winner! Thanks.

    • Julie Andrews on November 21, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      That’s fantastic feedback, Michael! I’m really happy you enjoyed it, and got leftovers out of it, too!

  10. Stephen Weatherford on November 22, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Wow! These look really good. I can’t cook, but I might be able to make these……..

    • Julie Andrews on November 24, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      You can definitely make these! They’re delicious. 🙂

  11. Karen on November 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Looks yummy, will you come cook for me? LOL

    • Julie Andrews on November 24, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      Ha! I’d love to, Karen!

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