Lamb and fennel meatballs in tomato sauce

Total Time
3 hr 25 min
8 min
3 hr 5 min
These tasty meatballs take less than 20 minutes to prepare before they go into the slow cooker to cook in a savory tomato sauce. Browning the meatballs first helps take the taste and texture up a significant notch in the finished dish, so don’t be tempted to skip that step—it’s worth it. Tossing the meatballs in flour not only helps thicken the tomato sauce, but it also helps create a flavorful crust as they cook in the pan. Serve the meatballs and sauce over pappardelle or fettuccine noodles. You can also try them over zucchini noodles if you’d like to add in extra vegetables.


Uncooked ground lamb

1 pound(s)


2 large egg(s), lightly beaten

Uncooked onion(s)

1 small, finely chopped


1 medium clove(s), minced

Fennel seeds

¾ tsp

Table salt

½ tsp

Black pepper


Canned tomato sauce

26½ oz, 1 (26.46-ounce) carton), with basil

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 lamb, eggs, onion, garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until mixed well. With damp hands, shape into 24 meatballs.
  2. Combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in 3- or 4-quart slow cooker.
  3. Spread flour on sheet of wax paper; coat meatballs with flour, shaking off excess.
  4. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook meatballs in two batches, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, transferring meatballs to paper towel–lined plate to drain. Add meatballs to slow cooker, spooning sauce over.
  5. Cover and cook until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 hours on Low. Divide meatballs and sauce evenly among 8 bowls. Sprinkle with basil.
  6. Per serving: 3/4 cup meatballs with sauce