Old-Fashioned Slow Cooker Meatball Stew

meatball stew
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images
  • 70 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Ratings (7)

A comforting, old-fashioned meatballs stew is a fabulous way to warm up on a cold winter evening. Imagine coming home to this meal after a day of skiing, skating, or tobogganing.

If you don't own a slow cooker, no worries! Just prepare the meatballs and vegetables and simmer the stew on the stovetop (or wood stove!) for about 1 1/2 hours. If you do simmer the stew on the stovetop, add extra water or stock, as needed.

The stew is versatile as well. Instead of minced dried onion, make the meatballs with finely chopped fresh onion. Garlic, Parmesan, or Italian-seasoned are excellent choices for breadcrumbs, as then add flavor to the meat mixture. A cup or so of frozen mixed vegetables added about 45 minutes before serving time will add even more color and nutritive value to the stew.

Brown the meatballs on the stovetop (as the recipe suggests) or bake them in the oven. Just line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a rack in it. Bake the meatballs in a 375 F oven for about 25 minutes. You'll have perfectly browned meatballs with less mess and less hands-on time. For juicier meatballs, consider using about one-quarter to one-third ground pork (90/20).

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 cup ​fine dry breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon if the breadcrumbs contain salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 to 5 medium red potatoes
  • 1 to 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (may use Healthy Request or other low-fat)
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup

How to Make It

  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the dried minced onion, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Add the meat and mix with your hands to blend thoroughly.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Arrange the meatballs in the hot oil and cook for about 15 minutes, frequently turning to brown all sides.
  1. While the meatballs are browning, prepare the vegetables. Peel the potatoes, if desired, and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Peel the carrots and slice them into 1/2-inch rounds. Chop the celery and onion.
  2. Put the potatoes, carrots, and celery in the slow cooker. With a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the browned meatballs to the slow cooker.
  3. Put the onions in the same skillet used for the meatballs. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook the onions until they have browned, or about 5 minutes. The caramelization from the onions adds flavor to the dish. If you're short on time, skip this step.
  4. In a bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup and tomato soup. Stir to blend. Pour the soups over the meatballs and vegetables.
  5. Cover the pot and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, or about 3 to 6 hours on HIGH. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.
  6. Serve the meatballs stew with crusty French bread or hot baked buttermilk biscuits. For a well-rounded meal, add some simply dressed greens or a tossed salad.