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Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti

I need a little help. We made this turkey meatball recipe last week, and it was great. The flavor was wonderful, and we ate it with spaghetti and our homemade spaghetti sauce. The only problem was that the meatballs fell apart. Essentially, we ate spaghetti with a very meaty sauce. It was delicious but not at all what we were going for.

So I'm hoping you experienced meatballers will take a look at the recipe and tell me what we should do differently to make them stay solid, like meatballs.

crock pot meatballs

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Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Coat 6-quart Crock Pot with cooking spray. Mix bread crumbs, eggs, half of the garlic, half of the onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add the turkey. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Cover and place in freezer for about 20 minutes to make handling easier.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute remaining garlic and onion until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Shape meat into 20 2-inch meatballs. Add to Crock Pot in layers. Pour sauce mixture over top.
  4. Cook for 5-7 hours on low. Our meatballs were cooked through and falling apart after 5 hours.
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Recipe is based on one we found in the Prevention Slow Cooker Recipe Book

Photo by jshj

© 2010 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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28 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti”

  1. I'd probably brown them in a little olive oil first, before adding them to the crock pot. This way, they will have a little 'crust' on them, making them less likely to fall apart.

  2. Hi Tara, I really have no idea why your meatballs fell apart. I don’t make mine in the crockpot. Looking over your ingredients, I can’t see any reason they would. You have a binder, egg and breadcrumbs and the only thing I could see is that maybe ground turkey does not have enough fat and moisture in it to survive the crock pot. Just a guess.

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    Yvonne

  3. I wish I had some advice for you but I have found the same problem with turkey meat. It sort of falls apart on me. 🙂

  4. I agree with Shelley. When I make meatballs, I make up a huge batch, bake them on a wire rack set into a cookie sheet, then freeze them. They don’t fall apart when I put them into the crockpot, BUT! I haven’t made them with turkey.

  5. I always shape my meatballs and bake them on a cookie sheet for about 15-20 minutes. Depending on the size. Then I flash freeze them. Then I can just add them to the crockpot or whatever dish I want. I hope this helps.

  6. Try pre-cooking your meatballs a bit–put them on a baking sheet (with sides, to catch the grease/juice) and bake for a few minutes, then add to your sauce. I don’t know that even then I’d let them cook all day in the sauce. Maybe try baking the meatballs, cook just the sauce all day, then add the meatballs for the last hour or two.

  7. I would say to bake your meatballs and cook them all the way first. You could make a big batch one day. Then freeze them. Whenever you want this dish, just take the frozen meatballs and add them to the crockpot with your other ingredients/sauce.

  8. I do what Robin does: Bake them in advance then put in the Crock Pot just long enough to give them a saucy flavor – maybe an hour. Another thing that I've found with meatballs – I worked my way through college in an Italian restaurant – is that you have to really roll them hard to get everything to bind. Like, a half minute or so per ball. The finished ones should be very, very smooth.

  9. I'm not really any help on why they fell apart, but they sound yummy! We usually make meatballs up in a big batch, bake, and freeze them. Then I can toss them in the crock pot that way, and they usually hold their form.

    Good luck!

  10. Mmmm…I love meatballs but never have the nerve to make them. So I have nothing to offer you in terms of trouble-shooting, but I will say that your picture looks scrumptious!

  11. I think so, too. I was home sick the day we made them, and I turned the crockpot off around noon. They might have cooked for 5 hours, but I do think they were over done.

    On the other hand, I have friends who put their meatballs in sauce in the crockpot at parties, and they don't fall apart. 🙁

  12. I, too, have cooked meatballs in the crock pot for parties and such. I do sometimes have problems with breakage – as I mentioned in my post today regarding my meatballs which I cooked for hours and hours – but I agree with others who suggest pre-cooking. I generally bake them and then toss them in – you still flavor the sauce with the meat, and vice versa. Also, maybe more breadcrumbs to hold them together, or ripped-up dry bread?

  13. I, too, have cooked meatballs in the crock pot for parties and such. I do sometimes have problems with breakage – as I mentioned in my post today regarding my meatballs which I cooked for hours and hours – but I agree with others who suggest pre-cooking. I generally bake them and then toss them in – you still flavor the sauce with the meat, and vice versa. Also, maybe more breadcrumbs to hold them together, or ripped-up dry bread?

  14. A great way to keep your crockpot meatballs from falling apart! Shape your meatballs then roll them in red wine vinegar, then on a high heat pan with olive oil already heated, roll them so that they become dark and almost crispy on the outside (the red wine vinegar gives them a caramel like glaze) then allow to cool for 5-10 min. THEN add them to your crockpot for final cooking.

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