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How do you reheat meatballs in a slow cooker?

Reheating meatballs in a slow cooker is a great way to keep them moist and delicious. Here are some tips for reheating meatballs in a slow cooker:

Can you reheat meatballs in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can absolutely reheat meatballs in a slow cooker! The slow, gradual heat helps keep the meatballs from drying out. The moist environment inside the slow cooker lets them reheat gently without overcooking.

How long does it take to reheat meatballs in a slow cooker?

It usually takes 2-4 hours on low heat to reheat meatballs in a slow cooker. Smaller meatballs may only need 2 hours, while larger ones may need closer to 4 hours. Check the meatballs after 2 hours, then let them go longer if needed until heated through.

What’s the best way to reheat meatballs in a slow cooker?

The best way is to put the cooked meatballs into the slow cooker and add sauce. You can use your favorite pasta sauce, marinara sauce, or gravy. The sauce helps keep the meatballs extra moist and flavors them as they reheat.

For even more moisture, you can add 1/4 cup of water or broth to the sauce. This creates steam to help prevent the meatballs from drying out.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps for reheating meatballs in a slow cooker:

  1. Add your sauce of choice to the slow cooker. Use about 1-2 cups of sauce per 1 lb of meatballs.
  2. Gently add the cooked meatballs to the slow cooker, fully submerging them in sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 2-4 hours, until heated through.
  4. Stir halfway through to coat all meatballs in sauce.
  5. Once done, you can serve the meatballs and sauce as is, or use them in dishes like spaghetti, subs, or meatball sandwiches.

Tips for the Best Results

  • Use fully cooked meatballs – Raw or partially cooked meatballs take too long to reheat safely in a slow cooker.
  • Keep sauce moist – Add broth or water to prevent the sauce from drying out.
  • Don’t overfill – Leave 1-2 inches of headspace for proper slow cooking.
  • Keep temperature consistent – Don’t lift the lid too frequently, which lets heat escape.
  • Slice larger meatballs – Cutting them in halves or thirds heats them faster.

What Sauces Work Best?

Any traditional pasta sauce, marinara sauce, or gravy will infuse delicious flavor. Some sauces that are excellent for reheating meatballs include:

  • Marinara sauce
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pizza sauce
  • Tomato-basil sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Brown gravy or turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Swedish meatball sauce

Get creative with your own combinations! Pepper gravy, creamy mushroom sauce, salsa, and sweet and sour sauce also make tasty options.

Can You Reheat Meatballs Without Sauce?

It’s best to reheat meatballs with some kind of sauce or liquid. Reheating them without sauce can lead to dry, tough meatballs. The sauce keeps them moist and adds flavor.

If you don’t want to use sauce, you can add some broth, water, or even fruit juice like cranberry to the slow cooker. Use about 1/4 cup of liquid per 1 lb of meatballs. The liquid will create steam to reheat them gently.

How to Keep Meatballs Moist

Here are some tips to keep meatballs super moist when reheating in the slow cooker:

  • Cook on low heat – High heat dries them out.
  • Use sauce – Sauce locks in moisture and flavor.
  • Add liquid – Broth, water, or juice keeps moisture in.
  • Avoid overfilling – Cook meatballs in a single layer if possible.
  • Stir halfway through – Rotate dryer top ones into sauce.
  • Keep lid on – Don’t lift lid frequently to let steam escape.

Reheating Meatballs on the Stovetop

Along with the slow cooker, another easy way to reheat meatballs is on the stovetop:

  1. In a skillet, heat sauce, broth, or gravy over medium-low heat.
  2. Gently add cooked meatballs and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Stir occasionally until meatballs are heated through.
  4. Add a little cornstarch slurry to thicken sauce if desired.
  5. Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta, in sandwiches, with vegetables, or as appetizers.

Reheating Meatballs in the Oven

The oven is great for reheating a large batch of meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place meatballs in a baking dish and cover with sauce.
  3. Cover dish with foil and bake 20-30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes to thicken sauce.
  5. Stir meatballs halfway through to recoat in sauce.

Reheating Meatballs in the Microwave

For a quick meal, reheat meatballs in the microwave:

  1. Place meatballs in a microwave-safe dish and cover with sauce.
  2. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until heated through.
  3. Stir and microwave 1-2 more minutes if needed.
  4. Rotate dish and stir meatballs frequently to prevent hot spots.
  5. Let rest 2 minutes before serving.

How to Store Leftover Meatballs

Here are some tips for storing leftover meatballs:

  • Refrigerator – Store in airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freezer – Freeze meatballs with sauce in freezer bags for 2-3 months.
  • Reheat – Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating.
  • Avoid moisture – Use paper towels to soak up excess moisture before storing.
  • Small portions – Divide meatballs into smaller 1-2 serving portions for easy reheating.

Common Questions

Can you put frozen meatballs in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can put frozen meatballs directly into the slow cooker. Add sauce and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours until fully cooked and heated through. The longer cook time allows the frozen meatballs to thaw and cook gradually.

Should meatballs be covered in sauce in the slow cooker?

It’s best to fully submerge the meatballs in sauce when reheating in the slow cooker. The sauce helps retain moisture and prevent drying out. Use enough sauce to completely cover the top layer of meatballs.

How long can you keep meatball sauce?

Properly stored sauce will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer. To freeze, cool sauce completely then store in airtight freezer bags or containers. Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating.

What temperature should meatballs be reheated to?

Reheat meatballs to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher before serving. This ensures any bacteria is killed and the meatballs are safe to eat after reheating.

Can meatballs be reheated more than once?

It’s best to only reheat cooked meatballs once for food safety. Reheating more than once allows bacteria to grow rapidly to unsafe levels. Cook fresh meatballs and sauce to store for multiple meals.

Reheating Meatballs for a Crowd

When cooking for big gatherings or potlucks, here are some reheating methods for large batches:

  • Slow cooker – Use a 6+ quart cooker. Layer meatballs and sauce to reheat 25+ servings.
  • Chafing dish – Place meatballs and sauce in chafing dish over sternos for buffet service.
  • Oven – Use multiple sheets pans at 250°F to keep meatballs hot for large groups.
  • Simmer on stovetop – Use a stockpot to simmer big batches of meatballs in sauce.

Have heated platters ready to transfer hot meatballs from the reheating source to serving stations when it’s mealtime. Keep sauce simmering for an additional serving option.

Meatballs Recipe Ideas

Take your reheated meatballs beyond just pasta dishes with these creative recipe ideas:

  • Meatball subs – Top with melted cheese on sub rolls.
  • Meatball pizza – Use instead of sausage for a fun twist.
  • Meatball appetizers – Serve bite-sized meatballs with toothpicks.
  • Meatball salad – Toss with crisp greens, vegetables, and dressing.
  • Meatball sandwiches – Enjoy on buns or bread with favorite sauces.
  • Meatball omelette – Add to an omelette or breakfast scramble.

Get the whole family involved in rolling and shaping the meatballs. Make a big batch to have plenty of leftovers for school lunches, midnight snacks, and quick meals all week!


Reheating meatballs in a slow cooker makes it simple to keep them tender and delicious. The low, gradual heat prevents them from drying out. Be sure to submerge the meatballs completely in sauce to retain moisture and flavor. Cook on low heat for 2-4 hours until heated through. Leftover cooked meatballs will last for several days refrigerated and can be frozen for longer storage. From classic spaghetti and meatballs to creative sandwich combinations, put these handy reheating tips to use for easy meals any night of the week!