Smoked meatballs are a deliciously different way of cooking these favorite appetizer and dinner staples.
Smoking adds an incredible amount of flavor to the meat. They are great served as appetizers or plopped on top of your favorite pasta with marinara sauce.
Best part? They are incredibly easy too.
What you need
- ground beef – use 75% to 80% beef or a mixture of beef and ground veal. You could also use ground turkey or ground chicken to lighten them up a bit.
- ground pork – buy pork butts or shoulder and grind your own. Then freeze in single serve portions to save a lot of money on your grocery budget.
- onions – finely chopped or grated yellow or white onion.
- garlic – fresh garlic cloves or dried or granulated garlic will both work.
- fresh bread crumbs – use fresh instead of dried bread crumbs. They will create a binder to hold the meat together.
- milk – a bit to moisten the bread crumbs.
- eggs – use large eggs.
- parsley – use dried parsley or fresh parsley.
- oregano – use dried thyme or fresh thyme.
- thyme – use dried thyme or fresh thyme.
- parmesan cheese – freshly grated is best.
- salt – use sea salt or kosher salt.
- black pepper
How to make them
Measure the milk in a measuring cup.
Soak meatballs in milk until all of the milk is absorbed.
Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well, but gently.
Don’t overwork the mixture or the texture will suffer.
Use an ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop to portion the meatball mixture out perfectly, so that your meatballs are more uniform in size.
The ice cream scoop will make regular sized meatballs and the cookie scoop is perfect for cocktail meatballs.
Place formed balls on a rack that is set over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, to make cleanup easy.
Slide the sheet into the smoker on a rack.
Smoke the meatballs at 225°F/ 100°C for 1-2 hours, until internal temperature reaches 165°F / 80°C in the middle.
What wood should I use?
Use whatever wood you like to smoke with. We like mild flavored woods like apple, cherry, pecan. maple or oak. You could also use hickory or mesquite, if you like a bolder flavored smoke.
What if I don’t own a smoker?
You can still enjoy smoked meats if you don’t own a smoker. You can use your grill to smoke. Set up your grill so that the fire is only on one side. You will place the meat or vegetable on the side of the grill without a direct flame (indirect heat). This is called indirect cooking.
Add soaked wood to a metal tray (we use a disposable foil pie plate or bread pan). Add another metal tray with water. Place water and wood chips on the side of the grill with the fire. Remember to fill the water if it runs out.
You can also create a similar setup for your oven in a pinch or in the winter.
How to serve these meatballs
Depending on what you are going for, these balls can be used as an appetizer or as a main dish.
Make a simple marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta or make meatballs subs, sandwiches or pizza.
Smother small meatballs in jam or bbq sauce or another favorite sauce and serve as appetizer or cocktail meatballs.
You can warm the meatballs in the sauce in an oven-proof dish or cast iron skillet for about 30 minutes and then the sauce will have a smoky flavor too!
How to store leftovers
Store leftover meatballs in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freeze leftovers in vacuum packed bags or in plastic freezer bags with as much air removed as you can get.
We generally make a huge batch and freeze the majority for a quick easy dinner on a busy weeknight.
You can freeze them before or after cooking but if you want them smoked, it’s easier to freeze them after smoking.
Side dishes that are good
- potatoes – we like these smoked potatoes but you could also used mashed potatoes or French fries.
- side salad
- pasta of your choice
- polenta, or mac and cheese, especially our smoked mac and cheese.
More Smoked Goodies
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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!
Enjoy. And have fun cooking!
The BEST EVER Smoked Meatballs
- 3/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cups Milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 lbs ground beef or use a mixture of beef, veal and pork
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cups diced onion
- 1 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soak bread crumbs in milk for 5 minutes.3/4 cups fresh bread crumbs, 1/2 cups Milk
- Whisk eggs.2 eggs
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly, but do not overwork.2 lbs ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1/2 cups diced onion, 1 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, salt and pepper, ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Form meat mixture into large or small meatballs. Use an ice cream or a cookie scoop to portion meat so that the balls are all consistent sizes.
- Place the balls on a wire rack that is resting on an aluminum foil covered, rimmed baking sheet, for easy cleanup, and to catch drips. Place in preheated 225°/170°C smoker.
- Smoke for 1½ to 2 hours, check internal temperature. It's done when it measures 165°F /70°C. In the last 1 hour, glaze the top with lots of the sauce.
Originally published January 17, 2023.
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Making these in the smoker is a game changer! So much flavor.
It really is, isn’t it? Delicious. Thanks Katherine!