Baked BBQ meatballs recipe.

How to Make BBQ Meatballs in the Oven

When it comes to comfort food with a twist, BBQ meatballs baked in the oven hit all the right notes. This recipe blends the juicy goodness of homemade meatballs with the rich, smoky flavors of BBQ sauce. The best part? You don’t need a grill to get that authentic BBQ taste.

Baking these meatballs in the oven ensures they’re cooked to perfection every time, with a caramelized glaze that will make your taste buds sing. Let’s dive into this simple yet delectable recipe guide on How to Make BBQ Meatballs in the Oven that’s perfect for any occasion.

How to Make BBQ Meatballs in the Oven
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Ingredients Required

To whip up these delicious BBQ meatballs, you’ll need the following ingredients. We’ve also included some optional substitutes to cater to dietary preferences:

For the Meatballs:

  • Ground Beef (1 lb) – You can use ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option.
  • Breadcrumbs (1/2 cup) – Substitute with almond flour or gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed.
  • Milk (1/4 cup) – Dairy-free milk like almond or soy can be used as an alternative.
  • Egg (1) – For an egg-free version, use a flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2.5 tablespoons water).
  • Onion (1 small, finely chopped) – Shallots or green onions work too.
  • Garlic (2 cloves, minced) – Garlic powder can be used in a pinch (1/2 teaspoon).
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Black Pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1 teaspoon)
  • Dried Oregano (1 teaspoon)
Ingredients for Oven-baked BBQ meatballs recipe
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For the BBQ Sauce:

  • BBQ Sauce (1 cup) – Use your favorite store-bought brand or make your own.
  • Ketchup (1/4 cup) – Tomato paste or tomato sauce can be substituted.
  • Brown Sugar (2 tablespoons) – Use coconut sugar or a sugar substitute if preferred.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (1 tablespoon) – White vinegar or lemon juice are good alternatives.
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1 teaspoon) – For a vegetarian option, use soy sauce or tamari.
  • Hot Sauce (1 teaspoon, optional) – Adjust to taste or omit if you prefer less heat.
Ingredients for Oven-baked BBQ meatballs recipe
Credits to The Spruce Eats

Preparing Your Ingredients

Before diving into mixing and cooking, it’s essential to prep your ingredients properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get everything ready:

  1. Chop the Onion and Garlic: Finely chop the small onion and mince the garlic cloves. This ensures they blend well into the meat mixture, providing a burst of flavor in every bite.
  2. Prepare the Breadcrumbs: If you’re using fresh bread, make sure to dry it out slightly in the oven and then pulse it in a food processor to create fine crumbs. For gluten-free or almond flour, measure out the required amount.
  3. Mix the Flax Egg (if using): For those opting for an egg substitute, mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 2.5 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens to an egg-like consistency.
  4. Measure Out Spices and Seasonings: Have your salt, black pepper, paprika, and dried oregano measured and ready to go. This will make the mixing process smoother and quicker.
  5. Prepare the BBQ Sauce Mixture: In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians), and hot sauce if desired. Mix well to create a smooth, tangy sauce ready to coat your meatballs.

Steps to Making BBQ Meatballs

Mixing Ingredients

Steps to make BBQ meatballs in the oven
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  1. Combine Ground Meat and Breadcrumbs: In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef (or turkey/chicken) and breadcrumbs.
  2. Add Chopped Ingredients: Mix in the finely chopped onion and minced garlic.
  3. Incorporate Wet Ingredients: Pour in the milk and add the egg (or flax egg).
  4. Season the Mixture: Add salt, black pepper, paprika, and dried oregano.
  5. Mix Thoroughly: Use your hands or a sturdy spoon to mix the ingredients until well combined. Make sure the mixture is uniform to ensure consistent flavor in each meatball.

Shaping the Meatballs

Steps to make BBQ meatballs in the oven
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  1. Portion the Mixture: Use a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop to portion out the meat mixture. This ensures that each meatball is of equal size.
  2. Shape the Meatballs: Roll each portion between your palms to form smooth, round meatballs.
  3. Place on Baking Sheet: Arrange the shaped meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave a little space between each one to allow for even cooking.

BBQ Sauce Preparation for Oven-baked BBQ meatballs

Choosing the Best BBQ Sauce

Selecting the right BBQ sauce is crucial to complement your meatballs. Look for a sauce that balances sweetness, tanginess, and a hint of smokiness. Popular options include honey BBQ, smoky mesquite, or spicy chipotle. If you prefer a more personalized touch, making your own BBQ sauce is a fantastic option.

Steps to make BBQ meatballs in the oven: Choosing the Best BBQ Sauce
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Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

If you’re up for making your own BBQ sauce, here’s a simple recipe that packs a flavorful punch:


  • Ketchup (1 cup)
  • Brown Sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Smoked Paprika (1 teaspoon)
  • Garlic Powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Onion Powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Black Pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Hot Sauce (1 teaspoon, optional for heat)


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
  2. Add Seasonings: Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  3. Simmer: Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cook: Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it thickens slightly.
  5. Adjust Seasoning: Taste and add hot sauce if you prefer a spicier kick. Adjust sweetness or tanginess by adding more brown sugar or vinegar to your taste.

Baking and Final Preparation

Baking Meatballs in the Oven

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 400°F (200°C) and allow it to fully preheat.
  2. Arrange Meatballs: Place the shaped meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. Bake: Put the meatballs in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Add BBQ Sauce: After 20 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven. Brush each meatball generously with the BBQ sauce.
  5. Bake Again: Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is caramelized.
  6. Check for Doneness: Ensure the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) using a meat thermometer.

How to Serve Baked BBQ Meatballs

  1. Garnishing: Garnish your BBQ meatballs with freshly chopped parsley or green onions for a pop of color and added flavor. Glaze them with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce to make keep them extra moist.
  2. Serving:
    • Appetizer: Serve the meatballs on a platter with toothpicks for easy grabbing.
    • Main Dish: Pair the meatballs with mashed potatoes, rice, or a fresh garden salad.
    • Slider Style: Place meatballs in slider buns with a bit of coleslaw for a fun and tasty twist.
How to prepare BBQ meatballs in the oven
Credits to Life is but a Dish

If you’re looking for a quick and easy meatball recipe, check out our guide on How to Make BBQ Meatballs With Only Three Ingredients. This simple yet delicious dish is perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.

Tips for Perfect BBQ Meatballs

  1. Don’t Overmix: When combining the meatball ingredients, mix just until everything is incorporated. Overmixing can make the meatballs tough.
  2. Use a Light Touch: When shaping the meatballs, handle them gently. Compacting them too much can result in dense meatballs.
  3. Uniform Size: Make sure all meatballs are the same size to ensure even cooking. Using a cookie scoop can help maintain consistency.
  4. Chill the Meatballs: After shaping, let the meatballs rest in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes. This helps them hold their shape better during baking.
  5. Baste with Sauce: For an extra layer of flavor, baste the meatballs with BBQ sauce halfway through the baking process. This adds a rich, caramelized coating.
  6. Use a Meat Thermometer: To ensure the meatballs are perfectly cooked, use a meat thermometer to check that they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Overmixing the Meat: Mixing the meat and ingredients too much can lead to tough, dry meatballs. Combine just until everything is incorporated.
  2. Using Lean Meat Only: Lean meat can result in dry meatballs. Mixing in some higher-fat meat or adding a bit of oil can help keep them moist.
  3. Skipping the Chilling Step: Not chilling the meatballs before baking can cause them to fall apart during cooking. A short rest in the fridge helps them hold their shape.
  4. Uneven Sizes: Making meatballs of varying sizes can result in uneven cooking, with some being overcooked and others undercooked. Use a scoop to ensure uniformity.
  5. Ignoring Internal Temperature: Guessing if the meatballs are done can lead to undercooked or overcooked meatballs. Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  6. Insufficient Seasoning: Meatballs need plenty of seasoning to bring out their best flavor. Don’t skimp on the salt, pepper, and herbs.


Yes, you can substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or pork. Just keep in mind that the fat content will affect the meatballs’ moisture and flavor.

Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond flour in place of regular breadcrumbs. Ensure all other ingredients, like sauces, are also gluten-free.

A flax egg (1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water) works well as an egg substitute for binding.

Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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