Smoked meatballs are unbeatable, and this recipe combines awesome flavors that make a smoked meatball even better. Cheddar, jalapenos, and bacon (of course)!
How to Make Smoked Meatballs
Smoked meatballs are incredibly simple and once you learn how to make smoked meatballs using good ratio of meat to binder, you can go crazy with the flavor combinations. All meatballs need a 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.
For my 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.
Smoked Meatball Tips
-Use regular bacon, not thick sliced, 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.
–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 to check doneness on your meatballs (I recommend the Thermoworks MK4). 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 with 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.
Smoked Meatball Recipe
In a large bowl, gently combine the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, cheddar, jalapenos, and beef seasoning.
Form the meat mixture into 1.5 inch balls.
Wrap each ball with a half piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
When ready to cook, preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F.
Place the meatballs directly on the grill grates and smoke for 40 minutes or until the meatballs reach 155 degrees F.
Brush the meatballs with the 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.
Remove the toothpicks from the meatballs before serving.
**This recipe was originally published on 8/2017. It has been updated with a video and new information on 1/2019.