Easy Meatball Variations
Frozen meatballs are a working mom's dream. They're a quality source of protein that pleases picky palates. But plopping a pile of microwaved meatballs on a plate and calling it dinner isn't pleasing to anyone.
Dress up frozen beef or turkey meatballs with tasty flavor twists, and let the Crock-Pot do the work for you. Simply toss the frozen meatballs in the pot along with a few choice ingredients and come home to a meal you can serve with rice, pasta or toast.
If you're tasked with a dish for a pot-luck, Crock-Pot frozen meatballs will please a crowd. The base variation features Italian flavors, but a few ingredient changes yield barbecue or tangy cocktail-style versions. Place the finished meatballs in a bowl, with toothpicks on the side for easy serving.
Total Time: 3 to 5 hours | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 8 to 10
- 1 1/2 pounds frozen meatballs
- 1 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Place the frozen meatballs, sauce and dried oregano in the pot of the Crock-Pot. Stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce.
- Cook on low for about 2 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
- Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and cook on low for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Serve over cooked spaghetti, or use as the filling for hoagies.
Cocktail version: Place the meatballs in a Crock-Pot with 1/2 cup of grape jelly, 1/4 cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Stir to incorporate, and cook as directed above. Serve with rice or as an appetizer on toothpicks.
Barbecue version: Instead of marinara sauce, cook the meatballs in 2 to 3 cups of bottled barbecue sauce. Eliminate the oregano, and use cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. Cook for 4 to 5 hours on low or 2 to 3 hours on high. Serve on buns for a tasty sandwich or alongside baked potatoes and steamed corn on the cob.
Pineapple barbecue version: Place the meatballs in the pot of the Crock-Pot with 2 cups of bottled barbecue sauce. Stir in a 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks with their juice and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on high or 4 to 5 hours on low. They're perfect served with sticky white rice and steamed broccoli.
To add fresh flavors to the finished meatballs, top with chopped fresh herbs. Try basil for the Italian version, parsley for the cocktail recipe and cilantro for the barbecued meatballs.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.