Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs

Easy slow cooker chicken meatballs made with lean ground chicken, parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano, and then cooked in a simple garlic and basil tomato sauce.

Tomato Basil Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs

Related: We love these turkey meatballs!

How to Make Meatballs in a Slow Cooker

Using a slow cooker makes these chicken meatballs so easy. The sauce is cooked first. We throw everything into a crock pot and turn it on. The sauce gets better and better as it cooks. After a few hours on high or 6 hours on low, it’s ready for the meatballs. The chicken meatballs only need an hour in the slow cooker — this way, they cook just until done, guaranteeing their juiciness. No one likes a dry meatball!

I mentioned above that we make the sauce first. You see it gets so much better with time, the meatballs don’t since they can become dry.

Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs

We add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, a small onion that’s been halved, lots of garlic and spices to the crock pot. If we’re in a hurry, we’ll turn it to high and cook for 3 hours. If we’re starting in the morning, switching to low and cooking for 6 hours does the trick.

A+J’s Tip: Make this slow cooker tomato sauce in advance — it keeps in the fridge for 2 to 3 days and in the freezer for months!

Slow cooker marinara sauce

As the sauce slowly bubbles away, we get started on the meatballs. In our photos, we are using ground chicken, but ground turkey, pork or beef will work. (See our easy turkey meatballs or these Swedish meatballs that combine beef and pork.)

We use panko breadcrumbs and milk for tenderness and lots of parmesan cheese, oregano and parsley for flavor (here’s a similar meatball recipe that’s baked instead). They are cooked at the end after the sauce is made, but you can form the balls whenever you like. You could do this a day in advance if you wanted to — just keep them covered in the refrigerator. Or, form them weeks in advance and freeze them uncooked.

Adding the chicken meatballs to a slow cooker

When you’re ready, gently drop the formed meatballs into the hot sauce. Cover them and cook for about 1 hour or until they are done. And that’s it — slow cooker chicken meatballs that are easy to make, taste great and are perfect for making in advance. We hope you give them a try.

Cooked chicken meatballs

More easy dinners we love are our Creamy White Chicken Lasagna, Easy Lemon Chicken, Easy Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken and these Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Meatballs!

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs

  • PREP
  • COOK

We love these crock pot meatballs. They are made with lean ground chicken, parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano, and then cooked in a simple garlic and basil tomato sauce. Be sure to look at the notes section below for our tips on making them in advance! Serve these with pasta, spiralized noodles, vegetables, bread, or as an appetizer.

Makes approximately 6 servings or about 18 meatballs

You Will Need

Tomato Basil Sauce

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 medium onion, split in half

4 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large stem fresh basil sprig

Salt, to taste

Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken, see notes

1/3 cup (25 grams) panko bread crumbs

1/3 cup milk

1 large egg

1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  • Make Tomato Basil Sauce
  • 1Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, halved onion, garlic, olive oil, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and the basil sprig to a slow cooker. Stir then add salt to taste — we use between 1/2 teaspoon and 1 teaspoon of salt, depending on the tomatoes. It will be cold, but you will get a good idea of whether or not the sauce is well seasoned.

    2Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Remove the onion, bay leaf and basil sprig. Taste then add additional salt as needed.

  • Prepare Meatballs
  • 1The meatballs can be prepared ahead of time, see notes below. Combine panko breadcrumbs and the milk in a large bowl. Wait 3 to 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs have absorbed most of the milk then whisk in the egg. Whisk in the parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, salt, and the pepper.

    2Add the chicken and use a fork or your hands to then blend the chicken and the egg mixture together. The meatball mixture will be quite moist. Shape into one-inch meatballs, pressing no more than necessary. This recipe makes approximately 18 meatballs.

  • To Finish
  • 1Once the tomato sauce has finished cooking and the onion has been removed, add the chicken meatballs. To add them, use a spoon or two forks to gently lower them into the sauce. Cover the tops of the meatballs by gently pushing sauce over each meatball. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Ground Chicken: This recipe works beautifully with leaner, ground chicken breast, however, using ground dark meat (thighs) makes more tender meatballs. You can also used ground turkey for these meatballs.
  • Make-ahead sauce: The sauce can be made ahead and kept refrigerated 2 to 3 days and 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
  • Make-ahead meatballs: Meatballs can be shaped and kept refrigerated up to a day ahead. Arrange them on a baking sheet, cover, and then refrigerate up to 1 day.
  • Freezing uncooked meatballs: Meatballs can be shaped and and arranged on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Freeze until solid then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag, and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw meatballs in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the Nutrifox recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/6 of recipe (3 meatballs) / Calories 304 / Protein 21.7 g / Carbohydrate 26.6 g / Dietary Fiber 5.6 g / Total Sugars 13.3 g / Total Fat 14.2 g / Saturated Fat 3.8 g / Cholesterol 99.7 g / Sodium 1029.8 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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7 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jordan August 16, 2020, 7:01 pm

    I‘ve made this marinara recipe countless time. It’s so easy and delicious. I don’t add the olive oil anymore and I don’t miss it at all. Thank you!

  • Cristina January 25, 2017, 4:29 pm

    Made this today, family liked them! Used 1.5 lbs, .5 lb each turkey, chicken and beef. I had a feeling there would be enough sauce. There was! I’m going freeze a meal for my son who doesn’t live at home.

    5 stars

  • Nettie April 13, 2016, 10:07 pm

    the chicken balls sound great been looking for some thing different. Thanks,will make it to night.

  • Lizzie @ Grub du Jour March 12, 2016, 4:01 am

    This is a great idea! Never used the slow cooker for meatballs . Ground chicken isn’t available in the UK but it would be easy to make in the blender with the breadcrumbs.

  • Amber Harding February 11, 2016, 5:40 am

    Lovely! Did you dice the chicken breasts or you used a grinding machine?

    • Adam February 13, 2016, 11:59 am

      We used store-bought ground chicken for the meatballs.

  • janet February 10, 2016, 10:53 pm

    funny – cause i love chicken meatballs and then i saw your post. a good addition would be to finely chop some mushrooms to add to the chicken, and a little rosemary. made that the other night and it was heavenly!


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