Tailgate Meatballs

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

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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.

It’s time for some Tailgate Meatballs! These delicious little appetizers are everyone’s favorite tailgate treats. They’re easy to make from scratch, and taste amazing at all types of parties, or as an entree served over rice at your dinner table!

Why This Recipe is Special

I really get excited when the weather starts to change and football games appear on television. It reminds me of my father, who coached our high school football team for many years. Go Big Blue!

Dad used to take me to practice with him when I was just a kid. He’d open the concession stand and put me in charge of organizing the water station for the football team during breaks.

Speaking of serving people…who doesn’t love meatballs at a tailgate party? They 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 tailgates and in-between. They’re so much better than the frozen kind, and only take a few minutes from start to finish!

How to Make Tailgate Meatballs

Making these meatballs couldn’t be easier. All you do is mix lean ground beef with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, dried onions, egg, and seasonings.

The fun begins when you get your hands in there and start making the meatballs. Roll them with a melon scooper, then place them on a sheet pan, (ad) and bake at 350 degrees for just 15 minutes.

That’s it! No turning, no browning, no mess. So easy!

To Sauce or Not to Sauce?

The only hard part is trying to decide what sauce to add. I’ve tried marinara, sweet and sour, barbecue, thai, and grape jelly from the 50’s (remember that?)

Once you make up your mind, simply add a bottle of your favorite sauce (ad) and simmer the meatballs in a cast iron skillet (ad) or crockpot (ad) 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.

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.

More Tailgate Recipes

If you’re looking for more Game Day Recipes, try these ideas 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 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 24
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!


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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