Great Balls of Fire! Three Pepper Meatballs Warm a Cold Winter’s Night

As a long time caterer I have made more than my share of  meatballs over the years, but I still enjoy coming up with new twists on this perennial culinary star of the holiday table. Easy on the pocketbook and party friendly fare, meatballs have stood the test of time on the party circuit. These dark days of winter have me craving hot and spicy food to remind me of warmer climes. So here I have brought a little bit of Louisiana spice into the mix. I also give you a great tip I learned years ago from the pros on how to make meatballs fast.  You hold the meat in your hand and use a small scoop. I have a picture below to illustrate this simple time saving technique.

We always had at least two people making them so we could race to see who could scoop faster. Believe me when you are faced with making a thousand or so at one sitting, you learn to be creative and efficient at the same time.

3 Pepper Meatballs with a quick cream Rosemary sauce served with smashed potatoes

This post is a master mix recipe. A few ideas that you can do with them are:

Mediterranean- when they come out of the oven roll them in fresh rosemary, mint and oregano, chopped. Serve with a cucumber yoghurt sauce and fresh pita triangles.

Swedish- make a quick cream sauce, add a touch of ground nutmeg and pinch of ground cardamon to the sauce. Serve with Smashed potatoes and cranberries

Italian- Drop into a quick tomato sauce laced with pesto. Top with grated Parmigiana cheese.

BBQ- always a hit at a party.

Northwoods Style- I don’t know the exact proportions but you mix chili sauce and grape jelly and heat for a sweet and sour sauce. They are delicious!

Here’s a basic recipe for 3 Pepper Meatballs- now you can tone down the spices if you want them less spicy, but I say go for it, you only live once and these are delectable. I found the spice mellowed out the next day and was pretty mild. But, don’t listen to me, I am a Cajun who has been to Thailand. If you really want to heat things up, chop some fresh jalapenos for garnish just before serving…

3 Pepper Meatballs

Here’s what you need to make them- I used local beef because I had it on hand

Mix the dry ingredients, eggs and spices

Chop a medium onion small as you want

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil

Toss the cooked onions and garlic in meatball mix after cooling a bit and mix well

This is what it looks like after mixing. I like to use gloves to mix

I use the onion pan and test a little of the meat mixture to make sure I have the flavor correct

Here’s my secret tip- See how I have clump of meat in my hand and I use a scoop to scrape it off my hand- this motion packs it in the scoop-

Then I just fling the balls on a parchment lined sheet pan

Then I go back and round them out (this is where a second person is handy, one can scoop and the other can roll at the same time)

When they are done, the juices will run and they will turn brown

Here is the printable- to print click here

3 Pepper Meatballs

Yields 40 1 1/2 ounce meatballs


1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 1/2 pounds ground pork

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons Telecherry ground black pepper or course ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon savory

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs will work too)

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

A few generous shakes of Tabasco to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped


In a large mixing bowl, mix both meats, seasonings, bread crumbs, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Set aside.

In a small saute pan, heat the pan and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. (Always remember hot pan, oil, cold pan, butter)

Saute the chopped onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

When soft, pull off the heat and cool for a few minutes.

Add to meatball mix. Mix well, I use gloves to keep my hands clean and dry.

Scoop or form the balls and place on a parchment or foil lined cookie tray.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until browned and juices are starting to run out of the meat.

Let cool and place in freezer containers, label and freeze to enjoy later.

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