When the craving for something warm, sweet, and savory hits, these Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs are the answer! This simple dish brings together rich barbecue sauce, tender meatballs, and just a hint of honey sweetness and is perfect for dinner or as a party appetizer!
BBQ meatballs pack a punch with a perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and savory in every bite. These bite-sized morsels are the best way to celebrate a party as a hearty appetizer. Or they can easily be made into a meal served over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice!
And the best part? The slow cooker does the heavy lifting, marinating each meatball in the rich flavors of your favorite BBQ sauce while keeping the meatballs moist and tender. Mix barbecue sauce, onion, garlic, and honey in your crock pot. Toss in those frozen meatballs, giving them a good stir until they're all nicely coated. Cover it up and let the slow cooker work its magic, and they’re ready to enjoy in as little as 3 hours!
BBQ meatballs in the slow cooker are your ticket to an effortless meal for any occasion, whether it's for game day or a weeknight meal. Frozen meatballs make it easy to go straight from the freezer to the crock pot, making your life a whole lot easier and ensuring you have a delicious dish ready for any event, big or small.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- With just a few simple ingredients and virtually no prep work, this recipe lets your crock pot do all the work.
- These BBQ meatballs can be the flavorful main dish over rice or mashed potatoes or an appetizer with toothpicks for easy enjoyment.
- Using frozen meatballs ensures uniform size and taste, guaranteeing each bite is just as good as the last.
- Toss everything into the crock pot and let it simmer to perfection while you go about your day, freeing up your time without compromising on flavor.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Barbecue Sauce (18 oz of Stubb's sweet and sticky recommended) - Provides the bold, rich, and tangy flavor foundation that coats each meatball.
- Yellow Onion - Adds a touch of sharpness and depth, enhancing the overall flavor profile of the sauce.
- Minced Garlic - Infuses the sauce with a hint of aromatic and pungent warmth, complementing the sweetness of the BBQ flavor.
- Honey - Introduces a gentle sweetness that balances the tangy barbecue sauce.
- Frozen Homestyle Meatballs - Offers convenience and consistency, ensuring each meatball is evenly cooked and infused with sauce while saving time on preparation.
How To Make Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs
Mix the sauce and seasonings: Add barbecue sauce, onion, garlic, and honey to a 4-quart or larger crock pot. Mix until well combined.
Add the meatballs: Pour in frozen meatballs. Stir them into the sauce until each meatball is fully coated.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top. Cook on HIGH for 2½ hours or LOW for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally so the sauce does not burn.
Serve and enjoy: Serve over mashed potatoes or rice while hot. They can also be served as an appetizer by adding toothpicks to them. Enjoy!
- Opt for a high-quality barbecue sauce, as it's the primary way to add flavor to the meatballs. A BBQ sauce that has a sweet taste pairs well with the richness of meatballs.
- Ensure your onion is finely diced to distribute its flavor evenly throughout the sauce and avoid large chunks. Keep an eye on the crock pot as cooking times may vary; ensure the meatballs are heated through but not overcooked, as they can fall apart if they stay in the crock pot too long.
- Give the meatballs a gentle stir now and then to ensure they are evenly coated with sauce and cook consistently.
- Ensure your crock pot is spacious enough to hold and evenly cook all the meatballs, preventing overcrowding.
- Switch up the flavor by choosing a different type of barbecue sauce, such as a spicy, smoky, or honey-infused version, to give the meatballs a unique twist.
- For a spicy kick, stir in a splash of hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce, amplifying the heat to your desired level.
- If making for dinner, add finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers or mushrooms to the sauce mixture.
- Substitute honey with maple syrup or brown sugar for a different layer of sweetness in the barbecue sauce.
- Opt for turkey or chicken meatballs instead of the traditional beef or pork for a lighter yet equally delicious alternative.
- For a gluten-free meal, ensure your barbecue sauce and meatballs are gluten-free and serve over a bed of cooked quinoa or gluten-free pasta.
- For a tropical flavor, add chunks of pineapple or a splash of pineapple juice to the crock pot along with the BBQ sauce.
- Substitute some or all of the honey with grape jelly; this classic ingredient swap will lend a sweet and rich flavor to the BBQ sauce.
- Add a robust depth of flavor by pouring a bottle of your favorite beer into the sauce mix. The beer will enhance the barbecue sauce's taste, giving a complex and hearty flavor profile.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Transfer cooled leftover meatballs and sauce into an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing: Place the meatballs in a freezer-safe container or a resealable plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Reheating: For stovetop reheating, place the meatballs and sauce in a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. If you're using a microwave, transfer the meatballs to a microwave-safe dish, covering them loosely, and heat in one-minute intervals, stirring in between until hot. To reheat in the slow cooker, set your crock pot to low and let the meatballs gently warm up for 1-2 hours, ensuring they reach the desired temperature without drying out.
If you prefer homemade meatballs, ensure they are fully cooked before adding them to the crock pot, and adjust the cooking time as they may not require as long to heat through.
Yes, feel free to experiment with other sauces. A teriyaki or sweet and sour sauce can work well, but this will give the dish a completely different flavor profile.
BBQ meatballs are versatile and pair well with various side dishes. Try serving them with a fresh green salad, roasted vegetables, or coleslaw.
More Crock Pot Meatball Recipes
- Crock Pot Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs
- Crock Pot Meatball Subs
- Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- Crock Pot Honey Garlic Meatballs
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Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs
- 2¼ cups Barbecue sauce (I used 18 oz of Stubb's sweet and sticky)
- ½ cup yellow onion (finely diced)
- 3 tsp garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 32 oz Homestyle Meatballs
- Add barbecue sauce, onion, garlic, and honey to a 4-quart or larger crock pot. Mix until well combined.
- Pour in frozen meatballs and stir until completely coated.
- Cover and cook on high for 2½ hours or low for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally so the sauce does not burn.
- Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. They can also be served as an appetizer by adding toothpicks to them. Enjoy!!
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.