There’s nothing quite like homemade meatballs when it comes to comfort food. I didn’t think the traditional version could be beat but then I made these smoked meatballs!
Harnessing the power of our much-loved smoker, we were able to infuse the most amazing smoky flavor into classic meatballs. The result is a light-textured meatball with a touch of crust on the outside — and all of the smokiness, of course.
These are such an upgrade to any meal involving meatballs whether it’s Italian-inspired or otherwise. Smothering them in bbq sauce is one of our favorite ways to enjoy them.
The next time you’re thinking about making meatballs, try relying on your smoker to take them over the top.
Common Questions about Smoked Meatballs
What is the secret to making the best meatballs?
Using bread that is older and dryer (eg, day-old bread from the bakery) that has been soaked in milk results in tender meatballs.
Do you need eggs for moist meatballs?
Nope! And this recipe doesn’t have them. Eggs can be used as a binding agent, but they can contribute to a spongy texture in some meatballs, especially when used in excess.
Why chill the meatballs before cooking?
Leaving the meatballs in the refrigerator before cooking is the easiest way to help ensure they retain their shape while they are smoking.
Making Smoked Meatballs Ahead of Time
While these meatballs are best straight out of the smoker (after resting for a few minutes, of course) you can also make them ahead and gently reheat them with the sauce of your choice when you’re ready to serve.
You can also make the meatballs and freeze them before cooking — just let the frozen meatballs thaw completely before smoking.
More Awesome Meatball Recipes
20-Minute Pepper Jelly Meatballs
Slow Cooker Blueberry Honey Garlic Meatballs
Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Italian Wedding Soup with Pork Meatballs
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Oven-Baked Meatball Sandwiches
These meatballs are easy to store in the fridge or freezer.
Refrigerator: Store meatballs in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezing: You can freeze meatballs for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container.
Tips For The Best Smoked Meatballs
While these are fairly foolproof, there are a few things that can help ensure your meatballs are amazing.
- Use plenty of seasoning. One tried and true trick to making the best meatballs is to season them well so don’t skimp on the herbs.
- Grease your hands. Either spray cooking spray on your hands or run a bit of vegetable oil onto your palms to prevent the pieces of meat from sticking to your hands and to ensure you have a perfectly formed ball.
- Use your hands. If you want the best meatballs, you’ll mix them with your hands so that you don’t mix the meat too much.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make these delicious meatballs in your smoker.
- White bread (torn into pea-sized pieces)
- Ground pork
- Onion diced (small)
- Green pepper (diced small)
- Worcestershire sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Black pepper
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
Just a few standard staples from your kitchen cabinets (in addition to the smoker) are all you need.
- Small bowl
- Large bowl
- Instant read thermometer
- Baking sheet
- Wire rack or meatball griller
- Disposable foil pan, metal braising pan, or cast iron pan (optional)
- Ice cream scoop, cookie scoop, or melon baller (optional)
How to Make Smoked Meatballs
It couldn’t be easier to make smoky, delicious meatballs.
- Place the pieces of torn-up white bread into the small bowl.
- Pour milk over top and allow time for the bread to soak up the milk.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the ground pork, diced onion, diced green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Then, add the bread and milk to the meat mixture.
- Using your hands, thoroughly combine all of the ingredients together ensuring that you do not overmix the mixture.
- Portion out the meatball mixture to form equal-sized balls and place them on a prepared baking sheet. You can use an ice cream scoop, cookie scoop, or melon baller to help make this easier — choose which to use based on the amount of mixture you need to make the size of meatballs you prefer.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for the meatballs to briefly chill.
- When ready to smoke, transfer the meatballs from the baking sheet to a wire rack or meatball griller.
- Place the meatballs in the preheated smoker and allow them to cook until they reach the initial desired temperature.
- Then, turn the smoker up and allow them to continue cooking until they reach the desired final internal temperature.
- After removing them from the smoker, allow the cooked meatballs to rest briefly. Create a foil tent over top until ready to serve.
BBQ Sauce Option
You can add a glazed bbq sauce to meatballs easily.
After smoking, take meatballs off of the wire rack or griller and place them in a disposable foil pan, metal braising pan, or cast iron skillet.
- If you want these coated in a glazed bbq sauce to serve as an appetizer, transfer the meatballs to a disposable foil pan, metal braising pan or a cast iron skillet
- Pour the bbq sauce of your choice over the meatballs.
- Stir the meatballs in the pan to ensure that they are covered with the sauce.
- Then, place the meatballs back in the smoker briefly until the sauce is heated.
What to Serve With Smoked Meatballs
You can serve these smoky meatballs in any dish you would normally serve them with, or try something new.
- Pasta – Toss these with spaghetti noodles and sauce for upgraded spaghetti and meatballs. Serve alongside a thick slice of garlic bread.
- Marinara sauce – Pour tomato sauce over a bowl of the meatballs and sprinkle with parmesan cheese for a low-carb dinner. Just be sure to use a low-sugar sauce. You can make my keto marinara, which is so delicious.
- Glazed meatballs – Make a dish like Cranberry BBQ Meatballs to serve as an appetizer on game day or for parties.
- Meatball sandwich – Grab some sub rolls and elevate your meatball subs with this smoky version. You can smoke the marinara sauce, too.
- Starches – Serve these over rice or mashed potatoes with a sauce of your choice. To go lower carb, try riced or mashed cauliflower.
- Bacon – Make these meatballs the ultimate appetizer by wrapping a piece of bacon (cooked) around each one and securing it with a toothpick. Alternatively, you can wrap uncooked bacon around the meatball before smoking.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Easy – Simple ingredients and very little prep time make these meatballs as perfect for parties as they are for a weeknight dinner.
- Customizable – There are plenty of ways you can make the meatballs themselves in your own signature way but you can also use a wide variety of sauces with them, too.
- Quick cleanup – Since you’re using so few supplies, cleanup is incredibly easy.
Variations and Add-ins
This standard meatball recipe can be switched up however you like.
- Low carb – Use your favorite alternative bread crumbs instead of bread.
- Meat – Try using ground beef, ground chicken, or Italian sausage instead. Or try a combination of pork and another meat.
- Powder – If you don’t have onions handy, try substituting onion powder.
- Garlic – Add minced garlic or garlic powder.
- Seasoning – Make sure you keep the Italian seasoning, whether you’re using a dried version or fresh herbs, but try adding other ingredients like marjoram, cumin, or nutmeg.
- Cheese – Wrap the ground meat around cubes of cheddar or your cheese of choice for delicious cheese-filled meatballs.
- Onion – Instead of a white or yellow onion try adding finely chopped green onion to the meat.
- Spices – Heat up these meatballs with the addition of crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder, or a dash of hot sauce.
More Great Appetizers Made on the Smoker
If you love this easy Smoked Meatballs recipe, you’re going to love these other meatball recipes too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Smoked Meats
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- 2 slices white bread
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 pounds ground pork
- ¾ cup onion diced small (1 small onion)
- ¾ cup green pepper diced small (1 medium green pepper)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Tear the bread into pea-sized pieces and place it in a small bowl with the milk, let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Combine the ground pork, diced onion, diced green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper into a large bowl.
- Add the milk-soaked bread and any remaining milk to the large mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
- Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands, do not over mix.
- Form the meatballs into a golf ball sized ball and place them onto a lined baking sheet. Let them rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the smoker to 180°F.
- Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator and transfer them onto a wire rack or meatball griller. Place them into the smoker for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes increase the temperature to 225°F and smoke the meatballs for another hour or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 160°F.
- Remove the meatballs from the smoker and rest them under tented foil for 10-15 minutes.
BBQ Sauce Option
- If you want these coated in glazed bbq sauce to serve as an appetizer, transfer the meatballs to a disposable foil pan, metal braising pan, or a cast iron skillet along with the bbq sauce of choice.
- Stir to coat and return the meatballs to the smoker for another 15-20 minutes to get the bbq sauce glazed and smoky.
Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese
Sandwich rolls, subs
Pasta Note: The nutrition has been calculated for just the meatballs. It does not include the additional sauce (either bbq, marinara, or dips) you might sever with them.
- Wood Pellet Choices: Signature blend, Hickory or Mesquite
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
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