Homemade Crock Pot Barbecue Meatballs

Homemade Crock Pot Barbecue Meatballs

The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 5 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
188 Calories
6g Fat
19g Carbs
15g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 188
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 59mg 20%
Sodium 706mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 384mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These tasty meatballs are perfect snacks for parties and get-togethers, and they can even be served as a main dish with rice or potatoes. The homemade barbecue sauce is perfectly seasoned, and you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry.

The onion soup mix gives the meatballs loads of flavor, while the sweet barbecue sauce mixture provides balance.

Feel free to change the sauce up with more or less sweetener, or add some heat with cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. See the variations for more ideas.


For the Meatballs:

For the Sauce:

  • 3 cups ketchup

  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 tablespoon molasses

  • 2 teaspoons celery salt

  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

Make the Meatballs:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Crock Pot Barbecue Meatballs ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

    aluminum foil lined baking dishes

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion soup mix, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and the eggs. Mix well until the meatball mixture is thoroughly combined.

    meat mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  4. Shape the meat mixture into 3/4 inch meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes.

    meat balls in baking dishes

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Transfer the drained meatballs to the slow cooker.

    meatballs in a crock pot

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Make the Sauce:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, onion, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, celery salt, dry mustard, paprika, and pepper. Stir to combine and then pour over the meatballs.

    sauce and meatballs in a crock pot

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Cover the pot and cook on low for about 3 to 4 hours, or until the meatballs and sauce are hot.

    Homemade Crock Pot Barbecue Meatballs

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg


  • The sauce mixture is easily adapted with more or less sugar or molasses. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • To keep the meatballs out of their drippings, place cooling racks in the baking pans. Spray the racks lightly with nonstick cooking spray and arrange the meatballs on the racks.
  • To give the meatballs a head-start and shorten or eliminate the crock pot cooking time, sauté the finely chopped onions in a medium saucepan over medium heat in a small amount of oil. When the onions are softened and translucent, add the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and set the slow cooker on low for serving.
  • Time-Saver: Prepare and bake the meatballs a day in advance; refrigerate them until you are ready to cook.

Recipe Variations

  • For a faster cooking time in the slow cooker, cook on HIGH for about 2 hours.
  • Instead of baking, fry the meatballs—in batches—in a large skillet on the stovetop. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat. Fry the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through, turning frequently.
  • Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the sauce, or add about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • For a smoky flavor, add about 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the sauce mixture. Natural liquid smoke is made with smoke—hickory, mesquite, etc—and water, so there are no chemical additives. Check the label to make sure.
  • Another way to add a smoky flavor is to swap out the sweet paprika with smoked paprika.