Let me start by warning you that these sweet and spicy meatballs are addictive. Addictive as in, you'll probably keep popping them in your mouth long after your stomach reaches its fullest point.
Crock-Pot recipes are my jam. Mostly because when life gets busy (aka always), I can just dump my ingredients into the pot and pretty much forget about them. This is exactly what I did last weekend which allowed me to get more rest and make a couple of extra recipes for the blog in the same day. Seriously, I woke up on a Sunday morning… dumped my ingredients into my crock-pot, turned it on and went back to bed for two hours. Only to wake up to the smell of sweet and spicy goodness.
I prepped my meatballs the night before because I knew I wanted to use my Sunday wisely. This was in order to get the best natural light for my photos, of course, so don't feel you have to disrupt your normal sleeping habits just to get a good pot of sweet and spicy meatballs. They really only take about 4 hours.
My favorite part about this recipe is the simplicity (though not as simple as my dad's famous 2-ingredient crock-pot meatball sauce) and diversity. Like it spicy? Add more sriracha. Like it sweeter? Pour in a bit more barbecue sauce, honey or brown sugar. But don't let premature taste tests fool you – a flavor tasting before they're ready may trick you into thinking they're spicier than they actually are because the liquids tend to separate.
This recipe is perfect for a busy workweek night, for a yummy pasta topping or even as a party appetizer if you want to serve them on toothpicks!
Crock-Pot Sweet and Spicy Meatballs
Makes ~2 dozen (24)
For the meatballs
1.5lbs ground beef
1/3 cup white onion, chopped into small pieces
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
1 cup sriracha sauce
1 cup honey
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
- Chop onions, garlic and thyme into small pieces.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, chopped onions, garlic, thyme, egg, breadcrumbs, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
- Using your hands, mix the meat and seasonings until evenly distributed.
- Roll 1-1 1/2-inch meatballs. Mixture makes about 2 dozen.
- In a small mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the sriracha, honey, brown sugar, barbecue sauce and paprika until smooth.
- Put the meatballs in a crock-pot and turn it on high. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and stir to ensure even distribution.
- Cook the meatballs in the crock-pot on high for 4 hours, stirring periodically to avoid burning the bottom layer. Turn the heat to low if you feel your crock-pot is cooking too quickly, as these appliances vary in heat.
- Garnish with cilantro.