Sweet and tangy thanks to the combination of ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and Dr. Pepper, with a smell that sets stomachs growling, these Dr. Pepper meatballs are the perfect game-day treat.
Carbonated beverages are a secret ingredient in a few of my favorite dishes, including my baked ham recipe. They truly add delicious flavor to ordinary meals, like meatballs! My Dr. Pepper meatball recipe is so easy to make and can be eaten as a game-day appetizer or a main dish. I like to serve it over rice with my favorite sides.
To make Dr. Pepper meatballs, you’re going to need some store-bought or homemade meatballs, granulated garlic, Dr. Pepper soda, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and ketchup. It sounds like an eclectic mix of ingredients, but the end result is an irresistibly sweet, savory, and tangy glaze. Trust me, after that first bite you’ll be as addicted as I am.
The instructions couldn’t be easier either. Just combine all the sauce ingredients, bring them to a boil, add the meatballs, and cook until the sauce thickens (about 20 minutes). They’ll be ready to eat in just 30 minutes. That’s my kind of quick meal! These bite-sized appetizers are perfect for your next holiday party, tailgating event, or potluck. But you better make double because I bet they’ll disappear in seconds.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dr. Pepper
- Garlic powder
- Brown sugar
- Meatballs (homemade or store-bought)
How to Make Dr. Pepper Meatballs
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a pot of some sort and season with and to taste.
I am using my cast iron enameled Dutch oven.
Put this over medium heat and stir constantly until everything is all blended together (about five minutes or so).
Add in your meatballs, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw), and stir to coat.
Put this over medium heat and bring it to a light boil, stirring every so often but being careful not to break up the meatballs.
Note: If you’re not a little on the gentle side, you may end up breaking up your meatballs. That’s okay. This is not going to affect the state of the world if you end up with meatball pieces because they will still be delicious.
So here is what is going to happen. Once this comes to a light boil over medium heat it is going to start reducing, or as we call it “cooking down” and that is what is going to make our sauce all nice and thick.
You simmer that for about 20 minutes (or so) until the sauce is seriously reduced and produces a nice coating on the meatballs. Keep stirring it every now and then because the meatballs will brown on the bottom (which you want).
When they are done, they will look something like this. I say “something” like this because you may decide to take yours off the stove eye before your sauce gets this thick and that is perfectly alright.
Now, if you are serving these for supper, break out the rice or our riced cauliflower and nestle some meatballs along with the sauce on top of it. If that is the case, I suggest you take them off while you have a little thinner Dr. Pepper sauce so you can drizzle some over your rice.
If you are serving these for a party, just put them on a platter with toothpicks as I did below.
However, if making these meatballs is the extent of your Friday (or Monday) night excitement, just put a few in a bowl and grab a fork. That’s what I do!
Enjoy the sweet tangy goodness!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheat in the microwave.
- You can use regular Dr. Pepper, Generic Dr. Pepper, or even Diet Dr. Pepper. You can also use Coke. But I’m gonna stop there because if I go into every single carbonated beverage option I’ll quickly settle into a Bubba Gump style Filibuster and we’ll be here all day. You get my point.
- Note that both meatball options I am suggesting are already cooked. But you could make this with uncooked meatballs because the heat and time are plenty long enough to get them done. Just be a little more careful in stirring because they are gonna break apart easier and they will be tempted to stick to the bottom of the pot. Uncooked meatballs easily succumb to temptation. They’re like the teenagers of the ground beef world.
- For a different flavor, substitute the ketchup for your favorite BBQ sauce. You can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce.
- If you like, add a garnish of chopped fresh parsley or green onion.
- For , add a pinch of . For a more savory , add a teaspoon of .
Can I make Dr. Pepper meatballs in the crockpot?
Yes, you can make these meatballs in the crockpot. Combine all ingredients and cook in the slow cooker on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours. Give them a stir every hour or so. You can also conveniently leave your slow cooker on the warm setting afterward so they stay warm during your gathering.
How do you serve Dr. Pepper meatballs?
You can serve your meatballs as an appetizer or main meal. If going for the main dish option, serve them with cooked rice or mashed potatoes and your favorite veggie side dish. This might be fresh green beans, zucchini and squash, or roasted veggies.
Can I tempt you with these other meatball recipes?
- 2 lbs frozen meatballs (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 can Dr. Pepper
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Combine everything except the meatballs in a dutch oven or a similar pot on the stovetop. Stirring constantly, bring this just to a boil over medium-high heat.1 can Dr. Pepper, 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Carefully add meatballs and stir to coat. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce has reduced by at least half and is nice and thick (roughly 20 minutes), stirring every so often to prevent meatballs from burning.2 lbs frozen meatballs (store-bought or homemade)
- Serve on their own as an appetizer or over rice as a meal.
Important to remember in this day of quickly spread news:
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”