We love serving meatballs as appetizers for any occasion. They are easy to eat without utensils, they satisfy the pre-dinner hunger pangs, and, when smoked on your Traeger, they taste pretty dang good. These cocktail meatballs are ingeniously stuffed with melty mozzarella cheese and served with marinara sauce. It's like a party before your actual party! Even better, you can make these babies in advance, just freeze the uncooked meatballs directly onto a baking sheet. Take them out the morning of your party to let them thaw and throw them in your Traeger before your guests arrive. You'll look like a rockstar without dirtying your kitchen before the festivities.
Smoked Cocktail Meatballs
PREP TIME: 15 min.
COOK TIME: 1 hour
SERVES: 6 as a main course, 12-15 as an appetizer
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground pork
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs, such as Progresso brand
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 tsps. Traeger Beef Rub, or 1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsps. Italian seasoning
1 pound mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
Your favorite jarred marinara sauce, warmed
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Make the meatballs: Combine the ground beef, sausage, bread crumbs, Parmesan, onion, garlic, egg, milk, Traeger Beef Rub, and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl.
Knead the meat mixture lightly with your hands to combine. (Hands work better than a spoon.) Rinse your hands with cold water. Form the meat into 1-1/2 inch balls. Make a depression in the center of each and insert a cube of cheese.
Reshape the meatball to completely enclose the cheese. Transfer to the baking sheet. (If desired, freeze the meatballs directly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Thaw before cooking.)
3. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).
4. Smoke the meatballs for 30 minutes. Increase the heat to 300 degrees F and bake the meatballs until they are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes more. (An instant-read meat thermometer should read 160 degrees F.)
Transfer to a serving platter and serve with toothpicks and the marinara sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or basil, if desired.