Barbecue meatballs are a classic, bite-sized appetizer. They are often made in the crockpot or in the oven but cooking them on the smoker adds an extra layer of amazing flavor.
This barbecue meatballs recipe combines ground beef and Italian sausage to create delicious meatballs with a sweet and smoky barbecue twist.
What type of meat for these meatballs
I like to combine 80/20 ground beef with ground Italian sausage for the meatballs. I like the flavor that the sausage adds, but you could double up on the beef or substitute ground pork as well.
I choose 80/20 beef because the fat content really keeps the meatballs moist and prevents them from drying out on the smoker.
Another great option is to grind your own ground beef right at home. You can use all chuck, or sirloin for the lean part and then grab your leftover brisket or tri-tip trimmings for the fat, which leaves you with a great way to really use every part of every cut!
Grinding your own beef at home is more cost-effective as well because it not only ensures that you can utilize all of the fat trimmings from other cuts, but you won’t be paying a premium at the butcher counter for them to do the grinding for you.
A meat grinder is a great piece of kit to own, and we have a guide to the best meat grinders if you are interested in getting one.
How to make smoked meatballs
Meatballs are a relatively quick recipe to whip up. You just toss your ingredients in a bowl, give it a good mix, and form the meatballs.
This recipe is nice and versatile as well. Swap out your favorite ground meat, add your favorite spices, kick up the heat with some cayenne – the possibilities are endless so feel free to get creative!
1. Mix your meatballs
In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef and Italian sausage. Then add the Italian breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, and all of your seasonings.
The best way to mix up meat is with your hands. Mix it until all the ingredients are well-combined but not overmixed.
2. Form your meatballs
Grab a scoop of the meat mixture and roll it between your hands to form the meatball.
You can make them whatever size you prefer. I like to shoot for a diameter of about 2 inches.
It’s important to make the size relatively uniform for the entire batch so they cook evenly.
Then place your meatballs on a jerky tray (or wire rack) about 2 inches apart.
3. Heat your smoker to 250°F
Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
Oak pairs well with both beef and pork. It provides a solid, smoky flavor without being too overpowering, making it perfect for these smoked meatballs.
4. Sauce your meatballs
Pull the meatballs off the grill and coat them in your favorite barbecue sauce.
Once your meatballs are coated in the sauce, place the rack back on the smoker for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready to enjoy!
How to serve smoked barbecue meatballs
- The Perfect Appetizer – Serve them with toothpicks and an extra side of barbecue sauce for dipping.
- Meatball Subs – serve them on a sub roll with a layer of melted cheddar cheese and a bit more barbecue sauce for the perfect barbecue meatball sub.
- Smoky Pasta – you can add them to your favorite pasta dish for a smoky twist on the classic spaghetti and meatballs.
- As the Main Course – there is no reason why these meatballs can’t be the main course for your dinner. Serve them up with your favorite veggies and potatoes and you’ve got a delicious meal.
Great sides for smoked barbecue meatballs
- Herb Roasted Potato Salad
- Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Triple Cooked Potato Wedges
- Smoked Baked Beans with Bacon
- Creamy Coleslaw
Smoked Barbecue Meatballs Recipe
- 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp black pepper ground
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- ½ tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tbsp chili powder
- Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, Italian sausage, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, and all of your dry seasonings.
- Mix the ingredients with your hands until they are well-combined. Do not over mix the meat mixture – pieces of ground meat should still be visible.
- Grab a scoop of the meat mixture and roll it between your hands to form your meatballs. They should be about 2 inches in diameter and the size should be relatively uniform across the batch.
- Place your meatballs on a jerky tray (or wire rack) and place them on the smoker when it reaches 250°F.
- Let them smoke for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Pull the rack off and coat each meatball in a layer of barbecue sauce.
- Once they are coated, place them back on the smoker for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Serve them alongside toothpicks and more barbecue sauce for the perfect appetizer, on a sub roll for a meatball sandwich, or add them to your favorite pasta dish.