If you’re reading this then you’re probably wondering what the answer is – whether you have to brown meatballs before putting them into a slow cooker, or if you can simply put raw meatballs in the slow cooker and run!
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to brown meatballs first. You can just put raw meatballs into the slow cooker, add your other ingredients (or even nothing!) and turn the slow cooker on.
I don’t brown any meats before putting them in the slow cooker for a variety of reasons – and it saddens me that my mother stopped using her slow cooker years ago because she felt the browning etc of food was essential and she didn’t have time for it in the morning.
Of course, now we have the Internet and we can call upon the experience (and photos) of other people’s efforts, skill and knowledge. Back then mum was restricted to the tiny recipe book that came with her slow cooker and whether anybody in her office of 6 people ever used one and could say differently.
Browning the meatballs is a preference – some people like to brown them as they feel it brings more flavour to the dish; others like it to try to give the outsides a slightly firmer/crispier skin. But you don’t need to brown them at all.
How to Cook Meatballs in a Slow Cooker:
- Simply tip your meatballs into your slow cooker and turn it on high for an hour, then turn it down low.
- Cook for 6-8 hours on low (or a further 4 hours on high without turning the slow cooker down).
It’s that simple. Beyond that you can add more ingredients, or sauces, or gravies. That’s a choice depending on what you’re trying to cook.
Simple Slow Cooker Recipe Ideas for Meatballs:
If you simply have meatballs that need to be cooked (maybe you’ve just picked up a tray of meatballs reduced at the shop, so already have today’s meals planned and just wish to cook these up), then you don’t have to go out of your way to create a complex dish. You can cook them simply, then use the cooked meatballs at a later date in other dishes.
Here are a few simple ideas of what you can add to meatballs at the drop of a hat:
- Meatballs + a tin of pineapple chunks, including the juice
- Meatballs + chopped onions
- Beef meatballs + sliced tomatoes, or whole cherry tomatoes
- Pork meatballs + 2-3 chopped apples
- Meatballs + a stock pot made up with boiling water
- Beef meatballs + a tin of tomatoes.
The above will cook them without you putting any effort in and you can then choose what to serve them with later. Once cooked you can store them, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days, or portion them up and freeze them (once cooled)!