These Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs are the PERFECT combo of sweet and savory! They are great because not only are they a crowd pleaser, but the meatballs make an awesome appetizer, or can also be a hearty meal when served with side dishes, so they are a really versatile dish. Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs couldn’t be more simple to make with only a few ingredients required to prepare them and then they are cooked using only the crockpot so there is minimal prep and clean up! You can also transform the leftovers from these meatballs into many different meals, that is if you have any leftovers!
Crockpot Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs Recipe
If there is one thing my kiddos love almost universally it is meatballs! Meatballs are awesome because of their easy to eat, bite sized form and the simple flavors they provide. And if there is one thing you can guarantee, it is that if I find a winner for all three of my kids, you better believe I am going to cook up a bunch of different flavors and options so that we can enjoy their favorite in a variety of ways.
That is how these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs came to be! My kids love meatballs, and the love BBQ sauce, and what I absolutely love is the sweet and savory combo, so I knew this was going to be a winner for the whole family!
Below I am going to walk you through:
- my favorite ways to serve these BBQ meatballs (both as an appetizer and as an entree!)
- My tips and tricks for making this dish quick and easy
- How to save your leftovers in the fridge or freezer
- Some of my favorite ways to make the leftovers new again with new recipes to repurpose the leftovers
So follow along for all the goodies below, and if you or your family are meatball lovers like mine, make sure you check out these other popular meatball recipes on my sites, Homemade Italian Turkey Meatballs, Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs, and Buffalo Ranch Chicken Meatballs. Take a look now, or pin them for later!
How to Serve Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs
These Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs are great both for an appetizer or a meal. I will give you a few of my favorite serving suggestions for each!
How to Serve Meatballs as an Appetizer
When you serve meatballs as an appetizer, you can either arrange them in individual bites, if you are serving immediately or they will be passed, or keep them in the slow cooker to stay warm if you will be serving them where people will be grazing over a long period of time like at a potluck, a party, or a tailgate.
- To serve as individual bites: arrange each meatball with a piece of pineapple on top and insert a toothpick all the way through. Be careful as they will be hot. Arrange each bite with the toothpick facing up on a tray.
- To serve in the crockpot: Once the Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs are fully cooked, stir them to ensure they are evenly coated in the sauce and move the slow cooker temperature to the “keep warm” or equivalent setting.
How to Serve Meatballs as Meal
If you are making a dinner or other main dish out of these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs, I suggest adding 1-3 side dishes to round out the meal and make a wholesome dinner. Here are some of my favorite serving options:
- Over Rice- If you have ever had Hawaiian haystacks, this is a little inspired by that. Rice is easy to find, make, inexepensive, and crowd pleasing so it is always a go to for these meatballs for me. We usually use Jasmine rice, but any unseasoned variety will work. If you prefer other grains this would also work well with quinoa or farro.
- Over Pasta- Pasta isn’t super traditional for this kind of sauce, but my kiddos really like it. I prefer a smaller noodle with it but really it is up to your preference.
- With Zoodles- If you want to lighten this up a bit and pack some veggies in then zoodles are absolutely the way to go. Cook them until they are almost tender but still hold their shape well and serve these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs right over the top with plenty of sauce.
- Cauliflower- Cauliflower makes a great side for this dish. You can do a cauliflower rice in lieu of a traditional rice or do some roasted cauliflower on the side like our favorite parmesan ranch cauliflower.
- Side salad- I always love to serve a side salad with dishes like these because the flavors merry so well with dressings like ranch or balsamic vinaigrette. It is a great little extra to add to the meal. You could also do something like this broccoli slaw that would be perfect!
- Garlic Toast- A much requested favorite, anything saucy like these BBQ Meatballs calls for garlic bread at our house so you can soak up every last bit of deliciousness!
I hope this gave you a few good ideas to get dinner started with these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs. If you have a favorite side or way to serve these that I missed, please leave me a note in the comments so that other readers and I can give it a try next time I make it for the family!
How to Make Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs
The good news is that recipe is super simple! I have included the FULL printable recipe card at the bottom of this post with all of the ingredients and instructions for making this recipe. I am going to go over some of my tips and tricks for the recipe and a few of the frequently asked questions that I get here so that if anything arises while you are cooking away, hopefully we can get an immediate answer for you! If you don’t see your question answered here, make sure to leave it in the comments for me!
Q: Can I use turkey meatballs in this recipe?
A: Yes! You can use whatever kind of meatball you like. You can usually find both beef and turkey meatballs readily available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. The only thing I would caution you against is using a flavored meatball like an Italian or other. Make sure they are just plain old meatballs.
Q: Can I use homemade meatballs in this recipe?
A: Yes! You can absolutely use pre-cooked homemade meatballs in the recipe. If they are frozen you will want to cook as directed, but if they are just refrigerated you will just want to cook them in the slow cooker until they are at a safe temperature for consumption (160˚F for beef and 165˚F for turkey or chicken) then move the crockpot setting to keep warm.
Q: Can I use crushed pineapple or pineapple tidbits for these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs?
A: Yes, and no. While you can use these to get a similar taste, I will warn you that these add more liquid to the sauce and will make it thinner. If you are okay with that, then absolutely go for it! If you prefer a thicker sauce, I would stick to the pineapple chunks.
Q: Can I make this in an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker instead of a crockpot?
A: I have not tested this recipe in an instant pot, so try this at your own risk. I think it should be possible, but require extra pineapple juice to help it come to pressure. You might then also have to continue to simmer the sauce after the meatballs are cooked to reduce it from the added liquid. If you do give it a try, let me (and our other readers) know in the comments how it goes!
Q: I am feeding a lot of people, can I double the recipe?
Again, Yes… or no. You will be limited to the size of your crockpot for this answer. The recipe itself can easily be doubled, tripled etc. The size of your slow cooker is the limiting factor. I find that I can fit about 5 lbs of meatballs comfortably in my 6 qt slow cooker. So if you have the same size you could 2.5x the recipe and have a full crock pot. If you need more you can always use 2 or 3 crock pots!
How to store the leftover Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs
Now fair warning, this Hawaiian Barbecue Meatball recipe is pretty tasty, so there just might not be any leftovers, however, if there are some to store at the end of the meal, you can either refrigerate or freeze them to keep them for later.
- To refrigerate: store leftovers in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- To freeze: place in an airtight container and place in the freezer for up to a month. I like to package them in individual serving sizes so they can be quickly reheated for one.
Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs Leftover Recipe Suggestions
Once you have the meatballs stored, you have the main part of dinner ready for another day! Congrats! But we don’t want the same ol’ meal over and over again right? So I like to give the leftovers a “makeover” so that I use the prepared entree and easily turn it into a new and exciting meal for the family. Here are some of our favorite ways to repurpose this meal:
- Hawaiian Meatball Pizza– grab a pizza crust (from the store, or homemade!) and spread on additional BBQ sauce to cover it thinly. Cover with mozzarella or provolone cheese then chop up the meatballs and pineapple chunks and sprinkle them over top. Bake as directed.
- BBQ Meatball bowls– This is kind of the burrito bowl of BBQ meatballs! Have a buffet of toppings, like rice, beans, corn, lettuce, tomato, even better, pico de gallo, fresh chopped bell pepper, cheddar cheese, etc. Then set the meat balls out to top things off. Let everyone customize their own Hawaiian Meatball bowls.
- Hawaiian Meatball stuffed Baked Potatoes– Halve baked potatoes and top with meatballs, cheese, sour cream and chives. This is a favorite at our house!
- Hawaiian Barbecue Meatball Subs– Toast sub rolls with some butter and garlic. Layer the meatballs on with plenty of sauce then top with cheese and scallions and bake again until heated through and cheese is melted.
More Easy Appetizer Recipes
I hope you enjoy these Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs as much as we do! Both as an appetizer, an easy dinner idea, and with the leftovers made into a new and exciting meal!
If you do get a chance to try it, I would love it if you let me know! You can leave me a comment below, or if you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to tag me @easyfamilyrecipes so that I can see what you are cooking up! It makes my day to see others enjoying the recipes that I share!
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Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs
- 2 cups barbecue sauce
- 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved.
- 4 cloves garlic pressed
- 4 green onions chopped
- 2 lbs frozen meatballs
- Combine the barbecue sauce, pineapple chunks, reserved pineapple juice, garlic and green onions in the slow cooker and mix until smooth.
- Pour the meatballs in the slow cooker and stir into the sauce until coated.
- Cook on high for 2-3 hours, or low for 4-6 hours or until they reach 165˚F.
- Garnish with additional chopped green onion. ENJOY!
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)