Easy meatball recipe is baked with a sweet-tangy-spicy sauce that forms a sticky glaze. Surprisingly quick to make for a busy weeknight meal and it works as well for family dinners as it does for appetizers. You can even make it in the crockpot if you prefer!
Ingredients for this recipe: 93/7 ground beef (93% lean to 7% fat), fresh breadcrumbs, onion, salt, pepper, eggs, catsup, honey or brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, jalapeno (optional)
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Homemade Meatballs Are Not Just for Spaghetti
Although I usually associate meatballs with spaghetti I find myself making this honey garlic meatball recipe more often.
The flavor absolutely does an Irish jig over your tastebuds. The sauce creates a thick glaze on the meatballs that really enhances the beefy flavors. I like to add a little finely chopped jalapeno to give it that zing that I love so much but you can leave it out if you want to.
This super easy meatball recipe is similar to the ginger ale meatballs that my mom made (gosh I need to reshoot those images!) plus are quicker to make.
Mom’s Easy Meatball Recipe Was Legendary
For much of my life meatballs were our Christmas Eve dinner. Mom made her meatball recipe in one of those newfangled electric frying pans with a crockery insert. It is avocado green and I say “is” because I still have it and use it once in awhile.
Anyway, those little spheres of ground beef would simmer away and the house would fill with a sweet-tangy smell that always made my tummy gurgle appreciatively. She’d serve them with buttered rice, a salad, and Christmas cookies for dessert.
When I grew up and moved out we started having all holidays at my house with me doing the cooking – Mom preferred to garden or clean or do about anything rather than cook. Still, Christmas Eve was always at her house and it always included meatballs.
I like to make them ahead of time in a big batch, leaving the sauce off, and keep them in the freezer. My meatball recipe has so much more flavor and fewer weird ingredients than the commercial ones.
You could use the frozen meatballs from the store if you wanted to, though.
Tips for Perfect Meatballs
When I make meatballs I undercook them slightly. Here’s why…
If I am going to freeze them for heating up later I’ll cook them to an interior temperature of 150F before flash freezing. This way, when the meatballs are being warmed up they finish cooking and don’t overcook.
If I am cooking them to eat immediately I cook them to 155F and let them sit on the counter for 5 minutes or so while I finish dinner prep.
During that time the temperature continues to rise until it’s at a perfect 160F and the meatballs are not tough or overcooked. In this recipe, the meatballs are going to simmer a few minutes in the sauce so they’ll finish cooking then.
How to Make the Best Meatballs Ever
- Although some people feel that fattier meats yield a more tender meatball (80/20) I prefer leaner meats. Try both and see which you like better.
- Some people mix ground meats – beef, pork, veal, lamb. I prefer just beef.
- As a general rule 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat is about right.
- Keep your ingredients icy cold when mixing and forming the meatballs.
- Gently mix with your hands. It just works better.
- Rub a little olive oil on your hands to keep the meatball mixture from sticking.
- Cook a little of your mixture before forming the meatballs and taste it for seasoning. Add more salt as needed.
- Don’t pack them together like snowballs. Gently form the meatball so that it’s as loose as possible without falling apart.
- This easy meatball recipe is great for appetizers – just make them smaller.
- Undercook slightly and let them stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.
- Make a big batch and flash freeze them when they are almost cooked. Once frozen move them to freezer containers. You’ll have meatballs anytime you want them for a fraction of the cost of the commercial kind -and without the weird stuff.
More Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals
I don’t know about you but I need a collection of quick weeknight dinners for those days. You know what I’m talking about. Man does not live by easy meatball recipes, alone – am I right?
Here are some of my favorite busy night dinners. I think you’ll love them, too.
- Bourbon chicken has a similar flavor to this meatball recipe. It’s a copycat of your favorite food court fare!
- Homemade Italian Meatballs are a delicious accompaniment to any kind of pasta and they’re great for meatball subs!
- Swiss Steak is another old favorite – and it’s so easy when you make it in a slow cooker.
- Hawaiian Meatball Sliders are great for tailgating parties and casual get togethers. This is a good spot to use those frozen meatballs – the ones from the store are fine.
- Mac and Cheese with Pulled Pork is family friendly – everyone loves it!
Instructions for Slow Cooker Meatballs with Honey Garlic Sauce
I realize that some of y’all will want to make these honey garlic meatballs in the slow cooker. It can be done but the one thing I don’t like about it is that the sauce can break and get a little watery. I’d suggest making an extra batch of sauce to have on hand just in case that happens.
It’s also very important, if you’re going to use a slow cooker, to use the leanest beef possible. You don’t want fat floating around on top of the sauce!
To make this easy meatball recipe even easier in your crockpot make the sauce as instructed in the recipe and place half of it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add your uncooked meatballs and then add the rest of the sauce on top. Cover and cook on low about 4 to 6 hours.
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This meatball maker comes in two sizes – one for dinner size meatballs and one for appetizer meatballs. It helps to keep the meatballs uniform in size – which means you won’t have any over or under baked meatballs!
Honey Garlic Meatball Recipe
This easy meatball recipe is a keeper!
I use it often when I have to take a meal to someone at church or a potluck of some sort. Everyone loves them and asks for the recipe.
Make them smaller for appetizers – I like to stick them on cocktail skewers with a candied jalapeno on top.
If you like this recipe please consider giving it a five star rating.
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- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup onion, , finely chopped or grated
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef, , or a mix of ground meat such as pork, lamb, veal, etc
Honey Garlic Glaze
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 jalapeno, optional
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs and milk.
- Add the bread crumbs, onion and salt.
- Mix the beef in with your hands until it is completely mixed in.
- Gently shape into balls - larger for dinner servings 1-inch or so for appetizer servings.
- Place in a parchment lined baking sheet with sides.
- Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 12 minutes or until meat registers 155F on an insta-read thermometer.
- Remove from the oven and set aside.
Honey Garlic Glaze
- In a heavy skillet, saute garlic and jalapeno in butter over medium heat until tender - do not let the garlic get brown.
- Stir in the ketchup, honey and soy sauce.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and cover.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce.
- Carefully stir to evenly coat.
- Simmer for 10 minutes more.