Make and Freeze BBQ Meatball Recipe

Easy Make-and-Freeze Meatball Recipe

Whether you’ve got a week jam-packed with activities or you just don’t feel like baking from scratch (we’ve all been there, many times), turn to your freezer! Freezer meals can come in clutch really any day of the week. Do the prep when you have the time and enjoy the meal when you don’t!

As we celebrate National Family Meals Month all September long and commit to eating more meals together as a family, freezer meals are a total gamechanger and can help keep you committed to this goal.

Freezer meals are a go-to for Jamie Martz, too. Jamie and her family farm just an hour west of Chicago in Maple Park. They’re part of a three-generation farm running a custom feedlot, meaning they care for and feed their mature cattle a high-quality, grain-based diet for the last few months until they’re ready for market.

They also grow corn and soybeans, which creates a regenerative, sustainable cycle with their cattle: crops feed their cattle, and cattle produce manure, a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer that nourishes their crops.

Jamie Martz eating dinner with her family

Family dinners are important to Jamie. As her kids get older, this gets harder to do but they still gather around the table as often as they can. Freezer meals are a go-to not only for their family, but also for “field meals.” Jamie loves to provide warm-cooked meals to the farm workers during busy seasons, like planting and harvesting.

One of her go-to freezer meals is BBQ meatballs. Sweet, savory, and easy to make ahead. And once the family is ready to eat, all she has to do is whip up a little sauce and pop the frozen meatballs into the oven to cook for an hour!

Make Ahead Freezer BBQ Meatballs


  • 3 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup onion
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Combine all the ingredients; mixture will be soft.
    Jamie Martz mixing ingredients for make and freeze BBQ meatballs
  2. Shape into golf ball-sized balls.
  3. Place meatballs in a single layer on wax-lined cookie sheet.
    Shaping make and freeze BBQ meatballs into golf balls
  4. Freeze until solid; store meatballs in freezer bags until ready to cook.


  1. Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Place frozen meatballs in a 13×9 baking dish.
  3. Pour the sauce over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Family Meals Inspired by Family Farmers

Illinois farmers love family traditions, especially given 96% of the farms in Illinois are family-owned. One of those long-held traditions? Gathering as a family to eat together.

But whether you’re a farmer from rural Illinois or live in the Chicago suburbs, life gets busy! Sometimes you have to be creative with family mealtimes. That’s why we’re going all in on National Family Meals Month. Follow us on our blog and on social for more easy-to-make recipes, enter to win our IFF Mealtime Box sweepstakes, and more! Learn more about National Family Meals Month.