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BBQ MEATBALLS

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Make savory BBQ meatballs with a crockpot and 4 simple ingredients! This classic appetizer is ideal for 4th of July gatherings, summer cocktail parties, and Game Day. Or serve these tasty small bites during the holiday season.

PIN SLOW COOKER MEATBALLS

Bowl of crockpot BBQ meatballs garnished with green onions on an appetizer table with forks.

Like BBQ little smokies, glazed cocktail meatballs are a staple of family gatherings. They’re sticky, sweet/savory, and loaded with nostalgia. Most of us remember our aunts and grandmothers bringing this crockpot dish to family reunions, potlucks and church socials. We remember all the joy.

You can easily halve or double this recipe depending on the size of your crockpot. We use frozen meatballs because they hold up better than fresh meatballs in the slow cooker. We want beautiful-looking BBQ meatballs. Whole spheres, not crumbled fragments on the end of a cocktail pick.

Using frozen meatballs is also a welcome shortcut when you’re hosting an event and need to prep multiple dishes on a tight schedule. Teens can help by pulling out the crockpot and prepping this easy recipe in just 5 minutes.

The tines of a fork digging into a bowl of glazed cocktail meatballs.

To make BBQ meatballs a meal, pair them with white rice and a crisp garden salad. Or serve them with mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, and crusty bread – for a good balance of taste and texture.

When creating an appetizer spread for grazing, serve BBQ meatballs alongside buffalo chicken wontons, herby marinated cheese, small air fryer taquitos, baked BBQ chicken wings, and angel deviled eggs.

If there are leftover meatballs after the party, use them for a healthy lunch the next day. Make this meatball gyro sandwich. Or crumble the balls between your fingers and they become a delicious pizza topping.

Slow Cooker Meatballs with honey BBQ glaze, sprinkled with sliced green onions.

INGREDIENTS

NOTE: If you prefer BBQ meatballs with grape jelly (instead of honey), it’s easy to do with just 3 basic ingredients. Refer to the “Recipe FAQ” section on this page for ingredients and instructions.

  • BBQ Sauce: I prefer Sweet Bay Ray’s Original BBQ sauce. But you can use your favorite BBQ sauce, or a money-saving store brand. Just make sure the product is tomato-based over a mustard or vinegar sauce.
  • Honey: This natural ingredient adds delicious sweetness to the meatballs. But you can use brown sugar instead.
  • Water: An easy way to thin out the sauce and help prevent it from burning at the bottom of the crockpot.
  • Frozen Fully-Cooked Meatballs: Look for these in the frozen section of the supermarket. Or assemble and cook a batch of homemade meatballs (beef, pork, chicken or turkey). For best results, make sure the meatballs are well-browned, and freeze them solid before using.
  • Optional Garnish: Fresh (sliced) green onions or chopped parsley.
Ingredients for BBQ meatball recipe cooked in a crockpot.

RECIPE STEPS

  • STEP 1: In a (4-quart) crockpot, whisk together BBQ sauce, honey and water until well combined. Add frozen fully-cooked meatballs to the slow cooker. Toss well so that every meatball is covered in glaze.
  • STEP 2: Cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 3 hours. Once the meatballs are completely warmed through, they’re done and ready to enjoy. For parties, reduce the heat to the “keep warm” setting. The meatballs can be kept in the crockpot ready to serve for up to 1 hour.
  • STEP 3: If desired, garnish BBQ meatballs with fresh (sliced) green onions or chopped parsley.

KITCHEN SMARTS: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to enjoy, rewarm in a pan on stovetop or in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave.

How to make meatball appetizers in the slow cooker in 2 easy steps.

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making crockpot BBQ meatballs, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

HOW TO MAKE BBQ MEATBALLS WITH GRAPE JELLY?

You’ll need 1 (18-ounce) jar grape jelly, 1 (18-ounce) container BBQ sauce, and 1 (32-ounce) bag frozen fully-cooked meatballs – about 50 meatballs. Combine grape jelly and BBQ sauce in the crockpot. Add meatballs to the crock and toss well to coat them all in glaze. Cook according to the directions in this recipe.

HOW TO SERVE APPETIZER MEATBALLS AT A PARTY?

Set out a small container of bamboo party forks or cocktail picks. Let guests spear their own meatballs when they’re ready to eat them.

HOW TO SERVE BBQ MEATBALLS AS A MAIN DISH?

Serve them over mashed potatoes, wide noodles, or steamed rice. Or alongside a baked potato. Include a green vegetable like broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, or a crisp green salad.

Cocktail meatballs in an appetizer dish with 2 forks.

MORE MEATBALL RECIPES

If you loved these slow cooker BBQ meatballs, you’ll want to make these other tasty meatball recipes. Serve them as appetizers, snacks or a meal. Save your favorite recipes for later. Pin them to Pinterest.

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Discerning taste testers voted these the BEST meatball appetizers! For taste and texture, they loved the sweet/savory glaze, and the crunchy green onion garnish. This recipe also received high marks for easy crockpot cooking.

If you agree these are excellent cocktail meatballs, give them a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with a friend.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Serving bowl of appetizer meatballs with the tines of a fork digging in.

BBQ MEATBALLS


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 5 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Description

Classic BBQ meatballs are sweet, savory and delicious. Prep this easy recipe in 5 minutes, then let your slow cooker do the cooking. Cocktail meatballs are a party favorite. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (like Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
  • 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound frozen fully-cooked meatballs

Optional Garnish: Fresh (sliced) green onions or chopped parsley


Instructions

  1. In a (4-quart) crockpot, whisk together BBQ sauce, honey and water until well combined. Add frozen meatballs to the slow cooker. Toss well so that every meatball is covered in glaze.
  2. Cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 3 hours. Once BBQ meatballs are completely warmed through, they’re done and ready to enjoy.
  3. If desired, garnish with sliced green onion or chopped parsley.

FOR PARTIES: Reduce the heat to the “keep warm” setting. The meatballs can be kept in the crockpot ready to serve for up to 1 hour.

Notes

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS: Transfer meatballs to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to enjoy, rewarm in a pan on stovetop or in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave.

  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 Hours
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: BBQ Meatballs, Meatball Appetizers, Cocktail Meatballs, Slow Cooker Meatballs, Crockpot Meatballs

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Do you have childhood memories of cocktail meatballs served at family gatherings? What do you think of this easy dump-and-go slow cooker recipe? Share your thoughts on BBQ meatballs in the comments below.

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