Spanish-Inspired Slow-Cooker Meatballs

You may want to serve these slightly smoky, fragrant, briny little meatballs over pasta or polenta. The sauce, which has depth from red wine, is low in sodium because of its no-salt-added tomato base, and the meatballs are lighter than the usual suspects due to the addition of shredded zucchini and chopped Spanish olives. Do drizzle on some best-quality olive oil and a sprinkle of shredded manchego cheese.

Spanish-Inspired Slow Cooker Meatballs
Photo: Photographer / Brie Passano, Food Stylist / Annie Probst, Prop Stylist / Holly Raibikis
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 35 mins



  • 1 (14 ounce) can no-salt-added, petite-diced tomatoes

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • Pinch of saffron


  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded, chopped and squeezed dry

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • ¼ cup chopped Spanish green olives, such as Castelvetrano

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper


  1. To prepare sauce: Combine tomatoes, wine, onion, tomato paste, garlic, smoked paprika, Aleppo, salt and saffron in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.

  2. To prepare meatballs: Combine beef, zucchini, panko, egg, olives, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Roll the meat mixture into 24 (2-inch) balls. Add the meatballs to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours or on Low for 6 hours.


5- to 6-quart slow cooker

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

225 Calories
10g Fat
13g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Serving Size 4 meatballs & generous 1/3 cup sauce
Calories 225
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 19g 38%
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Vitamin A 717IU 14%
Vitamin C 13mg 14%
Vitamin D 9IU 2%
Vitamin E 1mg 4%
Folate 20mcg 5%
Vitamin K 3mcg 3%
Sodium 399mg 17%
Calcium 39mg 3%
Iron 3mg 17%
Magnesium 28mg 7%
Potassium 601mg 13%
Zinc 4mg 36%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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