Photo of Classic Italian Meatballs by WW

Classic Italian Meatballs

Points® value
Total Time
3 hr 35 min
35 min
3 hr
Fennel seeds give these meatballs an extra pop of Italian flavor. To ensure they come out nice and tender, handle the meat mixture as little as possible when mixing and shaping it.


Uncooked 93% lean ground beef

1 pound(s), (7% fat or less)

Raw egg

2 large, lightly beaten


1 small, finely chopped


1 clove(s), large, crushed through a press or grated on a Microplane grater

Fennel seed

¾ tsp(s), crushed

Kosher salt

1 tsp(s), (or to taste)

Black pepper

¼ tsp(s), (or to taste)

Canned tomato sauce

26 oz, (1 carton), with basil variety

Canned diced tomatoes

14½ oz, (1 can)

All-purpose flour


Olive oil

1 tbsp(s)

Fresh basil

½ cup(s), thinly sliced


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together beef, eggs, onion, garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper until combined well but not overmixed. With damp hands, shape into 24 meatballs.
  2. In a 4- or 5-qt slow cooker, combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes; set aside.
  3. Spread flour on a sheet of wax paper; roll meatballs in flour until coated on all sides, shaking off excess.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Cook meatballs in two batches, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to slow cooker as they are browned. Spoon tomato sauce over meatballs. Cover and cook until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 hours on Low; stir in basil. Divide meatballs and sauce evenly among 8 bowls.
  5. Per serving: 3 meatballs and about 1/2 cup sauce