Homemade smoked meatballs that are covered in a simple bbq sauce can’t be beat.
At just about any tailgate or get together, crockpot meatballs will make an appearance. Typically, they are made from store bought frozen meatballs and sit in the slow cooker for hours. Now don’t get me wrong. They aren’t bad, but the homemade smoked version is much better. In this recipe, I am going to show you an easy recipe for homemade meatballs covered in bbq sauce that is all too familiar and so much more delicious.
Frozen vs Fresh meatballs
There are a lot of frozen meatball varieties that you can purchase at the grocery store. They are convenient because all you need to do is heat them in your oven or microwave. This quick and easy solution to your meatball craving will do in a pinch, but nothing is better than fresh, homemade meatballs.
Not only are fresh meatballs better tasting, but they are better for you. The frozen variety are often made with extra preservatives and have a rubbery consistency. Not only is the quality affected, but so is the texture as they tend to taste more dried out, especially when cooked for too long. My homemade version of smoked bbq meatballs made with just a few ingredients tastes fresh and super delicious.
Why smoke meatballs?
Smoking meat is just another way to add flavor to your food. If you don’t own a smoker, you can absolutely make this in your oven. However, I love the depth of flavor that you get from smoking them. Typically, I use hickory or cherry wood when I’m feeling a little adventurous. Smoking the meatballs low and slow really helps them to retain their moisture, resulting in juicy morsels that are just addictive. These are definitely better than the ones I had growing up!
Making the meatballs
Making these meatballs are pretty quick and painless if you ask me. No need to put a ton of ingredients in them, just let the meat shine and do its thing! I like to combine a blend of ground beef and ground pork sausage because I think they just work so well together. The fattiness of the pork keeps them super juicy and gives you that extra something something.
To get started, in a large bowl, I combine ground beef, ground pork sausage, eggs, Italian bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and crushed or ground fennel seed. Mix everything well to combine and you are ready to form your meatballs. Sometimes I make a version with spicy bbq rub as well. Feel free to change the seasonings up if you want.
The size of the meatballs really varies on your preference, but I like to make them about 2 ounces in size, slightly smaller than a golf ball. I just grab what I think is about the right size and shape for a meatball and roll the mixture around in a circle until I get a ball. As you roll the meatballs, make sure that you are consistent in sizing.
Smoking the meatballs
When all of the meatballs are rolled, it’s time to fire up the smoker and get to cooking. I smoke my meatballs at 225 °F for about an hour and a half. For this cook I used my Pitboss Portable Pellet smoker. Its super compact and fits just about anywhere.
I place each meatball directly on the grill grates and let them smoke the entire time. There is really nothing else to do, you don’t have to flip them, spray them or anything. Just let it ride!
Adding the bbq sauce
After the meatballs reach an internal temp of about 145°F, its time for the next step. Let them sit in bbq sauce for an additional 30 minutes until the meatballs are happy and have soaked up all of that rich delicious bbq flavor.
I take the meatballs off the smoker and place them into a foil pan and add a 50-50 mix of BBQ sauce and grape jelly. Thats right I said grape jelly. Don’t ask me why it works but it does. The jelly goes great with the bbq sauce and it’s a classic pairing.
Any bbq sauce will work so just grab your favorite, place it into a microwave safe bowl along with grape jelly, whisk together and heat up for 20-30 seconds. Warming up the grape jelly helps to get a smooth consistency and mixes better with the bbq sauce.
Then take the foil pan loaded with meatballs drenched in the bbq sauce concoction for one last maiden voyage on the smoker. I make sure each meatball is covered in that sauce and let them heat up together for one amazing, saucy bite. At this point, while the meatballs and bbq sauce spend some time together, I make sure the smoker is turned up to 275°F .
Say goodbye to frozen meatballs for good! The only thing left to do is serve them up and watch as they are devoured by hungry guest. The homemade smoked bbq meatballs soak up that sauce, becoming all covered and smothered. Serve them with a toothpick for easy handling. These bites are a great snack, game day appetizer, or just an any occasion dish.Print
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 pound of ground pork sausage
- 1/4 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seed (crushed or ground)
- 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup of bbq sauce
- 1 cup of grape jelly
- In a bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork sausage, 2 eggs, Italian bread crumbs and seasonings together.
- Form meatballs that are slightly smaller than a golfball.
- Place meatballs on your smoker and cook at 225°F for an hour and a half or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Take your favorite bbq sauce and combine with grape jelly and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Whisk together to combine well.
- Remove the meatballs from your smoker and place them into a foil pan and add the bbq sauce mix right on top, making sure each meatball is covered.
- Place foil pan back into your smoker for another 30 minutes with the temperature of the smoker increased to 275.
- Remove meatballs from the smoker after 30 minutes and enjoy.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: BBQ
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: meatballs, bbq meatballs, appetizer