Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs — EASY homemade chicken meatballs that simmer in buffalo wing sauce, seasonings, and spices in your slow cooker! Juicy and full of all the flavor of traditional buffalo chicken wings, minus the messy factor! Great for game day parties, holidays, graduations, or anytime you need an appetizer that kids and adults alike just adore!
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs Recipe
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy buffalo chicken wings, although they can get a little messy sometimes! That problem is solved with these buffalo chicken meatballs that you can eat with a fork and there’s no chicken bones to bite around.
These slow cooker buffalo chicken meatballs are juicy and have a perfect amount of tangy heat thanks to the buffalo wing sauce. I use ground chicken to make homemade chicken meatballs although you can shortcut this and use frozen meatballs instead.
The meatballs are briefly baked and then simmered in buffalo wing sauce in the slow cooker to absorb maximum buffalo chicken flavor!
Whether you want to make these as a game day party snack, or as an appetizer addition to a backyard cookout or a holiday party where people can graze by and enjoy them, or a graduation party, I assure you that people always want the recipe and can’t stay away from them!
Best of all they are so easy to make with just about 15 minutes of hands-on prep!
Ingredients in Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
For these easy slow cooker buffalo chicken meatballs that kids and adults alike all love, you’ll need the following common, easy-to-find, fridge and pantry ingredients including:
- Ground chicken
- Panko bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Buffalo sauce
- Ranch dressing, optional for serving
- Carrots and celery, optional for serving
How to Make Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
This recipe for slow cooker homemade buffalo chicken meatballs is a cinch. Follow these straightforward steps:
- Combine the ground chicken, egg, panko, Parm, onion and garlic powders, smoked paprika, and mix together.
- Form 1-inch meatballs using a small scoop, place them on a baking sheet, and bake for 8 minutes.
- Transfer the meatballs to your slow cooker, pour the buffalo sauce over them, toss to coat, and cook on low for 2 hours.
- Serve them with ranch, carrots, and celery or as you’d like!
Can I Use Frozen Meatballs for This Recipe?
For anyone short on time or energy, and you don’t want to bother with making your own meatballs, you can use frozen meatballs that have been previously cooked.
Thaw them and add them directly to your Crock-Pot. You can skip the baking step since they’ve already been cooked. Cover with sauce and then slow cook them on low for about 60 to 90 minutes.
It’s not likely they will need the whole two hours that the scratch buffalo meatballs require since they need more time to fully cook through.
Tip: If you can’t find store-bought chicken meatballs, you can use turkey meatballs instead. I love Trader Joe’s frozen turkey meatballs.
Can I Make Buffalo Chicken Meatballs Without a Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can make buffalo chicken meatballs without a slow cooker. Rather than only baking them in the oven for 8 minutes, instead bake them for 25 minutes.
Then, cover them with the sauce mixture and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
This turns the recipe into oven-baked buffalo chicken meatballs in just 30 minutes of total baking time rather than 2 hours in a Crock-Pot.
For me personally, I am always in a rush and almost always personally opt for the quickest method.
What Buffalo Sauce Is Best for Buffalo Meatballs?
You can use any brand and heat level of buffalo sauce that you like.
I use Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce. My family likes it, it’s reasonably priced, has just the right heat level, and it’s easy to find.
What to Serve with Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
There’s nothing like biting into a fresh, hot, and juicy meatball smothered in warm buffalo sauce fresh from the slow cooker!
Can I Make the Meatballs in Advance?
Absolutely! You have a few make-ahead options for this chicken buffalo meatballs recipe.
- Form the raw chicken meatballs up to 24 hours before you plan on baking and then slow cooking them.
- Assemble and cook the meatballs as instructed. Let them cool and then store the entire slow cooker insert in the fridge for up to 5 days before reheating and serving.
- Make the entire batch as instructed, let cool, then freeze for later.
How to Store Buffalo Meatballs
However, extra meatballs will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer.
Generally speaking, meatballs freeze and thaw very well so you can even use this as a batch-cooking recipe. Double it and then eat half and freeze the other half.
Tips for the Best Buffalo Chicken Meatballs in a Slow Cooker
For this easy buffalo chicken meatball recipe, I have a couple more tips to ensure that this recipe becomes an instant family favorite!
Ground chicken substitute: Ground chicken is necessary for buffalo chicken meatballs technically speaking. However, if you have ground turkey on hand, that’s fine too.
Breadcrumbs: Make sure to use panko breadcrumbs rather than regular breadcrumbs. They’re Japanese-style bread crumbs and help give the meatballs some texture.
If you’re wondering what to do with the rest of your box of panko bread crumbs, check out these other great recipes using panko bread crumbs.
Parmesan cheese:Don’t use Parmesan cheese in a can. Use freshly grated, high quality Parmesan for the best flavored meatballs. Not only does the Parm add flavor, but it also adds fat which is essential to helping the meatballs hold together since ground chicken is extremely lean.
Shaping the meatballs: Scoop our your meatballs with a small scoop. Not only does this ensure that they all visually appear the same, but it ensures they will all cook at the same time and rate.
Slow cooker size: I suggest using a 6 to 8-quart slow cooker for your meatballs. And as mentioned above, you can also make these meatballs as an oven-only recipe.
Cook temperature: Cook your meatballs on low rather than high for the best flavor.
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- 1 pound ground chicken* (See Notes)
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika may be substituted)
- ¾ cup buffalo sauce
- Ranch dressing, optional for serving
- Carrot and celery sticks, optional for serving
- Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup; set aside.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the egg, panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic and onion powders, smoked paprika, and mix to combine, using either very clean hands or a wooden spoon. Tip - Don't overmix or the meatballs will be tougher.
- Using a small scoop, form 1 to 1 1/2-inch meatballs, place them on the prepared baking sheet evenly spaced apart, and bake for 8 minutes. They will not be cooked through at this point, but will finish cooking in the slow cooker.* (See Notes for using store bought meatballs)
- Transfer the meatballs to a 6 to 8-quart slow cooker, evenly drizzle with buffalo wing sauce, cover your slow cooker, and cook on low for about 2 hours.
- Optionally serve with ranch dressing, and/or carrot and celery sticks, if desired. Meatballs will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
*For anyone short on time or energy, you can use frozen meatballs that have been previously cooked. Thaw them and add them directly to your slow cooker. Skip the baking step since they’ve already been cooked.
Cover with sauce and then slow cook them on low for about 60 to 90 minutes. It’s not likely they will need the whole 2 hours that the scratch chicken meatballs require since they need more time to fully cook through.
Additionally, if you can’t find store bought chicken meatballs, you can use turkey meatballs instead. I love Trader Joe’s frozen turkey meatballs.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 51Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g
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