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Primo's BBQ BASH ALL BEEF MEATBALLS

Introducing the All Beef Meatball, one of the stars of the Primo BBQ Bash 2023! These meatballs are super tender, thanks to the addition of ricotta cheese, and they're packed with flavor due Primo’s Garlic & Pepper Seasoning! BBQ enthusiasts who attended the BBQ BASH raved about the texture and flavor so much so they asked for the recipe. Why heck, I handed the messy recipe I had cooked from to a man who asked!

A platter of spaghetti and meatballs sits next to a grill.
Smoky all beef meatballs have to be my favorite no matter how they are served.

Thank you Primo Ceramic Grills for sponsoring this post!


In this blog post, I'll share the recipe for these delicious meatballs, as well as some tips on how to make them at home. I'll also suggest a few different ways to serve them, so you can enjoy them to the fullest. So whether you're a meatball novice or a seasoned pro, join me on this meatball journey!

A platter of spaghettie and meatballs is next to the grill where you see a cast iron skillet with meatballs and sauce.
Serve the meatballs in a toasted sub bun or there is always Spaghetti and Meatballs!

WHY WE LOVE MEATBALLS

Meatballs are a comfort food staple for a reason: they're delicious, versatile, affordable, and easy to make.


However, not all meatballs are created equal. The key to making 5-star meatballs is to smoke them in a Primo Ceramic Grill! After a 25-minute smoke, the meatballs are bathed in a skillet filled with pasta sauce. The smoke infuses both the sauce and the meatballs with a subtle flavor that takes them to the next level.


In addition, I love the way meatballs bring people together. There's nothing like sharing a plate of meatballs with friends and family. I got to witness this at Primo's 2023 BBQ Bash! And by the way, so many spectators asked for the recipe!


MERRY’S TIPS ON MAKING MEATBALLS

At Primo’s BBQ Bash people lined up to be assured they would get to sink their teeth into an All Beef Meatball! After all, their mouths were watering after watching my meatball tips and techniques.  It was fun hearing what demonstration tips they had not thought of!


Ingredients:

It's important to use high-quality ingredients when making meatballs. This will ensure that they have the best flavor and texture.


Mixing:

When mixing the ingredients for the meatballs, it's important to be gentle. First, mix the ricotta, milk, yolks, all seasoning, fresh parsley and garlic. Then add the Panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup of the Mozzarella Cheese, and the Parmesan cheese. Mix well. You see, if you just sprinkled the above ingredients on the meat separately you would manipulate the meat too much. With the moisture ingredients well blended together you won’t over-mix!


Over-mixing can make the meatballs tough. Mix until all of the ingredients are just combined.


Forming the Meatball:

The size of the meatballs is important. When meatballs are the same size, a bit larger than golf balls, they will cook evenly. I used to weigh each meatball to assure the size but I have found that measuring with a 1/3 cup is perfect. Of course if you want smaller meatballs use 1/4 cup.


Pre-taste:

I make a 1-inch seasoned meatball, and place it on a small plate. After cooking 30-seconds in the microwave I sample it and adjust the seasoning, if needed.


Grilling:

When grilling the meatballs, it's important to rotate the grilling pan one time during the 25 minutes to assure even cooking. In addition, try to arrange the coals so that there are no hot spots.


Grill Pan:

I find it easiest to hand the meatballs when they are on a grill rack (baker’s cooling rack) that has been set on a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet. Just think, if you have to individually use the tongs on each meatball as you move them it takes longer and there is a risk in damaging their structure. You can line the pan with foil if you wish.


Skillet:

A cast iron skillet works best. I heat the skillet inside on a kitchen burner about 5 minutes before the meatballs are going to be transferred to the pasta sauce, and placed back onto the grill grates.


INGREDIENTS SWAPS

Whether you're looking for a new appetizer to serve at your next party, or you're just looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, these All Beef Meatballs are the perfect solution. Although I am partial to making meatballs with the exact recipe below you do have some wiggle room for swaps!


Ricotta Cheese:

Ricotta cheese is incorporated into the ground beef mixture for several reasons such as:


Tenderness: Ricotta cheese is a very moist cheese, and adding it to ground meat helps to keep the meatballs tender and juicy.


Lightness: Ricotta cheese is also a relatively light cheese, which helps to prevent the meatballs from becoming too dense or heavy.


Flavor: Ricotta cheese has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that compliments the meat well.


Binder: Ricotta cheese binds ingredients together, preventing the meatballs from falling apart while cooking.


To substitute ricotta, you can use farmer’s cheese or small textured cottage cheese.


Panko Crumbs

Texture: Panko crumbs are larger and flakier than breadcrumbs, which gives meatballs a lighter and crispier texture. I feel breadcrumbs weigh down the meatballs.


Plain Panko Not Seasoned: I do not use panko crumbs that are already seasoned. I want to control the seasoning!

Moisture absorption: Panko crumbs will help to retain moisture in meatballs and help them not become dry and tough.

Beef fat absorption: Panko crumbs will absorb the beef fat producing a juicier meatball.


Binder: Panko crumbs are often coated in a thin layer of starch, which helps them to bind together and prevent the meatballs from falling apart.


Gluten Free: If you need to go gluten free, toast GF bread crumbs to incorporate into the meatballs.


Whole Milk:

Feel free to use 2% or half and half instead of whole milk. Yes, almond or soy milk would work.


Cheese:

Cojita cheese can be used into of shredded Parmesan Cheese. Instead of Mozzarella cheese I have used cheddar cheese before or Fontina Cheese.


Beef Rub:

You can make your own mix with smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, granulated garlic, and onion powder.   


Fresh Parsley and Garlic:

1 teaspoon dried garlic or parsley can be used. Sometimes I use fresh cilantro instead of parsley especially if I use Taco Seasoning instead of Italian Seasoning.

Meatballs have been formed and placed on a rimmed cookie sheet.
Baker's Rack works well.

HOW TO PREPARE ALL BEEF MEATBALLS

In a large bowl whisk thoroughly to combine the ricotta, milk, egg yolk, beef rub, Primo seasoning, Italian seasoning, 2-tablespoons parsley, and garlic,


Stir in the Panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and shredded Parmesan cheese, and mix well.

Add moistened panko crumbs to the ground beef, and mix it just until combined.


Using a 1/3-cup measurer, form 15 to 16 meatballs. The meatballs will be about 2-inches in diameter. If needed, you can make smaller meatballs to have a greater quantity.


Refrigerate the meatballs until ready to smoke on the grill.


HOW TO GRILL ALL BEEF MEATBALLS

Use a full load of Primo Lump Charcoal. Light the charcoal with 2 Primo QuickLights, and leave the dome open for about 10 minutes. If desired add 2 hickory wood chunks at different ends of the firebox. Wait 10 minutes for the charcoal to build a small bed of embers.


After small embers can be seen, close the dome with the bottom draft door and top vent fully open. Allow the temperature to reach 275°F then set the draft door to 1/2-inch open and the top vent to 1/2-inch open with the daisy wheel fully open. Adjust the top vent as needed to maintain the target temperature of 300°F to 325°F, direct heat. .

Place meatballs on a greased grill-rack on top of a drip pan.


Place the meatball rack and pan in the center of the grilling surface.


Smoke the meatballs for 25 minutes at around 300°F, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 145°F to 150°F.


Pour half of the pasta sauce into a large cast iron skillet. Transfer the meatballs into the skillet. Pour remaining pasta sauce over meatballs. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.


Smoke until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes. The meatballs need to reach a minimum of 160°F. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.


Serve over spaghetti noodles that have been tossed in olive oil and shredded Parmesan cheese (like Kraft).



DIFFERENT WAYS TO SERVE MEATBALLS

  1. BBQ enthusiasts who attended the BBQ BASH raved about the cheesy-saucy meatballs, stuffed in a toasted hollowed sub roll. There are a plethora of different ways to serve this delicious meatball. The only change you might need to make is the Italian Herb Blend if served with an Asian dipping sauce.

  2. Appetizers: All Beef Meatballs can be made into 1/4 cup portions instead of the 1/3 cup portions. This way you will have smaller meatballs that can be served on a skewer with dipping sauce. I have served a meatball skewered with a tiny mozzarella ball, fresh basil leaf and olive, and served on an appetizer plate with marinara sauce. The meatballs are also delicious served alongside a warm bowl of cheese sauce, barbecue sauce, or sweet and sour.

  3. Main courses: Serve meatballs over pasta, rice, quinoa, or another grain of your choice. You can also serve meatballs in a soup or stew, such as Swedish meatballs or Italian wedding soup.

  4. Make Mac and cheese and serve meatballs on top!

  5. Meatball pasta bake: Make a pasta bake with meatballs, pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

  6. Meatball lettuce wraps: Serve meatballs wrapped in lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings, such as salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

  7. Side dishes: Serve meatballs with a side of vegetables, such as roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes, or green beans. You can also serve meatballs with a side of bread or rolls. If you want the meatballs to be served as a side dish, I suggest making them smaller.

  8. Sandwiches: Make a meatball sandwich with your favorite toppings, such as cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. You can also serve meatballs in a wrap, slider buns, or pita bread or on top of pizza.

  9. Brunch: On more than one occasion I will serve 3 small meatballs, especially when made of pork, with a fried egg on top! I love marinara sauce, fresh basil, and butter toast when serving meatballs for breakfast or brunch.


WHEN TO SERVE ALL AMERICAN BEEF MEATBALLS

Parties! Super Bowl Party! Tonight! Mid-Week Dinner! Events! Christmas Eve! Family Celebration! Sunday Night Dinner!


A pretty dreamy and delicious bowl of Smoked Meatballs on top of spaghetti! Yum!
A pretty dreamy and delicious bowl of Smoked Meatballs on top of spaghetti! Yum!

For more information on Primo Grills and accessories click Primo Grills!


Check out my Beef and Pork Meatball HERE!


CONCLUSION

Primo BBQ BASH 2023 was filled with a lot of flavorful fun! The dish I demonstrated, All Beef Meatballs, was easy to make for a crowd. The meatballs were super tender from the addition of ricotta cheese, and so flavorful with a generous sprinkling of Primo Garlic & Pepper Seasoning! I wasn’t stressed at the BASH because I knew the design of the  Primo Grill consistency smokes up delicious meatballs every time! No wonder why BBQ enthusiasts at the Primo BBQ BASH 2023 asked for the recipe after tasting them! Enjoy!

A cast iron skillet with meatballs and sauce with a hand above ready to sprinkle more green herbs.
Sprinkle the herbs on right before serving.

Recipe Primo BBQ Bash All Beef Meatballs
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BBQ BASH All Beef Meatballs

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

3 teaspoons beef rub

5 teaspoons Primo Garlic & Pepper Seasoning & Rub

1 teaspoon Italian herb blend

4 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided 

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella, divided

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (like Kraft)

2 pounds ground beef, 80% 20%

1 (24 oz) Italian Pasta Sauce

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


PREPARATION

In a large bowl whisk thoroughly to combine the ricotta, milk, egg yolk, beef rub, Primo seasoning, Italian seasoning, 2-tablespoons parsley, and garlic,

Stir in the Panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and shredded Parmesan cheese, and mix well.

Add moistened Panko crumbs to the ground beef, and mix it just until combined.

Using a 1/3-cup measurer, form 15 to 16 meatballs. The meatballs will be about 2-inches in diameter. If needed, you can make smaller meatballs to have a greater quantity.

Refrigerate the meatballs until ready to smoke on the grill.


PREPARE GRILL

Use a full load of Primo Lump Charcoal. Light the charcoal with 2 Primo QuickLights, and leave the dome open for about 10 minutes. If desired add 2 hickory wood chunks at different ends of the firebox. Wait 10 minutes for the charcoal to build a small bed of embers.

After small embers can be seen, close the dome with the bottom draft door and top vent fully open. Allow the temperature to reach 275°F then set the draft door to 1/2-inch open and the top vent to 1/2-inch open with the daisy wheel fully open. Adjust the top vent as needed to maintain the target temperature of 300°F to 325°F, direct heat. .

Place meatballs on a greased grill-rack on top of a drip pan.

Place the meatball rack and pan in the center of the grilling surface.

Smoke the meatballs for 25 minutes at around 300°F, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 145°F to 150°F.

Pour half of the pasta sauce into a large cast iron skillet. Transfer the meatballs into the skillet. Pour remaining pasta sauce over meatballs. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Smoke until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes. The meatballs need to reach a minimum of 160°F. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Serve over spaghetti noodles that have been tossed in olive oil and shredded Parmesan cheese (like Kraft).


CHEF NOTES:

Steak Seasoning is a tasty substitute if Primo Garlic & Pepper Seasoning is not in your pantry.

Serve Italian All Beef Meatballs toasted in mini sub buns!

Perfect tailgate or Super Bowl party food!

Fresh basil is a great substitute for parsley!



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