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BBQ Meatballs are a crowd pleasing favorite at parties and get togethers. This easy appetizer can be made from scratch (recommended) or with frozen meatballs and your favorite barbecue sauce.
These bbq meatballs are always a hit with any crowd and they are super easy to make. Make them sweet, spicy or smoky depending on which sauce you use, or feel free to make your own.
Table of Contents
BBQ Meatballs Ingredients
- Lean ground beef – The higher the fat content, the more you’ll see the grease on the pan and the less they’ll hold their shape. I recommend a lean 90/10.
- Eggs – Eggs are a binder is this type of recipe and help the meatballs hold their shape.
- Milk – For moisture.
- Plain breadcrumbs – Use what you prefer or have on hand. I always have Panko breadcrumbs, so that’s what I use but regular works too. I just recommend using plain versus flavored.
- Seasoning – Garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
- BBQ sauce – Any type of bbq sauce will work so just pick your favorite. I like a Sweet Baby Rays brand sweet and spicy sauce.
- Parsley – This is just for garnish, but adds a pop of color to the finished dish.
How to Make BBQ Meatballs
- Mix the meat. In a large bowl, gently mix the ground beef, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs and seasonings together. This is one of those times you want to get in there and use your hands to just squish everything together. This keeps you from over-mixing the meat. You can also use a large metal spoon.
- Form the meatballs. I like to use a cookie scoop to get perfectly even sized meatballs, but you can just eyeball it too. Portion out the meatballs and arrange them on a foil-lined baking sheet. As long as they are uniform you can make them as large or small as you like.
- Bake. Place the meatballs at least an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 450℉ oven for about 13 minutes. Depending on the size, you may need to adjust the time. Be sure to check for doneness.
- Add BBQ Sauce. Brush your favorite barbecue sauce on top of the meatballs and broil them for a couple of minutes. You want the tops to be sticky and caramelized, not burnt, so watch them closely.
Instant Pot Meatballs – Form the meatballs. Add a cup of water or beef broth to the bottom of your IP, then set the metal trivet in the liquid. Arrange the meatballs on the trivet in 1 or 2 layers (you will have to do this in batches to use the whole recipe, or cut the recipe in half). Close and pressure seal the pot and set to cook on high with the meat/stew mode, for 7 minutes. Natural release for 5 minutes, then quick release for the remaining pressure. Place the meatballs on a lined baking sheet and follow step 5 in the recipe below to broil.
Place the uncooked meatballs in a single layer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Check for doneness and adjust time as needed. Wipe out the grease from the crock pot and stir in BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on low for 1 hour or until sauce is hot. Keep warm.
Searing is not necessary because the meatballs will brown as they cook.
The fat in the meat helps to keep them moist, as does the added milk and egg. These meatballs are tender and juicy!
Arrange the meatballs on a serving platter and sprinkle with minced parsley or chopped chives for a pretty presentation. Spoon some additional bbq sauce into a dish and serve it on the side for dipping.
What goes good with meatballs? Since meatballs are a heartier appetizer, serve with some lighter snacks, like chips and salsa and a veggie tray.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: Leftovers should be stored within 2 hours, and in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
Freezing: Cool completely, then store in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Reheating: If frozen, thaw completely before reheating. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. You can also reheat on a baking sheet in the oven, just cover with foil first to keep them moist.
- To save time, use frozen meatballs. Dump meatballs in a slow cooker or a large pot on the stove and heat with the BBQ sauce. To caramelize, arrange on a foil lined baking sheet and broil for a few minutes.
- Choose a bbq sauce that has the flavors you love.
- Don’t want to heat the oven? Fry meatballs on the stove to cook through, then toss with the sauce.
- Broil time will vary from oven to oven, so don’t walk away from these – they can burn quickly if left unattended.
More Easy Appetizers to Love
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup plain dried breadcrumbs panko or regular
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups BBQ sauce your favorite
- Fresh minced parsley for garnish if desired
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and set aside.
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix together with your hands or a metal spoon, careful not to over-mix. Just squish it all together a few times to combine.
- Using a cookie scoop or your hands, divide the meat mixture into desired size meatballs. As long as they are uniform, they can be as large or small as you like.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size. Be sure to check for doneness.
- Turn on the broiler. Remove the trays from the oven and brush a generous amount of bbq sauce over the tops of the meatballs. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until caramelized, watching closely so they don’t burn. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fresh parsley for garnish, if desired. Serve with additional BBQ sauce for dipping.