Home RecipesBeef Sweet and Savory BBQ Meatballs

Sweet and Savory BBQ Meatballs

by Jamie

My sister-in-law Erin mentioned to me the other day that she has been making some fabulous meatballs using our standard family recipe for Meatloaf. (Click here to see that fabulous recipe). She gave me a play by-play of how to make the meatballs happen I gave it a go this week.

It was the right thing to do, ladies and gentlemen. My family and I absolutely loved them. I served them with green peas and baked potatoes (click here for a tutorial on how to make the best baked potatoes of your life.)

These crispy meatballs are dripping with a sticky sweet and savory sauce. The inside is moist, flavorful and fabulous. They come together very quickly, you only need about 15 minutes prep and 40 minutes baking time to make them a reality.

Make ’em and love ’em, guys. They are a family pleasing kind recipe! Even MyHandsomeHusband (self-proclaimed hater of red meat) loved every last bite. They really are great.

Thanks for the idea, Erin! 🙂


Sweet and Savory BBQ Meatballs

Time: 15 minutes prep + 40 minutes baking
Yield: about 48 meatballs
Recipe slightly adapted from my awesome sister-in-law Erin Jepsen

1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
2 pounds ground beef (I used 9% fat/91%lean)
3 eggs
salt and pepper
3 Tb honey mustard
1/2 C ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 C ketchup
3/4 C sweet baby rays
1 C brown sugar



1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Chop an onion up into fine pieces. Now, just a word of caution here. Chop the onions much smaller than the onions you see in this picture. Mine ended up being a bit too big and I wished I had taken the time to chop them in to fine little pieces.


3. Pour 1 and 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Crush the crackers with a rolling-pin…


until they are all crumbly and wonderful.


4. Into a large mixing bowl place the cracker crumbs, 2 pounds ground beef (I use 9% lean), 3 eggs, salt and pepper, 3 Tb honey mustard, 1/2 C ketchup
and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Get your hands down into the bowl and mix all of the ingredients together well.


5. Line 2 large cookie sheets with tin foil and spray it with cooking spray. Roll the meat into 2 inch balls and lay them out evenly on the trays. (Look at those gigantic onions…do you see what I am saying here. Chop them up into teeny, tiny pieces won’t you?)
6. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.


7. While the meatballs cook away, combine 1/4 cup ketchup, 3/4 cup Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce and 1 cup brown sugar.


8. When the meatballs have a nice, crispy,  dark brown exterior take them out of the oven…


and drizzle about 2 teaspoons of sauce over each one. Pop them back in the oven for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to heat through and get all sticky and marvelous.

Serve and enjoy!

Sweet and Savory BBQ Meatballs from Jamie Cooks It Up

Leave a Comment


Marie March 5, 2014 - 6:34 am

Could you substitute ritz crackers or bread crumbs instead of the saltines? Thanks for the recipe!

Jamie March 5, 2014 - 7:10 am

Yes, either of those would work out great. Good luck!

Melanie March 5, 2014 - 10:39 am

Do you think these would taste ok with ground turkey? I have a whole freezer full.

Amanda March 7, 2014 - 6:10 am

My husband doesn’t like red meat so I always make my meatballs (and meatloaf) with ground turkey and I think it turns out great. My recipe is slightly different than this one but I bet it would still work well!

Jamie March 7, 2014 - 7:15 am

Thanks for this tip. I’m going to try it with ground turkey next time. 🙂

Patti March 5, 2014 - 11:02 am

I’m out of sweet baby ray’s. Any BBQ sauce will work right?

Melanie March 6, 2014 - 1:55 pm

I did mine last night with Jack Daniel Honey BBQ and they were delish.

Stephanie March 5, 2014 - 11:20 am

I would halve this recipe for us. Could you tell me how to halve 3 eggs lol?

sandie August 27, 2015 - 12:24 pm

use 2 small eggs or 1 xl egg for 1/2 the recipe.

Mary March 5, 2014 - 11:31 am

Sounds and looks great! Always use saltines in my meatloaf …so much better than anything else! Thanks for sharing.

Pam March 5, 2014 - 3:32 pm

What brand of honey mustard do you use & will any store have it?

laura March 5, 2014 - 4:03 pm

I love all your great recipes! They help me make some wonderful dishes without a lot of work and also give me lots of ideas! These meatballs looks wonderful, gotta try them-thanks to you I’ve gained about 6 lbs:)

Miriam March 6, 2014 - 7:56 am

Hi Jamie,
I just wanted to let you you how much I appreciate your blog. So much so that I nominated you for “Best Family Cooking Blog” at:


You deserve the recognition.

Melanie March 6, 2014 - 2:02 pm

I voted as well. Her blog has saved me more than a few times. Nice to have choices that are family friendly and easy.

Mohmad March 11, 2014 - 9:34 pm

Making these again today, gonna serve over a bed of rice with teriyaki nooldes and brussel sprouts. I bet they would be awesome on a sandwich with the gravy, mushrooms,onions, bell peppers and swiss or provolone cheese

Natasha March 8, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Just tried this recipe tonight. I did use breadcrumbs instead of the crackers, though.

The meatballs were really tasty and moist.

My husband and I enjoyed this recipe for the most part… except the sauce was too sweet. I think if I make it again I will put half the sugar or even less.

Carolyn July 5, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Great recipe. I did a big batch of these to freeze for my son who recently moved out. They were a big hit. Any ideas if the recipe would work in a crock pot? I’m afraid the sauce wouldn’t cook on in the same way with the sticky yumminess as baking them.I’d like to know if you’ve tried it that way with any luck.

Jill October 23, 2017 - 7:56 pm

Bake in the oven first and then warm with sauce in crockpot.

Carole August 11, 2014 - 8:04 am

Could I make this recipe into a meatloaf?

Sue September 15, 2014 - 6:19 pm

I read 9% lean ground beef….. scares me that you want to use that. 85% lean ground beef would be very tasty.

April January 17, 2015 - 3:28 pm

These were delicious. I made half the recipe but the full amount of sauce.

Lis March 9, 2016 - 6:37 pm

I just wanted you to know that I make this recipe 1-2x per month and I do freeze the meatballs to make it easier. It’s amazing. My kids call is “Saucy Balls.” Just thought you deserved a call-out! 🙂

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deborah ward June 11, 2017 - 5:38 am

I have found over the years many people like the flavor that onions give but not the texture of biting into one so I grate my onion on a hand held grater and it works GREAT no pun intended lol

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Andromeda LeTourneau April 4, 2019 - 2:36 pm

Great recipe. I did make some minor changes though just to suit my taste. I omitted onions because the baby in my belly doesn’t like onions and garlic. I added 2T of apple cider vinegar and 1t of seasoned salt to the sauce. Put the sauce and the baked meatballs into a cast iron and baked for the rest of the 15 minutes. So delicious, moist and tender! I usually suck at making meatballs because they come out dry and tough but not these. My go to from now on! Thank you!

Rackel September 27, 2019 - 7:52 pm

If 1 pound of ground beef is used, what are the amounts for all the ingredients for the meatballs & sauce?

Shar February 8, 2020 - 11:36 pm

I mix my meatballs in my Kitchen Aide. It mixes the meat wonderfully!


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