Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (2024)

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe

This crockpot spaghetti and meatballs recipe is a quicker and easier version of my Nana's spaghetti sauce. Nana cooked hers for 8 hours on the stovetop and she just called it "sauce". I'm ⅜th Italian, so I grew up on lots and lots of spaghetti sauce. This is sort of like my Nana's recipe. Nana/Grandma would put pork chops in the sauce and make ground beef meatballs.

Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (1)

This is a picture of my Nana (Italian for Grandma). She was born in 1909 in South Boston, MA. Her dad immigrated from Sicily around 1902 and was part of the Mafia. I'm not kidding. He was involved with it until he was mysteriously hit by a car and died, but at least that wasn't until later in his life. He married a woman from Ireland and had several children.

Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (2)

Their youngest was my Nana. Nana's mom died when my Nana was only 10 years old. To make things worse, besides just losing her mom at a young age, her dad re-married and Nana's stepmother didn't want anything to do with her. So my Nana went to go live with her Irish aunt. Needless to say, her Sicilian history was pretty much lost to her.

But then my Nana married my Grandpa. My grandpa was full Italian and his mother was the quintessential Italian Matriarch. She ran the family, including telling her children what they would study in school, what they would do in the family business and what clothes they could buy.

The family-owned a shop in Boston and she told my Grandpa he needed to go to pharmacy school so they could turn the shop into a pharmacy. They did that and that's actually where he met my Nana. My Nana's mother-in-law only paid them a little money, but then she did things like plan family vacations and bought clothes for them.

Personally, I would hate that and feel like she was controlling my life. But my Nana liked it. She finally had a mother of sorts. One of the best things that came out of their relationship was that she taught my Nanahow to cook the real Italian way.

Our family has like 30 recipes passed down from my Nana and every one of them is Italian. It wasn't until later that I learned how my Nana learned to cook Italian. It's also where my Nana got her nickname. My Nana liked her mother-in-law so much and wanted her grandchildren to call her Nana too.

Well, our family's all-time favorite recipe is Nana's spaghetti sauce. Here's the thing though, it takes 8 hours to cook after it's made. You get tons of fresh tomatoes, peel them, etc. and then make meatballs, onions, garlic, etc. and put that in the pot. Then you brown pork chops and put them in.

The recipe is very good but it's a whole page. It's so much work that we usually make a huge batch and then freeze the sauce. We use the sauce for a lot of different recipes including spaghetti, mackies which is really rigatoni, lasagna, and pizza. It's one of our favorite fall traditions.

As a kid, I hated the pork chops in the sauce because they always got really overcooked and disgusting. So after a while, I came up with the idea to mix ground pork or Italian sausage and ground beef for the meatballs and make them huge, so it doesn't take forever forming little tiny meatballs. You can read the technique I use with the measuring cup below. I love how you don't have to brown them before you put them in the crockpot!

When I was growing up, my mom would make HUGE pots of spaghetti sauce and freeze them. She would put it in quart jars or Ziploc freezer bags or disposable containers that she actually re-used many times. Then when we had a busy night, all she had to do was heat them up and cook some noodles and it tasted just as good as the fresh and looked like she slaved away all day on the stove.

She really made a ton of this in the fall when we had tomatoes coming out of our ears in the garden. She would make tons and tons of sauce and fill up the downstairs freezer and we had spaghetti sauce for months after.

Can You Freeze This?

This is a family-favorite to use with my meal-prep freezer method. I just start it in the morning either with meatballs like the recipe says or sometimes I just do a mix of ground meats like beef, turkey and Italian sausage and cook it frozen or in a big hunk in the slow cooker until it is cooked enough I can scoop out the fat. Then I crumble it right there and add the sauce and leave it alone for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I do just the cooking the hamburger part first and freeze just that in individual containers to use later in any recipe or sometimes I will do that the night before and have it in the fridge in my crock pot ready to pull out in the morning and get started cooking right away.

Heck, sometimes I don't start cooking the sauce until my children come home from school and I stop working. When I do that it is usually done about my bedtime and I put a little in the fridge for the next day and I freeze the rest in individual freezer containers to use whenever we want spaghetti. It's such a time saver!

To get more ideas of other recipes I freeze this way and how life-changing it can be, sign up for my email list at the bottom of this post.

Tips and Tricks

Below is the recipe for either the Slow Cooker or the stovetop. Both are delicious, although the slower cooker version is more tender and flavorful. But, it requires planning ahead.

The instructions don't say to brown the meatballs before placing them in the sauce. But you can if you want; Nana did. When you brown them, you get delicious bits at the bottom of the pan, but it can make them tough and it makes them not soak up as much sauce, but they are more flavorful and don't break apart as easily when you stir them.

This is a wonderful dish for a large number of people because it's easy to prepare ahead of time and simmer away while you are cleaning and getting ready for the party. Most diets can eat this sauce, except people who can't have nightshades and you can do different options for the noodles, like zoodles, gluten-free pasta or just plain, cheap noodles for those of you who caneat those.

You could totally use ground turkey in place of one or both the meats. I love ground turkey in spaghetti sauce. It has a light flavor and goes really well with the tomatoes.

Someday I'll make another recipe that is my Nana's exact recipe. Would you like that? I'd like to know if there would be enough demand for that. Until then, this is a good spaghetti sauce recipe that's made in the crock pot that's sort of like Nana's but way easier.

Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (3)



Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (4)

Homemade crockpot spaghetti and meatballs recipe

★★★★★5 from 1 review

  • Author: Rebecca Baron
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 240 minutes
  • Total Time: 260 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian
Print Recipe

Save Recipe


I love how flavorful this is! And easy too! And you can make it either on the stovetop or the crock pot.




  • 4 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion (diced)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 28 ounce cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 tsp Real Salt *
  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper


  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Ground Pork
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ Cup Italian Seasoned Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
  • ½ Cup Shredded Fresh Parmesan
  • 2 tsp Real Salt *
  • 3 Tbl Italian Seasoning



  1. Place the olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a slow cooker and whisk together until combined. Turn heat on to high.
  2. Make the meatballs. Place the ground beef, ground pork, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and Italian Seasoning in a large mixing bowl and mix together using your hands or a mixing spoon until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Use a ¼ cup measure to press the meat mixture into. Tap the measure on your work surface to remove meat. Use your hands to roll the ¼ cup of meat into a large ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all of it is formed into balls. Place the meatballs carefully in the crockpot, covering with sauce.
  4. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until meatballs are fully cooked through and sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle meatballs with parsley before serving.


  1. Place the olive oil in a large stockpot and turn the heat on to medium-high. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and water, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium.
  2. Make the meatballs. Place the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and oregano in a large mixing bowl and mix together using your hands or a mixing spoon until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Use a ¼ cup measure to press the meat mixture into. Tap the measure on your work surface to remove meat. Use your hands to roll the ¼ cup of meat into a large ball. Repeat with remaining mixture until all of it is formed into balls. Place the meatballs carefully in the tomato sauce, making sure that the meatballs are fully submerged in sauce.
  4. Cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes on medium heat, until meatballs are fully cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle sauce with fresh parsley before serving.

Keywords: flavorful, Italian, Authentic, Versatile

Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (5)

You may also like...

  • The Best Healthy Crockpot Recipes from My Blog
  • Paleo Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe with Chimichurri Sauce
  • Slow Cooker Gluten-Free Molten Lava Cake Recipe
  • Crock Pot Burrito Bowl Recipe with Chili-Spice
  • Clean Eating Crock Pot Recipes Index
  • The Best Ever Healthy Crockpot Chicken Fajitas Recipe
  • Healthy, Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe Without Ketchup
Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe {Video} - My Natural Family (2024)


How did spaghetti and meatballs change upon their arrival in the US? ›

Meat became more of a staple and families put meatballs on the table more often. Then came the sauce. Italian-American cooks favored tomato sauce or marinara, because canned tomatoes were becoming a readily available commodity at grocery stores, and marinara sauce was familiar to southern Italians…

Why do spaghetti and meatballs go together? ›

Italian Immigrants

Spaghetti was one of the only Italian ingredients available in the U.S. at the time, so people began eating the pasta and meatballs together. The Italian-American meal became more prominent over time, and today, it is one of the most well-loved dishes in the country.

What was the big appeal of spaghetti and meatballs for Americans? ›

Bringing Spaghetti and Meatballs to America

They desired diets rich in meat, after discovering that meat in America was relatively inexpensive. They made meatballs using affordable ground beef and indulged in larger portion sizes than they had had back home.

Is it meatballs and spaghetti or spaghetti and meatballs? ›

Spaghetti and meatballs is an Italian-American dish consisting of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs. Originally inspired by similar dishes from southern Italy, the modern version of spaghetti and meatballs was developed by Italian immigrants in the USA.

What country invented spaghetti and meatballs? ›

Spaghetti and meatballs have origins in Italian cuisine rather than being an original American dish. The dish likely evolved from Italian immigrants who brought their culinary traditions to the United States.

Who was the first person to bring pasta to America? ›

Early Spanish settlers were among the first to bring pasta to America. Believe it or not, it was Thomas Jefferson that helped give pasta an initial push into popularity. During an extended stay in Paris from 1784-1789, Jefferson ate what he called macaroni… back then, the word could have referred to any shape of pasta.

What is the fancy name for spaghetti and meatballs? ›

Spaghetti and Meatballs All'Amatriciana.

Why is there no spaghetti and meatballs in Italy? ›

Do people in Italy actually eat spaghetti and meatballs or is it just American Italians? Essentially because meatballs -being meat to cut- are considered a second course, eventually served with vegetables, while spaghetti, being fork-only and carbs based, are considered a first course.

Which state eats the most spaghetti? ›

The United States of Pasta Lovers

New York- It's no surprise that New York leads the nation in pasta lovers per capita - after all, it's home to some of the best Italian restaurants in the world like Carmine's on Times Square or nearby Trattoria Trecolori.

Is spaghetti and meatballs junk food? ›

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thanks to the iron and protein from the beef, lycopene from the tomato sauce and energy-producing carbs from the pasta, this dish a healthy trifecta. If you stick to modest portions and lean beef, you can enjoy its benefits without overdoing it.

Who invented lasagna? ›

While this dish was created in Greece it was not until the Romans conquered the region around 146 BC that the dish became known. The Romans were famous for embracing local customs, cultures, and foods into their society so it wasn't long before lasagna became commonplace in their cuisine.

What do Italians call spaghetti? ›

Not when speaking Italian: spaghetti is an italian word, and it is the plural of spaghetto. No need to call them elsewhere. “Spagett” (double t at end) is the Milanese (and Lombard) translation of “Spaghetti”. So they do if an when they speak those dialects.

How do Italians serve spaghetti and meatballs? ›

"Al forno" simply means "baked in an oven," and it's the most customary way you'll find meatballs and pasta in the same dish together in Italy. While spaghetti and meatballs may not be so common, a casserole-style dish of pasta and meatballs certainly is - think baked ziti!

How has spaghetti changed over time? ›

Originally, spaghetti was notably long, but shorter lengths gained in popularity during the latter half of the 20th century and now it is most commonly available in 25–30 cm (10–12 in) lengths. A variety of pasta dishes are based on it and it is frequently served with tomato sauce, meat or vegetables.

How did tacos pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs change after arriving in the US? ›

The arrivals of tacos and spaghetti and meatballs both grew rapidly in population when they arrived in the U.S. because Americans considered them fast, and delicious meals. For example, "By the early 1920s, spaghetti and meatballs was going mainstream.

How has pasta changed since it was invented? ›

Several things that have changed drastically over time are the flavorings added to pasta. Sweetness has been replaced by savory, sugar swapped out for vegetables, which helped make pasta a nutritionally complete dish. Then, at the beginning of the 19th century, tomatoes were added.

When was spaghetti introduced to the US? ›

During the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, when many Europeans began to immigrate to the United States, Italian immigrants brought with them pasta and traditional pasta dishes with tomato sauces and cheeses.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 5847

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.