Meatballs are an easy pleaser when it comes to community gatherings and potlucks. They go great when friends are over for the game, treats at deer camp, or snacks for the family on a slow Sunday relaxing at home.
This recipe calls for the use of mostly ground venison with a small portion of pork sausage. It’s a great way to enjoy some of the ground or burn through the venison packages stacked in your freezer to make room for this year’s kill. And the cooking methods are plentiful for meatballs. The variations cover slow cooking crockpots, stovetop in a pan, oven baked, and smokers.
In this recipe, I utilize the smoker to expand the flavor profile in this sweet, tangy, and spicy meatball recipe. While anyone can create a meatball, I found my inspiration from a Traeger recipe, and put my own spin on it. Especially adding much more heat to the mixture to round out the flavor profile. It’s a winner for any occasion that calls for an appetizer for a small group or snacks for the family.
Time to make
2.5 lbs Ground Venison
0.5 lb Pork Sausage
1.5 cups Unseasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
0.5 cup Whole Milk
1 Fresh Egg
2 tbsp Habanero Hot Sauce
3 tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder
1 tbsp Course Salt
1 tbsp Ground Pepper
2.5 cups Ketchup
4 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Water
1 cup Honey
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2/3 Yellow Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, roasted and diced
1 tsp Coarse Salt
Place thawed ground venison and sausage into a large mixing bowl. Mix the two meats. Once a consistency is established, mix the Panko breadcrumbs in with the meat mixture.
Combine the whole milk, egg, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Whisk the mixture together, then add to the meat and breadcrumbs. Fold the mixture until consistent.
Hand scoop the meatballs and place on baking sheet. Golfball-sized meatballs work well.
Set your smoker for 200 degrees and place the meatballs on the grate once the cooking temperature is achieved. Smoke the meatballs until an internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Flip once.
**Place a large sauce pan on the stovetop at medium heat. Pour in all olive oil and let warm.
Take both cloves of garlic and roast in oven on small baking sheet until the outside is browned and slightly charred.
Dice onion and roasted garlic, place in olive oil in the pan. Sprinkle in salt and heat until the onions start to caramelize. Sprinkle in a small amount of chipotle chili powder and stir.
Mix honey and brown sugar well in a small bowl, then pour mixture into the sauce pan. Immediately pour in water, stirring while adding to the pan.
Continue stirring until brown sugar granules are absorbed in water.
Lower heat and bring mixture to simmer, add remaining chipotle chili powder and stir.
Mix in ketchup and apple cider vinegar, stirring to bring uniform consistency in the sauce.
Add dashes of your favorite habanero hot sauce to your own preferred level of spice. My personal favorite is Yucatan Sunshine Habanero Sauce. I personally use about 1/3rd of a 5oz bottle to the mixture. Simmer the sauce down to slightly reduce.
Pull meatballs from the smoker, place on serving platter or in bowl. Drizzle and cover the sauce over the meatballs. Enjoy the smoky, sweet and spicy mixture.