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These Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo are made with Italian spices, peppers, and parmesan. They come together easily and are warm and saucy with just the right amount of spice – so flavorful. Add bread and a simple side salad for a delicious hearty meal. Perfect as a simple family dinner yet equally great for holiday entertaining. This is such an easy, cozy, hearty dinner to prepare. Directions for the crockpot are provided too!

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

You know my oldest brother Creighton must be home when I start making meatballs. These might just be one of his favorite meals. When I sent him the videos, he almost lost it with excitement. I might have made his Christmas with these meatballs!

We all know that when my family comes for the holidays I love to cook for them. It’s fun to cook with a single person in mind. Most of the time it’s Creighton, Malachi, or Red. Or a lot of times, my cousin Abby. But I will take a request from anyone. It’s always so much fun to make a dish I hope they’re really going to LOVE.

With this being the final week before Christmas (just 5 more days), my focus is on family-style recipes, a Christmas morning classic, appetizers, and drinks. Hoping these are all just what you all need!

Meatballs to start, because we all know I have a soft spot for Creighton.

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

Here are the details

First things first, when I filmed the video for these, I made the recipe on the stove. The stove top is great, but I do think I prefer cooking these in the crockpot. I gave directions for both, so do what works best for you.

Start with the meatballs. I make mine using ground chicken, ground Italian chicken sausage, Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, a poblano pepper, and an egg. Just mix everything together and roll it into meatballs. Then place them in a large braiser with sides and sear them lightly.

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

Next, pour over a couple of jars of marinara sauce and toss in a can of diced tomatoes. Add whole garlic cloves and basil, cover, and simmer. You can cook these quickly or if you have time, low and slow.

If you’re using the crockpot, they can cook quickly on high for a couple of hours or cook them low and slow all day. Either is great.

When the meatballs are cooked, pull the garlic cloves out. Then cook the garlic with butter and fresh sage or rosemary. It is during this time that I cook the orzo too.

If you’re using the crockpot, you will broil the meats with the garlic and butter. It’s simple to do.

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

Finish this up

Serve the orzo tossed or drizzled with the garlic butter, then add the sauce and meatballs. And I also like to finish with a drizzle more of butter, parmesan, and fresh basil.

Then, since it’s the holidays, I made garlic bread for dipping in the extra sauce. Plus, my favorite winter salad. ‘Twas absolute perfection.

You can serve this up one night during these next two busy weeks. But of course, it’s great to serve all winter long. It’s a hit with everyone.

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

Looking for other family meals? Here are a few ideas:

Crockpot Coq au Vin Meatballs

Crockpot Garlic Butter Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Orzo

Creamy White Bean Noodle Soup with Rosemary Bacon.

Mustard Herb Chicken and Creamy Orzo

Crockpot Crispy Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Jalapeño Ranch

Slow Cooker Saucy Sunday Bolognese Pasta

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Crockpot Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bolognese

Lastly, if you make these Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 490 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

Stove Top

  • 1. Add the chicken, sausage, Italian seasoning, parmesan, poblano pepper, and egg to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Coat your hands with oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon-size balls (around 22 meatballs).
    2. Heat a large braiser with sides over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, then add the meatballs and lightly sear, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Let the butter brown around the meatballs, another 2 minutes.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour in the marinara sauce, tomatoes, and add 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and basil. Reduce the heat to low. Partially cover and simmer 20 minutes, until cooked through, or up to 3-4 hours, stirring every hour.
    4. Remove the garlic cloves from the meatballs. Add both the butter, sage, and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Mash the garlic into the butter, allowing the butter to brown and some of the garlic to get crispy.
    5. Before serving, cook the orzo. Toss the orzo in the garlic butter.
    6. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the orzo. Top with parmesan and basil.

Crockpot

  • 1. Add the chicken, sausage, Italian seasoning, parmesan, poblano pepper, and egg to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Coat your hands with oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon-size balls (around 22 meatballs). Place the meatballs in the bowl of your crockpot.
    2. Pour in the marinara sauce, tomatoes, and add 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons butter, the garlic, and basil. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for 1-2 hours.
    3. Preheat the broiler to high. Remove the meatballs and garlic from the crockpot and place on a baking sheet.
    4. Arrange the butter and the sage around the meatballs and garlic, then broil 1-3 minutes, until crisp. Add the meatballs back to the sauce.
    5. Before serving, cook the orzo. Chop the garlic and mix with the butter and sage on the sheet pan, then mix with the orzo.
    6. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the orzo. Top with parmesan and basil.

Notes

Italian Seasoning: Mix 2 tablespoons dried basil, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 2 teaspoons each – garlic and onion powder, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1 teaspoon dried sage. Add chili flakes, if desired. Store in a sealed container.
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Saucy Braised Garlic Butter Meatballs with Orzo | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. When I printed this recipe, it lists gluten free under Diet. No where does it state that the meatball portion is gf, but you would have to sub out the orzo. I would say something needs to be modified here so those who are not as well versed in gf cooking do not serve this to someone with Celiacs or an allergy. Thank you.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      You really would just need to use gluten free orzo, which is why this is listed as gluten free as that swap would not change the integrity of the dish. I hope this makes sense:) xT

  2. 4 stars
    I absolutely loved the marinara and meatballs for this recipe. We usually love orzo but for some reason the texture of a small pasta was throwing us off. Great flavor though! I think I’ll make a different pasta (like rigatoni or orecchiette) for the left over sauce and meatballs.

    1. Hey Shelby,
      Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and sharing your comment, I love to hear that it turned out well for you! xx

  3. 5 stars
    This was AMAZINGLY yummy! I would recommend the 3-4 hour cook time as it really facilitated the thickening of the sauce.

  4. 5 stars
    Should I freeze yhe meatballs before cooking or after and freeze with sauce? I need to make a big batch for a birthday. I love your recipes!

    1. Hey Aranya,
      I would freeze the meatballs after cooking and without the sauce:) I hope you love the recipe, best of luck! xx

    1. Hi Elainy,
      So sorry, I’ve not tested this recipe in the instant pot so I don’t have those instructions. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

    1. Hey Rachel,
      So sorry, I’ve actually never worked with elk meat, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work well for you! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xx

  5. Would it be possible to update the cook times for this recipe? We bought all the ingredients for this and went to make it as a weeknight dinner thinking it was pretty quick, only to then see it calls for 3-4 hours 🥴.

    1. Hi Dominique,
      You do not need to cook for 3-4 hours, it says simmer 20 minutes or up to 3-4 hours:) I hope this helps! xx

  6. Hi Teighan,
    I am going to make these this week. Its freezing rain down here in Longmont and we need a warmer upper! I am curious about the grain in your pictures. Is it some fancy tiny orzo or some kind of rice? It looks scrumptious.
    I am a huge fan and longtime follower, thanks for being awesome!
    –Rachel

    1. Hey Rachel,
      I used orzo, but Arborio rice would also work really well here! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT