I remember my grandmother’s southern style dishes. Talk about the ultimate comfort food! One of the the dishes I would look forward to her making was meatloaf and mashed potatoes. When I got married it was one of the meals I’d make for my husband and I. These meatballs are a spin off of that classic meatloaf recipe, with juicy bites of ground turkey (or beef) smothered in a delicious homemade barbecue sauce.
My favorite part of that meatloaf is the sweet and tangy glaze on top. It’s a simple glaze made with ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. I wanted to incorporate that same tangy flavor into the sauce for these meatballs. I took a few of those ingredients and made a scrumptious homemade pumpkin barbecue sauce, which I’ve even used on baked chicken! The pumpkin is such a nice addition to the barbecue sauce and perfect for this time of year. The flavor is not overwhelming (just a nice hint) and you’re able to benefit from the extra fiber and nutrients the puree contains. It’s a win all the way around, I’d say!
Begin by sautéing the onions and garlic in a small saucepan. After a few minutes, when the onions begin to turn translucent, add in your other ingredients and cook until thoroughly heated. That’s it! I’m telling you, friends, the hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the meatballs to come out of the oven. The smell of them baking is so delicious, it’ll make a hungry tummy rumble! Well, at least that’s what mine does!
After you blend the meatball ingredients together, roll them into 1″ balls and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. I got 28 meatballs the way that I rolled them. That number may vary depending on the size you roll them. You may also need to adjust the baking time if you roll them smaller or larger than I did. Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and broil the meatballs for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes on broil, remove the meatballs from the oven and transfer them to a smaller baking dish. This just ensures that the meatballs are able to get a good coating of barbecue sauce. We want them swimming in all that deliciousness! When you’ve transferred all of the meatballs over, pour the pumpkin barbecue sauce on top, coating each meatball thoroughly. Cover the dish loosely with foil and return to the oven to finish baking. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
Serve these on a bed of mashed potatoes, with vegetables, or as an appetizer. However you choose to eat them, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Happy November, friends!
- 1 tablespoon dairy-free/grass-fed butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons mustard of choice (I've used honey or dijon)
- 1.5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2-1 tablespoon coconut sugar, maple syrup, or brown sugar (to taste)
- Generous pinch of the following spices (to taste)—
- -cayenne pepper
- -pumpkin pie spice (optional)
- 1.25 lbs (20 oz) ground turkey or beef
- 3/4 cups oats
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened, plain almond milk)
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- In a medium saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in butter/ghee over medium heat. When the onions begin to turn translucent, stir in the ketchup, pumpkin, water, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Add sugar and seasonings, to taste. It'll depend on the flavor in your other ingredients. Let the sauce simmer on low until thoroughly heated. Set aside to use later.
- Combine the ground meat, oats, onion, milk, flax meal, salt and pepper. Roll into 1" balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. I was able to make 28 meatballs, but it'll vary depending on the size you roll them.
- Turn the broil feature on and let your oven preheat for a few minutes. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and broil for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 350F. Use a spatula to transfer meatballs to a smaller baking dish. Pour barbecue sauce evenly over the meatballs, cover the dish with aluminum foil (optional) and return to the oven. Continue to bake the meatballs in the sauce for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are firm and cooked thoroughly on the inside. Serve hot.
- Tip: You can use the pumpkin barbecue sauce in place of other barbecue sauces to glaze chicken, ribs, pork, etc..