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.
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
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
Add 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.
Cover 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.
The 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.
Add 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.
Once 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.