Easy Game Day Meatballs for a Crowd


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Best Game Day Meatballs for a Crowd by Missouri blogger Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a Debutante, sweet and spicy football meatballs, meatballs for a crowd, healthy beef meatball recipe, how to make meatballs with barbecue sauce

Seriously question– who’s ready for football season?! As much as I love college sports, Kyle literally couldn’t care less. That being said, he’s a big fan of game day food, so we love hosting tailgate parties in the fall. We eat lots of football appetizers, but meatballs are a game day staple in our house. They’re ridiculously easy to make (and, more importantly, particularly difficult to mess up), and they provide a much-needed dose of protein to any tailgating spread. If you’re looking for delicious beef meatballs for a crowd, keep reading for my go-to game day meatball recipe. I make them with 2 pounds of lean ground beef from our local grocery store, and they’re to die for!

Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares one of her favorite easy game day appetizers on Diary of a DebutanteTailgating snack ideas from popular Missouri blogger Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a Debutante, Old Navy chambray shirtdress

Oh, and fun fact– Missouri ranks third in the nation in cattle production, and 97% of Missouri cattle farms are family-owned! Pretty cool, right? 

Scroll down for a printable/shareable recipe card, along with a rustic artificial grass centerpiece, some quick tailgate party tips, and more game day food ideas.

The Best Game Day Meatballs for a Crowd

baked meatballs recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

These delicious baked game day meatballs are the perfect mix of sweet and spicy, and they’ll be a guaranteed hit at your next party. They’re great reheated, too, so you can make them one or two days in advance if you’ve got other game day appetizers to worry about. You can serve any leftovers over rice to create a hearty, family-friendly dinner, too!

Baked Meatballs Ingredients

ground beef meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Here’s everything you need to serve 12 (multiply by 2 or 3 for bigger gatherings)–

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (I buy 94/6, which is American Heart Association Heart Healthy Certified!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (I use 365 Everyday Value)
  • 3-4 tablespoons yellow onion, minced (can substitute with dried minced onion)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces sweet and spicy barbecue sauce (I love Stubb’s Sweet Heat Bar-B-Q Sauce
  • Fresh parsley (for garnish)
  • Cocktail pics for serving (I love these)

Best Baked Meatball Recipe

Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares her recipe for baked meatballs in sauce on Diary of a Debutante

To make a batch, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire baking rack on the baking sheet. I use this set— it’s under $20 and dishwasher safe. If you don’t have a baking rack, you can use a lined baking dish, as well. I prefer using a baking rack, though, because it creates a crispier and all-round more drool-worthy meatball.

While the oven is preheating, combine the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, Cheddar cheese, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, form into 36 3/4-ounce meatballs (about 1 inch wide) and place on the baking rack. Bake for 20 minutes.

Next, temporarily remove the meatballs from the oven. Replace the baking sheet lining with clean aluminum foil and carefully transfer meatballs from the baking rack to the freshly-lined baking sheet. Warning– they’ll be hot! Cover with barbecue sauce and bake for an additional 7 minutes until the sauce is thick and meatballs are cooked through. Stir meatballs with a spoon or spatula to make sure they’re all evenly coated in sauce. Serve warm with cocktail picks (I love these— they’re so fun and colorful). Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Game Day oven baked meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutantebest baked meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Another great thing about this baked meatball recipe? They’re great reheated, so you can make these one or two days in advance if need be! They’re also jam packed with protein, too. For reference, I’ve included a nutritional breakdown down below!

easy baked meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutantebaked beef meatballs from game day cooked by blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante
easy meatball appetizer recipe for game day from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Sweet and Spicy Game Day Meatballs

Sweet and Spicy Game Day Meatballs

Yield: 36 meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes

These delicious sweet and spicy beef meatballs are perfect for parties and game day gatherings! They're great reheated, too, so you can make these baked meatballs one or two days in advance-- and you can also serve any leftovers over rice to create an incredibly easy, hearty, and family-friendly dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 3-4 tablespoons yellow onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces barbecue sauce
  • Fresh parsley (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire baking rack on the baking sheet.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, Cheddar cheese, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, form into 36 3/4-ounce meatballs (about 1 inch wide) and place on the baking rack.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove meatballs from the oven. Replace baking sheet lining with clean aluminum foil and carefully transfer meatballs from the baking rack to the baking sheet. Warning-- they'll be hot! Cover with barbecue sauce and bake for an additional 7 minutes in the preheated oven until sauce is thick and meatballs are cooked through.
  5. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Notes

  • If you don't have a baking rack, you can use a lined baking dish.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size 12
Amount Per ServingCalories 0Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

More Game Day Appetizers to Try

Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares some of the best game day snacks on Diary of a Debutante

If you’re hosting a game day watch party and need more tailgating snack ideas to compliment these game day meatballs, I’ve found that fresh veggies and popcorn can go a long way. If you’d prefer more substantial Game Day food, though, here are a few more of my favorite Game Day appetizers to try–

  • Itty Bitty Mini Cheeseburgers– (also made with Missouri ground beef!) are always a crowd favorite, too.
  • Baked Pimento Cheese Dip– If you’re from the South and are looking for more Game Day dips, this one’s a must-try!
  • Easy Baked Spinach DipThis savory cream cheese dip is easily re-heatable and the definition of a crowd-pleaser! It’s perfect for all occasions, too– from large game day snack spreads to intimate parties and get-togethers. 
  • Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs Made with flavorful pimento cheese, these creamy pimento cheese deviled eggs literally disappear at parties. They’re just so gosh darn good. 
  • Game Day Snack Board– This fun and easy snack board is shaped like a football with green fruits and veggies surrounding it. 

Easy Game Day appetizer ideas from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutantegame day meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutantebaked beef meatball recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteTailgate party hostess tips and tailgating snack ideas from popular Missouri blogger Stephanie Ziajka from Diary of a Debutante, Old Navy chambray shirtdress

Quick Decor Ideas for Your Tailgate Tablescape

Tailgate decor ideas from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

I know the sport itself should be the highlight, but creating fun tailgate tablescapes and game day food spreads is probably my favorite part of football season. My top decor tip is probably to find cute drink stirrers, banners, paper napkins, and serve wear in your team colors. They’re cheap, can often be homemade, and go a long way decor-wise.

Also, a great artificial grass centerpiece goes a long way– and you can use it year after year. I mean, how fun is this DIY football centerpiece? Get the full tutorial here!

Artificial grass centerpiece designed for Game Day by blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteEasy football centerpiece created for Game Day by blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

All this being said, game day really should be about the game, so as long as there’s a working TV and yummy food, there’s much less pressure to throw together a perfectly-themed shindig. Try and keep that in mind if/when you’re stressing out! 
 


 
Are you excited for football season coming up? I’m a UCF alum to my core (Go Knights!), but after 2 years in Columbia, I’ve started warming up to the Mizzou Tigers, as well. Who do you root for? As long as it’s not the Gators, we’ll still be alright (ha!). 

Anyways, I digress– thanks so much for reaching y’all! As always, if you have any questions about my game day meatballs and/or how to make meatballs with barbecue sauce, shoot me an email or leave me  a comment. I love hearing from you guys, and I’m happy to help!

Photography by Catherine Rhodes

Just so you know, this post is sponsored by the Missouri Beef Industry Council. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Debutante possible!

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