Slow Cooker Mexican Meatballs

Updated On: Sep 28, 2023

I would say that the two most often prepared ethnicities of food in this house would be Italian and Mexican.  I can never go wrong with either when it comes to feeding my hungry troops.  This recipe offers a little of both on the same plate.  When I told my Dad what we were having his ears perked up and he was ready for the invite.  The Hubs gave me the “that’s interesting” look too.  The result was rich and tasty and a snap to prepare in the slow cooker.  You should give it a shot for your hungry troops too.

Buon Comida!

To your spice grinder/coffee grinder/mortar and pestal add 1 tsp of cumin seeds
and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds.  Coriander is the seeds from Cilantro.  They are easy to grow yourself as cilantro usually bolts to seed quickly.  I dig out the entire plant and hang it upside down in my garage with a paper bag tied over the bottom.  You’ll soon have your own coriander seeds.  
Add 4 cloves of garlic, the leaves from 2 stems of fresh Oregano and leaves from 1 stem of fresh Thyme.  Whirl that baby up and make a paste.
This black beauty is a dried pasilla.  You need to remove the stem and shake out the seeds.  Then tear it into small bits.  Get rid of any extra seeds or ribs.  That’s the CALIENTE.  We just want smoky flavor not burn your face off.
Heat up your frying pan to medium-high and toss in your bits of pasilla.  You want to get a little sear going which will soften the chiles up.
If you put up jars of your home grown tomatoes then now’s the time to use them, if you sold your house at the beginning of Spring that had tons of tomato plants growing in the garden for someone else to enjoy then you grab a can of this instead.
Toss the seared pasillas into a bowl and then cover with the can of crushed tomatoes.  This will help soften them more.
Back in the same frying pan add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and saute a chopped onion.  Don’t over cook so medium heat is where you want to be.  Soft fragrant onions, not charcoal bits.  
Meet my smokin’ hot friend!  This is Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce.  Basically they are smoked jalapenos that are bathed in tomato sauce.  The result HEAVEN IN A CAN!  My trick for these babies is to open the can, dump in a clean mason jelly jar and stick them in the fridge.  You never ever want to use the whole can, right friend who shall remain nameless?  They will make parts of your body sweat that you never thought possible.  So less is more.Ok, moving on.

Dig out 1 or 2 chiles from the can.  Chop them up.

To your sweet onions add the spice mixture you made earlier and heat it through, about 3 minutes.
Toss the onion spice mixture into your food processor or blender.
Then in goes the pasilla/tomato combo
Toss in the chipotle chiles.
Add a teaspoon of salt and blend it well.  You should have what resembles thick salsa.  
Add 1 cup of chicken stock to thin the sauce and blend again.
Pour the deliciousness into the crock pot and turn it on low and cover.  Now on to the meatballs.  
Back at your spice grinder/coffee grinder/mortar and pestal you’re going to add 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon of cumin seed, 4 all spice berries, 8 peppercorns, the leaves of 2 sprigs of Oregano and grind it up.Note: you could bypass this step and also the beginning step to the sauce by using ground spices instead of whole.  Also you could use dried oregano and thyme.  Fresh is best, but dried works fine.
To 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, pork or turkey add 1 egg, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 of a white onion chopped and the spice mixture.
Add 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and mix it all together.
Add 3/4 cup of Panko Breadcrumbs (found in the aisle with Japanese food products).  You could also use saltine crackers or regular bread crumbs.  Mix it all up and start forming 1 inch balls.
In your trusty frying pan (this things getting a workout tonight) add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and fry your meatballs.  You just want them to brown on all sides but not cook through.  The goal is to have crispyness on the outside, mooing on the inside.
Toss them into the chile sauce and cover.  Cook them on low for about 3 to 4 hours.  The longer they go the chances are you’ll have a chunky meat sauce and not glorious meat balls so don’t overdo it.  


Slow Cooker Style Mexican Meatballs
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
1 pasilla chile, stemmed and seeded
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 or 2 chipotle chiles, chopped
1 c chicken stock
8 peppercorns
4 allspice berries
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
2 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves only
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
2 tsp salt
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1) To a spice grinder add the cumin through fresh thyme and grind to make a paste.
2) Heat a dry skillet over high heat and add the torn pasilla chile.  Sear on both sides and then remove to a bowl.  Add the crushed tomatoes to the chiles and set aside.
3) In the same skillet, add the vegetable oil and onion and saute at medium until they begin to turn golden brown.  Add the spice mixture to the onions and continue to saute for another 3 minutes or so, stirring to blend.
4) Add the onion mixture to a food processor or blender, add the chile & tomato mixture, the chopped chipotles and salt.  Process until smooth.  Add the chicken stock and process again.  Transfer chile mixture to the slow cooker and cook on low with the lid on while you prepare the meatballs.
1) To the spice grinder add the peppercorns through the oregano leaves and grind to make a fine powder.
2) In a large bowl, add the meat, egg, spice mixture, salt, onion, garlic and panko and mix with your hands to combine.  Form meat mixture into 1 inch balls using your hands or a an ice cream scoop.
3) In the same skillet, add the vegetable oil and heat over medium-high.  Add the meatballs and brown on all sides.  Do not cook through.  When browned transfer to the slow cooker.
4) Set the slow cooker to low and cook the meatballs for 3 to 4 hours.
5) Serve with cilantro rice and a large crisp salad.
*This recipe was adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker cookbook

Recipe By:

Heather is a recipe developer and content creator living in Vancouver, Washington. She started Farmgirl Gourmet in 2006, almost 20 years ago, as a way to share recipes with friends and family. Heather is also the co-founder of Spiceology , a unique spice company, which she started in 2013. She shares family friendly recipes for easy everyday meals with a gourmet twist.


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Join the Conversation

  1. Crispy on the outside and mooing on the inside!! LOL!! You crack me up!

  2. Mermaids of the Lake says:

    This dish just sounds so darn delicious! I love your photos too.


  3. Heather Scholten says:

    Thanks for popping over Eftychia! The meatballs were awesome. Unfortunately for me, my carnivorous boys at the leftovers! 🙂 I just added your blog to my reader. Looking forward to your future posts!

    Farmgirl Hugs!

  4. What a delicious meal. These meat balls look so tasty. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. The photos are very nice!

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