What’s for dinner tonight AND tomorrow? How about Slow Cooker BBQ meatballs? Minimal effort for maximal flavor!
We have some weeks that are really crazy. My husband and I can get really busy with working nearly opposite schedules leaving us with minimal time to cook thanks to a clingy toddler who wants to be held all the time and/or climbs up the oven door to check out what’s happening on the stovetop. (He is very familiar with the word “hot” but still loves to explore!) To avoid takeout or quick prepared freezer food every night, we try to do some cooking in advance to have food ready to go. Just pop in the microwave after work and 2 minutes later, dinner is served…
These tasty meatballs fit the bill. They’re great right from the slow cooker, reheat really nicely, and don’t take too much time to prep up front. I’ll give you our meatball recipe if you want to make them “from scratch” but you can totally sub in the already prepared meatballs from the freezer section of the supermarket and just make the quick and flavorful sauce if you really want to do things quick and easy. Aside from a simple dinner, they also make a nice appetizer at a party…though they’re a bit sticky so caution with white shirts and clean tablecloths!
To make the meatballs, combine ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) with panko bread crumbs, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, dried oregano, and some eggs to bind things together. Mix everything really well by hand. When my husband and I first starting dating he made me meatballs but didn’t do such a great job mixing things and hence, “variety pack” meatballs were born, since you never knew which variety you’d get in a bite…so to avoid “variety pack,” mix thoroughly. Form into meatballs. We got 75 small (about 1 inch in diameter) meatballs. Then pop in the oven for about 15 minutes until no longer pink inside.
For the sticky sweet sauce, in the crockpot combine the meatballs, honey, apricot jelly, your favorite barbecue sauce, and 3 tablespoons of your favorite grill spice. We use McCormick Smokehouse Maple because it is both sweet and smoky and imparts great flavor to the sauce. Then turn the slow cooker to high until the meatballs are hot. Our meatballs were cold at the beginning (since we made them the day before and refrigerated them overnight) so it took about 2 hours, but if you make the meatballs then put them in the sauce immediately, it’ll be even shorter. Once the meatballs are hot, turn the slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.
We’ve come back to this recipe again and again to have an easy and tasty meal prepped in advance allowing for quick dinners on crazy weeks!
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs
Yield: 75 small meatballs
For the meatballs:
2.5 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Combine the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Form into meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter (a heaping tablespoonful). Place into pyrex baking dishes.
3. Bake until no longer pink inside, approximately 15 minutes.
For the sauce:
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup apricot jelly or preserves
3 cups barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommend McCormick Smokehouse Maple)
Combine the meatballs and the above ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cook on high heat until the meatballs are hot, about 2 hours. Turn to warm until ready to serve.
This recipe was featured at the Sunday Sharing Pinterest Party at Adventures with Jude!