Recipe: BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

meatball subs

When all our kids are home for Sunday dinner, I’d much rather be visiting and playing with babies than cooking.  Because of that, I’m always on the lookout for meals that I can prep ahead of time.   A few weeks ago I made a big crock pot full of meatballs, and topped them with my homemade barbecue sauce.  I served them with hoagie rolls and hot dog buns, so that everyone could make their own meatball sandwiches.

Here’s the recipe I used.  It’s enough to serve two dozen people generously.  Any leftover meatballs can be frozen for later, or added to spaghetti sauce on spaghetti night. To make this recipe gluten free, serve over rice instead of on rolls, and use gluten-free oats and gluten-free soy sauce.

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

Yield: 24 servings

4-6 meatballs per serving

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd


    For the meatballs:
  • 8 lbs lean or extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 T. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • dash of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • For the barbecue sauce:
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspood dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in a very large bowl. Mold into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and set on a large cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil in the oven about 8 inches from the element for 6-8 minutes, turning once. Keep a close eye on them during the last few minutes to avoid burning.
  2. Broiling meatballs first helps them hold together while being cooked in the barbecue sauce. By the time you remove them from the broiler, they should be cooked through, with no pink in the center. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze them until they will be used. If you choose to make the barbecue sauce at this point, you can go ahead and pour it over the top of the meatballs to marinate together in the fridge or freezer until you heat them up again for serving.
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan, whisk together, and simmer over medium heat 10-15 minutes. This sauce may be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  5. TO SERVE:
  6. Combine thawed meatballs and barbecue sauce in a large crock pot and cook until hot. Use the high setting if you would like to serve the meatballs within an hour, or low if you'd like to let them simmer 2-4 hours. Serve in hoagie rolls or hot dog buns, or over the top of rice. Enjoy!



  1. Jennie C. says:

    Here’s another recipe I make that freezes well they might enjoy:

    3 Cheese Baked Spaghetti
    Pasta Mixture:
    1 pd. spaghetti
    3T. butter
    1 t. salt
    3 t. parsley
    2 cups cottage cheese
    ½ cup parmesan cheese
    8 oz. mozzarella cheese

    16 oz. ground beef or turkey
    1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
    ½ cup of finely chopped onion
    ¼ t. pepper
    1 jar of spaghetti sauce
    1 T. sugar
    2 t. Italian seasoning

    Extra mozzarella

    Cook pasta.
    Drain and add remaining pasta ingredients. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan.
    Brown meat with garlic and onion. Drain meat and add remaining sauce ingredients. Pour on top of the pasta.
    Add mozzarella cheese to cover.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.


  1. […] BBQ Meatballs–  We served these in hot dog bugs or over rice, and people seemed to enjoy them.  For 70 people, we used 15 pounds of pre-made frozen meatballs from Cash and Carry, and also made about 5 pounds more of meatballs that were gluten free.  I also found a gluten free BBQ sauce to serve over them, but ended up deciding that the BBQ sauce recipe in Family Feasts for $75 a Week is more to my taste.  Ah well. […]

  2. […] Gluten Free Meatballs (served over rice instead of the pictured rolls) […]