Mom’s BBQ Meatballs



A new recipe from me! Can you believe it? Maybe you haven’t noticed since *hopefully* you come to me for more than recipes, but I haven’t posted a new recipe in a very long time. Like, OMG — August. Wow.

I’ll be honest. While I do cook at home on a regular basis, now that I have a toddler, my experimenting days are few and far between. Archer was a pretty good eater when he was smaller, but this past year he has become pickier and pickier, so our meals at home are usually very basic. As in – roasted vegetables, meat, starchy carb. There aren’t too many dishes that I prepare that are worth blogging about. Not to say they don’t taste good, they just don’t require much instruction, or there are already a million recipes floating around online for them.

But, every now and then I’m called on to prepare food for a party or gathering of friends, and that’s when I take some time to play around in the kitchen. Over the holidays I did just that as I prepared for a NYE party at a friend’s. The kiddo was away from home for a couple of days, and I had time off work, so instead of relaxing in front of the TV or going to get a massage, I cooked. Because honestly, that’s my therapy. Losing myself in food prep is good for my soul and while I was doing it last week, I realized how much I missed it.

Since I had time, I went a little crazy and volunteered to make several appetizers for the party. Some I’ve made many times before, like the Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers, Mini Chicken ‘n Waffles, and Prosciutto and Boursin Wrapped Asparagus. And then I had a brand new one: Ají Amarillo Dip served with plaintain chips (inspired by my visit to Tanta in Chicago). And an easy-to-prepare assorted cheese tray served with Simple & Crisp Dried Fruit Crisps to give a fairly basic party platter an interesting new twist.

But the dish I’m sharing the recipe for today is really special, as it’s actually one that my mom made and I ate throughout my entire childhood: BBQ Meatballs! Definitely a family favorite and requested often for potlucks back home, I’m not sure why I haven’t ever thought to make them before now. So happy I pulled out that tattered, handwritten (by my mom and aunts) recipe book last week and decided to give them a go, because they turned out to be a huge hit at the party. Not only did several people rave about them, but they wanted to know how they were made, what went in them, etc. So, here you go!


BBQ Meatballs

Makes 24-30 meatballs



2 lbs ground beef

1 small onion, diced

salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp red pepper

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup oats

1 cup tomato juice

1 egg


3/4 cup ketchup

1 tsp vinegar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp black pepper


Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for meatballs (ground beef through egg). Once all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, shape into balls. Put just enough water in a 9 x 13 baking dish to cover the bottom*. Add meatballs to baking dish. Cook, uncovered, in oven for 1 hour.

While the meatballs are cooking, mix all ingredients for sauce in a small pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat.

Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove from oven and drain liquid from pan. Using a spoon, ladle sauce over the meatballs. Return to oven for 15 minutes.

*The water prevents the ground beef from sticking to the pan, helps to catch the grease, and keep the meatballs moist while baking.