Want an easy dinner that practically cooks itself? Look no further than these keto crockpot meatballs. The self-saucing meatballs are juicy and have the most delicious tomato sauce.

No need to pre-brown or pre-fry your meatballs.

I’m a fan of dinners that come together quickly, and this crock pot recipe for homemade meatballs fits the bill. You can even make the meatballs the night before then just pop it all together in the slow cooker in the morning.

keto self-saucing meatballs served in a bowl with sliced cabbage

Come home to made-from-scratch homemade meatballs everyone in the family will rate 5 stars…whether they are low-carb followers or not!

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Serve with zoodles and you have a nutritious healthy easy dinner. Who says eating real food has to be difficult or complicated?

Ingredients you need

ingredients labelled to make keto self-saucing meatballs in the slow-cooker
Ingredients needed to make self-saucing keto crockpot meatballs (4.2 g NET carbs).

Making these low-carb crockpot meatballs recipe is simple. Here’s what you’ll need to make this dish. All quantities and full instructions are in the printable recipe card below.

  • Onion – I recommend a brown onion (yellow onion). You don’t need to dice it up. Just quarter it.
  • Garlic – crushed garlic or whole garlic is best. You can use garlic powder too.
  • Bacon – this is where this dish gets a lovely smoky flavour. Don’t skip this part! The bacon is spread it out through the meatballs and disperse the taste into the tomato sauce.
  • Ground beef – you can also use ground pork or even ground turkey (or a combination).
  • Herbs – you can play with these and totally change the flavour of these slow cooker meatballs just buy trying different herbs. See the “variations” section below for more ideas.
  • Egg – a fresh medium egg helps to bind the keto meatballs and prevent them from falling apart. May be omitted if you have an egg allergy.
  • Can of chopped tomato – look for one with no added sugars. I prefer 100% chopped tomato rather than marinara sauce. You can also use crushed tomatoes if you prefer a smoother sauce.

How to make homemade meatballs (in the blender)

The complete instructions, prep time, and quantities for crockpot meatballs are in the printable recipe card below.

The crockpot meatballs are all made in the food processor, then rolled and placed directly into the removable slow cooker dish. This step can even be done the night before and kept covered, in an airtight container, or in the slow-cooker bowl in the fridge so you are ready for the morning rush.

Crockpot meatballs are a great recipe for the end of a busy day and will help you stay on your low-carb diet or keto diet.

STEP 1: Make your keto meatballs.

Place your fresh garlic, quartered onion, and sliced bacon into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.

ingredients in a food processor to make keto meatballs
Place the garlic, onion, and bacon into your food processor first.

Add the ground meat, fresh or dried herbs, and fresh medium egg. Pulse until smooth.

ground beef and ingredients to make keto meatballs in a food processor
Add your ground beef, egg, and herbs.

Pulse all the ingredients for your keto meatballs until smooth. This ensures the bacon and flavors are evenly distributed throughout each meatball.

meatball mixture in a food processor bowl
Pulse until smooth.

Use cooking spray to the inside of the slow cooker dish so the beef meatballs won’t stick.

Remove the food processor blade and roll a generous spoon of the mixture (golf ball size) into meatballs, placing the raw meatballs into the slow cooker dish.

keto self-saucing meatballs in the slow-cooker
Roll your keto meatballs and place them in the slow-cooker.

Step 2: Add your tomatoes

keto self-saucing meatballs in the slow-cooker
Add your canned tomatoes

In the morning, turn the slow-cooker to HIGH or LOW setting depending on how long you would like to cook your meatballs.

Pour the canned chopped tomatoes over the prepared meatballs and stir. You can use fresh tomatoes but the tinned tomatoes tend to work better and produce a thicker sauce.

keto self-saucing meatballs in the slow-cooker
Fully cooked meatballs in the crock pot.

Step 3: Cook

Cook meatballs on LOW for 6-10 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. But be guided by your own experience with your own slow cooker instructions as they all vary.

How to make keto tomato sauce

meatballs being served from a slow-cooker

Often, people enjoy meatballs with a variety of sugar-laden sauces that add carbs and calories. In this recipe, you won’t find any grape jelly and bbq, cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, or sweet and sour sauce mixture. Instead, these meatballs self-sauce in a simple tomato base.

The sauce is not a traditional store-bought tomato sauce (or tomato ketchup), but more of a tomato gravy. The keto meatballs cook in the gravy and when it’s time to serve you drizzle additional delicious tomato sauce (tomato gravy) over your bowl of meatballs and zoodles.

The beauty of the self-saucing keto tomato sauce is that all the lovely juices and fats that come out of the ground beef meatballs as they cook, helps to thicken and make a rich, filling yet delicate sauce.

If your tomato gravy separates, just stir it together to mix the oils, tomatoes, and flavours together. If you want a thicker keto gravy, you can add xanthan gum or cream cheese and whisk gently over medium heat.

Variations

Want to change this recipe up? Here are a few options.

Ground pork meatballs – instead of making these crockpot meatballs with ground beef, try using pork or a 50-50 mix of both.

Italian meatballs – adding Italian seasoning to your crockpot meatballs will give them so much flavour! Try a combination of your favorite herbs or just purchase an Italian seasoning blend.

Spicy crockpot meatballs – I love a good kick of spice, but my kids don’t. To appease us all, I add chili sauce to my meatballs after I’ve served myself. Chili sauce tends to be low carb but make sure you read the labels and double-check.

BBQ meatballs – if you really want, you can add a bbq sauce to these crockpot meatballs. However, don’t go buy a bbq sauce off the shelves. Chances are, it’s full of added sugar! Instead, make my simple no-sugar bbq sauce. It’s tangy and delicious! Grab the bbq sauce recipe here.

Swedish keto meatballs – make a delicious keto creamy mushroom sauce and pour over your meatballs when ready to serve.

How to serve keto meatballs

keto self-saucing meatballs served in a bowl with sliced cabbage

Many traditional meatball recipes are served with high-carb side dishes such as mashed potato, bread, and pasta. But you can easily avoid these unnecessary sides by serving your meatball recipe with a store-bought bagged salad, coleslaw, or sliced cabbage.

Other great side dishes to serve with meatballs:

Low-carb vegetable noodles are such a healthy alternative to processed pasta. Traditional wheat pasta is high starch, high carb and will raise your blood sugars.

When you make zoodles (zucchini noodles) let your children make them. Vegetable pasta is fun to make and children love cranking the handle and watching the zucchini spirals take shape.

But the best side dish to serve with ground beef meatballs has to be zoodles, spaghetti squash, or 3 ingredient keto pasta (egg free).

Which cheese is best with meatballs?

When it’s time to serve your keto meatballs, place the mashed cauliflower, zoodles, or spaghetti squash in a serving bowl, add your cooked meatballs from the gravy, and pour extra keto gravy over the top.

Now cover or sprinkle the whole meal with grated parmesan cheese or shredded cheese. Mozzarella cheese is beautiful and as it melts over your meatballs, it becomes authentic Italian stretchy and chewy meatballs and cheese.

Storage

You can place the crockpot meatballs in a meal prep container (I prefer glass, particularly when dealing with tomato sauce as it stains plastic terribly.

It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.

You can also make these into frozen meatballs by adding the container to the freezer. I like to proportion out a few frozen meatballs per container for easy meal prep!

Pre cooked frozen meatballs can be microwaved or added to a saucepan and heated over medium heat.

I hope you and your family love this tasty meatball recipe! This is one of my favorite lowcarb dinner ideas. Enjoy!

Meatball FAQs

Can I make meatballs ahead of time?

Yes, keep the fresh meatballs in the bowl of your crockpot or slow-cooker in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking.

Are meatballs keto?

Most traditional meatballs are not keto because they have bread crumbs or added flour to bulk up the ground beef and to help make the meatballs stick together. And avoid all honey garlic meatballs, heinz chili sauce, apple jelly, grape jelly, or sweet chili sauce. They’re all full of sugar and will make your blood glucose skyrocket.

Is BBQ sauce keto?

No, store-bought BBQ sauce has brown sugar, added sugars, and starches along with unhealthy oils. Make my sugar-free tangy keto BBQ sauce instead to help you stick to your daily carb limits.

How to store cooked meatballs?

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

How to reheat frozen meatballs?

Allow your frozen meatballs to defrost first by sitting covered on the kitchen bench for a few hours or using the defrost function of your microwave.

Always check the middle of your meat balls in your storage container to make sure there is not a frozen meatball hidden.

Reheat by placing your crockpot meatballs in a saucepan over the stovetop, reheating in the oven, or using the reheat function of your microwave. Test the center of a few meatballs to make sure they are hot and there are no cool spots.

How many meatballs does this recipe make?

It depends on how large or small you make each meatball. The recipe will serve 8 people. You will make fewer if you roll large meatballs, and more if you roll small ones.

Can I halve or double the recipe?

Yes, you can use the 2X, 3X, or 4X to increase the servings or use the slider to adjust to only serve one or two people.

Do I have to pre-cook meatballs before putting them in the crockpot?

No pre-cooking is required. You don’t need to fry or brown the raw meatballs either. Throw everything together in your slow-cooker and let your crock pot do the hard work for you.

Do you thaw meatballs before putting them in the crockpot?

If you are using frozen meatballs you can cook them directly from frozen. Add an extra 1 hour on high or 2 hours if you cook on low to allow for cooking frozen meat.

Can you overcook meatballs in a crockpot?

It’s difficult to overcook meatballs in the slow-cooker. But if you do the meatballs may fall apart and you’ll end up with a ground beef marinara sauce (which might actually be really yummy).

More keto meatballs

collage of how to make keto meatballs in the slow-cooker
meatballs being served from a slow-cooker

Self-saucing keto crockpot meatballs recipe

Self-saucing keto crockpot meatballs (4.2 g NET carbs) is a simple and healthy mid-week family dinner. Serve the juicy sauce over zoodles or mashed cauliflower.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain free, Keto, LCHF, Low Carb, No Sugars, Paleo, Wheat Free
Keyword: keto crockpot meatballs, Keto meatballs, Self saucing meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 371.9kcal
Author: Thinlicious.com
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Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients
 
 

Meatballs

  • 1 onion quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 slices bacon diced
  • 1 kg ground/minced beef
  • favourite herbs – I use rosemary thyme, oregano, marjoram and sage
  • 1 eggs – medium
  • salt and pepper to taste

Self Saucing Tomato Sauce

  • 800 g tinned/canned chopped tomatoes

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Oil the inside of the slow cooker dish so the meatballs won’t stick.
  • Place the quartered onions, whole garlic, and bacon in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add the ground beef (minced beef), herbs, and egg. Pulse until smooth.
  • Remove the blade and roll a generous spoon of the mixture into meatballs, placing each one into the slow cooker dish.

Self-Saucing Tomato Sauce

  • Pour the canned (tinned) tomatoes over the meatballs. You can use fresh tomatoes but the canned (tinned) tomatoes tend to work better and produce a thicker sauce.
  • I cook on LOW for 6-10 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. But be guided by your own experience with your own slow cooker instructions as they all vary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serveCalories: 371.9kcalCarbohydrates: 5.6gProtein: 23.8gFat: 27.9gSodium: 271.6mgPotassium: 567.1mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 149.1IUVitamin C: 10.6mgCalcium: 61.4mgIron: 3.6mg
keto self-saucing meatballs served in a bowl with sliced cabbage
Self-saucing keto crockpot meatballs (4.2 g NET carbs) is a simple and healthy mid-week family dinner.

So what is your favourite slow cooker meal? Leave a comment below.

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Recipe Rating




57 Comments

  1. You don’t specify. Do we set the slow cooker to low or high?

    1. Hey thanks for pointing this out Geena, I’ve added this to the recipe “I cook on LOW for 6-10 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. But be guided by your own experience with your own slow cooker instructions as they all vary.”

  2. About how many meatballs do you make?

    1. Gosh i cant remember, it states feeds 8 as our family of 5 can eat this for dinner, and there are still leftovers for the next days lunchbox. Each meatball is similar in size to a golfball.

  3. Are the tinned tomatoes drained?

  4. Are tinned tomatoes …canned tomatoes?

  5. So all the sauce ingredients are in the mtballs; genius!
    Trying this soon…Im on a crockpot kick. Made Salsa Chicken the other nite, then crocked greens & brussels in the liquid then rinsed the crock and filled it up with beef roast ingredients and put in fridge. Crocked it the next day lol …and I have gravy makings/rice broth concentrate left from that liquid. (my kids still eat rice and oats)
    Someday I may even make soup again in my crock lol

    1. I couldn’t live without my crockpot/slow cooker. It makes life sooo easy after a long day and coming home late from sports/activities with the children. And yes soup is great in the crockpot/slow cooker. Just throw everything in, then blend it with the stick blender when you get home (if you want a smooth soup). Real food, real easy 🙂

  6. Another very good idea Libby.
    I do think too that it can be so handy to cook extra and use it for lunch the following day …

    All the best Jan

    1. Jan I so agree. Leftovers are so overlooked and just the easiest thing. Making double doesn’t take much extra time, but you have a proper home cooked meal ready when you need it.

  7. the only thing I did different (possibly) to the recipe was use very lean beef — don’t do it! Way too dry, unedible…If I do this again, I’ll use fattier beef…It seems like a great recipe, though.

  8. I made this tonight and it’s absolutely delicious and quick too! For the herbs I added 1/2 tsp. each of dried basil, sage, rosemary, and thyme. I love how the bacon taste is subtle but not overpowering. I served this with steamed green beans and baked sweet potatoes. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

  9. This looks great, and I’ll be trying it soon with some different ground meats as I don’t eat beef. I think ground pork or bulk Italian sausage might work well, and possibly ground turkey or bison if I add some fat to it. Thank you!

  10. Ive just made this and…Oh my goodness!!!! Amazing comfort food with little to no effort. I served it with zoodles and it is decadent. Thank you so much for adding a divine recipe for our Low Carb High Fat lifestyle. Very rare for me to not tweek or edit a recipe ive found on Pinterest…this is just PERFECT as is!!!!!!

    1. Ah Cheryl that is so lovely 🙂 . It’s pretty darn easy and healthy isn’t it? I love developing recipes which are as easy as possible. It just shows you that good, real food and good, home cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. And I’m with you on the tweaking recipes, I’m always doing that, hence me tweaking everything now to be LCHF family friendly.

  11. I used to have cancer, so I’m reading up quite a lot about what to avoid regarding nutrition. On quite a few occasions I read that tinned tomatoes are very carcinogenic. Just a concern.

    1. DeltaErin says:

      Hi Andrea – I too am a cancer survivor. Yay us! I live in British Columbia and can buy organic cooked tomatoes as well as tomato pastes in glass jars instead of cans. Check with your local health food store and hopefully they’ll carry something too.

      And thanks for the swell recipes Libby – I just received a slow cooker as an early Christmas present and am oh so keen to try your recipes. Oh boy! ?

  12. Do you need to brown the meatballs prior to placing them in the slow cooker?

    1. No, I just roll them quite firmly and pop them in. I have trialled many slow cooker recipes with browning meat and again without, and I found it makes little difference. If I had to brown meat before putting in the slow cooker, I know I wouldn’t have time in the morning and hence defeat the purpose of being an easy to prepare meal for when we get home. I like to make my recipes as simple as possible (and cut our any unnecessary steps). 🙂

  13. This recipe is one of my family favorites! I make it quite often. With zoodles,a side salad or just by themselves, they’re a hit every time! I love letting them cook overnight and waking up to that delicious aroma!

  14. Made these last night – so easy and delish!
    We had ours with Cauli mash and took the leftovers for lunch the next day on a bed of spinach.
    Wonderful mid-week dish that satisfied the entire family.

  15. Yvonne van der Westhuizen says:

    Please more slow cooker recipes!!
    I love your recipes you share with us!
    Paprika chicken in my slow cooker as we speak!
    Thank you Libby
    ?

      1. Yvonne van der Westhuizen says:

        Thank you!

    1. I agree – more slow cooker recipes as although I have some of my own it’s nice to try new ones too!

  16. How many meatballs is in a serving and how many meatballs does this recipe usually yield? Thank you!

    1. It really depends on how big you make the meatballs. I know it served my family of 5 then there were 3 leftover portions which I froze to keep for another day.

  17. Hi, Made these today and the flavour was lovely, but unfortunately the meatballs were very dry. In fact when i checked them about 3 hours in (on low) they seemed overdone. Any thoughts on why? They were quite big and I just used regular mince (not premium). I did blend them quite a bit in the food processor, maybe I over did that? Any thoughts would be great, as would love to make this recipe work :-). Many thanks

    1. Hmm, the only reason I can think of is that they were overworked in the food processor so the lovely fats melted and were released into the sauce? They shouldn’t be dry at all because they are cooked in diced tomatoes. Maybe next time just work them by hand and see if you get a better result. Some food processors are incredibly powerful.

      1. Great thanks for that, will try that next time. The flavour was lovely.

  18. These are simple and tasty. Very pleased as they are moist and soft. I think I will add more garlic next time and possibly some pine nuts. The crock pot approach is perfect. I would like to post a photo of the finished meatballs on my plate next to a green salad.

  19. I am Jewish and do not eat bacon – what can I use instead?

    1. Feel free to replace it with any other smoked flavour or meat that is Kosher. I believe you may be able to buy Kosher bacon? I’m not sure what ingredients go into such a product however.

  20. Just stopping by to leave my comment and my thanks for this recipe! It was supper last night, with leftovers being tonight’s supper. It’s a keeper! I love how you simplify steps (uncooked bacon!)!!! I’m planning on making your stuffed meatballs and though I love cream cheese, I was wondering if string cheese would be a suitable alternative? I’ve even thought to make it into a meatloaf. I might just have to make it both ways! 🙂 Thanks again, Libby!

  21. Fiona Smith says:

    This will be s definite go to recipe in our house! Its amazing how such simple ingredients can turn out so yummy!! The sauce was so good and we got two full meals for our family of 4 plus lunch for me tomorrow. Thanks for another awesome recipe!

  22. About how many meatballs is one serving?

    1. The recipe serves 8. I haven’t put a number of meatballs as everyone will make different sizes and hence make a larger or smaller number of meatballs. The recipe always serves enough for my family of 5 with leftovers for my 3 children to have it again the next day.

  23. Anna Oates says:

    Another fabulous recipe Libby. I’ll be making these on a regular basis. I used rosemary from my garden as well as parsley and basil. I added a little tomato puree to the sauce at the end and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. I garnished with fresh basil and served with steamed long stem broccoli and griddled courgettes. Delicious!
    I made the KFC chicken a few days ago but did small pieces of chicken breast to make nuggets. Will be having that again tonight because they were so awesome. I don’t know what I’d do without your recipes. ?

  24. Mary wood says:

    Hi Libby … just to let you know this recipe is amazingly tasty.

    I cut more carbs (5 net carbs per 100g meatball) by only adding a 400g can of chopped tomatoes about 1/2 cup of water to rinse the can which I added to the mix, 65 grams of streaky bacon, 30 grams of finely chopped leeks and the rest of the ingredients. I also didn’t use a blender (too lazy to get it out) … just following your mantra about saving time lol and finely diced and mixed with my hands.

    Cooked on very low on stovetop (about 4 on the dial) for 50 mins with the lid on and turned off after the 50 minutes– I didn’t take the lid off, just let it cook in the trapped heat. I then warmed up on medium for dinner.

    What I couldn’t believe was how insipid it looked before cooking it and then it turned into this so delicious dish. I served it with 100g of cooked cabbage (the pasta component) and topped with shredded parmesan cheese.

    Guess what we are having for dinner tonight … leftovers mmm mmm

    Thank you again.

    1. Wow Mary, thank you so much for adding your twist on the self saucing meatball recipe. It sounds amazing and I especially love the idea cabbage and parmesan. I can only imagine the amazing cooking smells filling your house right now 🙂 Enjoy.

  25. Angeline Newson says:

    I’m not a fan of tomatoes. Could I use tomato puree instead?

    1. The sauce would turn out to be quite thick, but it might just work. Take a look at the nutrition labels, the puree sometimes is higher in carbs especially if it is the concentrated version.

  26. Hi! I know I’m late to the game but just discovered your site! I made this with petite diced tomatoes because I couldn’t find chopped tomatoes and while the meatballs were good, the tomatoes didn’t make a sauce at all—they didn’t break down at all. I’m not sure what chopped are —is it more thin, like tomato sauce?? I love the ease of this recipe so I’m really wanting to figure out how to make it work! Thanks

    1. Welcome, so glad you discovered me 🙂 Yes the tinned/canned tomatoes generally have a tomato puree or liquid with them. There is nothing added to the tomatoes, just their appearance is incredibly more diced than we can do at home with fresh tomatoes. Maybe crush your tomatoes next time if you are lucky enough to use fresh tomatoes. That will produce a tomato base, that will create the sauce.

      1. Thanks, I’ll give it a try!

  27. Shelley Wilson says:

    I will make this tomorrow with kangaroo mince. Will post how it goes.

  28. Can this meal be frozen? Can the preformed meatballs be frozen for later use?

  29. Hello! I want to try this recipe and I see the complete description on this page, but the actual recipe with the ingredient amounts and numbered steps aren’t displaying. Help, please and thank you!