Snacks & Appetizers

BBQ Meatballs

BBQ Meatballs

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Total time: 10 hours

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 5 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 c dry oatmeal (rolled or instant)
  • 1 c cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c chopped onion
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder


  • 2 c ketchup
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ c chopped onions
  1. Combine all meatball ingredients.  Shape into walnut-sized balls.  Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets.  Freeze.  When fully frozen, place in plastic bag in and store in freezer until needed.
  2. When ready to use, place frozen meatballs in slow cooker.  Cover.  Cook on High as you mix up sauce.
  3. Pour combined sauce ingredients over meatballs.  Stir.
  4. Cover.  Continue cooking on High 1 hour.  Stir.  Turn to Low and cook 6-9 hours.
Initial freezing of the meatballs

These meatballs are an all-time party favorite.  I especially get guys asking if these will be making an appearance at our latest get-together.  While I trust that they are so well liked because they taste good, I can’t help but wonder if it’s also because they are one of few heartier snacks at parties.

BBQ Meatballs Sauce

When you’re planning a party, it’s easy to default to quick finger foods and snacks.  Chips, crackers, salsa, cookies and the like are simple to pick up and set out, ready for the party to get started.  Sure, you’ve invited people over to hang out, not to enjoy a three-course meal, but are these types of snacks really enough?

Most parties involve pop and alcohol – both loaded in sugar and little to no real caloric value.  In turn, the simple snacks listed above all turn to sugar and also have no real intake value.  With this combination, your guests will either become drunk really quick, get tummy aches, or in most cases, both.

It’s important to provide heartier snacks in addition to these typical ones.  Give your guests some substance and protein to balance out all of the sugar.  Plus, while you’re not expected to serve dinner, most parties last for a number of hours.  Your guests are guarenteed to eventually require more of a meal.  If you don’t have snacks like this on hand, you’ll end up ordering pizza or the like for everyone anyway.

Now, this particular recipe takes a lot of up front effort.  Sure you can just buy frozen meatballs, through them in the slow cooker with a jar of spaghetti and accomplish the same overall point of providing more sustenance.  Feel free to do so.  But you’re most likely here at Recipe Realism because you like to cook and if this is the only thing you actually make for your event, you won’t be let down.  Make it ahead of time and your ‘day of’ gets that much easier.  And like I said, these meatballs won’t disappoint.  You’ll most likely get regular requests for them too!

Meatball Forming Tool

Originally from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, this recipe is pretty self-explanatory.  This last time I made it though, I used an actual meatball making tool.  Before I’d made them by hand.  By hand is messier plus I think I was making them too big resulting in less meatballs.  Using the tool they were a perfect size and made so many more!

BBQ Meatball

When party time rolls around, set your slow cooker to ‘warm,’ put a container of toothpicks next to it and you’re set to go.  And no worries about putting away any meatball leftovers – I’ve never had any left by the end of the night!

My favorite ‘toothpicks’ for meatballs – I highly recommend. The barb on the end really helps to hold on to a meaty meatball!

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