Recipe for BBQ meatballs with three ingredients

How to Make BBQ Meatballs With Only Three Ingredients

Looking for a simple yet delicious recipe? These BBQ meatballs require only three ingredients, making them perfect for busy weeknights or when you need a quick appetizer. This versatile dish works as an appetizer or a main course, and it’s sure to impress guests with its rich flavor. With minimal prep and cook time, you’ll have tasty BBQ meatballs ready in no time.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each steps on how to make BBQ meatballs. By the end, you’ll have a delicious dish that can be served as an appetizer, main course, or even a party snack. So, let’s get started on making these easy and tasty BBQ meatballs!

BBQ meatballs are a classic dish that has been a staple at gatherings for decades. Originating in the United States, this dish combines the savory taste of meatballs with the smoky sweetness of barbecue sauce. It’s popular because it’s easy to make, transport, and serve, making it perfect for parties, potlucks, and family dinners.

The combination of flavors in BBQ meatballs is universally loved, making them a go-to choice for any occasion. Whether served as appetizers or the main dish, BBQ meatballs are sure to be a hit.

How to Make BBQ Meatballs
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Ingredients Needed

To make BBQ meatballs, you’ll need just three essential ingredients:

Three-ingredient BBQ meatball recipe
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  1. Frozen Meatballs: Use store-bought frozen meatballs for convenience. For a healthier option, choose turkey or chicken meatballs.
  2. BBQ Sauce: Any brand or flavor of BBQ sauce works. Opt for a sugar-free version if you prefer a lower sugar option.
  3. Grape Jelly: This adds sweetness and helps the sauce stick to the meatballs. Substitute with apricot preserves or honey for a different flavor profile.
  4. Seasoning: This is optional to adjust and add more taste.

Meatball Ingredients

For this recipe, you’ll need frozen meatballs. You can use beef, turkey, or chicken meatballs depending on your preference. Vegetarian meatballs are also a great option for a plant-based version. Look for pre-cooked, frozen meatballs to keep the preparation simple and quick. Ensure they are bite-sized for easy serving and better sauce coverage.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

The BBQ sauce is the star of the dish. You’ll need a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and grape jelly to add sweetness and a sticky texture. If you want to switch things up, consider using apricot preserves or honey instead of grape jelly. For those who prefer a less sweet option, a sugar-free BBQ sauce works well. These components come together to create a flavorful, irresistible sauce for your meatballs.

Ingredients Needed for BBQ Meatballs
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Ingredients for DIY Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a simple guide to prepare and cook BBQ meatballs using both the crockpot and oven methods.

Preparing the Meatballs

If you prefer to make your own meatballs instead of using frozen ones, here’s how:

Making BBQ meatballs with three ingredients
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  1. Ingredients: You’ll need ground beef, pork, or a mix of both. Add breadcrumbs, an egg, minced onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the meat.
  2. Mix: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix until everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Form: Shape the mixture into bite-sized balls. Aim for about 1-inch diameter so they cook evenly.
  4. Pre-cook: Brown the meatballs in a skillet over medium heat to seal in the juices and add extra flavor.

Cooking Methods

Slow Cooking in a Crockpot

  1. Prepare: Place the meatballs in the crockpot.
  2. Add Sauce: Pour the BBQ sauce and grape jelly mixture over the meatballs.
  3. Cook: Set the crockpot to low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

Baking in an Oven

  1. Preheat: Set your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Arrange: Place meatballs in a baking dish.
  3. Add Sauce: Cover with BBQ sauce and grape jelly mixture.
  4. Bake: Cook for 25-30 minutes until heated through.

Simmering in a Saucepan

  1. Prepare: Place meatballs in a large saucepan.
  2. Add Sauce: Pour the BBQ sauce and grape jelly mixture over them.
  3. Simmer: Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
Crockpot Method for BBQ Meatballs
BBQ meatballs made with three simple ingredients Oven Method
Simmering in a Saucepan BBQ Meatballs

Serving Suggestions

BBQ meatballs are versatile and can be served in various ways to suit different occasions. Here are some ideas:

Recipe for BBQ meatballs with three ingredients
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  1. As an Appetizer: Serve the meatballs on a platter with toothpicks for easy grabbing. This is perfect for parties and gatherings.
  2. Main Dish: Pair BBQ meatballs with classic sides like mashed potatoes, coleslaw, or a fresh garden salad. They also go well with steamed vegetables or baked beans.
  3. On Sandwiches: Place the meatballs in a hoagie roll and top with extra BBQ sauce for a delicious meatball sub.
  4. With Rice or Pasta: Serve the meatballs over a bed of rice or alongside pasta for a hearty meal.
  5. In a Buffet: Include BBQ meatballs as part of a buffet spread, allowing guests to create their own plates with a variety of other dishes.

Storage and Reheating Tips

BBQ meatballs are great for meal prep and leftovers. Here’s how to store and reheat them:


  1. Refrigerate: Allow the meatballs to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  2. Freeze: For longer storage, place the cooled meatballs and sauce in a freezer-safe container or bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.


  1. Microwave: Place the meatballs in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through.
  2. Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the meatballs in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed.
  3. Stovetop: Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.


  • Crockpot: Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
  • Oven: Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25-30 minutes.
  • Stovetop: Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Absolutely! You can try other sauces like teriyaki, buffalo, or honey mustard for a different flavor profile.

As an appetizer, plan for 3-4 meatballs per person. For a main dish, serve 6-8 meatballs per person.

Yes, you can prepare and cook them ahead. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat before serving.

Adjusting Spiciness

To adjust the spiciness of your BBQ meatballs:

  1. Spicier: Add hot sauce, chili flakes, or diced jalapeños to the BBQ sauce. You can also use a spicy BBQ sauce to increase the heat.
  2. Milder: Opt for a mild BBQ sauce and omit any additional spicy ingredients. If the sauce is too spicy, add a bit more grape jelly or a touch of honey to balance the heat.

Dietary Substitutions

For dietary preferences:

  1. Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free meatballs and ensure your BBQ sauce and grape jelly are gluten-free.
  2. Vegan: Substitute meatballs with plant-based or veggie meatballs. Check that your BBQ sauce and grape jelly are vegan-friendly.
  3. Vegetarian: Use vegetarian meatballs. This is an easy swap since many stores offer meatless options.

Related Recipes

Here are some related recipes that complement BBQ meatballs, perfect for event hosting or family dinners:

  1. Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce: A sweet and tangy sauce that pairs well with any BBQ dish.
  2. BBQ Meatballs in the Oven: A classic favorite that’s sure to please a crowd.
  3. Easy Slow Cooked Oven Brisket: A tender and flavorful main dish that’s great for gatherings.

Why This Recipe Works

This BBQ meatballs recipe stands out due to its ease of preparation, requiring only three simple ingredients that are likely already in your pantry. It’s versatile, serving well as an appetizer, main dish, or party snack. The minimal ingredients ensure a quick prep time, making it perfect for busy schedules.

Additionally, the recipe allows for various substitutions to cater to different dietary needs, making it adaptable and inclusive. Its straightforward approach ensures you get a delicious, crowd-pleasing dish with minimal effort.

Three-ingredient barbecue meatballs recipe
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