These easy crockpot BBQ meatballs are a hearty and addictive party appetizer! Meatballs are slow cooked in a homemade bbq sauce until perfectly juicy and full of smokey barbecue flavor.
Why You’ll Love This Crockpot Barbecue Meatballs Recipe
These juicy meatballs are the perfect party or game day appetizer! Here’s why you will love them:
- Easy: Using frozen meatballs means you don’t have to do much work at all. Whisk together your sauce, toss everything into the crockpot, and let it do all the hard work!
- Party Ready: Stick a toothpick into them and set them on a platter for everyone to munch on during the game, or keep them warm in the slow cooker.
- Smoky: Liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce make these bite-sized meatballs taste like they were on the grill all afternoon.
- Versatile: Making your own easy homemade bbq sauce with simple ingredients puts you in control. If you want your barbecue meatballs sweeter or spicier, you can easily adjust to fit your tastes.
What You’ll Need
Sweet honey and tangy apple cider vinegar make the perfect sweet-and-savory sauce to coat the meatballs. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Tomato Sauce: Use a can of plain tomato sauce.
- Tomato Paste: To help deepen the flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Use light or dark brown sugar.
- Honey: Maple syrup and agave nectar also work.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: White vinegar will also work, but apple cider vinegar is a little milder in flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce: You can swap for A1 if you don’t have Worcestershire on hand.
- Garlic Powder: Finely chopped garlic is a good swap.
- Onion Powder: You can use all-garlic if you prefer.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Just a little for flavor, or double or triple to add heat!
- Salt and Pepper: I prefer kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
- Liquid Smoke: It’s similar to an extract and makes food taste like it was cooked over a grill. Be careful, a little liquid smoke goes a long way!
- Meatballs: Use your favorite frozen meatballs!
How to Make Crockpot BBQ Meatballs
It’s a set-and-forget bbq meatball recipe. You only need to add everything to the crock pot. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.
- Sauce: Add all of the sauce ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Meatballs: Add the meatballs and stir to coat them in the sauce.
- Cook: Set the crockpot and let everything cook until the meatballs are warm and the sauce is nice and bubbly. For a super easy cleanup, line your slow cooker with a liner.
Tips & Variations
Aside from frozen meatballs, store-bought sauce can also save you time when you’re in a pinch.
- Homemade Meatballs: If you’ve got a family recipe for meatballs, use it! Avoid highly seasoned recipes that could make the mixture overwhelming. Make sure to cook the meatballs before adding to the slow cooker.
- Spicy: Add extra crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili oil to taste for some heat.
- Tanginess: Omit the honey and add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for a tangier bbq sauce.
- Use Store-Bought: If you’re in a rush, use store-bought, plain bbq sauce. I like sweet baby rays. Still add the garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and liquid smoke. Only add honey and brown sugar if you want to make it sweeter.
These crockpot bbq meatballs are the perfect game-day appetizer. Serve them with other easy appetizers for an ultra saucy, smoky bite. My pulled pork crescent ring is a family-favorite. Chili cheese fries, turkey sliders, and air fryer chicken taquitos are great too. If you don’t want to cook a lot, go for my loaded guacamole or restaurant style salsa. You can also serve them with garlic mashed potatoes for a hearty dinner!
How to Store & Reheat Leftover BBQ Meatballs
Make this bbq meatballs crockpot recipe in advance if you want to be prepared for hosting last-minute game-days.
- Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Microwave in 15-second intervals until warmed through. You can also reheat them in a pan over medium-high heat with the lid on for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Or toss them back into the slow cooker on high for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Freezer: Transfer the sauce and meatballs to a freezer-friendly container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat them as usual.
Crockpot BBQ Meatballs
- 2 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 lbs frozen meatballs
- In the bowl of your crockpot, whisk to combine all the ingredients except the meatballs. Add the meatballs and stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce.
- Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or low for 4 to 5 hours, until the meatballs are warmed through and the sauce is nice and bubbly.
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