Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Meatballs

I’ve decided to step up my slow cooker game by making slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Because, as most of you loyal friends know, I’m not the biggest fan of the slow cooker. I didn’t always understand what people love about them or how they could eat 4 out of 7 meals a week via crock pot recipes. Because I’ve made enough stews and things to know that they all taste like a mash up of each other… a blend of blah (in my opinion) and that nothing compares to oven braising.

I do however love making large hunks of pork in my slow cooker. And now apparently meatballs.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Obviously, slow cooker turkey meatballs have been around for a bit, but I’ve never made them until last week.

I took my go-to beef meatball recipe, turned them into an all turkey recipe. I whipped up a batch of my Homemade Marinara (from my cookbook) and literally threw it together in minutes, set it on low and made an apple pie. So easy! And the smell that emerged? Mouthwatering. THAT is how slow cooking recipes should be. NOW I get all the hubbub about the slow cooking craze. And maybe, just maybe the reason I didn’t like slow cookers before is that I a-l-w-a-y-s cooked on high. Which until recently I read, is a no-no. (oops!)

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

So grab a big-o-bowl and toss in 2 pounds ground turkey. My grocery store had literally two 1-pound packages left. One was regular ground turkey and the other was ground turkey breast. I was a little nervous but the meatballs turned out delicious and moist. Anyway, along with the ground turkey throw in a large shallot that has been grated, 4 minced cloves of garlic, 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1/4 finely chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional) and 1 egg that’s been lightly beaten.

Use a fork to mix everything together.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Pour about a cup of marinara in the bottom of your slow cooker. If you’re shopping for a slow cooker, here’s the one I use and love!

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Form the meatballs (mine are slightly larger than golf balls, about 2 to 3 tablespoons of meat mixture– I eyeballed it) and place them into the slow cooker as you go. Pour the remaining sauce over top.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Cover and set to cook on low heat for about 6 to 7 hours.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Boom! Magic.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

Of course you don’t need to eat these with pasta. Roasted spaghetti squash would be fabulous! But my family wouldn’t expect some form of carb under their meatballs so I bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 3/4 of a pound of linguine noodles (spaghetti works too) by following the package directions until al dente.

With a few minutes left on the pasta, I removed the meatballs to a platter, drained the pasta and immediately tossed it in the slow cooker with the sauce.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

All that’s left to do is transfer the saucy pasta to a platter, top with the slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs and sprinkle with freshly crumbled Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, then serve.

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

The smell of these cooking throughout the day is phenomenal and pure torture at the same time. I wanted to open my slow cooker and just breath… I could hardly wait until dinnertime.

Not sure if you’d like slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs?

My husband and kids couldn’t tell the difference and were surprised they were turkey. Slow cooked meatballs in homemade sauce is the way to go.

Winner-winner turkey meatballs for dinner!

slow cooker Italian turkey meatballs l

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!

Yield: 4-6 servings

Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Meatballs

Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Meatballs
Ground turkey mixed with fresh ingredients like grated shallot, minced garlic, Italian flat leaf parsley and Parmesan (to name a few) cooked low and slow in a basil marinara.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 large shallot, finely grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning*
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) basil marinara (homemade or store bought)*
  • 3/4 pound of dried spaghetti or linguine noodles (I used whole wheat pasta)


In a large bowl combine ground turkey, shallot, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (if using) and egg. Use a fork to mix until combined.

Pour 1 cup of the marinara in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Form each meatball (I made mine slightly larger than the size of golf balls, about 2-3 tablespoons which yield 18 meatballs) and add directly to the slower cooker as you go. Pour remaining sauce over top, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Once the time is up, switch to the warm setting and bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Add in the linguine and cook, following package directions, until al dente or preferred doneness. Transfer meatballs (only) to a plate, then add cooked pasta to the slow cooker and toss to combine. Transfer pasta to a large platter and add the meatballs.

Serve pasta and meatballs with more grated Parmesan cheese and minced parsley over top.

*I used the recipe in my cookbook for homemade marinara. I upped the 8 ounce can of tomato sauce called for in the recipe to a 15 ounce can and added in a handful of sliced fresh basil. But using a good quality jar of store bought sauce is perfectly okay!

This is great to make ahead! I've prepped everything the evening before and refrigerated overnight so all I have to do is put the crock pot into it's base and turn it on.


*You can find my recipe for my marinara and homemade Italian seasoning in my cookbook!

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12 Responses to “Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Meatballs”

  1. #
    Erin@WellPlated — October 3, 2016 at 7:11 am

    I have become a total believer in the slow cooker as of late, ESPECIALLY for meatballs. These looks sooooo juicy and flavorful!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — October 3rd, 2016 @ 8:03 am

      Thank you, Erin! <3

  2. #
    christine davis — October 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I make turkey meatballs in the crockpot all the time! Also turkey meatloaf in the crockpot and grill up chicken sausage. My husband has no idea he is eating healthier! LOL I’ve printed out your version and will give it a try. I usually make him a small amount of whole wheat pasta and make myself zucchini noodles. Delish!!!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — October 6th, 2016 @ 7:17 am

      I need a spiralizer!! Because that would be so tasty! :9

  3. #
    2pots2cook — October 4, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Oh yes ! My kind of dish, Thank you !

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — October 6th, 2016 @ 7:15 am

      Please let me know if you make it! Enjoy! šŸ™‚

  4. #
    Jennifer S — October 11, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Love this! Perfect time of year for dinner to be ready when we all get home! Thanks!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — October 14th, 2016 @ 7:30 am

      I agree, Jennifer! I’m loving my slow cooker more and more these days!

  5. #
    Rebecca R — October 20, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I’m about to do this dish today and was wondering if I can substitute dried parsley for the fresh. What do you think?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — October 21st, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

      Hi Rebecca! I’m sorry I missed your question. I was on a plane and had zero service. Did you end up trying it with the dried parsley?

  6. #
    Annie — January 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Hi – this recipe looks great. I love slow cooker recipes where the meat isn’t pre-cooked – because then what is the point of the slow cooker. Could you substitute beef for the turkey or would the grease from beef screw things up? We are cattle ranchers so I’m always on the hunt for new beef recipes. And I agree with you, a lot of slow cooker recipes always end up tasting the same..

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — January 20th, 2018 @ 9:57 am

      I agree with you 100%, Annie! I would think using a lean ground beef would be fine. I haven’t tried it, but a little fat never hurt anyone

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