Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Zoodles

Updated: Aug 19, 2019


I love spaghetti and meatballs. There is something about perfectly seasoned meatballs simmered in a sauce that wins me over every time. Sometimes I get carried away and probably have a bit more spaghetti than I should. On occasion, I like to lighten up the meal and substitute zucchini noodles for the pasta. My family loves it just as much so that makes it a winner for me. This version of my Meatballs and Zoodles gets some help from the slow cooker and purchased sauce, which allows me to do other things while my dinner is cooking. Slow-Cooker Meatballs and Zoodles is one of my go-to meals.


Ingredients for Slow -Cooker Meatballs and Zoodles:


40 ounces tomato sauce

*2 1/4 pounds meatloaf mix

8 zucchini, spiralized

1 medium onion, finely diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups torn Italian bread, crusts removed

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup Parmigiano cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

dash nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


* If you can't find meatloaf mix purchase equal parts of ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork.


Time-Saving Tips: The meatballs can be made ahead and frozen until needed. I always make extra meatballs and stash them in the freezer. They come in handy for a speedy weeknight meal. The zucchini can be spiralized a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Some stores even sell "zoodles" so if you can find them feel free to buy them.

Let's see what we need.


Time to start cooking.


To make the zucchini noodles cut each one in half so the noodles wouldn't be too long. I also cut the ends off of the zucchini so they would be stable when attached to the spiralizer. I used the "Course Shredder" for my 4 - Blade Paderno Spiralizer in this recipe. If you don't have the time to make this or you don't have a spiralizer I have seen zucchini noodles in some stores such as Whole Foods.

Saute the onions and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Remove from heat. I usually transfer the onion mixture to another plate, so it cools faster. Set aside to completely cool.


Once the onion mixture is cooled combine all of the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl, mix thoroughly. Shape into three dozen equal-sized meatballs and place on a tray or pan.


Set the slow cooker to 6 hours on low. Pour in all of the sauce and gently nestle all of the meatballs in the cooker.


This next step is optional: After 3 hours of cooking, remove the lid. By now the meatballs will have shrunk; gently move the meatballs around, so they are all covered by sauce. If you're not around to do this step, don't worry about it.


Cook the zoodles when the meatballs are ready. There's too much to cook all of them at once so you can do it in batches. It's simple, heat a small amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan and add as much zucchini will fit; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for up to 2 minutes and remove from pan. Try not to overcook the zoodles because as they sit, they continue cooking and will become watery once the zoodles are cooked top them with meatballs and sauce.


It's ready! Sprinkle with a little cheese and dinner is served. The meatballs are tender and delicious. The zoodles soak up the sauce and are a healthy and yummy alternative to pasta. In fact, you won't even miss the spaghetti.


Enjoy!


Slow -Cooker Meatballs and Zoodles:

main dish

  • 40 ounces tomato sauce

  • *2 1/4 pounds meatloaf mix

  • 8 zucchini, spiralized

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups torn Italian bread, crusts removed

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup Parmigiano cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • dash nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • To make the zucchini noodles cut each one in half so the noodles wouldn't be too long. I also cut the ends off of the zucchini so they would be stable when attached to the spiralizer. I used the "Course Shredder" for my 4 - Blade Paderno Spiralizer in this recipe. If you don't have the time to make this or you don't have a spiralizer I have seen zucchini noodles in some stores such as Whole Foods.

  • Saute the onions and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Remove from heat. I usually transfer the onion mixture to another plate, so it cools faster. Set aside to completely cool.

  • Once the onion mixture is cooled combine all of the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl, mix thoroughly. Shape into three dozen equal-sized meatballs and place on a tray or pan.

  • Set the slow cooker to 6 hours on low. Pour in all of the sauce and gently nestle all of the meatballs in the cooker.

  • This next step is optional: After 3 hours of cooking, remove the lid. By now the meatballs will have shrunk; gently move the meatballs around, so they are all covered by sauce. If you're not around to do this step, don't worry about it.

  • Cook the zoodles when the meatballs are ready. There's too much to cook all of them at once so you can do it in batches. It's simple, heat a small amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan and add as much zucchini will fit; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for up to 2 minutes and remove from pan. Try not to overcook the zoodles because as they sit, they continue cooking and will become watery once the zoodles are cooked top them with meatballs and sauce.

  • Time-Saving Tips: The meatballs can be made ahead and frozen until needed. I always make extra meatballs and stash them in the freezer. They come in handy for a speedy weeknight meal. The zucchini can be spiralized a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Some stores even sell "zoodles" so if you can find them feel free to buy them.


* If you can't find meatloaf mix purchase equal parts of ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork.

2018 Cranberry Walk