These absolutely scrumptious Crockpot BBQ meatballs are super easy to make and only require 10 minutes of hands on prep time. They cook up tender and juicy in the slow cooker and most importantly, they are a real crowd pleaser.
You can serve them as an appetizer or party food by themselves, however, they also make a great main dish paired with mashed potatoes and a crunchy salad. Any leftovers can be turned into delicious meatball sandwiches.
❤️ WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS CROCKPOT MEATBALLS RECIPE
✔️ Easy and delicious homemade BBQ sauce makes these tender meatballs irresistible.
✔️ This scrumptious dish only needs 10 minutes of prep time, then they cooks hands-off in the crockpot. Just put them in and forget about them.
✔️ Can be served as an appetizer, party snack or main dish.
✔️ You can determine the final flavor by adjusting seasonings to your own taste.
CROCKPOT BBQ MEATBALLS INGREDIENTS
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for slow cooker barbecue meatballs , what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You may have all of these easy BBQ meatball ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry and not need to make a trip to the grocery store. See recipe card below for ingredient amounts.
- Tomato Sauce
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar gives the barbecue sauce a slightly tangy flavor and balances out the sweetness.
- Honey: You can use any kind of honey. It adds a subtle natural sweetness, but you can also use brown sugar or maple syrup if you prefer.
- Tomato Paste
- Worcestershire Sauce: Adds tangy and savory notes to create a rich flavor.
- Liquid Smoke: Don't skip this key ingredient. It adds the nice smokey flavor BBQ sauce is famous for.
- Paprika: You can substitute smoked paprika, if you like your sauce extra smokey!
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Frozen Meatballs: We used regular frozen beef meatballs for this recipe. You can also try turkey or chicken meatballs if you prefer. You can also make meatballs fresh for this recipe. We recommend Stef's Famous Meatballs or the delicious Air Fryer Meatballs.
This section shows how to cook dairy free barbecue meatballs in the crockpot, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
COMBINE SAUCE INGREDIENTS: Whisk all ingredients, except meatballs, together in a medium bowl.
🔴 TIP: You can substitute brown sugar for the molasses or honey.
ADD TO CROCKPOT: First, place meatballs into the crockpot in a single layer. Then pour whisked BBQ sauce ingredients over the meatballs. Toss till the meatballs are evenly coated.
COOK: Cook on high for 3 hours, or until meatballs are heated all the way through and a meat thermometer reads 165°F.
SERVE: Stir to blend. Keep slow cooker on warm setting and serve in the crockpot.
🔴 TIP: Serve these delicious meatballs at a party. For easy serving insert toothpicks into each meatball.
Crockpot – We recommend using a large 5 or 6 quart Crockpot. If you have a smaller Crockpot, halve the recipe.
HOW TO MAKE CROCKPOT BBQ MEATBALLS AHEAD
Smokey barbecue meatballs is a great recipe to make ahead because it can either stay warm in the Crockpot for a while or you can easily reheat it later. Prepare the whole dish from start to finish in advance. Then simply keep in the slow cooker on warm until needed. Otherwise, you can transfer the meatballs to a saucepan and reheat them on the stove whenever you are ready to serve.
TIPS FOR THE BEST BARBECUE MEATBALLS
Follow these tips to make the best Crockpot BBQ meatballs.
✔️ Use pre-cooked meatballs. You can defrost them first or cook them from frozen.
✔️ Brown homemade meatballs. If you’re using homemade meatballs, brown them first before putting into the crockpot.
✔️ Make BBQ sauce ahead of time. Whisk the BBQ sauce ingredients together well before pouring into the crockpot.
✔️ Keep the meatballs warm. Keep the crockpot on low or warm to keep the meatballs heated while you serve them.
Refrigerate: Store cooled meatball leftovers in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat: You can reheat meatballs either in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Freeze: Leftover meatballs can also be frozen in a freezer safe container or ziploc bag for up to 3 months.
Defrosting: Barbecue meatballs thaw well in the fridge overnight.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH MEATBALLS
MORE MEATBALL RECIPES
Meatballs are a family favorite at our house, because they are super versatile and can be prepared many different ways. They are the main ingredient in some of our favorite Italian meals such as Italian Meatballs, Meatball Calzones, Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs or Fettuccine Pesto with Meatballs. However, mouthwatering Swedish Meatballs in creamy sauce are also always a winner at our house.
Buffalo Chicken Meatballs even make a great party snack or game day appetizer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For perfect results every time, here are answers to the most common questions about cooking delicious crockpot meatballs.
Of course! You can get creative and create all kinds of different BBQ sauce flavors. Try adding cumin, cayenne pepper, chipotle powder, lemon zest or even a pinch of cinnamon, for example.
Of course! After preparing and frying your favorite homemade meatballs, keep them warm on a foil covered plate. Then follow the additional steps of our recipe to make the scrumptious sauce.
Meatballs are fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Insert a meat thermometer into one or more of the meatballs after cooking to read the temperature.
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup molasses
- 3 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsps liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1½ tsps garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 48 precooked frozen meatballs
- Whisk all ingredients, except the meatballs, together in a medium bowl.
- Place meatballs into the crockpot in a single layer.
- Pour BBQ sauce ingredients over the meatballs. Toss meatballs to coat.
- Cook on high for 3 hours, or until meatballs are heated all the way through and a thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball reads 165ºF. Stir to blend.
- Keep the slow cooker on warm setting and serve in the crockpot.
- This recipe is for a large 5 or 6 quart Crockpot. For smaller Crockpots, halve the recipe.
- If using raw meatballs, brown them first in a skillet before putting them into the slow cooker.
- You can substitute brown sugar for the molasses or honey.
- Serve with a toothpick as an appetizer or party food.