Delicious Southern-Style Barbecued Meatballs Recipe

Come one, come all, and gather around for the ultimate BBQ party appetizer: Southern Barbecued Meatballs! This recipe is a crowd-pleaser for anyone who loves meatballs with a Southern twist. I guarantee that one bite of these delicious meatballs will transport you straight to the heart of Dixie.

These meatballs are made with a savory blend of ground beef, onion, egg, and breadcrumbs. However, it’s our special mix of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar that creates that lip-smacking deliciousness that we all crave. The cayenne pepper gives it a subtle kick of heat while the melted Monterey Jack cheese on top adds an ooey-gooey creaminess that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Perfect to serve up as a party appetizer or to enjoy as an entree over mashed potatoes or cheese grits- either way, you just can’t go wrong with these Southern bbq-infused meatballs.

So grab your apron and get ready to cook up a storm because today we’re making Southern Barbecued Meatballs.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Barbecued Meatballs
Southern Barbecued Meatballs

Imagine sinking your teeth into juicy and flavorful meatballs, coated in a sticky and tangy Southern-style barbecue sauce. Are you drooling yet? Well, that’s what this Southern Barbecued Meatballs recipe promises to deliver.

Not only do these BBQ meatballs pack a punch of smoky and sweet flavors, but they’re also versatile enough to serve as an appetizer, main dish or potluck food. Trust me; everyone will be begging for the recipe!

One standout feature of this meatball recipe is its combination of flavor-enhancing ingredients. From Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar to Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper, every spice adds a bold layer to the dish’s overall taste. The mixture of ground beef and Monterey Jack cheese also adds depth by bringing out the savory flavors.

Even though the recipe appears intimidating, it’s surprisingly easy to make. You don’t require specialty equipment like an Instant Pot or pressure cooker to prepare it. You can use a slow cooker or preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

What’s more, you don’t have to stick to my version of the recipe. Unlike other meatball recipes that demand uniformity, the Southern Barbecued Meatballs accept substitutions and variations. For example, if you want your meatballs with a kick of spice, add more cayenne pepper or chili sauce.

Lastly, this recipe is budget-friendly as it requires only two pounds of a combination of beef, pork, and veal to give you approximately 40 BBQ meatballs. This way, you won’t have to break the bank on expensive ingredients that might not yield any return.

In summary, if you’re looking for an irresistible meal with fantastic flavor nuances that won’t take up much of your time or money, then this Meatballs Recipe is just perfect for you!

Ingredient List

 These meatballs are smothered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, just waiting to be devoured!
These meatballs are smothered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, just waiting to be devoured!

Here are the ingredients you will need for these southern barbecued meatballs:

For the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 2 cups of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

These recipe ingredients can be found at any grocery store and they are budget-friendly. You can modify this list according to your preferences and availability.

The Recipe How-To

 Make sure to grab a napkin because these juicy, flavorful meatballs are finger-lickin' good.
Make sure to grab a napkin because these juicy, flavorful meatballs are finger-lickin’ good.

Now let’s get right into preparing these Southern Barbecued Meatballs! This recipe can easily be made on the stove-top, in an oven, or even in a slow cooker. Here’s how to make them:


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups ketchup


Step One: Mix the Ingredients

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the ketchup. Mix everything together using your hands until it is fully incorporated.

Step Two: Shape the Meatballs

Roll the mixture into balls around one and a half inches in size. If you prefer smaller or larger meatballs, feel free to adjust the size according to your preference. Place them on a baking tray and set aside.

Step Three: Make Your Homemade BBQ Sauce

Mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper in a saucepan. Cook on low heat for five minutes while stirring gently.

Step Four: Bake Your Meatballs

Preheat your oven to 350°F (approximately 176°C) and bake the meatballs for about fifteen minutes.

If you’re using a slow cooker or pressure cooker, follow these instructions:

For Slow Cooker: Combine sauce with meatballs in slow cooker on low heat for two-and-a-half hours.

For Pressure Cooker: Combine sauce, onion and meatballs in the pressure cooker set to 50 percent for 15 minutes.

Step Five: Add the BBQ Sauce

Remove the meatballs from the oven or slow cooker and coat them in your homemade BBQ sauce. Once completely coated, return them to the oven to bake ten to fifteen minutes longer, or until they are cooked through.

There you have it! Perfect, Southern Barbecued Meatballs that will make a mouth-watering main dish or a delightful party appetizer. Serve them alongside some mashed potatoes or cheese grits for a complete Southern-style meal you won’t forget.

Substitutions and Variations

 A perfect addition to any backyard barbecue or potluck.
A perfect addition to any backyard barbecue or potluck.

Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to this southern-style Barbecued Meatballs Recipe, there are plenty of ways to add your own flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to make it your own.

Firstly, you can always switch up the meat. If you’re looking for a leaner option, try using turkey or chicken instead of ground beef. For those who prefer a heartier taste, blend beef, pork, and veal together for a well-rounded flavor.

Similarly, if you want to vary the sweetness level of your Barbecued Meatballs Recipe, you can adjust the brown sugar quantity as per your taste preferences. Alternatively, you could add honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar for a delicious twist.

You can also experiment with BBQ sauce. For instance, homemade BBQ sauce tastes great and offers an extra layer of flavor to each bite. Try adding some chili sauce or red pepper flakes for extra spice – or swap out ketchup for tomato sauce as another variation.

To take these meatballs up a notch and make them even more party-friendly appetizers, try serving them over mashed potatoes or cheese grits.

If you are in a time crunch and need to whip something quickly for a party or game day event without making meatballs from scratch, frozen meatballs will do the trick in this recipe too!

All in all, this Recipe has room for a lot of flexibility as per personal taste preferences while preparing budget-friendly variations with frozen meatballs that cater to last-minute planning events.

Serving and Pairing

 These meatballs are so delicious, you won't even realize they're actually packed with protein.
These meatballs are so delicious, you won’t even realize they’re actually packed with protein.

When it comes to serving these southern barbecued meatballs, they are a versatile option that can adapt well to almost any occasion. These tender and flavorful meatballs can be served as a hearty dinner entree, served alongside a generous helping of creamy mashed potatoes or tangy cheese grits. They can also work wonderfully as a party appetizer that is sure to please the crowd.

If you are serving these meatballs as an appetizer at a get-together or big game day event, you may want to consider serving them in toothpick form with a side of homemade BBQ sauce for dipping. You could also try turning up the heat by preparing them with cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

If you are looking to pair these meatballs with a beverage, a light beer or crisp white wine can be delightful additions. The lemon juice and cider vinegar in the recipe give the dish a tangy zest, while the brown sugar brings out its natural sweetness. A chilled glass of white wine or beer serves as a perfect complement to balance out these flavors.

Overall, this southern barbecued meatballs recipe can flexibly accompany different dishes and occasions. It’s up to your preference how you’d like to serve them, and who you’d like to share them with – your friends watching football over some BBQ meatballs on toothpicks, or your family sitting down for an intimate dinner with mashed potatoes and some perfectly paired glasses of wine.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The aromas coming from the oven are making my stomach growl, I can't wait to try one of these meatballs.
The aromas coming from the oven are making my stomach growl, I can’t wait to try one of these meatballs.

If you’re looking to save time on the day of the party, consider making these Southern Barbecued Meatballs ahead of time. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to two days or freeze them for up to two months. To freeze, simply place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag.

To reheat, simply preheat your oven to 350°F and place the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Another option is to reheat them in the slow cooker by placing them in the crockpot and cooking on high for 2-3 hours.

If you have leftover cooked meatballs, store them covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place them in a saucepan over medium heat with a little bit of barbecue sauce or tomato sauce until heated through.

Overall, these Southern Barbecued Meatballs are a versatile dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold, as an appetizer or as part of a main course. Whether you’re hosting a big party or just looking to make weeknight dinners easier, these meatballs are sure to please.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Southern comfort food at its finest - these meatballs are hearty, satisfying, and bursting with flavor
Southern comfort food at its finest – these meatballs are hearty, satisfying, and bursting with flavor

When it comes to making southern-style BBQ meatballs, there are a few tips and tricks that can help ensure perfect results. Here are some of my go-to tips:

Firstly, don’t overmix the meat mixture. When combining the ground beef with other ingredients like eggs, breadcrumbs and onions, mixing too much can result in dense and heavy meatballs. Mix just enough to combine all the ingredients evenly.

Another tip is to add moisture to the meat mixture. Ground beef can be dry if overcooked or not seasoned properly, so adding some tomato sauce or even a small amount of Worcestershire sauce can help keep the meatballs juicy and flavorful.

When rolling out the meatballs, make sure they are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Also, avoid packing them too tightly; this will help prevent them from becoming tough and dry.

It’s important to preheat your oven or slow cooker before cooking your meatballs. This ensures even cooking and avoids any drastic temperature changes that could affect their texture.

Finally, when it comes to serving your BBQ meatballs, you can always experiment with different sauces and flavors to create a unique dish each time. Serve them with mashed potatoes for a classic southern meal, cheese grits for a twist on breakfast, or on their own as a savory party appetizer.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making delicious southern-style BBQ meatballs that will become an instant family favorite.


Now that you have learned about the ingredient list, how to make the recipe, substitutions and variations, serving and pairing suggestions, make-ahead and storing options, as well as tips for perfect results, it’s time to address any frequently asked questions that may arise when preparing this southern barbecued meatballs recipe.

What is the secret to meatballs?

When preparing meatballs, the ideal ratio of meat and breadcrumbs is around 50:50. The key lies in incorporating day-old bread that has been soaked in milk or water, as it adds a fluffy texture to the mix. Overcooking beef, pork, or veal can lead to a tougher outcome.

Is it better to brown meatballs before putting in sauce?

When preparing meatballs in tomato sauce, it is possible to skip the browning step and cook the raw meatballs directly in the sauce. However, I suggest taking the extra step of browning the meatballs in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil beforehand. Doing so adds an appealing crispness to the exterior of the meatball, while still achieving a moist and succulent interior through the remainder of the cooking process in the tomato sauce.

Is milk or egg better for meatballs?

When making meatballs, don’t overlook the importance of adding milk to the mixture. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the eggs that provide moisture, but instead, a bit of milk. While eggs have the important job of binding the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs together, milk will keep your meatballs tender and juicy. So, make sure to not leave out this trick for achieving perfectly moist meatballs.

Bottom Line


If you’re looking for a delicious and hearty southern-style appetizer or main dish, these Southern Barbecued Meatballs are sure to please. This recipe is easy to follow and can be adapted to fit any taste or preference. The combination of savory meatballs, tangy barbecue sauce, and a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper will have your taste buds dancing with delight.

In addition, there are several options for substitutions and variations, whether you prefer beef, pork, veal, or turkey. This recipe can be made in a slow cooker, instant pot, or oven depending on your preference and time constraints.

These meatballs can be served as a standalone appetizer or paired with mashed potatoes, cheese grits, or your favorite side dish. They also make great leftovers as they can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later consumption.

Overall, this recipe is a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for parties, game day gatherings, or just a casual weeknight dinner. So why not give it a try? Trust me; your family and friends will thank you for making these delicious Southern Barbecued Meatballs.

Southern Barbecued Meatballs

Southern Barbecued Meatballs Recipe

In ‘ The Southern Slow Cooker Bible’ by Tammy Algood
No ratings yet
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American/Southern
Calories 487.9 kcal


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumb
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Place beef, egg, cheese, onions, and bread crumbs in a large bowl.
  • Mix with your hands until well blended.
  • Using a 1 ½ inch melon baller, scoop the meat mixture into balls and place into a lightly greased small slow cooker.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and cayenne.
  • Pour over the meatballs.
  • Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • Serve warm.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 277gCalories: 487.9kcalCarbohydrates: 27.8gProtein: 33.9gFat: 27.1gSaturated Fat: 11.1gCholesterol: 142.2mgSodium: 1226.9mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 21.6g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Meat
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