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smoked sweet onion BBQ meatballs

Smoked Sweet Onion BBQ Meatballs bowls with rice, quick pico de gallo and finished with chipotle aioli.  These beef meatballs are smoked to tender perfection and finished in a bath of our delicious sweet onion bbq sauce infused with a wood-fired flavor all finished with a serving of rice, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli.

Smoked sweet onion BBQ meatballs

These meatballs were smoked on a Traeger grill, directly on the grill and finished in a bath of our homemade sweet onion bbq sauce. For anyone with a smoker, you are sure to enjoy this one! Packed with smoky flavor, the meatballs are perfectly tender, develop a small smoke ring around the edges with a little crust which is nicely complimented with the sweet flavors of the bbq sauce.

beef meatballs

beef meatballs


If you don’t have a smoker, not to worry. You can still enjoy this delicious meal in a similar amount of time. Because the temperatures vary a little bit from a smoker to a BBQ grill- it is more difficult to keep your grill at a consistent temperature and you are cooking directly over the flame when compared to a smoker which has the barrel and in direct heat, I wouldn’t recommend doing meatballs directly on the grill unless sitting in a cast iron skillet. I fear that they would stick to the grill and potentially come apart. That’s something I wouldn’t want to risk. Now If i’m not smoking meatballs, I typically brown them in a pan so that they can get a little crust around the edges. Let the meatballs brown in the pan without touching them, and flip them over once to get the over side brown. Transfer the meatballs to an oven safe dish, one that will be large enough to add the BBQ sauce, continue to cook them at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Add the sauce and cook them an additional 10 minutes until they are fully cooked through.


This sauce is banging! Its so good. I am so proud of myself for finally creating a bbq sauce that I love. It’s not too tomato tasting or lacking in flavor. Of course you can add some mustard, bourbon, beer, hot sauce or chilis to make it your own and bring it to a level of your licking but it is fantastic just the way it is. I served this sauce over an 18 hour smoked brisket, finished off some baked beans with it and I just can’t get enough. It is one that will stay bottle in my refrigerator and refilled once its empty. Now if you don’t have enough sauce to cover the meatballs almost completely, top it off with a bit of water.

smoked bbq meatballs

smoked sweet onion bbq meatballs

These meatballs make a great weeknight dinner or can be meal prepped to enjoy during the week for lunch or as an on the go dinner. I chose to serve them over rice with pico and chipotle sauce, however it is completely customizable. Use what you have on hand, if you want to serve them over some noodles, enjoy them on their own with a side salad or with some fresh grated cheese overtop. They would be great as an appetizer as well.

smoked sweet onion bbq meatballs


We hope you enjoy this recipe! If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it on Instagram! We love to see what you come up with. #thecommunalfeast Follow along our social media account on instagram for quick videos on how our recipes come together.

Smoked Sweet Onion BBQ Meatballs

Smoked beef meatballs in sweet onion BBQ sauce served with fresh pico de gallo, and chipotle aioli over rice.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dinner, meal prep, meatballs, smoked, sweet onion bbq sauce, weeknight dinner
Servings: 4 people


  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium tomatoes diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 lime juiced


  • rice to serve
  • chipotle aioli
  • pico de gallo

Sweet onion BBQ sauce

  • 1/2 small yellow onion minced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  • Preheat smoker to 350 degrees according to instructions. Allow to sit at the temperature for a few minutes before adding the meatballs to the grill.
  • To make the meatballs: in a large shallow bowl, combine ground beef, cilantro, chives, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic paste, mustard, and salt and pepper to season.
  • Shape into 2 oz meatballs and place directly on the grill. Cook for 35 minutes.
  • BBQ sauce: In a medium sized bowl, combine the dijon, sugar, vinegar, onion powder, garlic, paprika, celery seed, sesame oil, cornstarch and water. whisk until smooth. Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and add the mixture. Stir in the minced onion and cook until slightly thickened about 6 minutes. Once the mixture has thickened a bit, stir in the tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, molasses, and Worcestershire. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 10 minutes and let cool. For a smoother sauce blend until smooth.
  • Once the meatballs have cooked, transfer to a deep baking dish with the BBQ sauce and return to the smoker to cook for 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked through.
  • To serve: spoon meatballs overtop rice with some of the BBQ sauce, top with pico de gallo and finish with chipotle aioli.


Pico de gallo: combine diced tomato with minced white onion, chopped cilantro, lime juice and season with salt. 

Smoked Sweet Onion BBQ Meatballs


July 5, 2022


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