Meatballs in Sauce (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot) and Zoodles

Meatballs in Sauce (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot) and Zoodles

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28 oz) cans Cento Italian peeled whole tomatoes, puréed in blender (or others that don’t contain sugar)
  • 2 tsp oregano, divided (1 t. in sauce, 1 t. in meatballs)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste (1 t. salt in sauce, 1 t. salt in meatballs)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup ground whole oats or almond flour (I prefer almond flour)
  • 1 t. parsley
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked spaghetti or 6 zucchini for zoodles (4-6 servings)


  1.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until lightly brown.
  2. Mix in 2 cloves garlic, and cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir in blended tomatoes, 1/2 the oregano, and bay leaves.
  4. Season with 1 t. salt and pepper to taste. Pour in slow cooker and set to low while preparing meatballs.
  5.  In a bowl, mix the ground beef, oats, remaining oregano, remaining garlic, parsley, eggs, and cheese. Season with 1 t. salt and pepper. Roll into 1 inch balls, and drop into the sauce.
  6.  Cook meatballs on low until done, about 6 to 7 hours. (My slow cooker always cooks faster than recipes suggest; it took 5 hours.)
  7.  About 20 minutes before dinner, put zucchini through spiralizer. Cut long strands into 10-in pieces, roughly. Saute in 2 batches, in 1 T. Olive oil for about 5 minutes. Drain in colander, patting with paper towels (can be watery.) Serve the meatballs and sauce over the zoodles (or spaghetti if you prefer).
Notes: This meal is even easier if you use your favorite no-sugar prepared tomato sauce (I like Rao’s). You could also purchase fresh, pre-cut zucchini noodles. Or you could prepare the zucchini noodles in advance, even the night before, and cook for 5 minutes just before dinner. The meatballs freeze well in the sauce if you have leftovers.

If you want to make these in an Instant Pot, select manual, high pressure, and cook for 10 minutes. So quick!