Smoking is a barbecue technique which adds an extra kiss of hardwood smoke to classic ground beef meatballs. Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, follow this easy step-by-step guide for smoking incredibly juicy and tender Smoked Meatballs on any type of smoker or grill.
I might be just a little obsessed with smoking. Whether we use the charcoal smoker to make Smoked Chicken Thighs or a smoking gun to smoke a Whisky Flip Cocktail, a little bit of smoke can bring a whole lot of flavour to food and beverages.
Best Smoked Meatballs
Where are my smokin’ folks at? This one is for YOU. This smoked meatball recipe is suitable for everyone, whether you are a beginner or a pit master. So, if you love the taste of smoked meat but have never tried doing it on your own, this step-by-step guide to smoking meatballs is rated E for everyone.
I’ve got more good news! You can make this recipe on any style of smoker from Big Green Eggs and Traeger Pellet Grills to a simple gas or propane barbecue with a smoke box. Additionally, any flavour of wood chips will work in this easy smoker recipe.
Now, let’s chat about the meatballs. Oh. My. Word. These are some of the most delicious meatballs you will ever have in your mouth. The layers of flavour come from the wonderful combination of dried spices, smoke, and the barbecue sauce glaze.
Finally, the Italian breadcrumbs and shredded mozzarella cheese in the ground meat mixture help to give the meatballs a light and airy texture while keeping them moist and juicy.
Ingredients in this Recipe
This recipe is similar to many classic meatball recipes. It contains dry seasonings, an egg, and some seasoned breadcrumbs. Where this recipe differs is in the addition of shredded mozzarella, BBQ sauce, and the final (and most important) ingredient, smoke.
- Ground Beef
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Onion Powder
- Ground Mustard
- Italian Breadcrumbs
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Barbecue Sauce
- Smoking Chips
For this recipe, I chose to use ground chuck. However, you can use lean or regular ground beef, ground pork, or a mixture of the two. Additionally, feel free to mix ground sausage meat with the beef for an extra flavourful meatball.
As always, test and replace your spices annually to ensure your recipes are full of vibrant flavour. Stale spices will not give you the best result. The same goes for the breadcrumbs. In place of Italian breadcrumbs, use regular breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (or 1/2 teaspoon each oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary).
This recipe calls for both onion powder and finely chopped onion. Use fresh garlic in place of the garlic powder for best results.
For the cheese, grate a block of mozzarella and avoid the pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. It doesn’t quite melt the same as block cheese. Feel free to sub in other cheeses for the mozzarella. Try Cheddar cheese, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack Cheese for a hint of spice.
Feel free to use your favourite BBQ sauce for the final glaze. Any style of barbecue sauce will do, except for mayonnaise based Alabama style BBQ sauce. However, this style of sauce would be great for dipping the final meatballs in!
Which Wood is Best for Smoked Meatballs?
Finally, let’s talk wood chips. The best flavour profile would be one that matches with your barbecue sauce or the meat that you choose. So, if you use ground beef, mesquite or oak chips work well with a Texas style sauce. Conversely if you use pork, fruit chips like apple and cherry, a vinegar-based Carolina sauce.
Feel free to play around with pecan or maple smoking chunks for a subtle smoking sweet flavour or Hickory or Mesquite for a more pronounced smoky flavour.
How to Make Smoked Meatballs
The first step in all smoker recipes is readying the grill/smoker. As mentioned, this versatile Smoked Meatballs recipe works on almost any style of grill. The only requirement is that your chosen method can keep a steady temperature of 250°f for 40 – 60 minutes.
Go ahead, preheat the BBQ for indirect heating or the smoker to 250°f.
Mixing Measuring and Shaping Meatballs
To make the meatballs, place the ground meat, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper, smoked paprika, and ground mustard in a large mixing bowl. Mix well until all the seasonings are well blended with the ground beef.
Next, add the chopped onion, breadcrumbs, shredded mozzarella, and egg. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
Use a medium cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoon) to measure the meat mixture into uniform portions then use your hands to roll each one into a ball. Place meatballs in a disposable aluminum pan. There should be 20 meatballs.
How to Cook Smoked Meatballs
Once the BBQ/smoker is at temperature 250°f and the meatballs are ready to go on, add a handful of wood chips to the charcoal/smoker. Place a meat thermometer probe in the middle of one meatball and quickly place the pan with the meatballs in the BBQ/Smoker.
Immediately close the lid and smoke meatballs for 40 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 140 F. When the meatballs reach 140°f, brush the BBQ sauce all over the meatballs and increase the temperature to 375°f.
Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°f and the meatballs are nicely glazed with caramelized sauce. Use a gas or propane barbecue or oven for this final step if using charcoal.
How to Serve Smoked Meatballs
These Smoked Meatballs make a perfect starter or main dish. Serve them on you barbecue buffet, BBQ Board, or bring them to a potluck. Everyone loves meatballs and they are usually the first appetizer to disappear.
Pro tip: Serve these smoked meatballs with stretchy mozzarella on torpedo buns for the most AMAZING meatball subs!
How to Store and Serve Leftover Smoked Meatballs
Smoked meatballs will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Slice them to make tasty meatball sandwiches (like meatloaf sandwiches) or add them to pasta salad.
Smoked Meatballs will store in freezer bags for up to 45 days for best quality and taste.
To reheat the meatballs, place them in a 350 F preheated air fryer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes at 350. Otherwise, place in a heat-proof dish and reheat in a 350 F oven for ten minutes. Brush with more BBQ sauce, as needed.
Hi! I’m Bernice Hill and I’ve been the sole recipe developer, photographer, and writer at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen for the past eleven years. It is my pleasure to share easy to follow recipes that are delicious, nutritious, and approachable for the whole family.
If you make these Best Smoked Meatballs, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or in a recipe rating. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please, share your photos and tag me on Instagram. I hope you like this recipe!
- 1 lb ground beef (I used ground chuck)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs*
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
- Preheat BBQ for indirect heating or the smoker and bring it to 250 F.
- Place the ground beef, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper, smoked paprika, and ground mustard together in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix well until all the seasonings are well blended with the ground beef.
- Add the chopped onion, breadcrumbs, shredded mozzarella, and egg. Mix until all ingredients are
- Use a medium cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoon) to measure the meat mixture into uniform portions then use your hands to roll each one into a ball. Place meatballs in a disposable aluminum pan. There should be 20 meatballs.
- Once the BBQ/smoker is at temperature, add the wood chips and place the pan directly on the grill.
- Close the lid and smoke for 40 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 140 F.
- When the meatballs reach 140 F, brush the BBQ sauce all over the meatballs and increase the temperature to 375 F.
- Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 F and the meatballs are nicely glazed with caramelized sauce.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 534Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 1582mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 37g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.