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Hobo Meatball Stew Recipe

Hobo Meatball Stew Recipe

Basic ingredients make this hearty stew a favorite at the home of Margery Bryan in Royal City, Washington. "I usually have everything on hand for this recipe, so it's simple to load up the slow cooker at noon. When I get home, dinner's ready and waiting."
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Cook: 6 hours YIELD:4 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt or salt-free seasoning blend, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil


  • 1. In a bowl, combine the beef, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Shape into 1-in. balls. In a skillet over medium heat, brown meatballs on all sides; drain.
  • 2. Place the potatoes, carrots and onion in a 3-qt. slow cooker; top with meatballs. Combine the water, ketchup, vinegar, basil, and remaining salt and pepper; pour over meatballs.
  • 3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the vegetables are tender. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional Facts

One serving (prepared with salt-free seasoning and no-salt-added ketchup) equals 402 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 75 mg cholesterol, 1,324 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 26 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 3 lean meat, 1 vegetable.

Reviews for Hobo Meatball Stew

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Reviewed Jan. 7, 2016

"The sauce in this is GREAT! If you think it will taste like a beef stew sauce, it won't. The ketchup gives this a slightly sweeter sauce base but it goes great with the meatballs and vegetables. Using frozen or pre-made meatballs make this a quick recipe. The second time we made this, I used a different mix of vegetables - I used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, okra and zucchini. I still used the same sauce and meat mixture - still great!"

Reviewed Oct. 27, 2013

"I liked this, but the ketchup made it very sweet. Per other reviews, I also doubled the sauce but next time will probably use an 8oz can of tomato sauce instead."

Reviewed Nov. 24, 2012

"We really liked this; however, it didn't have much liquid after cooking. I would try doubling the ketchup, water, vinegar and basil next time."

Reviewed Feb. 11, 2011

"I have made this stew several times so far. Very good, yet so easy to make."

Reviewed Dec. 16, 2010

"potatoes need to cook longer"

Reviewed Oct. 25, 2010

"I thought the ketchup and vinegar was a bit overpowering with too much tomato flavor. I just couldn't taste any of the flavors from the ground meat and vegetables. I modified the recipe to use beef broth, consume tomato sauce and brown gravy mix instead of the the vinegar and ketchup. What a difference:)"

Reviewed Aug. 7, 2010

"I have made this stew MANY times.My family really likes it.The only thing I change is to double the sauce."

Reviewed Jul. 29, 2010

"it was very good !!!"

Reviewed Mar. 13, 2010

"I use frozen meatballs with just as good of results and a lot easier!"

Reviewed Feb. 12, 2010

"looks great and picture shows green peas, but not included in recipe."

Reviewed Feb. 10, 2010

"One other thing I forgot to add in my review of this recipe... When making the meatballs, I did use 1-1/2 teaspoons of the Mrs Dash, and 1/4 teaspoon (each) of black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder; to spice up the meatballs."

Reviewed Feb. 10, 2010

"This was ok, but maybe I would of liked it better if I had only added 1-1/2 teaspoons of the cider vinegar, rather than the

tablespoon. The tablespoon of vinegar seemed to over power the taste of the stew. Also, if I were to make this again, I'm also going to add a can of stewed tomatoes, and probably eliminate peas. And when I make the meatballs, I'll omit the Mrs Dash, and use regular table salt, or Lawry's Seasoning Salt, as the Mrs Dash doesn't add much flavor to the meatballs."

Reviewed Feb. 8, 2010

"I read the reviews prior to making this recipe and thought I would give it to go. It was a total waste of money and food. The sauce was not good by any means. I tried to make it taste good by adding different herbs and spices and nothing helped. Only suggestion would not to use ketchup and water as the base. I would maybe use tomato paste next time or a beef stew mix instead."

Reviewed Feb. 4, 2010

"This is one my kids ask for all the time."

Reviewed Dec. 10, 2009

"I add garlic and mushrooms to mine. Doubling the sauce makes it much taster."

Reviewed Oct. 11, 2009

"I meant to give this 4 stars! OOPS!"

Reviewed Oct. 11, 2009

"I make this quite often. The entire family loves it. My son is a picky eater but loves this. He adds more ketchup, but what kid doesn't? I usually double the batch. My husband likes a lot of meatballs in his! It shows peas, but I have never added them. We are not big pea eaters! This is especially easy when you have soccer games, football, etc and are on the go all the time."

Reviewed Sep. 13, 2009

"The picture shows peas, is something missing in the recipe or did the photog add them for color? Either way I plan to add them."

Reviewed Sep. 7, 2009

"Where does the 1324 mg of sodium come from if you're using salt-free seasoning, and no-salt added catsup? I can't see anything that would add that much sodium, but certainly couldn't eat anything with that much salt/serving, and not many other people should either!

Sue Tully, MD
Pasadena, CA"

Reviewed May. 5, 2009

"We really enjoy this recipe. I too have to quadruple the sauce. We use frozen prepared meatballs and also add turnip."

Reviewed Dec. 10, 2008

"This was good but it definitely needs more liquid - I quadrupled the sauce ingredients. I also used precooked meatballs so it was very easy and quick to throw together!"

Reviewed Sep. 4, 2008

"I added some salt, pepper and garlic powder to the meatballs. Also added some two cans of stewed tomatoes."

Reviewed Jul. 17, 2008

"I did a super quick version of this recipe using pre-made frozen Italian style meatballs. I also thought it could use a bit more liquid and added a can of beef gravy towards the end of cooking. It was delish!"

Reviewed Jul. 13, 2008

"I wanted mine to have a little more broth so I added an extra 1/2 cup of water and a can of stewed tomatoes undrained.  This was good, but next time I'm going to just brown the ground beef rather than make it into meatballs.  I thought the meatballs were kind of plain.  "

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