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Brown Sugar BBQ Meatballs

Whether you devour them as an appetizer or alongside your favorite side dish — these meatballs are sure to be a crowd pleaser. Though the exact origin on this dish is unknown, the meatball has evolved far beyond spaghetti's spherical counterpart. Though they are often made with a host of ground meats including beef and pork — I chose to put a lighter spin on the buffet classic through the use of lean ground turkey.

Lean ground turkey, fresh herbs and aromatics are combined to form delicate these meatballs. Which are then coated in a luscious brown sugar, tomato-based BBQ Sauce.

The harmonious blend of ketchup, brown sugar and soy sauce among other ingredients is what elevates this typically 3 element dish. Though the process might take a bit longer, the end result it so much more satisfying.

Grab an Apron & Let's Get Started!

BBQ Meatballs 101
  • Meat: A lighter twist to a dish that traditionally utilizes ground beef. Ground turkey is a mild flavored meat, a common substitute of minced beef and is one that I personally prefer. Because ground turkey is very lean, the goal is to incorporate as much flavor as possible with a conscious use of fat. To achieve this, the use fresh herbs. aromatics and additional seasonings are very important. Nonetheless, it is perfect for dishes including: meatballs, meatloaf and burgers.

  • Flavorful Additions: Like many of my recipes, minced garlic and onion are a staple when seeking to elevate usually onenote dishes. This is taken a step further with fresh chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and Italian seasoning. To ensure that our meatballs are moist, a beaten egg is added. However, to ensure that they are rollable and able to hold a shape bread crumbs are added.

  • BBQ Sauce: Though the use of store bought BBQ sauce is always an option, I find that it often comes with an aftertaste that is often difficult to overshadow. Because of this I've decided to prepare my own version. One that is sweet and tangy with a hint of heat. The use of ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and spices, create a smooth balance that effectively complements these meatballs.


How to Make

brown sugar BBQ Meatballs

Yield: 21 meatballs & 4 oz of BBQ sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


For Meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

  • 2 cloves garlic *minced

  • 1/2 small onion *minced

  • 1 egg beaten

For BBQ Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • scallions

  • sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray generously with non-stick spray.

  2. To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add ground turkey, to that add bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, onion and the egg. Stir together until thoroughly incorporated.

  3. Using a 1 1/2-inch tablespoon or ice-cream scoop take a portion of the mixture and gently roll into a ball in the palm of your hand . Place them evenly spaced on a parchment lined sheet pan.

  4. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes. 

  5. While the meatballs are in the oven, prepare the BBQ sauce. In a small sauce pot, combine ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, honey, onion powder, garlic powder, allspice and cayenne pepper.

  6. Simmer for 10 minutes under medium heat.

  7. Once meatballs are fully cooked, place them into a skillet and gently pour over sauce.

  8. Coat meatballs in sauce then garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.



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