posted April 11, 2023
Jalapeno Bacon Smoked Meatballs
These jalapeno bacon smoked meatballs are simply unbeatable! Say goodbye to bland meatballs; these smoked meatballs combine cheddar, jalapenos, and bacon for the best-tasting meatball around.
Smoked meatballs are incredibly simple and once you learn how to make smoked meatballs using a good ratio of meat to binder, you can go crazy with the flavor combinations.
First up, let’s talk about the meat. All meatballs need good quality ground meat to start. I used all beef in this blend, but I’ve also mixed ground beef and ground pork in equal parts with great success. I recommend using ground beef that is at least 85/15 meat to fat, but you can bump that up to 80/20 if you’d like.
Next up, let’s chat about the binder. For the binder, I like to use eggs and breadcrumbs. It will really help with retaining moisture in the meatball itself during that low and slow smoking process without making the meatballs too loose. For added pizzazz and flavor, I’ve wrapped my smoked meatballs in bacon. This is optional for any smoked meatball recipe, but I love what it adds to these cheddar jalapeno meatballs.
How to Make Smoked Meatballs
Let’s get into the process of making these incredible smoked meatballs, shall we? Here’s how to do it:
- Preheat. Fire up your favorite smoker (offset, pellet, or electric will work just fine for this recipe) and preheat it to 275 degrees F. Make the meatballs while the smoker comes to temp.
- Make the meatballs. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large mixing bowl. Next, form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch-sized balls.
- Wrap in bacon. Cut the slices of bacon in half, and wrap one-half slice around the formed meatloaf. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat this step until all the meatballs have been wrapped.
- Smoke. Place the bacon-wrapped meatballs on the smoker. Close the lid, and smoke for 40 minutes or until the meatballs reach 155 degrees F.
- Sauce. Brush the meatballs with a decent amount of BBQ Sauce (I like using my Apple Jalapeno BBQ Sauce on these, but you can use your favorite sauce as well). Continue to smoke for 5-10 more minutes or until the meatballs reach 165 degrees F.
- Enjoy. Remove the smoked meatballs from the grill grates and allow them to cool slightly. Serve warm with extra BBQ sauce for dipping or dunking.
How Long to Smoke Meatballs
It takes around 45-50 minutes to fully smoke meatballs.
These meatballs are initially smoked for 40 minutes then basted with BBQ sauce and cooked for an additional 5-10 minutes to set the sauce and crisp the bacon. Keep in mind, this time may vary for you depending on the size of your meatballs and the thickness of your bacon. Allow for a bit of wiggle room as every time you smoke food the time may be slightly different.
Smoked Meatball Tips
To ensure you feel fully confident in making these smoked meatballs, here are some tips to help make these meatballs flavorful and perfectly cooked.
- Choose your favorite bacon. Use regular bacon if you like crispy bacon. Thick-cut bacon will render nicely and the bacon will be incredibly tender on these meatballs during the smoking process, but it won’t necessarily crisp up much. For crispier bacon, use a thinner cut and give yourself the option to crisp the option at the end by increasing the heat to at least 350 degrees F in your smoker.
- Add sauce at the very end. Wait until the last few minutes to brush on your BBQ sauce and reduce the heat. Most commercial (and homemade) BBQ sauces have quite a bit of sugar in them and because of this, they will be prone to burn over a hot grill. You want the sauce to heat through and thicken on your meatballs, but not burn. Speaking of BBQ sauce, I recommend using my Apple Jalapeno BBQ Sauce on this recipe.
- Use a thermometer. I use my Thermoworks ONE pretty much every day to get accurate temperature readings on my meat and meals. Even with a great binder and moisture inside of your meatballs, if they are overcooked they will dry out. Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Smoked meatballs have a tendency to turn pink because of a chemical reaction between the meat and the smoke. This pink color could lead you to believe they aren’t cooked, but if you’re using a thermometer, you won’t have to guess.
More Meatball and Meatloaf Recipes
Let’s keep the tasty stuff coming with other meatball and meatloaf recipes from Hey Grill Hey. Check out a few of our popular recipes from the site.
Smoked Meatballs Recipe
This post was originally published in August 2017. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.
Jalapeno Bacon Smoked Meatballs
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 2 jalapenos (seeds removed, finely diced)
- 1 teaspoon Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub (or equal parts salt and pepper)
- ½ pound bacon (cut in half)
- 1 cup Hey Grill Hey Apple Jalapeno BBQ sauce (recipe in notes section)
- Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F.
- Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, gently combine the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, cheddar, jalapenos, and Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub. Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.
- Wrap in bacon. Wrap each ball with a half piece of bacon and secure each with a toothpick.
- Smoke the meatballs. Place the meatballs directly on the grill grates and smoke for 40 minutes or until the meatballs reach 155 degrees F.
- Add sauce. Brush the meatballs with Apple Jalapeno BBQ Sauce and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until they reach 165 degrees F. If you want crispier bacon, increase the heat in your smoker to 350-400 degrees F.
- Enjoy. Remove the meatballs from the smoker to a serving platter. Be sure to remove the toothpicks from the meatballs before serving with extra sauce on the side, if desired.
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