Meatballs are everyone’s favorite especially homemade meatballs, and what if you make some tweaks to the meatballs recipe and turn it into smoked Italian meatballs. You get to experience the Italian spices with a special and unique flavor of smoke-infused with the meat of your choice.
You can enjoy these meatballs with a lot of dishes like spaghetti noodles, meatball subs, or maybe in some smoked meatballs marinara. They can be served alone as appetizers.
Regarding meat, it’s always been a war of words. Which meat is better for making meatballs? The only answer to that is whichever you feel like is the best meat. Let it be ground beef or ground pork; both of them are good in their own way. You can even try chicken or turkey, sometimes they also taste amazing.
How to make smoked meatballs
We are all familiar with the same old frying method. And we all know how messy and greasy it gets when you cook meatballs that way. So why not try something which isn’t messy and has soo much flavor in it than the same old frying method.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Cooking Temperature: 325ºF
- Servings: 6 people
For this recipe, you require very little equipment, but these are the main things you will need to make delicious smoked meatballs.
- Pellet Smoker
- Wood chips
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 slices white bread
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Smoking Meat Balls
- Take a large bowl, and add all the ingredients in and mix them until everything is combined really well. When everything is combined this meat mixture will be a bit sticky.
- Now turn on your pellet smoker and keep the lid open until the fire is settled.
- When the fire is started take the meat mixture and make small golf-sized balls. Now place the meatballs on a baking sheet with parchment paper on it.
- It’s time to smoke the meatballs, take the baking sheet, and place it on the grill for about 35 minutes. Make sure to flip the meatballs and then turn up the heat to 325 degrees F. cook it until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- Once the temperature reaches the perfect spot take out the cooked meatballs and serve them hot.
BBQ Hero Tips: Selection of the meat is really important because this will determine weather your meatballs will be tender or not. For example if you use ground beef, ground pork or ground lamb they will make tender meatballs because of the Fat. Whereas if you meats like chicken or turkey make sure you don’t overcook them because they will get hard as these meats are leaner.
Detailed Cooking Instructions
1 – Mix everything well
This first step is really important as this is where the meatballs will get their flavor. Take a bowl and add white bread, salt, whole cup milk, onion powder, garlic, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and ground beef. Mix them well so that they are combined perfectly. You can even use egg and bread crumbs to bind all the ingredients. This will keep the moisture in the meatballs when you cook them and they won’t get hard. This meat mixture will be sticky.
BBQ Hero Tips: When you are about to mix all these things make sure that everything is cold, this will not allow the fat in it to melt. You can even use a chilled bowl to mix the ingredients.
2 – Prepare the Smoker
As the mixture of the meatballs is ready, it’s about time you prepare the smoker. Preheat the smoker for about 4 to 5 minutes with the lid open. Allow the fire to settle. You can use any type of wood chips for the smoke.
3 – Make meatballs
It’s now time to make meatballs out of that mixture. To make these meatballs apply some water or oil to your hands as they will be sticky. Keep in mind, don’t make larger meatballs keep them the size of a golf ball. If you want them to be the same size, you can use an ice cream scoop. By using this you will get all the meatballs of the same size. There is one more thing if you are using your hands to make these balls, don’t pack them too tight. This will make them rubbery, hard, and chewy.
BBQ Hero Tips: Tasting is really important before you cook them, you might be thinking how can we taste raw meat well you don’t have to try out the raw meat. Just make a small patty and fry it oil, taste it and adjust the seasoning or salt to your taste.
4 – Time to smoke the meatballs
Take a baking sheet and place all the meatballs on it. Don’t forget to use the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Now place that baking sheet on the preheated grill for at least 35 mins. Close the lid of the smoker and let the meatballs get some smoke. After 35 minutes flip the meatballs and heat up the smoker to 325 degrees F. And then again cook them for 25 minutes. This whole process would take about an hour. Don’t forget to check the internal temperature of the meatballs using a thermometer. When it reaches 160 degrees F, this means the meatballs are fully cooked. And are ready to be served.
5 – Serve and enjoy
Dish out the prepared smoked meatballs and serve them hot. You can serve them as an appetizer or you can pair them up with pasta and some amazing sauce, or you can make smoked meatballs subs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do meatballs need to rest before cooking?
That depends on how you want to make meatballs, if you want to fry them, then there is no such need to give them rest, but if you are planning to bake them, then it is advised you put them in the fridge for about an hour, this will make them firm, and they will not lose their shape.
What can I use instead of eggs to bind meatballs?
There are a couple of options that you can use as an alternative to eggs. You can use 2 tablespoons of buttermilk per egg. You can try 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt per egg. You can go with ¼ cup ricotta cheese per egg. There is one more thing which you can use and that is 3 tablespoons of apple sauce (the unsweetened one).
Why are meatballs still red after smoking?
That is nothing to worry about it. That is just because the smoke is just doing its job. They are perfectly cooked if the internal temperature is at its minimum point. As long as the internal temperature is fine, your meatballs are good to go.
Why are the meatballs too hard?
The reason behind hard, rubbery, chewy meatballs is that when they are being formed into small balls they are packed too tightly and compactly, which results in hard and rubbery meatballs. If you want to avoid this, simply use an ice cream scoop to make these small meatballs.
Is it better to fry or bake the meatballs?
If you are a health freak and you like to eat savory and delicious meatballs, it is better you go with the baking method as there will be less oil used in it and you won’t have to stay by the side of the stove to keep an eye on the meatballs.