Hickory Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches

While we were in Ohio, one of my favorite aspects was visiting our families and getting to try all of their yummy homemade dinners. The best part was when we stumbled upon a recipe that has been passed around the family and perfected over the years – homemade barbecue meatballs. This just so happens to be one of those gems that you can’t pass up on, so I quickly asked for the recipe (while stuffing my face with another meatball for good measure).

My sister-in-law made us a big batch of these for us while we were in Cincinnati – seriously, they were the best meatball I have tried to date. The hickory barbecue, tangy tomato ketchup, and sweet kick of brown sugar in the sauce was a great balance to the garlic and onion in the meatballs.

I couldn’t wait to try these again when we came home to Kansas City. Luckily for us, a local grocery store had a huge meat sale last week and so we stocked up on a few of our favorite deli items. One such item was lean ground turkey meat which we decided to try out as our meatball meat.

We made these delicious barbecue meatballs into sandwiches when we got home to switch things up a bit (and use up extra hot dog buns – they always give you so many!). Plus, I have to admit, they make pretty little sandwiches for a photograph. 😉

And speaking of photography, for fun I decided to do a 30 day challenge for photography. The challenge I am doing was actually put together by bloggers for the month of June. So, nice and late, I have decided to do it for July-ish/August-ish. :) Here are my first couple days: a vintage self-portrait and my favorite shoes!

As for these meatballs…we are already talking about making them again and we still have a few for leftovers!



Hickory Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches

makes 6-8 sandwiches (24 large meatballs)


For meatballs:

  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion (very fine and not chunks)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs
  • pepper to taste

For Sauce:

  • 1 and ¼ cup Ketchup
  • ¾ cup KC masterpiece hickory barbeque sauce (if you don’t have the hickory flavor sauce, you can add approx. 3/4 teaspoon hickory smoke powder or liquid smoke)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • garlic powder to taste
  • pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread, onion, milk, salt and eggs. Shape into little meatballs, about 1 inch in size. Place the meatballs into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients for the sauce and then pour barbecue sauce over the meatballs. Bake for 1 hour.
  3. While baking: At 30 minutes – turn the meatballs over halfway through and drain the grease off halfway through and at the end. The sauce can make them burn on top so put foil on top the whole time or at least the last 30 minutes of the bake time. You can also reserve more sauce to put on top toward the last 30 minutes.

16 Responses to “Hickory Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches”

  1. So simple yet so delicious! New reader here, loving what I see!

  2. Urban Wife says:

    Yum! Your pictures are lovely.

  3. Oh these look delicious. I love good BBQ sauce and always have plenty of ground turkey

  4. oh these look yummy. i am a sucker for bbq sauce! love it, probably because I live in KC helps!

  5. Becky Huang says:

    I am drooling looking at that sandwhich. YUM!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the shoutout on chewonthatblog.com Megan! We absolutely adore your recipes here at “The Fresh Fridge.” Please let us know if you’d ever like to do a guest post on our blog and share some of your marvelous cooking tips! I am drawn in by your cinnamon rolls and meatball sandwich… :)

  7. Joanne says:

    That sauce sounds downright amazing! Definitely perfect for a twist on a meatball sub!

  8. Oh my word! I am drooling looking at the pictures! This is something my whole family would love!

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  10. Patty says:

    Hi! Thanks for stopping by. These sandwiches look divine!

  11. eliana says:

    I”m a bit of a BBQ sauce addict but never thought of adding it to meatballs. What a delicious idea :)

  12. Oh my husband is going to love that I found your website…He is a meat and potatoes man, minus the potatoes! I hope these are as easy as you make it sound and look!! I’ve already copied down a few of your recipes. Can’t wait to try them out! :) YUM!!

  13. Heather says:

    Do I have to use evaporated milk? Or will regular milk work as well?

    • Hi Heather – The evaporated milk in this recipe is used to bind the meatballs together with the other ingredients. While regular milk won’t work by just throwing it in, if that is all you have on hand, I would recommend reducing the milk you have in a wide-mouth pan (like a a saucier) beforehand. If you have some time, you will want to bring the milk to a simmer (be sure not to let it boil or it will curdle) and let it reduce by half or more. Other substitutions can be cream or buttermilk, but these will make it a creamier taste.

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