Hobo Meatball Stew {Slow Cooker Recipe}

Hobo Meatball Stew {Slow Cooker Recipe} | Contented at Home

Welcome to the first day of Five-Star Slow Cooker Recipes, a ten-day series featuring slow cooker recipes that are simple enough for weeknight meals but delicious enough to serve company!

Today’s featured recipe is Hobo Meatball Stew, a family-pleasing meal full of beefy meatballs, potatoes, and carrots, all covered in a flavorful tomato sauce.

This meal really tastes like you spent all day cooking, but don’t worry–the slow cooker will simmer this meal all day while you’re homeschooling, running errands, or tackling that endless to-do list.

Hobo Meatball Stew

Hobo Meatball Stew {Slow Cooker Recipe}


  • 8 medium potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 8 medium carrots cut into small chunks
  • 1 large onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. salt divided
  • 1 tsp. pepper divided
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. tapioca
  • 1 tsp. dried basil


  • ace potatoes, carrots, and onion in 6-qt. slow cooker.
  • In medium mixing bowl, combine ground beef, egg, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Shape mixture into 1-in. balls. In large skillet, brown meatballs on all sides, adding a small amount of oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Drain if needed.
  • Place meatballs on top of vegetables in slow cooker.
  • In small mixing bowl, combine water, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, tapioca, basil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Pour over meatballs.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or until vegetables are tender (OR cook on LOW for about 8 hours, or until vegetables are tender).

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Recipe Rating


  1. Megan Zechman says:


    I made this stew today for my American Girl club and it was delicious! I was thrilled to find a stew that didn’t rely on stew meat.

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Megan! I think the meatballs are just as good as the typical stew meat (definitely less expensive). And it’s one of the few slow cooker recipes that doesn’t rely on canned soups, too. 🙂

  2. Hi Judy,
    Is there anything else I can use besides tapioca, which is something I don’t have on hand? Would love to try this recipe tomorrow.

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      Hey Lisa, the tapioca just thickens the tomato sauce the tiniest bit, so I’d probably just go without it if you don’t have it on hand. We just had this last week–such a yummy fall meal!