These easy BBQ meatballs made with ground beef and a tangy, quick-to-make homemade sauce are a favorite party appetizer or easy dinner idea.


There’s some kind of meaty magic that happens when you make meatballs. I can’t think of a carnivore that doesn’t go crazy over them. And with their tender, juicy, savory flavor and slurp-able sauce, what’s not to love? I have several meatball recipes on my site, like my Swedish meatballs, slow cooker Sriracha meatballs, and my Thai meatballs in coconut curry sauce. Whether making them for a hearty Sunday supper, or as an easy entertaining app (they’re always a hit), they’re fun to make and super versatile. Plus, their big yield lends themselves well for meal prepping.

These BBQ meatballs are quick and easy to make. I used lean lean ground beef and egg as a binder. First, they get nice and browned in a hot skillet, and then simmer in a saucy bath, made of chili sauce (the trick I swear by when making meatballs, because it always adds more flavor and better tang than Ketchup). They always come out tender and juicy, with a nice, light bite, and you could serve these up for dinner, or as a party nibble (but be warned, they’ll go fast)!


What’s In These BBQ Meatballs

  • Lean ground beef
  • Dry bread crumbs
  • Yellow onion
  • Eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola or sunflower oil
  • Chili sauce or ketchup
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cider vinegar

How to Make BBQ Meatballs

Use lean ground beef and mince the onion well. Lean ground beef keeps these meatballs from becoming greasy. If your onion is minced too large, the meatballs could fall apart when frying.

Dry breadcrumbs give the meatballs a lighter bite. Use traditional unseasoned breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs if you prefer.

Add an egg for binding. Eggs add fat to bind the meatballs so they won’t fall apart when molding and frying.


How to Form the Meatballs

Mix well, but don’t overwork the meat mixture. Mix the ground beef with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, then, dig in to make your balls.

Use a small scoop to keep your meatballs the same size. I use a small cookie scoop to measure the meatball mix then place them on a cutting board or baking sheet. I do this step all at once, then go back and roll the meatballs afterward to make it faster and less messy.

Use damp hands to mix. Lightly dampen your hands so the meat doesn’t stick when mixing and rolling into balls.


Mix the BBQ Sauce

For the BBQ sauce base use ketchup, or if you like more flavor, chili sauce is my favorite trick. I like this chili sauce because it’s what my mom always used, and adds an inherent tang to the sauce.

Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick. This sauce becomes jammy if cooked at a high heat or for a long period. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of water will thin the sauce but retain the flavor.


Fry the Meatballs

Bring the oil to medium heat, about 350°F. Cooking the meatballs in batches at a medium temperature instead of searing them ensures they brown evenly and cook through (they’ll continue cooking when added to the sauce).

Don’t overcrowd the skillet. Cook the meatballs in batches. Crowding the pan will steam the meatballs instead of searing them.

To ensure even browning, move the meatballs as soon as they go into the oil. Use tongs to move the meatballs on all sides as soon as they go into the oil. Doing so keeps the meatballs round so they don’t have flat sides.


Combine the Meatballs and BBQ Sauce

Warm the sauce in a separate skillet and add meatballs as they finish frying. Cover the skillet so the sauce doesn’t cook down too much.

Cook the meatballs in the sauce for 10 minutes or so. Then, keep the meatballs warm over low heat.


What to Serve With BBQ Meatballs

Serve these meatballs as a help-yourself party appetizer or as an easy main dish.

More Meatball Recipes

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