These Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Meatballs smothered in marinara sauce can be served as a party appetizer right out of the Crock Pot, alongside your favorite pasta dish, or in sliders with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
What’s your go-to party appetizer?
Meatballs are my favorite appetizer at parties and travel well to take to a potluck! This time, I wanted to mix up a classic meatball recipe with a spicy twist, so these Italian Sausage Meatballs are slow cooked in marinara sauce. They’re delicious by themselves, sprinkled with parmesan, or served as a slider on a Hawaiian roll! Truly, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to enjoy these Italian sausage meatballs. By cooking them in your slow cooker, they cook perfectly without drying out.
I love using my small Crock Pot for these appetizers. I can set the heat to low and it will keep the meatballs warm throughout the party so everyone can graze.
Tips for cooking for a crowd:
I make a lot of soups and pastas with spicy Italian sausage, so meatballs seemed like a natural addition to my recipe book. You may also want to try my chicken meatballs recipe if you’re looking for something a little leaner! For this recipe, I used a ground mild Italian sausage and added chili flakes to the sauce for a little bit of heat. When cooking for a crowd, I tend to play it safe and avoid making anything too spicy. After all, everyone’s palette is different.
The perfect Crock Pot party appetizer or meal!
With the slow cooker, you can take the whole pot with you to plug in at the event and keep the Italian sausage meatballs warm. Then you can add rolls and shredded parmesan to the table if you want to give guests the option to make sliders, turning this Crock Pot party appetizer into more of a meal. Who knew meatballs were so versatile?! Even better, they make excellent leftovers!
- 1 lb mild or spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1/2 cup Panko-style breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 3 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 lb can tomato sauce
- 2 tsp chili flakes, optional
- Cover a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine sausage, breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg, garlic, onion powder 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well, either with your hands or a fork.
- Use your hands or a cookie scoop to form evenly-sized meatballs and set on the lined baking sheet. When all of the meatballs are formed, set aside.
- Mix together the tomato sauce, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, chili flakes (optional), and salt and pepper in the slow cooker.
- Add about 1 tbsp olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add several meatballs to the pan at a time to sear. Turn after about 10 seconds until seared around on the outside of the meatballs.
- Move seared meatballs to the slow cooker and sear more meatballs. Once all are cooked, stir the meatballs and tomato sauce so that meatballs are submerged.
- Cook on high heat for about 2 hours or low heat for 3-4 hours. Pork meatballs are finished when they reach an internal temperature of 150ºF.
Home Chef Tip: Eat alone or use the meatballs to make sliders! Serve on Hawaiian rolls with a sprinkle of parmesan.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
We hope you enjoy these Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Meatballs from SoFabFood Home Chef, Holly from Club Crafted. If you love this simple recipe, you can find more like it by visiting our Slow Cooker Section. For daily recipe inspiration, like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!