Meatballs are another great comfort food, and just the smell of them simmering throughout the day makes me feel cozy.
Meatballs are another great comfort food, and just the smell of them simmering throughout the day makes me feel cozy. (Courtesy photo)

As I was writing this column, I was preparing for the “polar vortex” to strike. And looking at my slow cooker.

Last week I shared some slow cooker soups, and this week I decided to look into slow cooker meatballs. Meatballs are another great comfort food, and just the smell of them simmering throughout the day makes me feel cozy. Meatballs are also usually served with a big bowl of carbs, like spaghetti or egg noodles or rice, so they’ve got that going for them, too. But I wanted to find some new flavors besides the traditional Italian style.


So first up, Swedish meatballs. It had been a long time since I had tried Swedish meatballs, because I sort of remembered not really liking them the last time I did. But then I went to IKEA with my kids and we had lunch, or rather, we ordered lunch and they sort of ate it, but I tried a leftover Swedish meatball and decided it was time to give them another chance. This is a pretty heavy dish, but you’re only going to eat it once a year, why not indulge?

Second, I thought some Buffalo chicken, or rather, turkey, meatballs would hit the spot. People love Buffalo chicken dip, but I’ve got to say, I can’t get on board with the canned chicken. However, homemade meatballs made from ground turkey with little bits of bleu cheese in them, covered in Buffalo sauce? Yes, please!

And finally, teriyaki meatballs in a homemade teriyaki sauce. This is kind of a lot of ingredients, but it makes a quick meal once the meatballs are cooked, serve it over rice and some stir-fried veggies. I’m hoping the little pineapple chunks will get my kids excited to try it.


Slow cooker Swedish meatballs

¾ cup heavy whipping cream divided

1 large egg

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

8 ounces lean ground pork

¼ cup grated yellow onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon allspice

⅛ teaspoon black pepper


8 ounces lean ground beef, 85 percent lean recommended

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoon flour

3 cups unsalted beef broth

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together ¼ cup heavy cream and egg. Add in breadcrumbs and stir to combine, set aside.

In a large bowl add pork, grated onion, garlic, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper. Use your hand to mix and combine the mixture until consistent in appearance, 1 minute. Add in the breadcrumb mixture and mix with hand to combine until smooth, 1 minute. Add in ground beef and mix with hand until combined, 45 seconds. Roll meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls, about 17 total.

Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and once hot, add the meatballs.

Brown the meatballs for about 4 to 6 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and flip over and cook 3 minutes. Transfer meatballs to the slow cooker, do not discard pan.

Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter and flour, whisk to combine, cook for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the beef broth, scraping and breaking up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring broth to a boil, whisking until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and whisk in 1 ½ teaspoons salt, add sauce to slow cooker.

Cover and cook meatballs for 2 hours on “High”, or “Low” for four to five hours.

Stir in ½ cup heavy cream and lemon juice. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Garnish Swedish meatballs with parsley, and serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Crock pot buffalo turkey meatballs

1 pound lean ground turkey

¼ cup old fashioned oats

1 egg

½ cup diced onion

⅓ cup bleu cheese crumbles

½ teaspoon diced garlic

⅔ cup buffalo wing sauce

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the buffalo sauce. Mix with your hands until well combined. Form the mixture into 1½-inch meatballs, making about 18.

Spray a large non-stick skillet and place on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the heated pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Gently turn the meatballs over and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, add just enough of the buffalo sauce to coat the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the browned meatballs to the pot (they will still be mostly raw). Top with the remaining buffalo sauce and place the lid on the top.

Cook for two hours on “high” or four hours on “low.”

Slow cooker teriyaki meatballs with pineapple

1½ pounds ground beef or chicken

½ pound ground pork

⅔ cup breadcrumbs

¼ cup milk

1 egg

½ onion, finely minced

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon chili flakes

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons oil

For the teriyaki sauce

½ cup light soy sauce

½ cup water

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar (or honey)

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili flakes

2 tablespoons cornstarch (or potato starch)

Other add ins:

1 cup diced pineapple

2 cups snap peas (or broccoli, beans, bell peppers)

Sesame seeds and sliced green onions, for topping

Steamed rice for serving

In a bowl mix together breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the egg, minced onions, ginger, chili flakes and salt and mix to combine. Add the beef and pork and mix with your hands until just combined. Rub a little oil on your hands and form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet and add the meatballs in the batches, making sure that it’s not over-crowded. Brown the meatballs on all sides, remove them from the pan and place them in the slow cooker.

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and pour the sauce over the meatballs in the slow cooker. Add the pineapple and cook on low for three to four hours until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened up.

Add the snap peas or any other vegetables you are using and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve over rice topped with sesame seeds and green onions.