Slow Cooker Meatballs in Red Sauce (aka Meatball Subs)

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Dad jokes.  They are a staple in my life.

My dad is one of the punniest guys around.  You know the jokes – “I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.  Then it hit me.” or “Have you ever tried to eat a clock?  It’s very time consuming.”.  (insert eye roll followed by a little giggle)  Any member of the Weslaco youth group during the 80’s or 90’s that travelled in the church van with my dad would most likely remember the pun that follows him pointing to a round bale of hay.

Before my husband calls me out I must admit – I get my humor from my dad. Texting between the two of us generally consists of memes, jokes and snapshots of the best church signs around town. You could say we have a punstoppable bond.

I know.  Groan.

I recently made this dish for my dad when he came into town.  I don’t want to brag… but he did say it was “the best meatball sub he’d had all day” (insert eye roll followed by a little giggle) ♥


Meatball Subs

  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef, or combo of beef/pork
  • 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 jar (28 oz) tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • Sub rolls
  • Parmesan, provolone cheese for topping

This one couldn’t be more simple, y’all.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef/pork, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion and egg.  I prefer the mixture of ground beef and pork when making meatballs, as you can see I chose here.  Save the all-beef for meatloaf 😉

Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.  I just eyeball the measuring part here, but I end up with somewhere around 2 dozen meatballs.

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In the bowl of a slow cooker, mix the pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  You can use any ‘flavor’ of pasta sauce here, whatever you have on hand.

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Side note: Sadie is ever-so hopeful.  At least she has that “kitchen spot” down!

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Place the meatballs into the sauce mixture.  You may have to stack them up a little, just try to wiggle all the meatballs down into the sauce a bit.  You can always give them a stir about halfway through cooking to move them around in the sauce.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve the meatballs up on the sub rolls according to your preference.  I detest soggy bread so my favorite method is to hollow out the sub roll a bit, place a few meatballs on top, cover with provolone cheese and broil it a bit.  I then serve it with a side of extra sauce for dipping.   

However you serve it up, these meatballs are an easy, delicious addition to your dinner rotation!

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Full Recipe

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Red Sauce

aka Meatball Subs

  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef, or combo of beef/pork
  • 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 jar (28 oz) tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • Sub rolls
  • Parmesan, provolone cheese for topping

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion and egg.

Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.

In a slow cooker, mix the pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

Place the meatballs into the sauce mixture.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve on sub rolls, topped with with cheese.

Green Chile Pork

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Who needs a super easy slow cooker recipe for the winter?  I got ya!

I love a good slow cooker recipe and this one really exemplifies what they stand for – easy to put together, easy to walk away from and delicious to eat!  Set it and forget it, right? You can adjust the heat level to your preference and serve it over rice, polenta or wrapped up in tortillas.

I’d call that a winter win!


Green Chile Pork

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ lbs pork shoulder/butt roast
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cumin
  • 1 (16-oz) jar green salsa
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped or torn, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 jalapeños, halved and seeded, if preferred
  • 1 lime
  • radish, cilantro, cotija cheese for topping, if desired

Spread the onion across the bottom of your slow cooker, making a bed for the pork to rest on.  You can chop the onions into a large dice or strips – whatever you prefer for your end results.  I usually do a large dice as you can see here.

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Sprinkle the pork with the salt, pepper and cumin.  No amounts here – just do what feels right!  You just want a nice base of seasoning across the entire roast, all sides.  This recipe works well with any type of pork roast, shoulder or pork butt, bone-in or boneless.  Today I had a bone-in pork butt so I just keep in mind to remove any bones before shredding later.

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Place the pork in the slow cooker on top of the bed of onions.

Pour the jar of salsa (I’m partial to the Herdez brand) over the pork and add the cilantro and jalapeños.  Here’s where you can control the level of spice in your dish – the salsa can range from mild to spicy and you can remove or leave the seeds in the jalapeños.  If you are feeling extra adventurous, swap the jalapeños for serrano peppers!  I chose a medium salsa and removed seeds from the jalapeños on this one.

Time to walk away!  Cover and cook the pork on low for about 8 hours. You want the meat to be tender and easily shred when done.

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When ready, shred the pork using a couple of forks.  Remember to pull any bones out!

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Squeeze some lime juice into the pork and serve over rice or polenta.  This pork also makes some delicious tacos and quesadillas!

What’s your go-to slow cooker recipe for the winter?  Let me know!

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Full Recipe

Green Chile Pork

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ lbs pork shoulder/butt roast
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cumin
  • 1 (16-oz) jar green salsa
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped or torn, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 jalapeños, halved and seeded, if preferred
  • 1 lime
  • radish, cilantro, cotija cheese for topping, if desired

Spread onion on bottom of slow cooker.

Sprinkle pork with salt, pepper and cumin; add to slow cooker.

Pour salsa over pork, sprinkle with cilantro, and add jalapeños.

Cook, covered, on Low until meat falls apart easily, about 8 hours.

Shred the pork and veggies using 2 forks.

Squeeze lime juice over pork.

Serve over rice or polenta.

Garnish with radish and more cilantro and cotija cheese, if desired.