Slow Cooker Meatballs in Peanut Chile Sauce Recipe

Happy Oscar Night!

I made these fantastic meatballs last night for some friends, and they were so well-received I figured I better hurry up and share them with the Internet. I cheated and used store-bought already cooked meatballs, but you certainly could make your own to use.

I'm pleased to see that our friendly neighborhood Trader Joe's is selling chicken meatballs that don't have any added bread crumbs or other gluteny filler in the deli meat section. If you don't live close to a Trader Joe's, Aidells makes a gluten free meatball (read the label carefully--the Teriyaki flavor is NOT SAFE!).

Anyhow, the 7 of us (4 adults, three kids, aged 3 to 8.5) all really liked the flavor: creamy and slightly coconuty with a bit of spice.

The Ingredients.
serves 10

40 already cooked meatballs (frozen or fresh)
2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
1 cup canned coconunt milk (I used light, it was fine. If using regular, shake well and include the cream on top)
1 tablespoon red chile paste (jarred, in the Asian cooking aisle)
2 teaspoons fish sauce (in Asian cooking aisle, surprisingly inexpensive, although I bet you could substitute a gluten free soy sauce and not notice much of a taste difference)
1 1/2 tablespoons white granulated sugar

The Directions.

I used a 4 quart slow cooker. It's okay to use a 6 quart, but decrease cooking time by about an hour.

Put meatballs into slow cooker (frozen is fine). Add peanut butter and coconut milk. Drop in a gollop of red chile paste, then add fish sauce and sugar. Stir as well as you can to combine---it won't be perfect because the peanut butter will still be clumpy. No worries.

Cook on low for 4-6 hours, high for 2-4, or until peanut butter mixture is fully melted and the meatballs are heated throughout.

Serve as a hot appetizer, or over long grained basmati rice as a meal.

The Verdict.

These are delicious!! I ate 3 cold for breakfast, and they still were quite tasty. The spice of the sauce is noticeable, but kind of mellows when eaten with the meatball. If your meatballs have a kick to them on their own, cut back on the chili paste. We all really liked the bit of crunch from the chunky peanut butter, but if you aren't a crunchy person, by all means use creamy.

Enjoy!

Do you love this recipe?

Please share it with your friends!


Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at March 07, 2010

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What they say about this recipe

  1. I think that's a bottle of "Sambal" in the picture, right? For those that don't know, Sambal is, according to CookThink.com:

    Sambal is a spicy Southeast Asian condiment made, in its simplest form, from chile peppers and salt. A more elaborate sambal may contain onion, lime juice, lemongrass, sugar, garlic, oil and/or vinegar. You will find sambal in a jar or bottle at an Asian food market or in the international aisle at the grocery store.

    There are many varieties of sambal. Sambal Oelek is the kind you're most likely to find in the U.S. ("Oelek", "Olek" or "Ulek" refers to the mortar and pestle used to create sambal in Indonesian kitchens.) One Malaysian version, Sambal belacan, is made with shrimp paste. Sambal ikan bilis has dried anchovies in it. Sambal kemiri contains candlenuts.

    Generally speaking, any sambal adds a dark, fiery flavor to dishes. A dollop of sambal can enliven some plain rice or a simply cooked piece of meat.

    Sambal, if I'm not mistaken, while delicious -- is not typically a "curry." But I've been known to be wrong on (Millions!) occasion.

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  2. thanks, Liz!! You're absolutely right. name changed! :-0

    xoxo steph

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  3. I am SO excited to try these! I love any kind of peanut sauce. Genius.

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  4. Sounds great!

    BTW, I was reading the Martha Stewart Living magazine, and they did an article/set of recipes about gluten-free cooking. When I saw it, I thought of you!

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  5. sounds delicious and very people/party friendly!

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  6. These sound so good! One thing...I really can't stand fish in any of its forms. Is the fish sauce completely untasteable? Do you think the recipe would work without it?

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  7. Hi Niki,

    I couldn't taste it at all. I already had it in the house because I had made a Pad Thai earlier in the week. If you know you're never going to use it again, substitute soy sauce. You're only using two teaspoons, so I think it would work quite well as a subs.

    xoxo steph

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  8. 1) This sounds amazing and I'm absolfreakinglutely going to be making these meatballs. The Boy's baseball season starts soon and I'll be busting out the crockpot (which has been on hiatus since football season ended) once again.

    2) All Hail Globalization! There are no words for how incredibly psyched I am that I have each and every one of the required ingredients in my house at this very moment. A cool, new dinner that requires not a single purchase? You can't see me, but I'm shivering with delight.

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  9. I think I have everything but the meatballs. I think we would love this at our house.

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  10. How do you think it would taste with SunNut Butter?

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  11. Love your blog, but I think this is my first comment!

    Anyway, I have looked into the fully-cooked meatball options in my vicinity and it looks like they are all either spiced/flavored to be Italian meatballs OR Aidell's pineapple teriyaki OR Aidell's buffalo flavor.

    What flavor were your pre-cooked meatballs and do you think any or all of these would work?

    Thanks!

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  12. Hi Tiffany,
    I haven't tasted sun butter, so I'm not really sure, but if you like the flavor and use it often as a PB sub, I bet it would work just fine.

    Kate, my meatballs were chicken and sun dried tomato. I'd go with the Italian, if it were me!

    oxo steph

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  13. I have some lamb meatballs in my freezer that are leftover from fondue -- we served them with a peanut sauce. I've been wondering what I could do with them that did not involve getting out the fondue pot again. This will work -- thanks!

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  14. Omg, safe (GF) meatballs, and at TJ's to boot?! You just made my morning. :D

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  15. I make something very similar but I use Thai Curry paste (Red or Green, your choice) in place of the Sambal.

    The meatballs FLY outta the chafing dishes at parties...

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  16. This sounds so good! I've never come across gluten-free meatballs in the store. Of course, I kind of gave up long ago and assumed all were not safe. While we don't have a TJ near us, it's good to know there are some out there. I would LOVE this recipe.

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  17. Lisa D3/08/2010

    My mouth is watering just reading the recipe. I'm making these this week!!!

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  18. These look *so* tasty - and I think my daughter might even eat them?! I can think of all kinds of ways to enjoy . . . skewered with pinapple chunks as apps., atop Chinese noodles, with some stir-fried baby bok choy/other Asian greens & rice . . . .

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  19. Oh what an amazing meatball recipe! I'd love try this one. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. I loooove your blog and the recipes! I promised myself I would start cooking for me and my family this year, and I'm following some of your recipes when I use my slow cooker.

    Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us!

    I challenged myself (like you did in 2008) to eat and prepare at least 1 salad a day. I started 3/1/2010 and so far I'm doing ok :-)

    http://mydailysalad.wordpress.com

    Thanks again!!!!

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  21. I"m excited to try it! Thanks for sharing!

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  22. Elaine3/09/2010

    Looks good. Will try this.
    A friend told me about your blog a few weeks ago. I like it. I went and bought your cookbook over the weekend. Loving it. I collect cookbooks.
    Elaine

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  23. I didn't read the recipe. I didn't need to. And I didn't even need to look at the picture. Because anybody who knows anything about balls of meat knows its whats INSIDE that makes them rock. And your title said it all. My mouth is really watering as I am currently trying to decide whether or not I should have a bowl of cereal for dinner. oh god these meatballs. If I had more than 1 square inch of counter space I might invest in a slow cooker instead I am just stuck with a slow brain.

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  24. great idea! i have a ton of pre-made meatballs and we are tired of spagetti around here!

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  25. oh how i pine for a trader joe's! thanks for the recipe.

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  26. Happy Oscar Night to you too! Thanks for the recipe, I'm going to head out to Trader Joe's right now and make it!

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  27. Amanda in NC3/11/2010

    Made this for my family this week, and EVERYONE loved it! Even my picky little ones!

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  28. In my neighborhood, sambal is like tomato sauce with pepper. It's hot, highly seasoned and spiced.

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  29. I made these last night and the family enjoyed them. I didn't realize the Italian meatballs I used were so peppery! These are definitely going on the "repeat" list.

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  30. Could you make this using "meatless" meatballs? It looks delish!

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  31. Anonymous3/16/2010

    Unfortunately this recipe did not turn out for me. Given the positive feedback I must have done something wrong. After about 4 hours on low I realized the sauce was burning. I was able to salvage a few meatballs, but the sauce wasn't edible. Any thoughts on what might have happened?

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  32. I've been obsessed with Thai food lately and namely, peanut sauce. Must try!

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  33. This recipe was a HUGE hit at our house! I made my own turkey meatballs since all the prepare ones have their own seasoning. I browned them and then put them in the crockpot with all the other ingredients. It took no time at all and I served them with ramen noodles and broccoli. Even the picky eaters loved every bite!! Thank you!

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  34. i am so excited to find your blog! I just used my slow cooker for the first time yesterday - and I love it!!

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  35. oohhh meatballs! I really like meatballs. I can't help myself into eating this. hehe. I'm gonna try to cook this recipe. I'm sure this is so delicius :d

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  36. Loved these, and so did my daughter - who doesn't like peanut butter by itself! I used creamy peanut butter and increased the ingredients a little so I had enough sauce to coat the whole-wheat linguine I served them over.

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  37. Mmmmm...I am in the process of making these as I type.

    Someone asked if they could be made with meatless meatballs. I sure hope so! I used 1 package of turkey meatballs & 1 package of meatless meatballs (both from TJ's).

    One thing I would do over is to wait to add the meatballs until I have all the other ingredients mixed together. I put the frozen meatballs in the crock, and then by the time I had added the rest of the ingredients and went to stir them, they were frozen into a big lump! I was able to break them up and bit and stir, but it would be easier to just add them last.

    I'll let you know how it turns out!

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  38. ok...here's my update.

    First off..they were very good. I think I liked it better with the Turkey meatballs than with the meatless meatballs, only because the meatless meatballs were seasoned.

    I don't think I mentioned it before, but I also doubled all the sauce ingredients. Mainly because I like sauce, but now I'm glad I did...otherwise there would hardly have been enough to flavor the meatballs.

    That said, I only cooked it for about 2 hours on high and if it had gone any longer it probably would have been too burnt to eat. Luckily, I came home right when the edges and bottom was getting crisp so nothing was lost.

    Overall, great flavor!

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  39. These look so good, Steph!~

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  40. Like Susan, I made my own meatballs, browned them then did the rest of the recipe the same. It came out great and I have been eating the leftover happily!

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  41. Anonymous3/29/2010

    I loved this recipe! Next time though I'm going to double the sauce ingredients...it's so good on the rice we just couldn't get enough of it. Thanks so much!

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  42. Anonymous4/18/2010

    i have a confession...i didn't use a slow cooker to make this dish. and i altered it a bit. but the sauce is awesome! i put the sauce together on the stove and added chopped chicken breast and served everything over rice/steamed spinach. delish - will definitely check out other recipes and use my slow cooker next time (I just didn't have time to let it go very long tonight!). Thanks!

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  43. I came across your site via a friend and thought this looked and sounded amazing and was the first thing I tried.....but apparently I did something wrong because they did not come out very good. :( I couldn't find fish sauce so used soy instead, nor could I find chili paste so used chili sauce....maybe its not as hot? Or maybe the meatballs I got weren't as good? Im not sure, but will keep trying.

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  44. ah. I'm sorry Aimes! The soy sauce instead of fish sauce is an okay swap, but chili sauce is kind of like ketchup. It's really sweet and I think that was the problem.

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  45. New to slow cooking here. Can't wait to try this out. Any thoughts on doubling every but the meatballs in order to have it saucy in order to serve it over noodles or rice?

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  46. I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago. I have never in my life used a slow cooker, but after reading some of your recipes i think i can see a new obsession coming along. I have kidnapped a slow cooker from my mother and will be making this meatballs (meatless) tonight!

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  47. Very good. I made these yesterday for a baby shower. I made a double batch and they were all gone. Fortunately I got to try a couple. I traveled to two different stores and could not find the chili paste. I used red curry paste instead. I like alot of heat, but know others aren't as adventurous as me, so held back. It could have used a little more kick. I had the same problem as Liz with the frozen meatballs sticking together. I intended to cook them on slow, but jump started it with high, so I could get the meatballs to thaw enough to stir the stuff. Due to other comments, I was worried about them over cooking, but five hours on slow was perfect! They were served as is as an appetizer. I am not a big fan of frozen meatballs, but was short on time. Next time I think I'll make my own meat balls, and try to hunt down the red chili paste. I am definitely making this again!

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  48. Anonymous2/28/2011

    i made these for my oscar party last night & they were a huge success! everyone loved them & were asking me for the recipe. i used 2 packages of trader joe's party size frozen meatballs, and just doubled the ingredients except for the light coconut milk (only used 1 can.) it came out soo delish! such an easy recipe & it was just nice to let them cook in the crock pot for a few hours...although i did have to give it a good stir at the end since the peanut butter was still in big melted clumps at the top (i had stirred the ingredients before cooking as well)...but after letting them sit in warm mode for a bit, they were all perfectly coated!

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  49. Anonymous5/15/2011

    My husband is a Marine, and he has been away at a school during the weeks. Every Sunday, before he heads back, I cook up a few dishes and portion them out for him in containers, so he can have home-cooked food,ready to heat and eat! With this recipe (that he ALWAYS requests), I make up the sauce on the stove top, put 5-6 frozen meatballs into each of 5 containers, then spoon on the sauce. I, too, double it, because he LOVES the sauce on his rice, which he makes in a rice cooker in his barracks room. One of the other Marines had a taste of these and asked my husband "Is your wife Mexican?". No, this dish is certainly not Mexican-inspired, but he has always thought Mexican women are the best cooks! HA! My husband giggled and said something like "No, but give her any recipe and she can follow it perfect"! This is one of our family favorites and I just wanted you to know, it's US Marine approved!

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  50. I wished so very much that we'd like this recipe. I followed it exactly and found it to be just too rich. Maybe, if ever I were to try it again, I would use natural peanut butter, as that cooks better. The recipe is so easy to prepare and I bet in a crunch you could use pre-packaged meatballs. I will surely use the tip about refrigerated the coconut milk on other dishes- it works great.

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  51. What is the net weight of the 40 meatballs? I don't have Trader Joe's nearby and I'm trying to get a rough comparison for other brands.

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  52. I made this for a party and holy crap I wanted to take a bath in this sauce, it was so good.

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