Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs


These Best Crockpot Korean Meatballs are the perfect stress-free, make-ahead appetizer for New Year’s Eve,  Game Day or any party.  These Korean Meatballs also make a delicious, easy meal with rice and veggies.  You can make your Korean Meatballs ahead of time and keep them in the slow cooker for a stress free appetizer/dinner at your fingertips! You can also prepare the Korean BBQ Sauce days in advance!

Korean Meatballs stacked on a white plate with a fork stabbing one of the meatballs


About Korean Meatballs

You guys know how I love a good meatball from my Italian Meatballs (and Italian Meatball Sliders) to Cranberry Meatballs to Parmesan Meatballs to Swedish Meatballs – all amazing.  And you know how I love sweet and spicy anything and everything, well these Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs rank right at the top of my favorites.  For those of you already obsessed with my Honey Buffalo Meatballs (as you should be), these are their Asian counterpart and they are can’t-stop-eating de-LISH!

These Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs are unbelievably moist and seeping with flavor by not only the meatballs themselves boasting ginger, garlic, and onion but by finishing cooking in the slow cooker.  

Cooking meatballs in the slow cooker is my absolute favorite method because instead of just pouring Korean BBQ Sauce on the meatballs and coating the outside, the meatballs actually soak up the low and slow flavorful saucy bath for taste bud exploding pleasure every time – but that would only be a good thing if the sauce was incredible – and this sauce is to live for!  

far away shot of a plate of Korean Meatballs soaked in korean BBQ Sauce

What’s in Korean BBQ Sauce? 

The Korean BBQ Sauce for these Korean Meatballs is epic.  It is savory, sweet, tangy and best of all, you can make it as spicy or mild as you like.  

To make the sauce, just whisk together seedless blackberry preserves, hoisin sauce (like Asian BBQ Sauce), soy sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger and the secret ingredient that makes these meatballs not only “Korean” but lick the crockpot delicious – Gochujang!

a plate of crockpot Korean Meatballs with Korean BBQ Sauce with a fork stabbing one of the meatballs

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang is absolutely essential in these Korean Meatballs. It’s a Korean condiment that can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. Now if you are wondering if there is possibly room in your refrigerator next to your Sriracha, Chili Garlic Sauce, Chili Paste and Sweet Chili Sauce, let me answer you friend, YES, yes, there is.

Gochujang is the sweet heat behind Korean dishes and its distinctly wonderful flavor can only be found in Korean cuisine. Gochujang is savory, sweet and spicy all at the same time, leaning more towards the sweet.  

It is made from red chilies, glutinous rice (doesn’t actually contain gluten, but means its very sticky) and soy beans.  Its both complex in flavor and more mild in heat (compared to other chili pastes), making it perfect to elevate any meat, chicken or veggies. So while you might buy Gochujang specifically for these meatballs, I can guarantee you are going to be reaching for this flavor bursting condiment to dress up practically everything.

Where Can I buy Gochujang?

For these Korean Meatballs, and all my Korean dishes, I use Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce.  It is located in the Asian section of my grocery store, but you can also easily buy it on Amazon (LOVE Amazon prime!).  I do recommend looking to see what Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce looks like so you can easily spot it at the grocery store (not an affiliate, just will make your life easier).

So yes, please find a special place in your refrigerator for Gochujang.

And then you will find a special place in your heart and a can’t-stop-craving-these-Korean-Meatballs spot in your belly.

 Tender juicy, sweet and spicy Slow cooker Korean Meatballs simmered in the most tantalizing sweet heat sauce that everyone goes crazy for! Perfect appetizer or delicious, easy meal with rice!

Can I Make Korean Meatballs Ahead of Time?

Absolutely!  Prepare Korean Meatballs according to directions.  Either refrigerate then reheat in the crockpot on LOW for 1-2 hours or until heated through.  Alternatively, you can prepare meatballs according to directions then keep on warm for up to 2 hours after cooking. 

top view of crockcpot Korean Meatballs covered in Korean BBQ Sauce in the slow cooker with a wood serving spoon holding some of the meatballs

Can I Freeze Korean Meatballs?

Yes, Korean Meatballs freeze very well for a make ahead dinner or appetizer!  To freeze:

  1. Cook Korean Meatballs according to directions.
  2. Let meatballs and sauce cool to room temperature.
  3. Place meatballs and sauce in a large airtight container or freezer bag.  For individual servings, portion into smaller sandwich bags.
  4. Label meatballs and store meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to eat, let meatballs defrost completely in the refrigerator. 
  6. Gently warm Korean Meatballs with sauce over the stove or warm in the crockpot for 1-2 hours or until heated through.

You might also like these Korean recipes:

 Tender juicy, sweet and spicy Slow cooker Korean Meatballs simmered in the most tantalizing sweet heat sauce that everyone goes crazy for! Perfect appetizer or delicious, easy meal with rice!

Want to try this Korean Meatballs Recipe?

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com


Tender juicy, sweet and spicy Slow cooker Korean Meatballs simmered in the most tantalizing sweet heat sauce that everyone goes crazy for! Perfect appetizer or delicious, easy meal with rice!

Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs

Tender juicy, sweet and spicy Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs simmered in the most tantalizing rich sweet heat sauce that everyone goes crazy for!  Perfect stress-free, make-ahead appetizer for New Year’s Eve or Game Day or these meatballs make a delicious, easy meal with rice and veggies!
Servings: 60 meatballs
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours

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  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 22 saltine crackers, crushed (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup dry minced onion
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic pwdr, onion pwder, ginger pwdr
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sweet and Spicy Korean Sauce


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add eggs and gently whisk. Add all remaining Meatball Ingredients and mix until well combined. Roll meat mixture into desired meatball size*. Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, add all of the Korean Sauce Ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Line the bottom of your slow cooker with a thin layer of the Korean Sauce. Add a layer of meatballs, drizzle with some more Sauce, then remaining meatballs followed by the remaining Sauce.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, gently stirring an hour after cooking. When done, taste and stir in additional Gochujang if desired for more sweet heat. Keep warm until serving.


*Makes approximately 60 meatballs using 1″ cookie scoop or heaping 1 tablespoon.
**Both Hoisin Sauce and Gochujang can be found in the Asian section of any grocery store.  I recommend googling, “Annie Chun’s Go·Chu·Jang” so you can easily spot it.  If you can’t find it, you can order it on Amazon.

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    • Jen says

      Thanks Anna, It will be your new favorite condiment! I love it so much!

  1. CRH says

    Can the Gochujang be omitted if it can’t be found/purchased? Could anything be substituted?

    • Jen says

      Hi Catherine, Gochujang definitely can’t be omitted as it is what gives this recipe so much flavor and it would be to sweet/bland otherwise. You could try Sambal Oelek Chili Paste with a little touch of soy and honey but I can’t tell you exactly how much as I haven’t tried it. Best of luck!

  2. Julie Wilhelm says

    I made these meatballs on New Years Eve and were a HUGE hit. My boyfriend ate almost 30 of them. I didn’t have Gochujang (but will be buying some) and used a substitute (red chili flakes with soy sauce and sugar) and they were still delicious. The sauce ends up being thick and sticky — which was PERFECT!! I have shared this recipe with many and will definitely make these again after I buy Gochujang.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Julie, I love hearing these were such a hit and I’m so glad you were able to make a substitution work. Thank you!!! Sounds like your boyfriend is going to need a meal to himself of just Korean Meatballs 🙂 Happy New Year!

  3. Chelsea says

    These look absolutely amazing! I want to make them for a Super Bowl party and was wondering if frozen meatballs can be substituted for fresh? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Chelsea, you definitely can substitute frozen meatballs. I don’t think they will be quite as good as homemade but still good 🙂 I would defrost the meatballs first then follow the directions. Enjoy!

  4. Rachel says

    I was thinking about making these for a sweet family that just adopted a little girl from South Korea. I know very little about authentic Korean flavors, do you think this would be acceptable? She is a toddler, and goodness knows my toddler is pickier than picky, so it may not matter all that much, but would I would like to try and give her a taste of home!

    • Jen says

      Hi Rachel, you are the sweetest! Yes, I think she would love these! I would start with less Gochujang so they are more sweet for a toddler and other than that, I think they will be great!

  5. Kelly says

    Hi – These look awesome! I tried Korean Meatballs at “Noodles” restaurant and loved them. I would like to tackle this recipe but have one question – what is dry minced onion? Is it like onion powder only in flake form? Or do you mean a minced onion? One-third cup of this seems so large so thought I would ask. Thanks!!

    • Jen says

      HI Kelly! I am excited for you to try these meatballs! Dry Minced onion is dried chopped onions – it looks like dried onion flakes and can be found in the spice section. It has a wonderful flavor but not as strong as onion powder so don’t be alarmed by the amount 🙂

  6. Natasa says

    Hi, these look delicious. I’d love to make them as a dinner entree for 8 adults. Would the quantities/measures you’ve listed here be appropriate? Also, would you suggest serving with rice? anything else? Thank you!

  7. cynthia stewart says

    Sounds wonderful for superbowl! Do you know what amounts of fresh ginger , garlic and onions I could sub or is it better with dried?

    • Jen says

      Hi Cynthia! They are such small amounts, that is why I use the dried and due to the slow cooker I think they taste as good as fresh, but fresh would definitely be delicious. Not sure about the fresh onion sub ratio for the sauce, but for the others, I would use 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, and 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced. Hope this helps, enjoy!

  8. Sarah Jones says

    Hey neighbor (I live in OC), I LOVE your site. Always my first stop when trolling for “what’s new to make this weekend”.
    I have a question/problem. I can only find Go Chu Jang PASTE and not SAUCE. I bought it, but I imagine it would be much more concentrated, like the difference between tomato paste and sauce. Any suggestions on how i can use the paste? Amount? Dilute? Hoping to make asap!

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi neighbor, thank you for your kind words, I am so happy you are enjoying my site! I have only ever used Gochujang Sauce, so I am not sure what the exact difference would be. I would start with 1/2 of the amount and then add ore to taste after it has simmered a bit. Sorry, I can’t be of more help!

      • Sarah Jones says

        Thank you for the prompt reply! Are you buying your GoChuJang online, or in a local market? No lie, i cannot find it in a store…and i live in Little Saigon. I even went to the OC version of Korea Town, to H-Mart, and all they had was the paste, which I bought. Are you finding it in a particular chain market?
        Thank you!
        P.S. your snickerdoodle bars are on my ‘to do” list. 🙂

        • Jen says

          Hi Sarah! I have found it everywhere – Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Vons, etc. but if you can only find the paste, I am sure that will work just fine – you might just need to add less and then can add more to taste. Good luck!

  9. Beth says

    So excited to try these!! I married a Korean guy and have been learning to cook many of their food, these sound like flavor right up our alley!! I have everything on hand but the blackberry jam, any suggestion on substitute for that? If I can save myself a trip to store with 3 little boys! 😉

    • Jen says

      Hi Beth, sorry for the delay as I am way behind after recovering from pneumonia, but I so appreciate your comment! Its probably too late, but I would have said to substitute another jam such as grape or apricot. Hope you have been able to make them and loved them!

  10. Dustin says

    The colors look so vibrant and very tasty… love the ideas of the ‘meat’ balls too. A wonderful dish! Keep it up.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Dustin! ITs defintinely a favorite around here!

  11. Pat says

    I want to make these and was wondering if they could be made with ground turkey? Would that require any other changes?

    • Jen says

      Hi Pat, you certainly substitute ground turkey. Ground turkey is drier and more bland so you might want to add some Worcestershire sauce and a drizzle of olive oil.
      If you purchase ground turkey thighs as opposed to turkey breasts, then they will taste closer to beef. Enjoy!

  12. Angela says

    Any chance I could use blueberry preserve instead of blackberry I grabbed the wrong jar

    • Jen says

      Hi Angela, I haven’t personally tried it but I think it will still work great, enjoy!

  13. Nick says

    Hello, what can I add to this recipe to make this even more spicier? Anything outside of the ingredients already listed?

    • Jen says

      Sriracha, Asian chili sauce or red pepper flakes.

  14. Suzan says

    These look yummy! I’ve gathered most of what I need but having trouble finding the seedless blackberry preserves. Could I use seedless blackberry jam or spread as a substitute?

  15. Susan Y says

    Fabulous recipe! I only had strawberry preserves so I used that kept everything else the same and they were fantastic!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so pleased to hear this recipe worked equally well with strawberry preserves!

  16. Carrie says

    Love this recipe! Deliciously sweet and spicy and it has been a crowd pleaser every time I’ve made it. I have used both the Gochujang sauce and paste and have had great results with both. For me personally 2 tablespoons of the paste was a perfect substitute in place of the sauce. Thank you for all of the yummy recipes you provide!!

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased this recipe is a favorite! Thanks for sharing your experience with the paste, I’m sure others will find that helpful!

  17. Ju from the UK says

    Hi – we tried this recipe and although the sauce was completely delicious, our meatballs were very dry. Any suggestions?

    ps – it would be hugely helpful if you had a metric option, or just did everything in tablespoons!

    • Jen says

      You can add a couple tablespoons of additional milk or use freshly grated onion with the juices. Hope this helps!

  18. Kay says

    Hey Jen! I’m so excited to make these for a baby shower. If I double the recipe, do you think it will fit in one normal-sized crockpot?

    • Jen says

      Hi, I think it should! I hope you enjoy!