Slow Cooker Italian Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs

by Anne Bennett on November 12, 2016


from Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook, by Gina Homolka

You’re just going to have to trust me when I say that you can cook meatballs in a slow cooker. No frying in a pan, no baking in the oven, no pre-cooking at all. You just mix the ingredients, form them into meatballs and plop them into your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4 hours.

To make this weird concept even more confounding, these meatballs are made of turkey and they’re loaded with shredded zucchini. Yuck. Sounds like milk toast (aka: grey, soggy, tasteless).  But in 4 hours when you open the lid, this is what you see:


Surprise, surprise! This recipe, from Gina of, is awesome. The meatballs are delicious. The equally-easy-to-make sauce is also delicious because the meatballs flavor the sauce while everything gently cooks together. The shredded zucchini?  You don’t even know it’s there. Add some whole-wheat spaghetti or zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a super-healthy Italian-style dinner.

Don’t forget Gina’s instruction to squeeze the excess water from the shredded zucchini with paper towels. The only other step she suggests is to quickly sauté the smashed garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil before adding them to the cooker with the crushed tomatoes. Then, as they say, set it and forget it.


1 medium zucchini (7 ounces), shredded
1 1/4 lbs. 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1 tsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

For the meatballs: Using paper towels, squeeze excess water from the shredded zucchini. Put zucchini in a large bowl and add the turkey, bread crumbs, Romano cheese, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Gently form into 24 meatballs (about 1 1/4 oz. each) and set aside.

For the sauce: In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a 6-qt. slow cooker and add the crushed tomatoes, Romano cheese, bay leaf and pepper to taste. Slowly drop the meatballs into the sauce in a single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the meatballs are tender and cooked through. To serve, discard the bay leaf and garnish with fresh basil.

Serves: 6 (4 meatballs and 2/3 cup sauce)
WW SmartPoints per serving: 7

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jody Gittleman November 13, 2016 at 11:11 am

Looks like a great, easy recipe. I’m definitely going to try it.

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