Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
These meatballs are a lighter, healthier alternative to buffalo wings, and you can easily make them right in the slow cooker!
It’s been insanely warm out here in the Bay Area, and I even think it high 90 degrees in the house yesterday. So the last thing I want to do is leave the stovetop or oven on. That’s why I finally dusted off my slow cooker, and seeing that I had an entire bottle of Frank’s RedHot ready to be used up, I just had to make these epic buffalo chicken meatballs. I’m not even a buffalo fan but these meatballs still blew my mind!
You can even make these ahead of time up to the point of baking them. When you’re ready to serve, pop these babies right into the slow cooker for about 2 hours, really letting the buffalo flavors soak right in. From there, you can drizzle on that blue cheese dressing goodness to taste. Best of all, these can be served as a snack, a party appetizer or even a light dinner!
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
A lighter, healthier alternative to buffalo wings that you can make right in the slow cooker!
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 3/4 cup Panko*
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup buffalo sauce
- 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.
- Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.
- Place meatballs into a slow cooker. Add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
- Serve immediately, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, if desired.
*Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb and can be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store.
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I can see you took full advantage of your hand model, or platter-holding model 🙂 The blue shirt with the color of the meatballs make these images pop! What perfect party food!
OMGerd. This looks so simple to make! But soo delicious looking! Must try it soon!
these were delicious….i was only able to get 19 meatballs out of the batch and i did make them small so next time i will double the recipe i think…i used sweet baby rays wing sauce and they were perfect…thank you for sharing
Oh what an awesome idea. I could see theses being a big hit at my next party!
Yep, got to 90 degrees here in FL this week too so I am definitely needing some time off the oven! I adore buffalo chicken, so these must happen to my face!
I love the colors in the first shot! Pinned!
Looks great. Love ground chicken. Is the buffalo sauce the hot sauce you used?
I used Frank’s RedHot for the buffalo sauce.
I put that $#!+ on EVERYTHING.
So tasty looking and so easy! Envious of your sunny weather, it’s chilly and rainy here.
love your recipes….but 3/4 cup of Franks. I think I am brave when I use 2 tablespoons.
Feel free to adjust the amount of buffalo sauce to taste.
Buffalo sauce is 1/2 hot sauce and 1/2 melted butter! Yum, try it!
Can I just, uhm maybe *sneaks up and steals one*
These look marvellous! Buffalo combo all the way, thanks for a great recipe! x
Hot weather. I live in Arizona its been hot for about a month or two. LOL! Look forward to making these. You had me at crock pot!……. Great photos! On a serious note , your recipes have renewed my love of cooking , thanks…..
Where can I purchase the wooden skewers featured in your awesome photo?
I was able to purchase them from Amazon.
You can buy them on amazon.com
How about little pretzel sticks instead!
I got them at my local supermarket. I cut up celery into sticks and used them.
LOVE that you used your slow cooker for this. Brilliant. . love this, Chung-Ah!
I know! It was 94 degrees in San Diego yesterday! Too hot. These meatballs look divine. Pinned.
I’m thinking I may bake them, then freeze until I need them quickly one night. Wonder if I could just put them in the slow cooker frozen. I have recipes for the slow cooker where you use frozen chicken thighs, etc. How do you think the meatball would survive being slow cooked from frozen?
I recommend thawing the meatballs prior to adding to the slow cooker.
I need to make these for my husband – he will LOVE them!
I LOVE meatballs, but don’t make them nearly often enough. Totally making these the next time we have a family get together – I know they’ll be devoured!
It’s the boyfriend’s birthday party next weekend and I have a feeling these will be very popular with the lads! The best part is I can prepare everything ahead of time! One less thing to worry about 🙂 Thank you.
Just love these photos – I want to reach out and swipe a meatball. Or at the least, some of your warm temps!
These meatballs look amazing! I love buffalo chicken anything, yum!
Yaaaay for these! Perfect for a pot luck or BBQ. Or just perfect for my face.
Oh my goodness, I was subscribed to your Tumblr feed still. I’ve just been going through all my feeds to update them and noticed. Ugh! Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long.
So need to try these meatballs. In fact, it’s dinner time here now and I’m literally salivating all over the keyboard! *wipes mouth* 🙂
These are a total lifesaver! I’m out near Sacramento, and we were above 90° the entire past week. It was almost torture to go outside during mid-afternoon, and I’m definitely not looking forward to the summer when the thermometer reads 100°+ nearly every other day. So smart to pull out the slow cooker! And all those delicious flavors? Count me in!
Hot weather? Please send some to the New England area 🙁
I would love to feel that heat, so tired of wet and damp. These look wonderful.
I made these last night for Cinco de Mayo. I added about 2 tbsp. of crumbled blue cheese to the meatball mixture and decided to make mini hoagie sliders with them. I made a ‘slaw’ out of shredded (chiffonade) Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots and diced celery. I topped the mini hoagie roll with the slaw mix, plopped the meatballs on top and drizzled with Blue cheese dressing. Wow! It may not have been ‘authentic’ Mexican fare, but it sure tasted delicious with a Margarita.
Your changes sound great. I am not on the “blue cheese” bandwagon yet but putting it in the meatballs might get me there yet.
More than the preparation I liked the presentation. Thanks for sharing.
If I needed to cook them entirely in the oven, how long would they stay in? Maybe brown them at 400 for 4-5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325, sauce them and leave them in for an additional 20 or 30 minutes?
Unfortunately, I cannot give you the exact time/oven temp as this is a recipe specifically for a slow cooker. I recommend using your best judgement to ensure that the meatballs are completely cooked through.
I understand. I kept the temperature at 400 degrees, cooking them for a total of 30 minutes, turning them twice the first 20 minutes, basting with buffalo sauce and cooking for an additional 10. Perfect! 🙂
Another winner! I always find the best stuff on your blog!
Just added these to my food list for my hubby’s poker party this Saturday… Can’t wait to try. Looks delish!
Do you think this would also work with ground turkey?
I’ve made these before but I add crumbled blue cheese into the mix then bake them.
That sounds amazing! Will definitely have to try that next time.
can I use ground beef – forgot to buy chicken 🙁
You can certainly use ground beef but I worry that the texture may be a bit more tough than using ground chicken.
thank you – I’m actually making them tonight for dinner so I will let you know how the ground beef is….
These look great!! Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to this recipe!
This sounds delicious. I love buffalo chicken and these meatballs sound so simple to make. Thanks for sharing!
I like the ease of this recipe, but I’m not a fan of buffalo sauce. How would these meatballs be without the buffalo sauce?
Melissa, as the star ingredient of this recipe is the buffalo sauce, I do not recommend omitting it. It may be best to try a different meatball recipe.
These meatballs would be great in any sauce – sweet sauce, pasta sauce etc.
Instead of cooking in oven first, do you think cooking them in crock pot longer would work.? Slow cook on low for 4-6 hours? They look yummy!
I’ve actually tried cooking them completely in the crockpot before and I was personally not a fan. A lot of the fat surrounding the meatballs had floated to the top, leaving it to be very unappetizing.
I just came across your blog and I’m so excited to try these for a college football game tonight! As well as your Parmesan zucchini crisps. Your dishes look amazing, surely I’ll be trying many more! Thanks for sharing your skills with all of us! 😀
When you bake the meatballs, does 1 side become flat. I tried another recipe awhile back and baked them but 1 side was flat.
The meatballs inevitably flatten a bit on one side. After all, they are sitting flat on a baking sheet the entire time they are baked!
Thanks for the quick response! I just found your blog through Pinterest and I cannot wait to try this and other recipes you have posted 🙂
Hi! I just found your blog and will be making this recipe tonight! I will add a small ball of fresh mozzarella to the center of the meatballs for some extra melty, cheesy goodness.
This recipe seems to be a great, lower-calorie alternative with all the same buffalo flavor. Even with the added cheese I calculated 388 calories per serving (at 4 servings for me, not 6), so your original without the cheese would be even less. And Frank’s Red Hot is my fave too! Sorry to ramble, but thank for the recipe and I’m sure they will turn out delicious!
Love this recipe! I’ve been making these for the past couple of weeks for every football Sunday and my husband and friends are obsessed! I’m thinking of preparing them and baking them tonight so I’ll have less of a clean up tomorrow but I was wondering.. If I double the recipe (to about 40 small meatballs) could I still put them all in one crockpot? Or do you think they need to all be in one single layer?
It really depends on the size of the slow cooker but it should be fine!
Hi, can you bake these the night before and put them in the crockpot the next day?
I have never tried doing this myself but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work!
this comment is probably a bit late but I cooked mine in the oven and put them into the crockpot and into the refrigerator until the next day as I was making them for Christmas Eve and it worked perfectly!! These are incredible!
That was what I was wondering.make them ahead. I like to bake them off in oven till done. Put in fridge then add to crock pot with the sauce to warm up for my next tailgate party.
I wonder if I can use ground beef instead of chicken, would it be the same?
You can certainly try substituting ground beef but without further recipe testing, I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish. It is always best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.
I don’t have any parchment paper…. Would aluminum foil work jus as well?
I am new to your site and so glad that I found it! You do an amazing job!!
I have never used buffalo sauce any suggestions for a brand?
I love using Frank’s RedHot!
Can you use chopped onions?…..I bought some, but they look kind of thick and show through the meatballs unlike yours in the picture.
Onions would be a great addition! But I recommend giving it a good dice and cooking it first before adding to the meatballs.
thank you for this great recipe! Made these for a small gathering and they were a hit! I did make and bake them early, then put in the crock pot later in the day. Turned out perfect! Used more Frank’s for our taste and made a blue cheese dressing. Will become a staple in our home!
Thank you for sharing! I am making them as I type 🙂 today is my Husbands Bday so I want to surprise him when he gets home from work with this as an appetizer. I think he will love them! I forgot the green onions, so I replaced with a tsp or so of freeze dried chives. I am sure he will love them! also he is not a fan of bleu cheese dressing so I grabbed a bottle of the buffalo ranch dressing. Cant wait to surprise him! ps- My slow cooker is still packed since we just moved so I will probably just cook them very very low and slow on stove top in a sauce pot with lid on. I think that will work. Thanks again! Happy Holidays!
It took me much longer than 4-5 minutes to have the meatballs brown. It took almost 15 minutes. Can’t wait to try them this evening as we ring in 2015!! Can’t wait to check out all your other recipes on here!!
Pat, I’m so glad you tried this recipe! As for browning, your heat source may have been set too low. Also, please keep in mind that the meatballs do not have to be completely cooked through in this step. You are simply browning it for the slow cooker.
If we don’t have two hours for cooking on low, is it okay to do 1 hour on high?
I’m not entirely sure if the meatballs will be fully cooked through after one hour. It may be best to taste-test one of the meatballs prior to serving.
I’ve made these and there great, i even subbed the tooth pick with a celery stick so you can eat the whole thing, with out ever having to worry were to ditch the stick…hahah
hi love the recipe but I am cooking for a 2 and 6yr old do you think I could substitute buffalo sauce for bbq sauce so its not so spicy??
That sounds like a great idea but without further recipe testing, I cannot say with certainty how this will turn out. Please use your best judgment to make the appropriate substitutions.
When you say Franks Buffalo sauce, is it the pre-made variety or do you make it with the straight Franks hot sauce mixed with butter? Thanks..Kevin
You can use it as is – there is no need to mix it in with butter.
I took a chance and made these for the first time to enter into our appetizer contest at work for our Super Bowl party, and I won! I doubled the recipe and baked the meatballs the night before, (they do take longer than 5 min, they take about 10 min). The next day before the party, I put them in the crockpot with the sauce for 2 1/2 hrs. on low, they were prize winning!
how many meat balls were made with doubling the recipe?
I’d love to make these for a potluck but I’d have to make them ahead and then drive 2 hours… any ideas on how to reheat them without making them dry?
Unfortunately I cannot answer this with certainty as I have not tried reheating these myself. Please your best judgment on storing and reheating.
hello i am about to make these for the super bowl do you think it would still taste good if i cooked the meatballs on a pan instead of baking them? thank you
Unfortunately, I cannot really say for sure as I have only tried this in the slow cooker.
thank you for your reply i meant frying them on a pan instead of the oven before putting them in the slow cooker
Thank you for clarifying. Pan-searing the meatballs instead of baking should work just fine.
My granddaughters will be 18 in October and we will be having them a big party these will go over great for my twins!
Fabulous recipe! Your directions and photos were perfect. I made these as an appetizer for our Super Bowl party and they were a big hit! Next time I will double the recipe as everyone wanted more!
These were delicious! Just made them tonight and accidentally forgot the egg but they still turned out great. Thank you!
Just made these. Smell awesome. Going to serve them with a bowl of the Bleu Cheese dressing for dip and celery sticks
Hi – just picked this up in UK. Chicken meatballs sound great. Not familiar with Buffalo sauce. Is it like a spicy bolognaise sauce?? I live in a small provincial town and our supermarket doesn’t have commercial buffalo sauce or Panko. Any thoughts on alternative?
I would do this for a pot luck supper – with a liquid sauce over spaghetti or rice.
Love the thought.
Judith, this is the buffalo sauce that I used. If it is not readily available in your area, it may be best to make it from scratch.
Probably a stupid question, but how many meatballs does this recipe yield? I see it says six servings but how many meatballs per serving?
Elizabeth, the number of meatballs is indicated in the recipe:
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.
Can I fry them instead? thanks!
Raven, if you prefer to make this without a slow cooker, you can pan fry these first and then pop them in the oven to finish it off.
I made this today and they were a HIT at home and at my work potluck! Any idea how many calories??
Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can gooogle “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.
these were delicious, I chopped up fresh jalapeño, added to mix, then sprinkled cayenne on them before I baked them….
Do you think you can use anything else to substitute the Panko? Besides regular breadcrumbs? anything gluten free or carb free?
Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot advise an appropriate substitute that will not alter the overall taste/texture of the dish. Using a substitution may also result in a mediocre outcome but if substitutions must be made, please use your best judgment to fit your dietary restrictions.
I dont have a slow cooker, how else can i cook these meatballs they look soooo good.
You can finish these in the oven for about 18-22 minutes, or until no longer pink in center.
you state that these can be made ahead of time up to the point of baking – can you clarify if you mean baking the 4 minutes in oven for browning or do you mean before you put in slow cooker? Just want to know if I should oven brown them before I freeze them, or freeze them before I oven brown them. Thanks!
I recommend freezing after the meatballs have been browned.
Look great and easy!! I love meatball. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
This is a great recipe but I want to make this for 12 people. Did you have any left over and if so were they still good after two hours. I want to try to just make two separate batches because I do not know what would happen if I put two rows of the meatballs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Yes, the leftovers reheat very well!
Please, do you have the nutritional count for these delicious looking meatballs?
Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.
do you know how long these need to cook in instant pot (pressure cooker)?
Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment.
These tasted exactly as I hoped they would! Because I really wanted them and was not willing to wait 2 hours, I baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I then simmered in a small pot with the Frank’s Red Hot Sauce about 5 minutes. This is similar to how I make traditional meatballs and they were great. When I am not in a rush I will definitely try using the slow cooker! We use at least one of your recipes in our weekly meal planning. Love your site!
The 5 minutes for browning is way off as other people have noted. 15 minutes and counting so far in a preheated 400F oven.
Thanks for recipe!
I made these for dinner last night and they were delicious. I was worried that the meatballs would end up dry but they were moist and full of flavor. I didn’t have two hours so I gave mine an extra 5 minutes in the oven and only did 1 hour in the crockpot on high and still came out great. I wish I had doubled the recipe because there were no leftovers.
I am going try this this weekend. Is there a a way to reach you incase i make some mistakes and need help.
Amazing recipe. Love love love it!
Pamela, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment. I will do my very best to respond in a timely manner. 🙂
I am sure my husband will like these meatballs, It looks amazing and i cant wait to get them done
We have made these twice with ground chicken and loved them! (We also have to keep them in our convection oven at 400° for 15 minutes to get them to brown.) Tonight we’re giving them a try with ground turkey, because Trader Joe’s doesn’t have ground chicken. I’ll report back with a result.
If I need inspiration you are my go-to site, and my daughters, but as I live in the Meditteranean I cant always get the exact ingredients. Could you tell me what Buffalo sauce is please. We do have Tabasco sauce out here.
Buffalo sauce is a type of hot sauce. It can be store-bought or homemade, but I always prefer store-bought Frank´s RedHot®Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.
I tried making these for the first time about a month ago. Have made them three times since! They are great! I add finely chopped celery, instead of green onion, to the meatball mixture and it tastes great! I recommend that for anyone who isn’t a green onion fan. I follow the rest of recipe as written, other than maybe adding a bit more buffalo sauce, but that’s just a personal preference.
I have been doubling the recipe and typically get between 35 and 40 small to medium sized meatballs. Thank you for the great recipe 🙂
My meatballs don’t brown in 4-5 minutes!! What did I do wrong? Lol
I browned them 7 minutes and flipped them and baked an additional 5 min
Would you say these are hot. Medium or mild with the hot sauce?
About medium to hot.
I am always looking for ways to prepare the wild game I harvest. This looked interesting so I prepare per the menu but substitute “GATOR”
The GATOR balls were and absolute hit, going try venison, tuna & conch.
Can these be stacked to the top in a Slow Cooker in several layers? Or does it have to be one single layer at the bottom? Thx
Yes, they can be stacked.
We are a huge buffalo wing family as we live in buffalo. Is was a healthy alternative to the greasy wings. I doubled the recipe and did get 48 balls. I baked them a bit longer, 7 minutes and then flipped them and baked an additional 5 minutes. I cooked them in the crock on low for 3 hours and they were delicious
Wow these were delicious! I made them on the weekend and they were a hit. I did bake them for about 10 minutes in the oven though before putting them in the slow cooker (flipping halfway through). This recipe is a keeper 🙂
Might be a strange question… But can you leave on warm in crockpot? Making for Super Bowl. Thanks