If you're looking for a summertime dish that can be made in under 30 minutes, you need to try these Spicy Meatballs! Make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time, then assemble in lettuce cups just before serving. It's the perfect dish to bring with you to any gathering!
This Spicy Meatballs post is sponsored by El Yucateco. All recipes, images, and opinions are my own.
📋 About the Recipe
- 30 minute meal! This recipe is so simple, you can make it in under 30 minutes. Both the spicy meatballs and the homemade sauce have basic ingredients and easy cooking instructions.
- Packs LOTS of flavor. The key to the perfectly spicy flavor is, of course, the hot sauce in both the meatballs and the sauce. We used, El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce, which is the #1 habanero sauce in the U.S.A. and ranks in the top 10 of all hot sauces!
- Super transportable. When you're on the go this summer, you'll want something that you can quickly pack up and take with you to cookouts, potlucks, and get-togethers. Simply place the meatballs and sauce in an airtight container and pack the toppings on the side for a quick way to transport this delicious main dish. Don't forget to bring extra hot sauce along with you!
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Grass fed ground beef - as written, this recipe is made with grass fed ground beef. However, for a lightened up dish, you can also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
- El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce - the best flavor addition to these spicy meatballs! This hot sauce is non-vinegar based, gluten free, and does not use capsaicin extract.
- Tomato sauce - a rich, hearty base to the spicy sauce.
- Light brown sugar - adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the acidity in the tomato sauce and the spiciness of the hot sauce. Add extra brown sugar if you like a more sweet and spicy dish.
- Lettuce cups - add a great crunchiness and help cool your mouth from the heat of the hot sauce.
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Ground beef substitutions: you can use ground turkey or ground chicken instead of beef.
- Brown sugar substitutions: you can use pure maple syrup or agave.
- Ran out of breadcrumbs? Place plain crackers or old fashioned oats in your food processor and pulse a few times until they're the size of a breadcrumb.
- Preheat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the meatball mixture. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, breadrumbs, El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Form meatballs. Form meat into 1 ½ to 2-inch meatballs and place them on the baking sheet.
- Bake. Bake meatballs in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce, salt, and pepper.
- Cook sauce. Simmer sauce, then add meatballs to the sauce. Toss meatballs to coat.
- Assemble. Place lettuce cups on a serving platter. Top with sliced purple cabbage and matchstick carrots. Add meatballs on top. Garnish with green onions and fresh cilantro. Squeeze lime juice over top.
❄️ How to Store
To store: Allow meatballs and sauce to cool completely before placing in an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Store lettuce cups and toppings separately.
To freeze: These spicy meatballs are a great meal prep dish for freezing. Allow meatballs and sauce to cool completely before placing in an airtight container and storing in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To reheat: Defrost frozen meatballs in the refrigerator overnight. Heat meatballs in the oven at 300 degrees F until warmed through in the middle, about 20 minutes. Or, heat in 30 second intervals in the microwave.
🔍 Recipe FAQs
I went to my local Meijer store and picked up a few bottles. However, if you don't have a Meijer nearby, you can also order on their website at https://www.shopelyucateco.com/
This is based on personal preference! I like to bake my meatballs because it is fast and ensures all meatballs cook at the same rate.
Cooking meatballs on the stovetop may cause some meatballs to cook through in the middle, while others lag behind.
For this recipe, there is enough flavor in both the meatball mixture and the sauce, that adding the meatballs to the sauce later won't affect the overall taste.
💭 One More Tip
Don't over-mix the meat mixture! Mix the spices into the meat just until combined. Over-mixing may cause the meat to toughen, causing dense dry meatballs.
🍴 Related Recipes
Share your cooking with me! If you make this recipe, I'd love to know! Tag @yourhomemadehealthy on Instagram or leave a comment with a rating and some feedback at the bottom of this page!
For the Meatballs
- 1 pound (16 ounces) grass fed ground beef I used 85% lean, 15% fat
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Sauce
- small lettuce cups iceberg or butter lettuce work great!
- thinly sliced purple cabbage
- matchstick carrots
- thinly sliced green onion
- lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to a large bowl. Mix just to combine but do not overmix.
- Form meat mixture into 1 ½ to 2-inch meatballs and place them spaced out on the baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 155 to 160 degrees F.
- While meatballs cook, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, add tomato sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero Hot Sauce, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Simmer sauce, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn, for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken before adding in the meatballs. Coat each meatball in the sauce.
- To assemble, place lettuce cups on a serving platter. Top with sliced purple cabbage and matchstick carrots. Add 1 to 2 meatballs on top. Serve garnished with green onions and fresh cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime juice over top.
- Meatballs should be served warm. If making ahead, store meatballs with the sauce and reheat just before serving. Then, place on top of lettuce cups.
- For a sweet and spicy dish, add 1 more tablespoon of light brown sugar to the sauce.
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