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This healthy Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Stew will please every member of your family! It’s an easy comfort food dinner that is perfect for a cool, fall evening. Moms love the Crock Pot, while kids adore the little meatballs throughout this hearty, nourishing dish.

A close up image of a large yellow bowl filled with meatball stew. The hearty stew is garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Homemade Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Soup
  2. How to Make Italian Meatball Soup in the Slow Cooker
  3. What to Serve with Classic Italian Meatball Stew
  4. How to Prep Store Italian Meatball Stew
  5. Italian Meatball Stew Recipe Tips and Variations
  6. More Meatball Recipes to Try
  7. Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Stew Recipe

This is one of those perfect meals that everyone raves about around your dinner table, and your husband will even enjoy for leftovers the next day!

The old-fashioned Italian meatballs cook right in the Crock Pot, so there’s no need to brown them in an oven or skillet first. And who doesn’t love a homemade meatball that has been simmering in a rich Italian sauce for hours? This recipe just works!

Ingredients for Homemade Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Soup

This recipe is made in two parts: the homemade from scratch Italian-style meatballs, and the heart tomato-based stew. If you’re short on time, there are some semi-homemade shortcuts you can take, but I will mention those later! As always, the full ingredient list can be found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Italian Meatball Ingredients:

  • Lean Ground Beef: I use at least 96% lean meat, since you will not drain the fat once it’s cooked. You could also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Italian Breadcrumbs: breadcrumbs help to bind the meatballs together, and the Italian seasonings bring that classic herby flavor.
  • Egg: another binder, eggs help the meatballs keep their shape.
  • Milk: adds moisture to the meatball mixture.
  • Parmesan Cheese: adds a hint of sharp cheesiness to the homemade meatballs.
  • Salt, Black Pepper, & Garlic Powder: key seasonings that enhance the flavor of the Italian style meatballs.

Ingredients for the Stew:

  • Carrots: you’ll need two medium-large size carrots cut into rounds, about 1-inch pieces.
  • Tomato Paste & Marinara Sauce: the hearty, rice tomato base for the Italian meatball stew. If you don’t have marinara sauce, tomato sauce or your favorite pasta sauce can be used.
  • Beef Broth: the liquid base of the soup. You can also substitute with vegetable broth.
  • Seasoned Salt: a good seasoning salt such as Lawry’s enhances the flavors of the stew.
  • Oregano & Basil: these dried herbs come back to life in the stew, imparting so much herby Italian flavor. You could also use an Italian seasoning blend if you have that on hand.
  • Italian-Style Vegetables: I always have a few bags of the Birds Eye Steamfresh Italian Blend vegetables on hand. You don’t even need to thaw them before tossing them into the stew!
Italian meatball stew cooking in a large silver Cuisinart slow cooker on a wooden countertop.

How to Make Italian Meatball Soup in the Slow Cooker

This Italian meatball stew recipe could not be easier. The (small) extra effort it takes to make homemade meatballs is totally worth it. If you want healthy eating with minimal effort and maximum flavor, this hearty meatball stew is a must-try!

  • Slice the carrots and put them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Mix the homemade meatball ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Form the meatballs, then place them in the slow cooker with the carrots.
  • Whisk together the hearty tomato sauce, then pour it into the slow cooker over the meatballs.
  • Cook the Italian meatball stew on LOW for 4 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.
  • Steam the mixed vegetables in the microwave, then add them to the stew.
  • Serve your healthy, homemade Italian meatball stew!

Making Homemade Italian Style Meatballs

Raw ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, and seasoning in a glass bowl.
A homemade meatball mixture of ground beef, seasoning, and breadcrumbs in a glass bowl.

These homemade meatballs have the best flavor—they’re simple and easy to toss together with little extra effort. These authentic Italian meatballs are made with extra lean ground beef, Italian style bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, milk, and seasoning.

To mix the meatball mixture, I always recommend using your hands or a fork. Be careful not to overmix the meatballs—that will result in a tough, dry meatball, which no one wants! Finally, roll the meatballs into small, 1-inch balls. I use this small scoop to make the task very quick and easy!

Place the meatballs on top of the carrots in the Crock Pot, then it’s time to work on the hearty, thick stew sauce.

Sliced carrots sit at the bottom of a large slow cooker.
Uncooked meatballs and carrots sitting at the bottom of a large slow cooker.

Bringing the Hearty Meatball Stew Together

Next, whisk together the ingredients for the meatball sauce and then pour it over top. Cover the slow cooker and cook the meatballs on LOW for about 4 hours or on HIGH for about 2 hours.

A large glass mixing bowl is filled with a tomato based stew sauce, mixed together with a whisk.
Italian meatballs cooking in a hearty tomato sauce in a large silver Cuisinart slow cooker.

When the meatballs are cooked through towards the end of the cooking time, microwave a bag of Italian vegetables just until crisp-tender. Pour the vegetables into your stew, and the meal is ready to serve!

I prefer to add these vegetables at the very end because I can control how soft the vegetables get. If you add them to the slow cooker at the very beginning, the veggies will be mushy by the time the meat is cooked — and nobody wants overcooked vegetables!

A bag of Birds Eye Steamfresh Italian blend vegetables. The bag is blue and green with a picture of broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, and cauliflower on the front.

This thick stew is perfect on its own, or when served over pasta or rice. For a thinner, soup-like consistency, stir in additional broth at the end until it reaches the desired consistency. Garnish with fresh herbs and grated Parmesan for a meal that your family can’t resist!

What to Serve with Classic Italian Meatball Stew

If you’re looking for some side dishes to go along with this slow cooker Italian meatball soup, try some of these easy recipes:

A silver ladle rests in a large slow cooker filled with Italian meatball soup.

How to Prep Store Italian Meatball Stew

Not only is this recipe great for busy weeknights, but it’s the perfect prep-ahead recipe. You can easily make the meatballs ahead of time and keep them in the freezer. Pop the frozen meatballs into the slow cooker with all the other ingredients and let the meatballs cook through.

Double the recipe to make leftovers—it’s even more delicious the next day!

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container or freezer bag – once fully cooled – for 3-4 days, or keep frozen for up to three months.
  • To reheat, heat the stew in a large Dutch oven or pot on the stovetop over medium heat until heated through. If reheating from frozen, allow the stew to thaw first, then reheat normally.

Italian Meatball Stew Recipe Tips and Variations

  • This recipe yields 6 cups of stew, which serves 3-4 people. If you’re feeding a larger family, I recommend doubling all of the ingredients. The cooking instructions remain the same.
  • I used the Italian vegetables here, which include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots and red bell pepper. You can substitute with an equal amount of any frozen vegetables that you prefer! Cannellini beans, green beans, or baby spinach would all be great additions to beef up this already healthy stew.
  • I steam the vegetables in the microwave before adding them to the meatball stew. This allows me to control the tenderness of the vegetables and prevents overcooked, mushy veggies.
  • You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the beef. Just make sure that whatever meat you use is at least 96% lean, since you will not be draining the meat after it’s cooked. You don’t want any extra grease in your stew.
  • If you don’t have time – or don’t want to make homemade meatballs, you can sub them out with frozen Italian style meatballs found at just about any grocery store.
  • This is a thick stew with minimal broth. If you want a thinner consistency so that it’s more like a soup, just add extra beef broth at the end.
  • I serve my kids’ stew over pasta or rice, which they love.
A large yellow bowl with handles is filled with hearty homemade Italian meatball stew, garnished with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
A large yellow ceramic bowl is filled with slow cooker Italian meatball stew with vegetables. The stew is garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

More Meatball Recipes to Try

Slow Cooker Italian Meatball Stew

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
0 minutes
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 cups
Calories 206 kcal
This slow cooker Italian meatball stew recipe is so quick and easy. Packed with Italian flavor from the homemade meatballs and hearty stew broth, and vegetables, it's as healthy as it is delicious!

Ingredients
  

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef (use at least 96% lean meat, since you will not drain the fat once it’s cooked)
  • 1/3 cup Italian style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For the Stew:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth, plus additional (to thin to desired consistency, as needed)
  • ½ cup marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt such as Lawry’s
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • 1 (10.8 ounce) package frozen Italian-style vegetables (I used Birds Eye Steamfresh Italian Blend)
  • Optional, for serving: cooked pasta or rice
  • Optional garnish: fresh parsley; fresh basil

Instructions

  • Place carrots in bottom of slow cooker.
    2 carrots, peeled and sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • In a large bowl, use hands or a fork to gently combine meatball ingredients. Form meat mixture into 1-inch balls.
    1 lb. extra lean ground beef, 1/3 cup Italian style seasoned breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Place meatballs on top of carrots in the slow cooker.
  • In a separate bowl, combine tomato paste, broth, marinara, seasoned salt, oregano, and basil. Pour over meatballs.
    6 ounces tomato paste, 2 cups beef broth, plus additional (to thin to desired consistency, as needed), ½ cup marinara sauce, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon basil
  • Cover and cook on LOW for about 4 hours or on HIGH for about 2 hours. For a thinner soup rather than a stew, add extra broth until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Steam vegetables in microwave just until crisp-tender (about 3-4 minutes). Stir vegetables into stew and serve over pasta or rice, if desired. Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh basil.
    1 (10.8 ounce) package frozen Italian-style vegetables (I used Birds Eye Steamfresh Italian Blend)

Notes

  • This recipe yields 6 cups of stew, which serves 3-4 people. If you’re feeding a larger family, I recommend doubling all of the ingredients. The cooking instructions remain the same.
  • I used the Italian vegetables here, which include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots and red bell pepper. You can substitute with an equal amount of any frozen vegetables that you prefer! Cannellini beans, green beans, or baby spinach would all be great additions to beef up this already healthy stew.
  • I steam the vegetables in the microwave before adding them to the meatball stew. This allows me to control the tenderness of the vegetables and prevents overcooked, mushy veggies.
  • You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the beef. Just make sure that whatever meat you use is at least 96% lean, since you will not be draining the meat after it’s cooked. You don’t want any extra grease in your stew.
  • If you don’t have time – or don’t want to make homemade meatballs, you can sub them out with frozen Italian style meatballs found at just about any grocery store.
  • This is a thick stew with minimal broth. If you want a thinner consistency so that it’s more like a soup, just add extra beef broth at the end.
  • I serve my kids’ stew over pasta or rice, which they love.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 23gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 1318mgPotassium: 1032mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 4300IUVitamin C: 54.4mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 3.8mg
Keyword: italian meatballs, slow cooker italian meatball stew, slow cooker meatballs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. AnnMarie says:

    The meatball stew looks so good. Perfect for my son and husband. Pinned and put it on the menu for next week!

    1. Blair says:

      That’s great — enjoy, Ann Marie!

  2. Dellene says:

    your meatball stew looks great! love any kind of meatball dish

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Dellene! 🙂

  3. Shannon {Cozy Country Living} says:

    Blair, this looks delicious! What a comforting meal, and it’s made in the slow cooker! Pinned and I can’t wait to try it! Yum!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Shannon! I’m so glad that you stopped by and I appreciate the pin! 🙂

  4. Stephanie says:

    This looks perfect for these cool Fall evenings! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks for visiting, Stephanie, and thank you for the pin too!

  5. Ashley ~ 3 Little Greenwoods says:

    That’s what I call “comfort in a bowl”! Thanks for the recipe.

    Thanks so much for sharing on Show Me Saturdays!
    ~ Ashley

  6. Jolena @TheRubyKitchen says:

    Oh my thank you for this – I have been wanting to add some slow cooker recipes to my collection and was running out of ideas!

    1. Blair says:

      Glad to help…I hope that you enjoy it! Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  7. Thao @ In Good Flavor says:

    Oh my goodness! These meatballs look great..so good and hearty!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Thao! 🙂

  8. Laura@Baking in Pyjamas says:

    How delicious, what a hearty meal to warm your stomach on cold night. This has been featured as one of my favourites over at Sweet and Savoury Sunday. Stop by, grab a button and link up again with us this week. Have a great day!

  9. Laura says:

    Oooo yes please. I’m clicking over there to read and pin right now. It sounds yummy and right up my street.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Laura! 🙂

  10. Jenna says:

    This looks great! Curious if I could use frozen meatballs instead of the scratch ones (to save some time!), and how that’d affect the cooking process… Thoughts?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Jenna! Yes, I think that would work well. I would still cook it for the same amount of time so that the vegetables are tender by the end. Hope you enjoy!

  11. Betty says:

    5 stars
    These meatballs were the most tender and delicious I have ever tried! I used ground lamb instead of the beef and added some thyme to go with that. I know this was an Italian soup, but it was St Patrick’s day, and I had a head of cabbage to go wth the lamb, so I used 4 cups of that instead of the Italian veggies and marinara sauce, and added one cup each fresh tomatoes, celery and sweet pepper. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly and this was fantastic! Thank you for such tasty meatballs!!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so glad you were able to make it work for you! Thank you for trying it out, Betty!

      1. Betty says:

        5 stars
        Even though I have leftovers for the next two days, next time I’ll double the recipe as I could easily eat this every night for a week! I will be checking out your other delicious recipes too!

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          Thank you, Betty! We’re so glad you enjoyed it!