Garlicky BBQ Meatball Recipe

Maybe meatballs aren't the first thing that come to mind when you think of the barbecue ... but they are incredibly delicious grilled, with a yummy crust and a moist center. Here's a simple, garlicky BBQ meatball recipe that's great served as appetizers on a toothpick, or stuff it into a sandwich for a bigger meal.

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What You Need

  • 2 lbs lean or extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of instant oatmeal (unflavored)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of finely minced white onion
  • 2 tbsp finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • (Optional) Hickory BBQ wood chips, for smoking - soaked for at least 1 hour in water, then drained well.

Variation: mix up the meat if you like. Try a half/half mixture of ground beef/turkey, or beef/chicken, chicken/pork, etc. The different meats offer wonderful flavor combinations!

Sauce (optional): whisk together 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, 1 cup crushed tomatoes, 3 tbsp brown sugar, plus garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.

Making the Meatballs

  • Mix all the ingredients together (except for the wood chips, of course!) until well blended.

  • Shape into small balls, about 1" to 2" in diameter, depending on the purpose (appetizers or sandwiches).

Directions for Barbecued Meatballs

Because the meatballs are so small, you'll want to use a grilling basket with a drip pan to barbecue them (so that they don't fall through the regular cooking grate). Or you can use a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil instead (double-up the layers if you're using regular foil).

  • Preheat BBQ to medium-low heat.

  • Grease the cooking surface.

  • If using the hickory wood chips, wait until the coals are covered in white ash and then add the chips.

  • Place the meatballs in a single layer on the cooking surface and then cover the BBQ. Keep the lid down as much as possible to help keep the meatballs moist and let the smoke from the wood chips envelope the meatballs.

  • Cooking time will depend on the type of meats you use and the size of the meatballs. Typically anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes! Meatballs should be hot and cooked through but still moist.

Pour sauce over meatballs. If you want to assemble sandwiches out of these meatballs, try a nice, fresh crusty mini-bun. Or for a quick appetizer just put out the meatballs with a container of toothpicks and let everyone help themselves.

There are lots of ways to season this tasty BBQ meatball recipe. Mix it up! Check out more BBQ appetizer recipes, or for main dishes, there are more BBQ beef recipes too.



This website offers tips on how to BBQ as well as some of our favorite barbecue recipes. We barbecue with a charcoal grill in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!