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5 Cozy, Sweet, and Savory BBQ Meatball Recipes To Explore

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Did you know that BBQ meatballs come in all sizes — and each one has a specific purpose? 

Take, for example, cocktail meatballs. These are around 1” or less in diameter. They’re easy to eat in just one bite, which in turn, makes them perfect for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres.

On the other hand, large meatballs, which are typically around 2” to 3”, are often served as a main course. Plus, their size makes them perfect for cheese stuffings and other fillings. 

On top of those, there are also giant meatballs that come in more than 3”. They’re specialties in many restaurants and they serve as an impressive centerpiece for any meal.

As it turns out, there’s a lot about BBQ meatballs that meets the eye, and I can’t wait to share some interesting takes on this cookout classic — starting with BBQ meatballs with cheese grits. 

1. BBQ Meatballs With Cheese Grits

Comfort food never looked so good. These BBQ meatballs with cheese grits are my go-to every time I want something tangy and juicy but, at the same time, rich and creamy. 

It’s giving me all the cozy vibes I want in my food. So, if you want to recreate this dish at home, here’s what you’ll need.

First, grab the ingredients for your meatballs. 

These include a pound of ground pork, one large egg, a quarter cup of breadcrumbs, a cup of BBQ sauce, a teaspoon of salt and pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder. 

For the cheese grits, you’ll need two cups of chicken broth, two cups of milk, a cup of quick-cooking grits, two tablespoons of butter, and a cup of shredded cheddar. 

Don’t forget to add your seasonings like salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

Once you’re ready to cook, let’s jump right into the recipe!

Season your meatballs by adding your ground pork, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and two tablespoons of BBQ sauce in a bowl. 

Then, use your hands to mix everything together. This step may be a little bit messy, so if you want to keep your hands clean, just wear some plastic or nitrile gloves.

Next, divide your pork mixture into smaller pieces. This recipe usually makes 16 cocktail meatballs, but depending on how big you want your balls to be, you may end up with a different total. 

After that, place your meatballs on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for around 20 to 25 minutes. 

While waiting, you can prepare your cheese grits. For this step, all you have to do is blend your chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a saucepot with the top lid.

Bring the mixture to a boil before stirring in the other ingredients, which include your grits, salt, and pepper. After a few minutes, turn the heat down and let the grits simmer for five more minutes.

When the timer’s up, take your pan off the heat and stir in your butter and pepper. Once the butter has melted, add in your shredded cheddar, one handful at a time. 

By this time, your meatballs should be done baking. So, take them out of the oven and transfer them to a clean bowl. Pour the rest of your BBQ sauce on top and stir everything to combine.

Now the only step left is to assemble: To do this, scoop some of your grits into a bowl and top it off with four or five meatballs. Drizzle more BBQ sauce on top, and it’s time to dig in!

Depending on my mood, I can eat it as it is, or if I’m feeling snacky, I’ll whip up some jerk-seasoned collard greens or roast some broccoli and Brussels sprouts to complete the meal. 

2. Sweet Brown Sugar BBQ Meatballs

We’re sticking to cocktail-style BBQ meatballs with this next recipe because the mini versions are not just faster to cook. They also maintain a lot of flavor in every bite!

And that’s exactly what you want with these sweet brown sugar BBQ meatballs. 

I admit that this recipe does sound unusual, but if there’s one thing I enjoy when making savory dishes, it’s infusing them with something sweet. 

The combination of sweet and savory just creates more dynamic layers of flavor that I can’t get enough of. 

So, if you want to give this recipe a shot, you’ll need to grab a pound of ground beef, half a pound of ground pork, Panko breadcrumbs, and shredded Parmesan cheese, one egg, and two cloves of grated garlic.

To make the sauce, you’ll need half a cup of brown sugar and BBQ sauce, two teaspoons of chili flakes, and some chopped chives for garnish. 

Be sure to keep your salt and pepper handy because you’ll need them when you start cooking. 

After gathering the essentials, mix your meatball ingredients and shape them like you normally would. Then, heat them in a large frying pan with some oil. 

When frying your meatballs, try to leave enough space between each one so they won’t stick to one another. After about four minutes, flip your meat around and cook for another four minutes. 

They should be less delicate once they have a brown and slightly crispy exterior. At that point,  you can start tossing your meatballs in the pan to cook them more evenly. 

Now, we’re heading to the fun part: the sauce. 

For this step, you should remove the majority of the oil from your pan, leaving only about a tablespoon. Then, add two tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and scrape up any stuck pieces.

Then, toss in your brown sugar and mix until it starts to bubble and look like dark caramel. If you find that the sauce is too thick for your liking, feel free to add more tablespoons of water to thin it out.

When you’re happy with the consistency, take the pan off the heat and drizzle your BBQ sauce. Mix them all together, and you’ve got sticky, glazed meatballs that are sweet, savory, and a tiny bit spicy.

3. Honey-Balsamic BBQ Meatballs

If you like the sweet, sticky, and saucy combo, you’re going to love these honey-balsamic BBQ meatballs. They’re gluten-free and they pack a lot of protein. 

This recipe makes 24 meatballs. To make it, you’ll need a third cup of uncooked quinoa, a pound of lean ground beef, an egg, a large shallot, two minced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.

You’ll also need some spices, primarily, salt and pepper, an eighth teaspoon of dried rosemary, and a quarter teaspoon of thyme to make your meatballs. 

Now, to make your honey-balsamic BBQ sauce, grab a cup of balsamic vinegar, three-fourths cup of ketchup, a third cup of brown sugar, and a quarter cup of honey.

Not only that. You’ll also need another tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard (or any yellow mustard), a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder, and some salt and pepper to taste.

Before making the meatballs, prepare the sauce first, and the steps are pretty straightforward.

Just mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Make sure to stir every few minutes to prevent any sticking from happening. Then, bring the heat down low and simmer for about 45 minutes.

You’ll know it’s ready when the sauce has a thick consistency and the vinegary taste is not as strong. 

Once you’re satisfied with your sauce, set it aside for now as you move on to your quinoa. For this, simply follow the package instructions and cook your quinoa over medium-low heat until it’s soft.

The whole process should take no more than 10 minutes. After that, just fluff the quinoa with a fork so the grains won’t clump together.

At this point, you’re down to the last component of this dish, which is your meatballs. So, combine your cooked quinoa, egg, shallot, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and beef in a large bowl. 

Use your hands to mix everything together before cooking your meat. You can either cook them using a grill, oven, or pan. I usually use the handy dandy grill because I like the added smoky flavor. 

If you’d like to do the same, spray the grates with nonstick spray and place your meatballs carefully on top. If you think there’s a chance your meatballs may fall in, you can also use a grill basket.

In any case, cook for about four to five minutes per side, turning now and then. Once the outside is a nice deep brown color, you can take the meat off the heat. 

Throw your meatballs inside the saucepan and toss them around until they’re coated in your delicious sauce. And that’s it — simple as can be! 

4. Cranberry BBQ Meatballs

Simplicity really is the name of the game when it comes to grilling or preparing dishes for a cookout. 

Because what if you don’t have time to make meatballs from scratch? What do you then? Well, lucky for you, you can buy frozen meatballs in a pack of 50 small and 30 medium sizes.

Then, all you have to worry about is your sauce, and I’ve got you covered with this cranberry BBQ meatballs recipe. 

Besides the meatballs, you’ll only need two other ingredients: 14 ounces of whole cranberry sauce and 18 ounces of spicy BBQ sauce.

Both of these ingredients you can buy pre-made in the store, and all you have to do is mix them together. 

But first, be sure to cook and defrost your meatballs properly. To do this, place them on your grill grates or in a grill basket and cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you’re working with room-temperature meatballs, you only have to leave them on the grill for around 10 minutes max. Be sure to flip them occasionally to ensure even cooking on all sides. 

Now, coat your meatballs with a mixture of both sauces, and you’re ready to serve. 

This dish is great as an easy appetizer, but if you want to make a meal out of it, you can pair it with a side of rice and grilled veggies.

5. Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs

If the cranberry BBQ mixture is not your type, these grape jelly BBQ meatballs might interest you more.

This recipe follows the same method as the previous one. The only difference is, we’re switching cranberry sauce with a jar of grape jelly. 

And just to give you a recap, here are the steps you need to take: (1) grill your pre-packed meatballs until they’re soft and tender, and (2) mix them with your homemade grape jelly BBQ blend.

Comparing the two recipes, the cranberry BBQ meatballs have more of a tart and tangy taste while the grape jelly alternative has more of a sweet and fruity flavor. 

To me, both of these recipes are a winner! But, since I have a very strong sweet tooth, I think this grape jelly recipe is more my vibe. 

Enjoy These Bite-Sized BBQ Bliss

If you ask me what the perfect BBQ appetizer is, I’d probably answer with meatballs. They’re small, bite-sized, and ultra-flavorful.

What’s more, you don’t need a lot of time or ingredients to make this dish taste incredible. Plus, they’re an immediate crowd favorite that even the kids will enjoy!

Whether you choose to make BBQ meatballs from scratch or buy them pre-packaged (don’t worry, I’m not judging), you can rest assured that every recipe will be a success. 

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