Barbecue Meatballs

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Essential Slow Cooker RecipesHave those toothpicks and fancy swords at the ready! These party-worthy meatballs are sure to get gobbled up before you know it. My favorite part about them is that I can make a batch for an appetizer one night and serve them on top of a heaping plate of spaghetti the next.

  • Yield: 48 Meatballs
  • Preparation Time: 25 Minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 Hours


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 0.33 cup chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ (1-ounce) packet dry French onion soup mix (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup coarse bread crumbs (made from sliced whole-wheat bread)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or a combination of beef and pork
  • ½ (1-ounce) packet dry French onion soup mix (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Scallions, sliced, for garnish
How to Make It
    For the sauce
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer while adding the vinegar, brown sugar, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, and liquid smoke. Pour into a 6-quart slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low while mixing the meatballs.
  2. For the meatballs
  3. Combine the milk and egg in a medium bowl. Add the bread crumbs and soak for 5 minutes. Stir in the beef, onion soup mix, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix very well.
  4. Use a tablespoon to portion the mixture, rolling between your palms to a golf ball size. As you make the balls, immediately drop them into the slow cooker with the sauce. When all the balls are formed, stir very gently, just enough to get the top pieces coated in sauce, then cover and cook on Low for 5 hours.
  5. The meatballs and sauce can be made ahead, removed from the slow cooker, and cooled completely. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat them, return the meatballs and sauce to the slow cooker, cover, and reheat on High until warmed through. Garnish with scallions.

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