Slow Cooker Lion’s Head Meatballs

These beefy slow cooker lion’s head meatballs are a must try. You will find that this dish has a delicious soy and beef broth that complements the huge beef meatballs well.

Slow Cooker Lion's Head Meatballs

The meatballs are packed full of flavor thanks to all the ingredients that accompany the ground beef. The broth slowly infuses its flavors into the meatballs over the long cooking time. The result is a dish where each component compliments each other well. Certainly, a family favorite at my house.

Lion’s head meatballs got their name for looking similar to the head of the Chinese guardian lion. The dish originated in a couple of provinces in China, Yangzhou, and Zhenjiang. It is now a dish that is part of Shanghai cuisine.

I love to have these meatballs with just the broth and cabbage. If you need to feed a few people, then some rice will go well this dish. The rice is excellent at soaking up any excess stock.

Slow Cooker Lion's Head Meatballs Uncooked

Any leftover meatballs are great for lunch the next day. I find that they’re great to put in a microwavable container with some of cabbage and broth. This way you can quickly heat them at work in a microwave.

I have put together a video that takes you through the steps to making these hearty lion’s head meatballs. If you prefer reading, then you can find the full written recipe underneath the video.

Slow Cooker Lions Head Meatballs Recipe

Prep time
30 Minutes
Cook time
8 Hours
Total time
8 Hours & 30 Minutes


  • 1kg (2.2 lb) ground beef
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt


  • 500g (1.1 lb) Chinese cabbage cut into large strips
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce


  1. Firstly, in a bowl combine the ground beef, shallots, garlic, ginger, sherry, sesame oil, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Form the meat mixture into large meatballs. Aim for them to be roughly the size of a tennis ball. I use a cup measure to get roughly the amount of mixture I need.
  3. In a frying pan over high heat add 2 tbsp oil. Brown all the meatballs. Put aside.
  4. In a slow cooker add the Chinese cabbage, red onion, beef stock, and the soy sauce. Lastly, add the meatballs.
  5. Cook for 8 hours on low.
  6. Serve & Enjoy

Recipe Tips

  • Pine nuts can be added into the meatball mixture for an extra bit of crunch and flavor.
  • Mushrooms are a great addition to the broth mixture. Add these at the same time as the cabbage. You can use any type of mushrooms such as enoki or button mushrooms.
  • I like the sauce to be a bit runny, but if you want it nice and thick, then you can easily thicken it using some cornstarch. Near the end of cooking, mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water and pour into the sauce. Cook on high for 15 minutes or until thickened.
  • You don’t have to use ground beef for these slow cooker lion's head meatballs. People often make use of ground pork instead. You can also try using ground chicken if you want to be completely different.
  • Make the meatballs smaller if you need them to cook faster. At their full size there is roughly enough for six people or one each.
  • If you love the taste of soy and don't mind if the broth ends up a little salty, then feel free to add another couple of tablespoons of soy sauce. It does add a bunch more flavor.

Nutritional Information

There isn’t a huge amount to these lion's head meatballs, so the nutrition is better than most slow cooker recipes.

It’s important to add any side dishes that you might have with this dish. As I mentioned above, some rice goes well with these meatballs.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 333g (11.75 oz)
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 495 Calories from Fat 265.5
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29.5g 45%
Saturated Fat 10.6g 53%
Trans Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 147mg 49%
Sodium 1145mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 4g
Protein 45g 90%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

There are plenty of meatball dishes that you can make in the slow cooker. One of my favorites is the traditional meatballs with tomato sauce. They go great with some fresh pasta and some Parmesan cheese.

If you feel like a dish using beef, then the teriyaki beef is also an excellent dish. Unlike this dish, the origin of teriyaki is Japan. It’s certainly yet another slow cooker recipe you need to try.

I absolutely love these slow cooker lion’s head meatballs and hope that you do too. If you wish to leave some feedback, then feel free to leave a comment below.

Note: I use a 5.5L (6 Quart) slow cooker for all the recipes that I have on this website unless specified. If you have a smaller or larger slow cooker, then you might need to adjust the ingredients.

One Comment

  1. Irma on

    Excellent recipes — and easy to access. Thank you so much.

    I gave this recipe 5 / 5

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