Make Your Taste Buds Sing with Southern Buttermilk Meatballs

You know what they say about Southern cuisine, don’t you? It’s rich, it’s hearty and it will leave you feeling like you’ve just had a warm hug. And when it comes to comfort food, nothing quite beats a great meatball recipe. That’s where Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe comes in – a recipe that combines all the quintessential Southern flavors with the universal love for Italian meatballs.

I’m a Chef specializing in Southern-style cuisine and I have to say, this recipe is one of my all-time favorites. Not only is it quick and easy to make, but it will also impress even the most discerning eaters. The key ingredient here is buttermilk – it gives these meatballs unbeatable tenderness and juiciness.

The recipe is simple enough for beginners, but it packs so much flavor that even seasoned cooks will appreciate it. Picture this: succulent meatballs paired with tangy-sweet grape jelly or tomato sauce (depending on your preference) on a bed of mashed potatoes or homemade spaghetti. It’s a match made in heaven!

So whether you’re cooking for your family or hosting a dinner party for friends, Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe will quickly become your go-to dish. Trust me, one bite and you’ll be transported to the heart of Dixie!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Big John's Southern Buttermilk Meatballs
Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs

Listen up, folks! If you’re a fan of hearty, flavorful, and downright delicious southern-style cooking, then this recipe is one that you simply cannot miss. I’m talking about Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe – the dish that will have your taste buds dancing with joy.

Now, you may be wondering what sets these meatballs apart from all the other meatball recipes out there. Well, my friends, let me tell you – it’s all in the buttermilk. This tangy and creamy ingredient gives these meatballs a unique touch that elevates them to a whole new level of deliciousness.

But don’t just take my word for it. Picture this: perfectly cooked meatballs, bursting with flavor and coated in a savory sauce that’s infused with the subtle tang of buttermilk. Imagine sinking your teeth into one of these juicy morsels, feeling the satisfying crunch on the outside with every bite and enjoying the flavorful explosion happening inside.

And while most meatball recipes require breadcrumbs to hold everything together, Big John’s recipe swaps in flour instead. This adds a lightness and fluffiness to the meatballs like no other – leading to bites that simply dissolve once they enter your mouth.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good old fashioned southern-style meal? With this recipe on your menu, you’ll be able to transport yourself straight to a quaint little restaurant down south serving up some of the best comfort food out there.

So trust me when I say: you’ll love this recipe. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Ingredient List

 These meatballs sure are a crowd-pleaser, y'all!
These meatballs sure are a crowd-pleaser, y’all!

Get ready folks, because these meatballs are packed with flavor! Here’s what you’ll need to gather before diving into the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef: This is the foundation of our meatballs, and we want to use a high-quality meat for maximum flavor.

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk: The acidity of buttermilk helps tenderize the meatballs, making them extra juicy.

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs: Breadcrumbs act as a binder that brings everything together. Use seasoned bread crumbs for added flavor.

  • 1/4 cup flour: We use flour as a thickener in our sauce.

  • 1/2 cup milk: You can use any milk you have on hand. We prefer whole milk for richness.

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda: This ingredient is optional, but it helps make the meatballs extra tender and fall-apart delicious.

  • 1 tablespoon sugar: Just a pinch of sugar helps balance out the acidity in the dish.

  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard: A little bit goes a long way in adding some tangy flavor to our meatballs.

  • 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper: For seasoning, we’re keeping it simple with salt and pepper.

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped: This adds some depth of flavor to our sauce.

  • 4 tablespoons butter: We’ll use this for frying up our onions and making our roux.

Optional: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add some ground pork to your beef mixture for added richness.

Pro tip: Are you worried your meatballs will fall apart? Add an egg to your mixture! It serves as another binding agent so your meatballs stick together.

The Recipe How-To

 A little bit crispy on the outside, and too good to resist on the inside.
A little bit crispy on the outside, and too good to resist on the inside.

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter, cooking these luscious meatballs. This recipe is incredibly easy to make and will only take you about one hour – from prep time to the dinner table.

Step 1: Mixing

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of milk. Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Next, add in 1/4 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper, 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, and a pinch of baking soda. Mix again until all ingredients are evenly combined.

Step 2: Forming

With your hands or a spoon, form one to two-inch meatballs with the mixture. Don’t roll them too tightly; we want them to be tender and juicy.

Step 3: Frying

Preheat your oven over medium-high heat. Drop the formed balls in batches to a hot, greased skillet (use 4 tablespoons of butter here). Fry for about 10 minutes, turning intermittently until they are cooked through and nicely browned on all sides.

Alternatively, if you prefer, you may also bake the balls instead of frying them. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked.

Plus point? They will not fall apart unlike some classic meatballs!

Step 4: Adding Them To The Sauce (Optional)

These meatballs are so versatile that can go well with any sauce you like – tomato sauce or grape jelly sauce – these juicy beauties pair perfectly.

If choosing tomato sauce, transfer your cooked meatballs into a separate shallow pan while you cook up your tomato sauce until it thickens up. Once thick enough, submerge your meatballs completely in sauce, occasionally spooning it over the top to coat completely.

If using grape jelly sauce, add in 1 cup of Grape Jelly and mic well to remove any traces. Transfer your cooked meatballs into a separate shallow pan while you cook up your grape jelly sauce until it thickens up. Once thick enough, submerge your meatballs completely in sauce, occasionally spooning it over the top to coat completely.

Step 5: Serving

Serve your southern buttermilk meatballs with a side of your liking – rice or mashed potato – garnish with chopped onion and voila.

Now that you know the recipe, have no fear of Meatball Preparation!

Substitutions and Variations

 Served here with southern-style collard greens and mac & cheese. Yum!
Served here with southern-style collard greens and mac & cheese. Yum!

When it comes to making the perfect meatballs, experimentation is key. Deliciously versatile and adaptable, there are dozens of options for those who want to make this recipe their own. Below are some substitutions and variations you can try:

– Meat: While ground beef is what Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe calls for, feel free to experiment with other types of meat such as ground pork or chicken. For a sweeter taste you can mix the beef with a bit of sausage meat.

– Breadcrumbs: If breadcrumbs aren’t your thing, try using crushed crackers, chips or even cornflakes for added crunch.

– Sauce: Who said meatballs have to be covered in tomato sauce? You can switch things up by using a variety of sauces including teriyaki, sweet and sour, or even cranberry sauce! For a great southern flavor you can also use a BBQ sauce.

– Cheese: Cheese-lovers may opt to add shredded cheese like cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss in the mixture before baking for an ooey-gooey surprise center.

– Spices: Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe calls for black pepper and salt. However, don’t be afraid to sprinkle on additional spices like garlic powder, smoked paprika or chili flakes for an extra kick!

Remember that experimentation is key when it comes to cooking. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these substitutions and variations to create your perfect meatball.

Serving and Pairing

 Big John's signature spice blend gives these meatballs their unique flavor.
Big John’s signature spice blend gives these meatballs their unique flavor.

It’s time to put Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs on the plate! These juicy meatballs are the MVP of any meal. They’re versatile and pair well with a variety of dishes.

For a classic southern meal, serve your buttermilk meatballs with fluffy buttermilk biscuits and collard greens. The tangy flavors of the biscuits combine perfectly with the meatballs’ savory and delicate texture. Pairing your meatballs with healthy collard greens infused with garlic and onions will limit the calories in your meal, making it a perfect choice for those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

And if you’re looking to indulge, try serving these meatballs with fried chicken or grilled cheese sandwiches. Or add them as toppings to your green eggs and ham for a fun twist on breakfast.

If you’re hosting a party, serve them as an appetizer with toothpicks and grape jelly dip on the side! The tangy sweetness of the grape jelly makes the perfect dipping sauce.

These meatballs also pair well with Italian food. Serve them over spaghetti pasta or go classic and make an Italian sub sandwich using pillowy soft bread stuffed with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs on top!

The possibilities are endless with this recipe. Play around with different serving suggestions and find out what suits you best.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Perfect for any game day spread, potluck, or family gathering.
Perfect for any game day spread, potluck, or family gathering.

Listen up, my friends. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to wait until the last minute to make these juicy Southern Buttermilk Meatballs. Here’s the deal: these meatballs are not only scrumptious straight out of the oven, but they also taste just as good when made ahead of time and reheated.

If you’re serving these meatballs for a big occasion, I suggest making them the day before and reheating them in the oven or on a slow-cooker on low heat. This technique will allow the flavors to infuse fully and make for a succulent delicacy that makes your taste buds dance.

To reheat the meatballs, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, place them in a container or baking dish, then cover with foil. Heat in the oven for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

Abracadabra! You’re ready to dig in and enjoy these mouthwatering delights. They go perfectly with classic sides like mashed potatoes and green beans or with homemade buttermilk biscuits for a southern-style brunch.

Now, if you end up with leftover meatballs after your feast or party (which is highly unlikely), store them properly so they remain moist and tender. As soon as they’ve cooled off completely, transfer them into an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

In the fridge, they’ll stay fresh for around four days. Just reheat them as instructed above, and they’ll still be glorious. In the freezer, you can keep them safe until you’re ready to eat again for up to three months.

Ultimately my friends, this recipe makes it hard not to fall head-over-heels for buttermilk meatballs. And with these tips for making and storing ahead of time flawless…well, let’s just say you’ll wish you had more!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Dip them in some homemade ranch dressing or spicy mustard. Oh my!
Dip them in some homemade ranch dressing or spicy mustard. Oh my!

Now, let me reveal the secrets to make the perfect Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs. Here are some useful tips to make sure you achieve the best result when making this recipe:

1. The key to making perfect meatballs is using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Make sure to choose the best ground beef available and avoid using lean beef, as it can make the meatballs dry.

2. Do not overwork or knead the mixture, as it will make your meatballs tough and rubbery. Instead, gently mix them by hand until everything is well combined.

3. To prevent your meatballs from falling apart or losing their shape during cooking, add a pinch of baking soda to your mixture. It will help the meatballs hold their shape and become more tender.

4. When shaping the meatballs, try to keep them uniform in size to ensure they cook evenly. Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop for easy and consistent measuring.

5. Another tip for keeping your meatballs moist and tender is to soak bread crumbs in milk or buttermilk before adding them to the mixture. This will help infuse moisture into the meatballs and prevent them from drying out.

6. For added flavor, consider incorporating a small amount of prepared mustard into your meat mixture. It will give your meatballs a tangy kick that pairs perfectly with the buttermilk in this recipe.

7. If you prefer a firmer texture for your meatballs, try adding one or two tablespoons of flour to your mixture. This will help bind the ingredients together and create a denser texture.

By following these tips, you can take your Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs to the next level and impress anyone who tastes them!


Before we wrap up with this recipe, let’s address some frequently asked questions regarding Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe. I’ve compiled these questions and will provide thorough answers to help you cook up a storm in the kitchen. So, without further ado, let’s dive into some of your most pressing queries.

What is the secret to dense meatballs?

When making meatballs, it’s important to note that eggs serve as a binder rather than a source of moisture. Their job is to hold together the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs. If you use too many eggs, the meatballs can turn out dense and spongy, which is not what you want. It’s recommended to use one or two eggs for every one to two pounds of meat to create light and airy meatballs.

Why do you put baking soda in meatballs?

One trick to keeping beef moist is to use baking soda. It can help prevent the proteins in the meat from binding too quickly, which is what causes it to become dry. This is because baking soda helps to balance the pH levels in the beef.

Why do my meatballs fall apart when I fry them?

Achieving the perfect texture for your meatballs is crucial, as adding too many breadcrumbs can cause it to resemble stuffing instead of a tender mini-meatloaf. This can also result in a loose mixture that falls apart while cooking. However, using too little breadcrumbs may not create the desired filler effect. Striking a balance between the two is key to achieving delicious, perfectly-textured meatballs.

Why did my meatballs come out rubbery?

When making meatballs, be careful not to pack them too firmly, as this can result in a tough and chewy texture. To avoid this, it’s helpful to lightly oil your hands so that the mixture won’t cling to them. Quickly and gently shape the meatballs to ensure a tender and juicy final product.

Bottom Line


As a southern chef, I can confidently say that Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe is a must-try for all meatball lovers out there. The combination of buttermilk and prepared mustard is what sets this recipe apart, making the meatballs hearty and savory.

Not only are they delectable, but they are also easy to prepare, store, and reheat. You can enjoy them with your favorite sides or alone as a snack.

So why not give it a try? Impress your family and friends with this classic dish that’s perfect for any occasion. As Chef John once said, “Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!” So, get in the kitchen and start cooking!

Big John's Southern Buttermilk Meatballs

Big John’s Southern Buttermilk Meatballs Recipe

And they said not to use ground beef in Southern dishes. Yeah Whatever.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 535.5 kcal


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (Fine)
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard


  • Combine the beef, milk, bread crumbs, onion, 1 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper.
  • Mix thoroughly then shape into 16 balls.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet then brown the meat balls well on all sides.
  • Remove the meat balls from the pan and add the remaining butter.
  • Blend in the flour, sugar, and the other 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Add the buttermilk and mustard and cook, stirring constantly until thickened.
  • Reduce the heat and return the meat balls to the sauce.
  • Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 342gCalories: 535.5kcalCarbohydrates: 29.1gProtein: 30.3gFat: 32.7gSaturated Fat: 15.9gCholesterol: 118.9mgSodium: 1433.1mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 9.7g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Meat
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