Honey Garlic Meatballs Recipe – Air Fryer, Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

4.61 / 5 ( 128 Reviews )
75 Comments Jump to Recipe

the best honey garlic meatballs recipe

If you’ve been looking around on Google for recipes with frozen meatballs in them, you’ve probably come across a lot of different recipe ideas. So many that it might be hard for you to actually pick a recipe to try out. Don’t worry. I’m going to make your choice easy today by showing you the most delicious frozen meatball recipe of them all: My slow cooker honey garlic meatballs recipe.

This one is SOOO good, I even have an instant pot version AND an air fryer version of this recipe!

The best part about this frozen meatball recipe is that it’s fast, super easy, and everybody loves it. On top of that, this recipe is also a super affordable one! These honey garlic meatballs are one of my new favorite meatball recipes! I am always a sucker for a good honey-garlic combo.

And if you’re counting Weight Watchers Freestyle points, there is a simple modification to get this recipe to just 6 WW points! Use your favorite turkey meatball recipe and then spread this to 8 servings (which is totally doable! This recipe will feed my big family and sometimes we even have leftovers!)

Frozen Meatballs:

frozen meatballs for honey garlic meatballs

This is what about 28 ounces of meatballs looks like (use a kitchen scale to easily weigh it out). I often have a big bag of the Costco Italian frozen meatballs on hand because they are delicious, and they usually cost less per pound than the plain ground beef you would use to make homemade meatballs!

You can definitely make your own meatballs in bulk and store them in the freezer. That would also work for this honey garlic meatball recipe! If you want to make some homemade meatballs, try this freezer meal meatballs recipe or this meatball recipe.

ingredients for slow cooker honey garlic meatballs recipe

Easy 5 ingredient Honey Garlic Sauce

  1. Brown sugar
  2. Honey
  3. Ketchup
  4. Soy sauce; and
  5. Garlic

I usually have these ingredients on hand at any given time. It’s sooo easy to put together!

honey garlic meatballs sauce

  1. Place the frozen meatballs in the slow cooker.
  2. Mix up the simple and delicious sauce.
  3. Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
  4. Stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce.
  5. Then just let the slow cooker do the rest. It’s good to stir the meatballs around once or twice during the cooking time to help keep the sauce distributed evenly though.

honey garlic meatballs in the slow cooker

All you have to do is throw it in, stir, and wait!

Once the time is up, you will have an awesome delicious dinner prepared and you maybe spent 20 minutes working on it! This is the perfect meal for any school night!


I love using a slow cooker liner in my Crock-Pot. It makes clean-up a lot easier! You can find them at nearly any grocery store or buy them online. I like both Reynolds and PanSaver, but PanSaver seems to be slightly better quality.

The meatballs only need about 4 hours on low before they are ready to serve! That means that if you realize you still don’t know what to serve for dinner (after lunch), you still have time to pull this slow cooker meal together (yes, this happens to me often).

Easy honey garlic meatballs

Throw some rice in the rice cooker at the same time with a delay timer and your meal is nearly complete.

If you are really in a bind for time, you can just warm the meatballs in the oven according to the package instructions or at 375 for about 15 minutes, warm the sauce in a small saucepan, then pour the sauce over the meatballs before serving. Quick, easy, and delicious!

And of course, you can whip these up in the instant pot too! Scroll down to the recipe card for the instant pot directions!

More of our Favorite Meatball Recipes:

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Honey garlic meatballs recipe

the best honey garlic meatballs recipe

Honey Garlic Meatballs Recipe - Air Fryer, Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

These honey garlic meatballs are always a hit! Slow cooker or Instant Pot recipe!
4.61 / 5 ( 128 Reviews )
Print Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
Serves: 8
Adjust Servings: 8




  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, and garlic.
  • Place frozen meatballs in a 4-quart slow cooker and pour the sauce over them. Stir to coat. Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve as an appetizer, or over rice or noodles as a main dish.


  • Turn the instant pot on saute mode and combine brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, water, and garlic. Stir until somewhat thick and bubbly (it only takes a few minutes).
  • Turn off saute mode and add the frozen meatballs. Stir to combine the meatballs with the sauce.
  • Place the lid on the instant pot and set it to manual high pressure for 2 minutes.
  • Once the cooking is done, quick release the pressure, open the lid, stir a little more and enjoy over rice!


  • Air Fry at 350˚ for 10 minutes, the last few minutes, pour glaze over the meatballs.


  • Preheat oven to 375˚F/191˚C (or according to meatball package instructions).
  • Place frozen meatballs in a single layer in a 9x13 pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes (or according to package instructions).
  • Whisk together the brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat, until simmering and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce over warm meatballs, stir to coat, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Make this weight watchers friendly by using turkey meatballs and stretching to 8 servings (sooo doable!). This will be 6 points per serving with those easy modifications!


Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 21g | Sodium: 328mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g
Ingredients: Beef, Brown Sugar, Garlic, Ground Beef, Honey, Ketchup, Meatballs, Soy Sauce
Meal Type: 30-Minute Meals, Appetizers and Snacks, Main Dish, Popular, New Year's Eve, Super Bowl Party, Clean Eating, Dairy Free, Weight Watchers
Categories: Finger Food and Dips, Meat and Poultry, Make Ahead/Freezer Meal, Oven, Slow Cooker

Comments & Reviews

  • I made these tonight for dinner with a side of roasted vegetables and it was a hit! The sauce has a great flavor! These will definitely be in our regular rotation now!

  • If I double the recipe, does the 4 hours change to 8 or no..?!

  • I prepared these for a Super Bowl party and everyone commented on how good they were – none left! I will definitely be making these again!

  • Just found your site….looks great!!
    What’s with the bag inside the slow cooker on the pictures of the honey garlic meatballs, do you cook it in the bag?

  • Made this tonight for supper. Was delicious !!!! I made two batches of the sauce and added 2 tablespoons of corn starch to thicken it up and it was perfect! Might try a bit more honey next time but definitely will be writing this down to use again!

  • Hello. I was wondering if the rice should already be cooked before going into the slow cooker or does the rice cook inside the slow cooker? Thanks, these look great would love to cook them for dinner this week and tell you how it went. Thank you for sharing!!

    • I cook the rice separately from the meatballs and sauce – either in a rice cooker or on the stove top. If your rice cooker has a delay timer, you can get the rice cooker going at the same time as the slow cooker. Set them, and forget them. 😉

  • These look great! If I am making meatballs from scratch rather than using the frozen precooked ones, do I need to adjust the cook time?

    Thanks, and I can’t wait to try these!

    • I haven’t tried this recipe with meatballs other than the frozen, pre-cooked ones, so I can’t be totally sure. It depends on if your homemade meatballs will already be cooked or not too. If not, then I would heat the sauce on the stove top and add it to the warm meatballs right after cooking. If already cooked, you could do oven or slow cooker – but yes, you would probably want to reduce the slow cooker time since the meatballs aren’t starting from frozen. Sorry I can’t get more specific since I haven’t tried it myself! Hope this helps!

  • Our frozen meatballs from sams club say 4 hours high, but you say go on low. Will there be a big difference?

    • I’ve only made it in the oven or the low setting in the slow cooker. I’m thinking it might not make much difference if you cook on high, but I haven’t tried it myself, so I would personally stick with the low setting. 🙂

  • I just got my first slow cooker. It has two pre-set cook settings- 4-6 hrs in “high” or 8-10 hrs on low. It says for recipes w/different ranges, to use the closest (it’s a 4-qt Crict-pot). I know I made these meatballs in an electric frypan in the past, cooking on the lowest setting, & they were so good I was asked ( by the people who gave me the Crock-pot) to bring them for Super Bowl Sunday. I’m wondering if I should really cook them 4 hrs on low & just turn it off, or try cooking 4 hrs on high or cooking for longer on low? Thanks!

  • HI. I love this recipe and have made it many times. I did try it in the IP and it had trouble coming to pressure. It never actually made it to pressure but it still thawed the meatballs and coated them with the sauce. I feel like it may have needed more liquid. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Stephanie, I make these all the time in the instant pot w/ no issues. Did you have it on high pressure? You could maybe add a smidge of water, but I haven’t.

  • Way, way, way to sweet! Sorry, but tasted more like a dessert than a meal.

    • You could try reducing the honey and brown sugar, then maybe it would be more to your taste? Sorry it didn’t work out for you! Thanks for your input. 🙂

  • Just made these tonight for dinner. They are so good. My husband and kids loved them. Thank you! Going to make them for a potluck at our school in a couple weeks.

  • Very good. I also added some Corn Starch and Honey Mustard. Also a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar. Very tasty Christmas eve appetizer!

  • I like to add a little siracha sauce for a little heat! Makes the meatballs a perfect sweet and spicy! Thanks for sharing this! Up until now just new the grape jelly ones this is nice and different

  • The flavor of these is incredible!! I would not cook them in the IP unless you change the recipe. You’re not supposed to cook using less than 18 Oz of liquid – according to the directions. I don’t know how to add more liquid and still get the sticky sweet sauce?

  • Made these for a birthday celebration at work. Everyone loved them and asked for the recipe! Thanks so much for sharing, they were delicious!!

    • Awesome, Margaret! I personally love it when I bring food to people and they like it so much that they want the recipe. 🙂 Glad they were a hit for you!

  • I am traveling this weekend and thinking of bringing these for the potluck dinner. But I am staying in a hotel the night before. Has anyone tried this recipe with meatballs that have thawed?

    • Karin, I would test it out at home with already thawed meatballs. You for sure could lessen your cooking time. I’m assuming the meatballs will already be cooked through… just thawed from frozen, right?

  • Just Made these in the stovetop and they were AMAZING!!! My husband ate them and he hates EVERYTHING NEW!!! like he loved them!!! Can’t wait to make it in the slow cooker next!!

  • If you don’t have the clove garlic but have the already minced garlic in the jar how much should I use? I’m so excited to try this recipe tomorrow. Thanks so much 😊

    • Super easy way to make this an even faster meal! Just use 1/2 tsp of your minced garlic in the jar (refrigerated, right?). Enjoy!

      • Yes the refrigerated minced garlic and thank you so much for the reply. I decided to make it as one of my dishes that I’ll take w me to Thanksgiving dinner with the family at my grandparents house. Starting it now and am super excited 😊

  • Made this for our dinner and it’s really good. I didn’t have to wait for 4 hours using my Instant Pot. Will remake it again as husband like it. 🙂

  • I am bit confused. Are you making this in a slow cooker or a crock pot? The title says ‘slow cooker’, however you use the term crock pot in your write up.


    • Thank you for your question, Siu. Crock-Pot is a brand name that makes slow cookers. In fact, the name has become so common that many people refer to any slow cooker as a Crock-Pot, regardless of brand. 😉 So, in essence, they are one in the same. Hope that helps!

  • I followed the directions exactly for instapot, but the pot keeps saying BURN!!!

    • Which model do you have? Mine has never said that. But maybe you have a newer model? You could try doing it on low pressure, if yours has that option. OR do it for just a minute. Let me know how it goes!

      • I tried this recipe this evening in my new InstantPot and also got the ‘food burn’ message. I continued to cook but after the second burn notification, turned my InstantPot off and allowed it depressurize naturally (knowing it would continue to cook). While only a few were a little more ‘browned’ than others – they turned out perfect. Next time I’m going to cook on low pressure rather than high and see if that makes a difference. This recipe was scrumptious!

        • Thanks for the feedback Linda! Which model of IP do you have? I’ve never gotten the burn notice on any recipes, so maybe I have an older model? Maybe adding a little more water would be helpful? I’ll test this out next time I make them! 🙂

        • Linda, I made these again today and this time added 2 tablespoons of water and they turned out great! Let me know if more water works better next time and maybe just one minute of cooking?

  • how many meatballs can you have per 6 points?

  • Made these tonight in my instant pot using Costco frozen Italian meatballs. This is a easy, quick and yummy recipe. Will definitely be making these a lot in our house! Thank you

  • I just tried these at a wine and card party this past week. SO YUMMY! They were the hit of the party. Now I can’t wait to try them for the holidays with my family! Thank you so much for offering the Instant Pot instructions as well! How handy!!!

  • I have a 6-qt slow cooker and not a 4-qt. Will they cook the same in the larger slow cooker, or should I make extra sauce? Planning to whip some up for the Super Bowl. Thanks!

  • What about frozen UNCOOKED pork meatballs? How long do you cook from frozen?

    • Hi, Stacey! I haven’t made uncooked meatballs in the Instant Pot yet, but this is what I would try…
      When you add the frozen (uncooked) meatballs to the Instant Pot, set it to manual high pressure for 7 minutes. Natural release for 5 minutes, then quick release. Hope that helps! Enjoy!

  • Made the Instapot version with mini meatballs and put over rice. So absolutely yummy!! Think I like these better than the grape jelly ones for parties!!

    • Awesome, Jan! I’m so glad this honey garlic meatballs recipe worked out so well for you! They are definitely a family favorite here. Thank you for your comment and review!

  • I make these often—something my family app actually agree on!
    Have a question though now that I see you have instant pot instructions. I buy mini meatballs (earths best brand). Would the pressure cook amount of time decrease at all or still be the same?

    • Hi Tiffany! If your meatballs are smaller, I’d do it for just 1-2 minutes. You could always cook longer if needed, but I’d recommend starting at less time first, just to prevent them from burning on the bottom and sides. Let us know how it goes!

  • First time commenting on a food post – holy cow. These meatballs are DELICIOUS and so simple to make! A regular staple for us now.

  • This looks absolutely mouthwatering! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I have bookmarked it for my upcoming celebration of our taxi cab’s anniversary.

  • Did you use bite-sized meatballs? I bought a bag of frozen italian style meatballs (28 ounces 1 lb 12 oz) ,and they seemed bigger than the ones you used. They weren’t from Costco, they were store brand .

    Also, do you use dry measuring cups to measure the ingredients for the sauce? I followed the recipe but it seemed like it made more sauce than you did in your video.

4.61 from 128 votes (115 ratings without comment)

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