The Best Slow Cooker Meatballs

By / Food / March 29th, 2012 / 1

Yes, my maiden name is Lucarelli. But no, I am not the Nancy Lucarelli who originated this meatball recipe. Rather, the Nancy Lucarelli in question is my former pen pal. We discovered each other when my very first article was published in Catholic Miss Magazine when I was just 11 years old. We rediscovered each other a few years ago on Facebook. Nancy lives in Walla Walla, Washington and I have never met her in person. But I feel like I’ve always known her. This recipe is slightly adapted from Nancy’s original, which her family serves at Christmas. Cavatelli can often be found in the frozen food case. Any thick, stout pasta will work.

Nancy Lucarelli’s Walla Walla Slow Cooker Meatballs

Serves 6

1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
Generous handful grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs
1 slice bread, soaked in milk and mashed
1 jar good quality basil pesto
2 jars passata di pomodoro or 2 large cans (796 ml) crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 lb cavatelli or rigatoni, cooked (750 g)

Heat oven to 400˚F.

In large bowl, mix sirloin, sausage, cheese, salt, garlic powder, eggs, and bread. Roll into small meatballs.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange meatballs on baking sheet. Cook in oven until browned, about 10 to15 minutes.

Gently spoon meatballs into slow cooker.

In a large bowl, mix passata di pomodoro or tomato sauce with pesto. Pour over meatballs. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Serve with cavatelli or rigatoni.

A fruity, spicy Chianti Classico would be a great pour.


Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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