You’re either going to love me or hate me for posting more pumpkin in August, but I swear this isn’t a ‘pumpkiny’ recipe. These pumpkin bbq meatballs are sweet, smoky, tangy and don’t resemble any fall pumpkin flavors at all. But it is really delicious.
I feel like these pumpkin bbq meatballs could be a summer, fall or winter recipe, but maybe not spring. So it seemed appropriate to me to post it in August, when we’re nearing September and pumpkin everything starts bombarding our lives.
While I do have a deeply professed love of pumpkin, I assure you the pumpkin bbq sauce does not resemble pumpkin at all. Rather, the pumpkin adds sweetness (and a good dose of vitamin A) without the extra added sugar which I really appreciate. I have no concerns for added sugar in my diet, but I do tend to find most bbq sauces have far too much sugar in them for me to A) be able to eat very much of or B) still feel good eating.
I tend to feel very blah if I eat meals that are too high in sugar and my taste buds get very easily turned off with bbq sauces that are too loaded with sugar, so adding pumpkin seemed like a natural solution!
I would actually go to far as to reduce the amount of maple syrup that I’m including in this recipe and maybe add a few shakes of chipotle hot sauce (or blend up some chipotles in adobo) to make it more smoky with a hint of spice and less sweet. Yes, I would like that very much.
For now, though, we have pumpkin bbq meatballs. Perfect to pile on a bed of mashed potatoes, stuff in to a roll with some melty gruyere or cheddar, with cornbread or anything else your heart desires.
Whether you’re eating these in the late summer, fall or winter, I hope you enjoy!
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- ½ cup ketchup
- heaping ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ¼-1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- liquid smoke, to your liking
- salt and pepper, to taste
- FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1lb lean ground beef
- ⅓lb ground pork
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp pumpkin bbq sauce
- ¼ small onion, finely diced or shredded
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper, to your liking
- Make the meatballs:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients for meatballs and stir together gently until just combined, taking care to not over mix.
- Scoop 20-24 meatballs out on to 2 foil lined baking sheets and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then rotate trays and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce:
- Add all ingredients for the sauce in to a skillet/pot that will also fit all of the meatballs.
- Whisk together and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue stirring and simmering while the meatballs cook. If the sauce is too thick, add more water.
- Once the meat balls are cooked, carefully place them in the skillet/pot with the sauce. Cover, reduce the heat to low and allow to gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve hot, as desired.
If you wish, you can let them simmer longer as this will just continue to let the meatballs get more and more tender.