Photo of Classic Italian Meatballs by WW

Classic Italian Meatballs

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


Uncooked 93% lean ground beef

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


2 large egg(s), lightly beaten

Uncooked onion(s)

1 small, finely chopped


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

Fennel seeds

¾ tsp, crushed

Kosher salt

1 tsp, or to taste

Black pepper

¼ tsp, or to taste

Canned tomato sauce

26½ oz, (1 carton), with basil variety

Diced tomatoes with onion and garlic

14½ oz, (1 can)

All-purpose flour


Olive oil

1 Tbsp


½ cup(s), fresh, thinly sliced


  1. Stir together beef, eggs, onion, garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until combined well but not overmixed. With damp hands, shape into 24 meatballs.
  2. Combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in 4- or 5-quart slow cooker; set aside.
  3. Spread flour on sheet of wax paper; roll meatballs in flour until coated on all sides, shaking off excess.
  4. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. 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. Serving size: 3 meatballs and about 1/2 cup sauce