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Smoked BBQ Meatballs

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Made-from-scratch smoked BBQ meatballs make the perfect appetizer or main course. These meatballs are smoked right on the grill or smoker, then bathed in a flavorful BBQ sauce.

Smoked BBQ Meatballs in a bowl

Meatballs often appear at cookouts, potlucks, and game day events. These bite-sized morsels are usually prepared in a Dutch oven or crockpot. However, these BBQ meatballs reap the benefits of low and slow cooking. These smoked meatballs are made with ground beef, pork, bacon, green chilis, and BBQ sauce to create the perfect Tex-Mex BBQ combination. 

What is the best meat to use for meatballs?

Start with an 80/20 ground chuck. This type of ground beef will help keep the meatballs moist during the cooking process. We recommend pairing it with comparable fat-to-lean meats like ground pork, minced bacon, sausage, or ground chicken thighs. 

Meat grinder with meat

Should I grind meat for meatballs?

If you have the extra time and the right equipment, grinding meat is an inexpensive way to get a good quality product. One of the best-kept Pitmaster secrets is saving those rib scraps and brisket trimmings. Add them to ground chuck, or use any combination of meats. Bacon or uncured sliced pork belly make great larding ingredients when added to lean meat like venison, buffalo, and various beef cuts. 

Smoked BBQ Meatball Ingredients

  • Ground beef (chuck or sirloin)
  • Ground pork
  • Uncooked bacon
  • Onion 
  • Bread crumbs
  • Diced green chilis (1 4-ounce can)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Egg
  • Garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Mexican oregano (sub with regular oregano)
  • Homemade BBQ sauce (or store bought)
  • Fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (garnish)

What is the best wood for meatballs?

We recommend using pecan, cherry, or oak woods for smoking meatballs. These woods work with the meat rather than overpowering them. Balance is key. Over smoked meatballs can taste bitter.

Raw meatballs

How to make smoked BBQ meatballs

The best part about meatballs is that they are quick and easy to make. Just add the meat and remaining ingredients to a large bowl. Mix until well combined, form into 1 1/2″ balls, and they are ready for the smoker, grill, or oven.

  • Step 1:  Place ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl. Mince the bacon into very small pieces. It should resemble ground meat.
  • Step 2: Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl, except BBQ sauce and garnish. Using your hands or spatula, combine the meatball mixture. Be gentle and do not overmix. This will cause the meatballs to become tough during the cooking process. Set bowl aside
  • Step 3: Prepare your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F. We used a pellet grill for this recipe but have also made it on a kamado unit.
  • Step 4: While your grill is heating, form the meatballs into 1 3/4″-2″ uniform-shaped meatballs.
  • Step 5: Place the meatballs on a jerky tray. Set that tray onto a large baking sheet. Do not crowd the meatballs. Leave at least 1/2″ of space between them.
  • Step 6: Place the meatballs into your smoker, close the lid and let them smoke for 40 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
  • Step 7: Coat the smoked meatballs with BBQ sauce. 

Saucing the Meatballs

  • Option 1: Place the meatballs into a large disposable aluminum pan, pour the sauce over the top and gently toss to coat with tongs. 
  • Option 2: Leave the meatballs on the jerky tray, and brush them with BBQ sauce.
  • After saucing, let the meatballs continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Step 8: Remove smoked BBQ meatballs from the grill, and place them onto a serving dish topped with chopped cilantro of flat-leaf parsley.
Smoked BBQ Meatballs in a bowl with garnish

Serving

  • Appetizer: Once plated, serve these delicious BBQ meatballs with toothpicks for the perfect cookout appetizer.
  • Main Course: Make them the star of your dinner! Serve these smoked meatballs with traditional BBQ sides like baked beans, macaroni and cheese, or funeral potatoes.

Variations

  • Make your own meat combination. Use ground pork and turkey, beef and lamb, veal and Italian sausage, or ground chicken and chorizo.
  • Love spicy meatballs? Use 1/3 cup finely diced serrano peppers instead of green chilis.
  • Make them ahead of time for quick weeknight meals. Smoke the meatballs as instructed, but do not apply sauce or garnish. Freeze the meatballs in vacuum-sealed bags for up to 2 months: thaw your desired amount, reheat, and top with your favorite BBQ sauce.
  • Oven option. Don’t own a smoker or grill, don’t worry. You can cook these smoked BBQ meatballs in the oven. Follow the instruction above, but cook the meatballs in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, coat them in sauce and continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Like this recipe? Try these!

Smoked BBQ Meatballs in a bowl with garnish

Smoked BBQ Meatballs

Made-from-scratch smoked BBQ meatballs make the perfect appetizer or main course. These meatballs are smoked right on the grill or smoker, then bathed in a flavorful BBQ sauce.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: grilled meatballs, meatballs on smoker, smoked BBQ meatballs
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 521kcal
Author: Sabrina Baksh

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 strips uncooked, thick-cut bacon, minced
  • 1/3 cup minced onions yellow or sweet onions
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 4- ounce can of diced green chilis (mild or medium heat)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Mexican oregano sub with regular oregano
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

  • Place ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl. Mince the bacon into very small pieces. It should resemble ground meat.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl, except BBQ sauce and garnish. Using your hands or spatula, combine the meatball mixture. Be gentle and do not overmix. This will cause the meatballs to become tough during the cooking process. Set bowl aside
  • Prepare your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F. We used a pellet grill for this recipe but have also made it on a kamado unit.
  • While your grill is heating, form the meatballs into 1 3/4″-2″ uniform-shaped meatballs.
  • Place the meatballs on a jerky tray. Set that tray onto a large baking sheet. Do not crowd the meatballs. Leave at least 1/2″ of space between them.
  • Place the meatballs into your smoker, close the lid and let them smoke for 40 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
  • It's time to coat the smoked meatballs with BBQ sauce.
    Option 1: Place the meatballs into a large disposable aluminum pan, pour the sauce over the top and gently toss to coat with tongs.
    Option 2: Leave the meatballs on the jerky tray, and brush them with BBQ sauce.
  • After saucing, let the meatballs continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Remove meatballs from the grill, and place them onto a serving dish topped with chopped cilantro of flat-leaf parsley.

Notes

Oven option
Don’t own a smoker or grill, don’t worry. You can cook these smoked BBQ meatballs in the oven. Follow the instruction above, but cook the meatballs in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, coat them in sauce and continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Nutrition

Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 1581mg | Potassium: 831mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 189IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 4mg
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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