This meatballs in bbq sauce recipe is a dream come true. It makes a large batch, perfect to feed that party crowd. Baked in the oven and slathered with some of the best flavored homemade bbq sauce you’ll find. Pot-luck perfect recipe.
This recipe was first published in October of 2014 and updated December, 2020 with new photos.
I’m very excited to share this meatballs in bbq sauce recipe with you, as I suppose I’ve had it all my life. I remember my mom making this very early in my youth.
It’s truly my favorite meatball recipe of all time and it’s a crowd pleaser.
It feeds a crowd and is baked in the oven on baking sheets with BBQ sauce poured over to caramelize into a sticky flavorful glaze.
The best part about this recipe is the sauce. It’s easy and it’s incredible with flavor. Every time I make this homemade BBQ sauce, I wonder why I ever grab a bottle of at the store.
I love the flavor combination of ketchup, brown sugar and liquid smoke. It’s my kind of BBQ flavor, and it’s easy.
Last Saturday night our cul-de-sac held a pre-Winter-hibernation block party. I brought these meatballs and the crockpot was empty on that return trip home. One neighbor commented that he had eaten about 20 of them.
Don’t you love hearing comments like that about your food? I most certainly do.
Let’s take a look:
Ingredients to make Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce
Just 5 ingredients to an incredible smoky, sweet, sticky BBQ sauce.
- Ketchup: And lots of it. Use 4 cups of your favorite brand.
- Onions: Sweet or yellow onions, chopped
- Liquid Smoke: Some barbecue snobs may turn up their noses at Liquid Smoke, but it’s a natural product made by condensing smoke from burning wood. It gives this bbq sauce just the smoky punch it needs.
- Brown Sugar and Garlic: Brown sugar for that sweet sticky component and garlic makes everything better.
Ingredients to Make BBQ Oven Meatballs
- Ground Beef: Choose an 80-20% lean ground beef for the ideal meat to fat ratio for both flavor and that “juicy” factor.
- Onions and garlic: Diced sweet onions and diced garlic.
- Evaporated milk: Is condensed milk where the water has been evaporated by 60%. I like using evaporated milk for meatballs, it just makes everything creamier.
- Eggs and Saltine Crackers: The binder that brings these beautiful meatballs to their perfectly round meatball glory.
- Seasonings: Chili Powder, salt and pepper. Choose a good quality chili powder for a guaranteed good flavor.
How to make these oven meatballs. It’s easy.
How To Make Meatballs In The Oven:
- Step 1 Make The BBQ Sauce: In a sauce pan, mix catsup, onion, garlic, liquid smoke, brown sugar and over medium heat, bring to a boil. Done. Turn off the burner, leave the pan on the hot burner to keep the sauce warm while you make those meatballs.
- Step 2 Mix the Ingredients for the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grab your favorite large bowl and add all the ingredients for the meatballs. Important: use your hands to mix the ingredients together. A spoon or other large utensil will simply smash the ingredients together and will cause the meatballs to become too dense and mushy in texture.
- Step 3 Roll the meatballs: Again, use your hands. Grab a chunk of the mixed meat mixture and using the palms of your hands roll into 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. About 15 gentle rolls will form a good solid meatball. As you roll the meatballs, place them on a sheet pan lined with foil or sprayed with non-stick spray.
Step 4, Bake the Meatballs: Cover the meatballs with the sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes (depending on what size you made them). And be generous with that sauce.
Remove the meatballs to your favorite serving platter and dig in.
You can use cream, half and half or whole milk. I don’t like using 2% or skim milk. You need that fat for flavor and binding.
A food processor works best. Just use the pulse feature until the crackers are fairly fine and even in size. If you don’t have a food processor, place crackers in a gallon sized zip-lock bag and remove air. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers.
Practice your knife skills and chop those onions as small as you can. If the chunks are too large, it may cause the meatballs to separate or worse, fall apart.
Not really, but here’s what I’ve done. Make Ahead: Bake the meatballs first. When you’re ready to serve them, scoop them into a slow cooker. Pour the prepared sauce over the meatballs. Cook them on low for a couple of hours. This works great for making this recipe in advance and if you’re transporting them to a pot-luck.
These meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. The best way to re-heat them is to use the microwave. Using your 50% power setting, heat them in 30 second increments until nice and steamy. This recipe also freezes well. It works best if you separate the meatballs before freezing. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Recipe for Oven Meatballs In BBQ Sauce
I hope you give these meatballs in BBQ sauce a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating and scroll down and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite oven meatballs recipe, let me know, I’m always looking for new recipes.
- Baked Italian Meatballs
- Honey Sriracha Cranberry Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Authentic Swedish Meatballs
- Mexican Meatballs with Queso Blanco
- Grape Jelly Meatballs
And if you ‘re looking for more appetizer recipes, don’t miss my appetizer category. You’ll find lots of fun finger food ideas, including the most popular on my site for Shrimp Campechana, an authentic Mexican appetizer chock full of tomatoes, jalapeno, cucumber and more.
Meatballs in BBQ Sauce
- 3 pounds ground beef 80-20 blend
- 13 ounces evaporated milk *note below
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten with a fork
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups saltine crackers crushed. The crackers should measure 2 cups after crushed.
- 1 whole onion diced
- 1 clove garlic diced
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- For the Sauce:
- 4 cups ketchup
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 2 clove garlic diced
- 4 tablespoons Liquid smoke
- 3 cups brown sugar firmly packed
- BBQ Sauce Directions:
- In a sauce pan, mix ketchup, onion, garlic, liquid smoke, brown sugar and using medium heat, bring to a boil. Turn the burner off but leave the pan on the burner to keep warm while you make the meatballs.
- To Make The Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix first 9 ingredients together in a large pan. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredient until well blended.
- Again, using your hands, form into balls about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.
- Place the meatballs on two 9 x 13 baking dishes, sprayed with no-stick spray or covered in aluminum foil.
- Cover liberally with sauce and bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until meatballs are done. (time depends on meatball size)
- This makes around 90 meatballs.
Meatballs in BBQ Sauce …They’re What’s for a Pot Luck.