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Jan 24, 2020

Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine

These slow cooker meatballs Florentine are made with ground beef, lots of spinach, Parmesan cheese, and are slowly simmered to perfection in a tasty homemade sauce.

I received product for this post from Banza. All opinions are my own. #NationalSlowCookerMonth. 

Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine

These meatballs Florentine are also a great way to get your kids to eat their spinach... without even knowing it! This spaghetti and meatballs recipe is super family friendly.

After simmering these meatballs in the slow cooker for five hours on low, serve them over spaghetti along with a salad and crusty bread for a delicious family dinner.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine

I am currently falling back in love with my slow cooker. In the last week, I've made this Chinese barbecue pork, this loaded baked potato soup, and this red beans and rice dish. Every single recipe was killer good and so easy to make.

How to Make Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine:

First, you add the sauce ingredients into your slow cooker.

Next, you make the meatballs by combining bread, milk, Parmesan cheese, and lots and lots (4 cups) of chopped spinach before adding ground beef. These meatballs are probably about half meat and half veggies.

Spinach for Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine

Form the mixture into balls and then give them a spin in the microwave to help firm them up before adding them to the slow cooker, a trick I learned from America's Test Kitchen.

Finally, cook these meatballs in the slow cooker in the sauce on low for 4 to 5 hours. Once the meatballs and sauce are fully cooked, stir some fresh basil into the mix.

You (and your kids) will love these meatballs. In fact, don't tell the kids what Florentine means and they'll never even know that they are getting a full serving of spinach in their spaghetti and meatballs.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine over chick pea noodles

I served the meatballs and sauce over Banza spaghetti (they are a sponsor... be sure to enter our giveaway at the end of this post to win a Banza prize package), which is made with chickpeas, not wheat.

The pasta turns out like wheat pasta after boiling. Just be sure to use a larger than usual saucepan because the water gets super foamy while the pasta is cooking.

Chick pea noodles boiling

These meatballs were moist and flavorful, and had a wonderful texture, and the sauce was delicious. The recipe makes about 24 meatballs, enough for a pound of pasta.

Instead of spaghetti, you can substitute any pasta you like, such as shells, bowtie, or angel hair pasta. You could also serve these meatballs in submarine sandwiches with some of the sauce and cheese. Doesn't that sound amazing?

Individual Meatball Florentine

What to do with leftover Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine:

If you have leftover spaghetti, toss it in some of the sauce just to coat the noodles and store in the refrigerator separate from the meatballs. 

To serve the spaghetti and meatballs, Place some of the spaghetti in a bowl, top with more sauce and meatballs, and microwave until just heated through. It made a fantastic lunch the next day. 

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine with basil

When you are making the meatballs you might doubt that so much spinach will fit into a pound of ground beef. I was a little worried, but was so happy with the results! And my taste testers loved them! 

Plus, you don't have to serve a vegetable on the side!

More National Slow Cooker Month Recipes:

Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine

The meaty flavor of these meatballs Florentine is a sneaky and delicious way to add a full serving of spinach to each plateful.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Florentine with ground beef and Parmesan

Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine

Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine
Yield: 6 servings
These slow cooker meatballs Florentine are made with ground beef, lots of spinach, Parmesan cheese, and are slowly simmered to perfection in a tasty homemade sauce.


  • 1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced and divided into thirds
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 slices soft sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces (4 cups) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


How to cook Slow Cooker Meatballs Florentine

  1. In your 5 to 7 quart slow cooker, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, 2/3 of the minced garlic, the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper flakes. 
  2. Using a large fork, in a large bowl, mash the bread, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Add the spinach, Parmesan, the rest of the garlic, and the rest of the pepper flakes and stir. 
  3. Crumble the ground beef over the mixture and mix it in with your hands until everything is fully combined. 
  4. Form the mixture into 24 - 1 1/4 inch balls and place them on a large plate. 
  5. Microwave the meatballs for 5 minutes (you can also microwave the meatballs in two batches). 
  6. Place the meatballs, along with any juices, in the slow cooker with the sauce. 
  7. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. 
  8. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste (I did not add any). 
  9. Stir in the basil. 
  10. Serve over cooked spaghetti and garnish with more Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper. 
meatballs, spaghetti, pasta
Main dish

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was inspired and adapted from The Complete Slow Cooker.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Wow! These meatballs must pack a ton of flavor. They sound amazing.

  2. I have never heard the tip of microwaving the meatballs. Great idea. Thanks Karen.

  3. I really like this idea a lot! What a great way to sneak some vegetables into meatballs and make them extra yummy! I'm definitely makes these soon!

  4. I'm drooling over those meatballs, Karen!

  5. Those meatballs look packed with enticing flavors! And that sauce requires bread to clean the plate! I wouldn't want to miss a drop of it.

  6. So pretty...and I bet seriously delicious! I'm always looking for a way to eat more spinach too!!!

  7. I love spaghetti and meatballs. This looks incredible! I know my kiddos would love this one!

    1. It's a great way to sneak spinach into their diet too!


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