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Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

These Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs are made from fresh or frozen using your favorite sauce and ready in no time in a Crockpot. These are the perfect appetizer or side dish for cocktail parties and gatherings.

BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon

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These are a signature dish if you are hosting or if you just want a great main dish loaded with BBQ flavor.

What Type of Beef to Use

I like to use ground beef or ground chuck beef. Lean beef is preferred because as the meatballs cook, they will release a good amount of fat.

80% lean will release a lot more than 93% lean, but you can still use it. You will have to drain the excess fat before adding BBQ sauce.

raw ground beef, raw egg, breadcrumbs, chopped onions, garlic, and BBQ rub in separate bowls

How to Keep Them From Falling Apart

Eggs and breadcrumbs are used to provide structure. You also don’t want to overwork and over-mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs. I like to use my hands because it’s a lot easier to be gentle with your hands than using a spatula or spoon.

You want to mix the meat mixture until the ingredients are combined. If you over-mix the mixture, the meatballs will fall apart.

raw ground beef, onions, breadcrumbs, garlic, and an egg in a glass bowl

How to Season and Add Flavor

I love to use my Homemade BBQ Rub in this recipe. You can use any rub you like or any seasonings you wish.

raw meatball mixture in a glass bowl

What Type of BBQ Sauce to Use

Use your favorite sauce. The BBQ sauce is really the star of this dish. I love to use a local favorite, Gates BBQ Sauce or the BBQ Sauce from Primal Kitchen because it doesn’t have any added sugar.

BBQ sauce, worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke in separate bowls

How to Make BBQ Meatballs in a Slow Cooker

You can find detailed measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Add ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, garlic, egg, and BBQ seasoning to a bowl.
  2. Using clean hands, combine the ingredients and form one large ball.
  3. Form and shape the mixture into your desired size.
  4. Spray the bottom of the slow cooker with cooking oil. Place the meatballs in the slow cooker.
  5. Slow cook.
  6. While the meatballs cook, combine BBQ sauce, BBQ seasoning, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce.
  7. Open the slow cooker. Pour the BBQ sauce over the meatballs.
  8. Slow cook.
raw meatballs on a plate

Cook Time/How Long to Cook

I love to cook these on High, but you can also cook them on Low. The total cook time on High is 3 1/2 hours and 6 hours when cooked on Low.

Will the BBQ Sauce Burn?

I like to use 1 cup of BBQ sauce, but keep extra sauce on hand just in case. Especially if you are cooking the meatballs on High. The slow-cooker will get hot, sometimes this will cause the sauce to sear.

Check along the edges and side of the interior of the Crockpot. If the sauce is turning dark brown you should add more sauce to ensure the BBQ sauce doesn’t burn.

How to Test if They Are Done

Always use a meat thermometer. This will ensure the best texture and it’s great for safety. The meatballs will reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees when fully cooked. I use this meat thermometer from Amazon.

Can you burn or overcook them? Yes. It’s more likely to do if you are cooking them on High. Be sure to keep a watchful eye.

raw meatballs in a slow cooker

Can You Use Frozen Meatballs?

Yes, you can, no need to thaw them beforehand. Frozen meatballs can be cooked on Low for 4 Hours or on High for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Can You Substitute Turkey

You can use ground turkey if you wish with no adjustment to cook time.

How Long Can they Sit in the Slow Cooker?

The cooked meatballs can sit in the slow cooker for up to 3 hours on Warm. After that, they should be refrigerated.

BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker

How to Store/How Long They Last in the Fridge

You can store them tightly sealed and covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freezer Tips

You can freeze these tightly sealed for up to 4 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight or you can reheat them in the slow cooker while frozen. Frozen meatballs can be cooked on Low for 4 Hours or on High for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker

Side Dishes to Pair With this Recipe

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Southern Baked Beans
Southern Coleslaw
Southern Potato Salad
Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese
Easy Spaghetti Salad

Southern Macaroni Salad
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
Air Fryer Corn on the Cob

More BBQ Recipes

Air Fryer Ribs
Air Fryer Cheeseburgers
Air Fryer Catfish
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
Instant Pot Ribs
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker

If you want to use your air fryer, check out my Air Fryer BBQ Meatballs recipe.

BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

These Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs are made fresh or frozen using your favorite sauce and ready in no time in a Crockpot. These are the perfect appetizer or side dish for cocktail parties and gatherings.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ meatballs, Crockpot BBQ meatballs, slow cooker BBQ meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings 12 large meatballs
Calories 105kcal

Ingredients

Homemade BBQ Seasoning (If using a store-bought seasoning or rub, use 1 1/2- 2 tablespoons of the store bought rub. Use your judgment)

BBQ Sauce

Instructions

  • Add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, garlic, egg, and 1/2 of the spices to a large bowl. Reserve the remaining spices for the BBQ sauce.
  • Using clean hands, combine the ingredients and form one large ball. Don't overwork the ground beef mixture. That will result in balls that fall apart.
  • Form and shape the mixture into your desired size. I like 2 tablespoons in size.
  • Spray the bottom of the slow cooker with cooking oil. Place the meatballs in the slow cooker.
  • Cook the meatballs on High for 2 hours. (You can also do Low for 4 hours). Don't open the slow-cooker throughout the cooking process. This will slow down the cook time.
  • While the meatballs cook, combine the BBQ sauce, remaining BBQ rub, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Open the slow cooker. Carefully, drain any excess fat (if necessary). Pour the BBQ sauce over the meatballs. Do not stir. (If your meatballs aren't fully cooked they will fall apart if you stir.)
  • Cook the meatballs for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes on High (3 hours on Low).
  • Open the slow cooker and stir. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meatballs have finished cooking. Insert the thermometer and ensure a temperature of at least 160 degrees.
  • Cool before serving.

Video

Notes

  • A lot of time lean ground beef is preferred when making meatballs because as they cook, they will release a good amount of fat. 80% lean will release a lot more than 93% lean, but you can still use it. You will have to drain the excess fat after the meatballs have slow-cooked for 2 hours on High or 4 hours on Low. Be careful when doing this because you don’t want to disturb the meatballs. At this point, they aren’t fully cooked, so you risk them falling apart.
  • You can make the meatballs any size you like. I prefer large ones, but smaller ones (a tablespoon or less) will work great for parties.
  • Eggs and breadcrumbs are used to provide structure. You also don’t want to overwork and over-mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs. I like to use my hands because it’s a lot easier to be gentle with your hands than using a spatula or spoon. If you overmix, the meatballs will fall apart.
  • I like to use 1 cup of BBQ sauce, but keep extra sauce on hand just in case. Especially if you are cooking the meatballs on High. The slow-cooker will get hot, sometimes this will cause the sauce to sear. Check along the edges and side of the interior of the Crockpot. If the sauce is turning dark brown you should add more sauce and stir to ensure the BBQ sauce doesn’t burn.
  • Frozen meatballs (no thaw) can be cooked on Low for 4 Hours or on High for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You can add the BBQ sauce immediately.
  • You can use ground turkey if you wish with no adjustment to cook time.
  • Macros assume Primal Kitchen sugar free BBQ sauce and Lakanto Golden monkfruit sweetener. Feel free to use the macro calculator of your choice to calculate your macros using the branded ingredients you choose to use in the recipe.
  • To make this low carb, you can substitute 1/2 cup of almond meal for the breadcrumbs. Almond meal is different than almond flour. I would not use almond flour because I’m not a fan of the texture when used with meatballs.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g
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Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Recipe Rating




LaTesha Groom

Monday 10th of May 2021

I've never made meatballs before in my life but this was simple and GOOD! Will be making this again soon :)

Christiane DeSalvo

Thursday 6th of May 2021

First and foremost, the best thing about Brandi's recipes is that she does not waste your time! She does all the research on the recipes and provides all the feedback to your proposed questions in her recipe posts so you don't have to worry. Can it freeze? She has an answer! Can you swap out x? She has an suggestion for you.

Secondly, I was pumped to see this recipe in my inbox Monday morning (email subscribers, you know what's up!) as I had some ground beef to use but wasn't sure exactly what to make. This recipe is so incredibly simple to throw together in the morning for a delicious dinner. The flavors popped like crazy and our house smelled amazing. We enjoyed these meatballs with broccoli and then enjoyed them again the following day on their own (I always make double the recipe for lunches!). I look forward to making these again and again because they are that fantastic!

staysnatched

Sunday 9th of May 2021

Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.