Healthy Meatballs with Spicy Stout BBQ Sauce

Meatballs are one of my favorite things to ‘healthify’ because it is so easy to cut calories and fat without sacrificing flavor. They are also incredibly versatile. Some of my favorites are buffalo chicken meatballs, Mexican chicken meatballs, and of course healthier traditional spaghetti and meatballs.

I realized, though, that I’ve never tried a bbq meatball. When I saw this recipe for stout meatballs with bbq sauce at, I knew that I had to try them.

I didn’t make too many changes in the original recipe. In fact, I kept the sauce nearly the same (with less sugar), and focused on making some healthy tweaks in the meatballs themselves.

These included substituting whole grain oats for breadcrumbs, choosing leaner ground beef, and adding some shredded veggies to the mix. I also used a nonstick pan with very little oil to sear the meatballs. You could easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for some of all of the beef, if you prefer.

I made this recipe for a party a few weeks ago, and they were a hit. They make a great appetizer, but for a dinner entree you could serve them with brown rice or mashed sweet potatoes and a side of roasted broccoli.



1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons Sriracha

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup stout

1/4 cup (or just shy) brown sugar


1 lb ground beef, 90% lean

1 small onion, finely diced

3 large carrots, shredded

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/3 cup whole grain oats

1/4 cup stout




1. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes, or until thickened.  Sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.



1. Add all of the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil to a large bowl and mix with your hands until fully incorporated. Don’t over mix, or the meatballs will be tough. Refrigerate the meat for at least an hour, and up to a day.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shape the meatballs. I made 1 inch balls, but you could make them larger or smaller.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large casserole dish and pour the sauce over the top. Cook for about 2o minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thick.

Recipe adapted from



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