Tailgate Meatballs

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Tailgate Meatballs with BBQ sauce are made for traveling, so if you need a recipe that can go to the big game, this is it! They're easy and delicious meatballs that are perfect for tailgate parties or game day.

tailgate meatballs in a cast iron skillet.
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Are You Ready to Party?

Football season is so much fun! Down south, it's like our new year begins with football. We might as well make our calendar run from August to February, because everything in-between pales in comparison.

Fall sports also mean it's time for some Tailgate Meatballs! This party appetizer is everyone's favorite tailgate treat.

Homemade meatballs are easy to make from scratch, and taste amazing at all types of parties, or as an entree served over rice at your dinner table. It's a great recipe that can be served in several different ways.

Recipe Snapshot

EASE: Easier to make than you might think
PROS: Travels well and freezes perfectly
CONS: No cons at all!

Simple Ingredients

See recipe card for quantities.

  • ground beef
  • seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • dried onion flakes or chopped onion
  • steak seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • barbecue sauce
  • large egg

How to Make Tailgate Meatballs

Making these tasty meatballs couldn't be easier. Start by mixing ground beef with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, onions, egg, and seasonings in a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of your favorite bbq sauce.

meatball mixture in a glass bowl.

The fun begins when you get your hands in there and start making the barbecue meatballs. Use a cookie scoop to gather them up, then roll into balls with your hands.

meatball mixture with cookie scoop

Place meatballs in a single layer on a sheet pan, (ad) or baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for just 15 minutes.

meatballs on a sheet pan

Transfer meatballs to a large skillet, crockpot or aluminum pan and drizzle with your favorite barbecue sauce. That's it! No turning, no browning, no mess. So easy!

What Type of Sauce is Best?

Even though this is a BBQ meatballs recipe, you can switch the sauce if you like. The only hard part is trying to decide what sauce to add.

I've tried marinara, sweet and sour, barbecue, Thai, hot sauce, and grape jelly. Remember making crockpot bbq grape jelly meatballs? My favorite product to use is Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce. (ad) It's the perfect blend of sweet and zesty.

Once you make up your mind, simply add a bottle of your favorite sauce (ad) and simmer the meatballs in a cast iron skillet or crockpot until ready to serve. Can't decide? Mix a bunch of sauces together to create your own.

Happy Football Season! Bring out the toothpicks....and watch these meatballs disappear.

tailgate meatballs in a cast iron skillet.

What to Serve with Meatballs

Who doesn't love meatballs at a tailgate party? They're a great crowd pleaser and always seem to be the first item that disappears on Game Day.

I've made about a million meatballs in my life...for everything from weddings to picnics and in-between. They're more tender than the pre-made frozen kind, and only take a few minutes from start to finish.

Try these dishes that are perfect to serve with this bbq meatball recipe...


  • use ground turkey or ground pork or a combination of both
  • add worcestershire sauce or chili powder to meat mixture
  • sprinkle in a little red pepper flakes or hot sauce
  • turn meatballs into sliders!

Recipe FAQS

Can meatballs be frozen?

Yes! These meatballs freeze well after they've been cooked. You can freeze them before or after adding the sauce for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

How do you reheat frozen meatballs?

The best way to reheat meatballs is to place them in a skillet on the stove over medium low heat. Cover and stir frequently until warmed throughout. You can also use a slow cooker or crock pot.

What are the best spices for meatballs?

This recipe calls for steak seasoning, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. But you can add onion powder, minced garlic, seasoned salt or any other spice you prefer. It's a very versatile recipe.

How many meatballs per person?

Plan on serving 2 to 3 meatballs per person when other appetizers are included. If serving for dinner, plan on 5 to 6 per person.

More Tailgate Recipes

These are the best bbq meatballs to make as appetizers. If you're looking for more Game Day Recipes, try these recipes that are sure to please!

Recipe Card

meatballs for appetizers in a skillet

Tailgate Meatballs

Tailgate Meatballs are ready to party when you are!  Serve with your favorite sauce and they'll be the hit of the tailgate party.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Calories: 118kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.



  • 2 pounds 85% ground beef
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs can use gluten free
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup dried onion flakes or chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried steak seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 large egg beaten



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Scoop mixture with a melon-scooper (ad) and roll with hands into ball shape about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Grease sheet pan (ad) with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Place meatballs on sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until cooked throughout.
  • Transfer meatballs to crockpot (ad) or cast iron skillet.
  • Smother with your favorite sauce. 
  • Simmer meatballs on low heat until ready to serve with toothpicks.


  • Any sauce works well with these meatballs.  You can make your own, or use pre-made sauces from the store.
  • Meatballs freeze well until ready for use.  Simply place frozen meatballs in sauce and bring to medium heat in a skillet or crockpot.
  • Plan on serving 2 to 3 meatballs per person when other dishes are included.
  • These meatballs are great for dinner when served over rice or pasta!
  • View the Google Web Story for Tailgate Meatballs! 


Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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Tailgate Meatballs were featured on Meal Plan Monday and Kansas Living Magazine!


  1. 5 stars
    These meatballs look really easy-and they sure warm you those stadiums are chilly. Can’t wait to try them!

    1. These meatballs ARE easy, Carol. And, they're so versatile when you add different sauces. 🙂

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