These mouthwateringly tender BBQ meatballs are boldly seasoned and painted with a sticky barbeque sauce. Easily make these homemade meatballs with a handful of simple ingredients for a delicious evening meal or a perfect party appetizer!
What are they?
The best BBQ meatballs are boldly seasoned with a BBQ dry rub. Rather than simply dusting the meatballs with seasoning, this approach infuses each bite with flavor. Additional barbeque flavor is added by coating the meatballs with BBQ sauce, for which I recommend using my homemade BBQ sauce recipe.
If you like these flavorful cocktail meatballs, try my BBQ meatloaf recipe too!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lean ground beef - Specifically I recommend using 80/20 beef fat. You can also substitute ground pork.
- Plain bread crumbs
- Milk - Beef broth also can be substituted. You could even add a splash of apple cider vinegar to increase the tangy flavor.
- Large eggs
- Worcestershire sauce
- Brown sugar
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Smoked paprika - Regular paprika is fine too.
- Garlic powder - You can substitute 1 minced garlic clove.
- Onion powder - You can finely dice half of a yellow onion instead for added texture.
- Cayenne pepper - Chili powder can be substituted.
- BBQ sauce - Use your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Optional - Liquid smoke can be added for more smoky flavor.
How to make them
To make this easy BBQ meatballs recipe, combine all of the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl separately from the meat. This helps everything incorporate more evenly without overworking the meat when everything is combined. Then add the ground meat and mix well to combine everything.
Using a cookie scoop, or large spoon, grab approximately 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and roll it between the palms of your hands to form a meatball. Place the raw meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
Tip: Wet your hands with cold water to prevent the meat from sticking to your skin.
For a more detailed meatball making tutorial I recommend checking out How to Make Meatballs.
Coat your meatballs in BBQ sauce then place them in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs reach 160 degrees internally. For added texture, you can give them a quick sear over high heat prior to baking, or finish them under the broiler to caramelize the BBQ sauce. Then serve with potato salad.
Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs
A lot of people cook meatballs in the crock pot for the simplicity of it. You can certainly add your BBQ meatballs to the crock pot, along with enough BBQ sauce to fully coat them, and they will cook just fine.
However, I think the crock pot is best used for keeping the cooked meatballs warm when serving them. Otherwise, as the meatballs cook they are going to release fat that will just pool in the bottom of the slow cooker, which I don't find as appetizing. You also will find the texture isn't as good when prepared in a slow cooker.
Storing & Reheating Leftovers
Leftover meatballs should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to one week. They can easily be reheated in the microwave or gently warmed in a 350 degree oven.
- 2 pounds ground beef (80/20 beef fat recommended)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- BBQ sauce (as needed)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl add milk, breadcrumbs, eggs, Worcestershire, brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine and ensure eggs are beaten.
- Add the crumbled ground beef to the bowl and work together to fully incorporate, ensuring there are no large chunks.
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture at a time and gently roll it together between your hands to form a ball. Then set the raw meatballs on a sheet pan. Repeat with all remaining meat.*
- Paint meatballs with BBQ sauce and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Remove from oven and serve with additional BBQ sauce on the side.
This recipe was originally published August 24, 2018.
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