Appetizers | Entree | Grocer to Table

Smoked Meatballs

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Smoked meatballs are a deliciously different way of cooking these favorite appetizer and dinner staples.

Halved meatball on fork with smoke rings.Pin
Smoked Meatballs

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.

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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
Ingredients for making smoked meatballs. See details in recipe below.Pin
Ingredients for Smoked Meatballs

How to make them

Step One

Measure the milk in a measuring cup.

Milk measured in measuring cup.Pin
Measure milk.

Step Two

Soak meatballs in milk until all of the milk is absorbed.

Bread crumbs added to milk in measuring cup.Pin
Add bread crumbs to milk to soften.

Step Three

Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well, but gently.

Don’t overwork the mixture or the texture will suffer.

All ingredients added to metal bowl.Pin
Add ingredients to a large bowl. Mix well.

Step Four

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.

Ice cream scoop forming meatballs.Pin
Form meatballs.

Step Five

Place formed balls on a rack that is set over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, to make cleanup easy.

Meatballs lined up on racks ready to go into smoker.Pin
Raise meatballs up on racks to allow smoke and air to get in between.

Step Six

Slide the sheet into the smoker on a rack.

Meatballs on rack in smoker.Pin
Place meatballs in smoker.

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!

Smoked meatballs in a pile on board with antique fork.Pin

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.
  • coleslaw
  • broccoli

More Smoked Goodies

Helpful Tools

Meatballs piiled on a cutting board and garnished with sliced green onion.Pin
Smoked Meatballs

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

Binky's signature
Pile of smoked meatballs on wooden board.Pin

The BEST EVER Smoked Meatballs

Smoked meatballs are a deliciously different way of cooking these favorite appetizer and dinner staple.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 340kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $10

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
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Notes

Notes**
Bake until meat thermometer, placed in center of meatballs, registers 165°F.
Store refrigerated up to 4 days.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave.
Leftovers can be frozen.
Meatballs can be frozen before smoking or after. Thaw completely, in refrigerator, then bake at 250°F / 170°C for about one hour, if previously smoked. If you freeze before smoking, refer to recipe above for smoking times.
What type of wood to use?
You can use a variety of wood or wood pellets for smoking. We like the fruit woods like apple, cherry or pecan. You can also use oak and maple, or hickory and mesquite, for a more bolder flavor.
What if you don’t have smoker?
If you don’t own a smoker, you can still enjoy smoked meats. 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 that does not have the 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 136mg | Potassium: 368mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2mg
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Originally published January 17, 2023.

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I am new to smoking so I was a little nervous, but they ended up coming out so so yummy! I froze some for later this summer. THank you for the clear instructions and tips!

    1. We’re so glad you enjoyed them. They are one of our favorites and we usually make a huge batch and freeze them for another day.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe! I love smoky flavors yet never even thought to bring it to meatballs. We all loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    These smoked meatballs have such great flavor and I love how versatile they are. I’m adding them to my “must make” list right now.

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