These Turkey Meatballs with Brown Sugar Buffalo Sauce will become your most requested game day appetizer! They are easy, gluten free AND can be kept warm in your crock pot for hours! The sweet brown sugar and spicy hot sauce is what makes these irresistible!
Crock Pot Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
Buffalo sauce SCREAMS game day! I love anything and everything dipped, dunked, smothered or drizzled with buffalo sauce. So naturally, this buffalo meatball recipe is perfect for any game day party or tailgate!
Do you have to cook meatballs before putting them in a crock pot?
No you do not. BUT you should keep in mind…
“Brown Food Tastes Good!” My favorite Anne Burrell quote.
Getting a nice brown sear on your precious little babies will help the flavor a lot! They also wont stick together!
Just one tip to remember!! Before you place your meatballs
with ground turkey directly into your crock pot or slow cooker, add the sauce…and a lot of it! Then you can nestle your meatballs into the sauce and they wont stick.
The meatballs will stick together if they are stacked on top of one another if you add the sauce last. The sauce should cover all the turkey meatballs so make EXTRA sauce by doubling or tripling the recipe depending on the size of your crock pot/slow cooker.
I browned my meatballs in the oven FIRST because it is both easier and healthier but you can fry them up if you want!
If you do decide to brown them, all you have left to do is simply toss them in the slow cooker with this drool-worthy sauce, set to “WARM” and then you’re free to go do your vacuuming or another load of endless laundry…
I did not use a crock-pot for these turkey meatballs because they were going to be gobbled up right away! Instead, I made these meatballs to be served with skewers, because clearly I have an obsession with skewered foods!
Game Day Meatballs
Our “game days” are football games.
Being from just outside of Philadelphia, my husband lives for the Eagles. He gets so excited when Sundays come around in the Fall like a little kid preparing to go see Mickey Mouse.
My favorite part of “game days” is the company and more importantly the food!! God forbid our team loses…I know to keep my distance!
OR I’ll quickly look for something sweet to whip up for Derek because that helps him feel better! Lol!
Pre-game, these brown sugar buffalo meatballs are the first thing I pull out!
What I do, is whip up a large batch at once, maybe 2-3 lbs. of chicken, freeze them, then pull the meatballs out Sunday mornings and throw them in the slow cooker with the yummy sauce! Done!
Gluten Free Tapioca Meatball Binder
As in tapioca pudding?!
Yes! It is a great, gluten-free ingredient and works wonders for soaking up liquid.
You’ll notice when making this that the ground chicken and egg create a very wet meatball making them not very “ball-able”. Yes I made that word up. Definition: The ability to form into a ball. 😉
So adding the instant tapioca absorbs that excess liquid so you can shape these babies nicely.
It is basically replacing the typical breadcrumbs or wet bread that most meatball recipes call for.
Make sure to use the instant tapioca that you can find in any grocer.
You can always use the gluten-free breadcrumbs if you want to as well!
Serve these with ranch or (my favorite) a little blue cheese dressing on the side!
Here are some other delicious game day appetizers!
Brown Sugar Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
Buffalo Turkey Meatballs With Brown Sugar
- 1 lb. Ground Chicken (or turkey)
- 1 Stick Finely Chopped Celery
- 1/4 Cup Grated Onion
- 1 Large Egg
- 1/2 Tsp. Salt
- 1/4 Tsp. Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Instant Tapioca ((OR substitute 3/4 cup GF bread crumbs))
Brown Sugar Buffalo Sauce
- 1/2 Cup Hot Sauce
- 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter ((melted))
- Option 1: Add all meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.Option 2: If you don't feel like chopping the celery or grating the onion, add everything but the meat and tapioca to a food processor and pulse until pureed. Then add to meat and tapioca in large bowl to the puree and mix until combined.
- Using a mini ice cream scoop for consistency, scoop meatballs onto large greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes on middle rack, (I do not turn them but you can halfway if you want more even browning.)
- Meanwhile, add the melted butter, hot sauce and brown sugar to a large bowl or crock-pot if your serving in one.
- When meatballs are done, toss them in the sauce while hot. (Sauce does not need to be hot, the meatballs themselves will warm it up)
- Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side! Skewers are optional!
- Place skewers/toothpicks in a small shot glass and allow guests to grab them as they please!
- Keep in crock-pot and set on "warm" if you want to serve these all day.
- These freeze well so make ahead of time, allow to cool, and place in plastic bag or Tupperware until you need them! Then just warm up in a 350 F oven OR throw the cooked meatballs straight from the freezer in a crock-pot, add sauce and turn on "warm"!