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Spicy meatballs and rice is a lifesaver on busy school nights! Made with frozen meatballs, our favorite KC Masterpiece® Original BBQ Sauce, and a few simple ingredients, it whips up in a jiffy! You can prepare it on the stovetop or the pressure cooker. This is a meal that can be made up in less than 30 minutes on those hectic nights!
—Want the recipe right now? Simply scroll straight to the bottom!—
Don't ask me how we made it to August. Last time I blinked, it felt like it was April! My kiddos are back at school now, so we are back to the grind of early morning practices, after-school practices, and everything in between!
Right now, we are starting to get in the balancing act of juggling all the activities and trying to get a meal on the table that is quick and easy and that everyone loves. Did I mention it's also over 100 degrees in Texas right now? The last thing I want to do is heat up my house with my oven.
Today's recipe for spicy meatballs and rice is a family favorite. I love it because I use my pressure cooker, which means fewer dishes and a nice cool kitchen. My kiddos love it because it makes a huge amount so they don't feel like they are fighting over every last piece. My husband loves it because it's packed full of flavor—he's a big fan of spicy food!
Another reason why I love this recipe is that it's one that I can make quickly. I keep all the supplies on hand so in case I'm ever in a dinner bind, I have this as an escape plan. Frozen meatballs are handy to keep in the freezer and with only 3 other pantry ingredients, it's easy to keep stocked up. Why Go Out? Bring BBQ Joint Flavor Home.
The main star of the dish is KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce. You've heard about Kansas City BBQ before right? We were lucky enough to live in Kansas when the Major and I were first married. What you have heard is true—Kansas City knows its BBQ! But you don't have to live there to get the sweet and savory sauce you love; KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce is kettle-cooked to produce rich layers of sweet, smoky flavor and is available nationwide!
I picked up my KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce at my local Walmart while I was there stocking up on the kiddos' school supplies. I was able to purchase everything I needed for this recipe at Walmart. They stock frozen meatballs, KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce, Asian garlic sauce (found in the imports section) and grape jam! Nothing beats one-stop shopping, especially during hectic back-to-school time.
What makes Spicy Meatballs and Rice Spicy?
KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce adds a nice smoky and slightly sweet flavor to the dish. To give it some heat, we use Asian garlic sauce. A little bit goes a long way! When you first try it, you'll think it's not going to be that hot, but trust me, it is.
Can I make Spicy Meatballs and Rice not as spicy?
I have given the amounts for a bit of spice but if you are sensitive to spices, you can always cut back. Or if you love spices like hubs, then you can add some to just your bowl. This is especially nice for families with small children. You can make a very mild version and allow each family member to spice up their own bowl.
Do I have to serve Spicy Meatballs on rice?
Not at all! This makes a fantastic appetizer for your tailgating parties. Simply serve the meatballs sauced in a large serving dish, warming in the pressure cooker, or warming in a slow cooker with simple party picks. Another option is to spoon the meatballs over rice noodles. Also, you can use any rice you like. We tend to use regular white or basmati, but brown rice or even quinoa would work!
I don't have a pressure cooker, can I still make Spicy Meatballs and Rice?
Absolutely! I have given the instructions for a pressure cooker, but it's just as easy to heat the frozen meatballs in the oven according to package directions. While the meatballs are cooking, you can make the spicy BBQ sauce on the stovetop. Simply combine the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat and once bubbling, lower to low heat. Allow to simmer while the meatballs are cooking. When your meatballs are done, place them in the sauce and coat well. They also taste fantastic in a slow cooker. Simply stir the sauce, place over the meatballs, and allow to cook for 6 - 8 hours.
I have leftover sauce from my Spicy Meatballs and Rice recipe, what can I do with it?
Truth be told, sometimes I make a double batch just so I can have the spicy BBQ sauce leftover! It's easy to keep in the fridge, but we try to use it within one week. It can be used for any recipe that calls for BBQ sauce. It's perfect for dipping! You can dunk chicken strips in it, coat chicken pieces in it, marinade beef pieces on skewers for the grill, or even use it to spice up a traditional meatloaf recipe. The sky is the limit!
Can I use homemade meatballs or only frozen store-bought meatballs?
Of course you can use your own homemade meatballs; that would be fantastic! By all means, use what you love. I do suggest using ground beef meatballs and not a mixture of pork, chicken and beef, or Italian style/sausage meatballs. The ground beef meatballs seem to carry the sauce for the meatballs and rice so much better than the other flavored meatballs. If not using frozen, the cooking time in the pressure cooker and oven would be less. So just be mindful of that.
Can this dish be made gluten free?
Absolutely! I am gluten free, but my kiddos are not. Although most frozen meatballs are not gluten free, I have found a few out there. Or of course, you can make homemade meatballs! The BBQ sauce and other ingredients are gluten free, so it's a perfect combo.
Help, I only have grape jelly and not grape jam, is that okay?
That is perfectly fine! We like grape jam because it is thicker. However, since you are melting it down while heating it up, it doesn't make that big of a difference. It actually doesn't have to be grape though, either. We've used blackberry jam and the kiddos loved that. We haven't ventured into peach or apricot, but I bet they have a nice flavor profile as well. The sauce was one I whipped up one day with what I had, so experiment to your heart's content!
What to serve with meatballs and rice?
To be honest, this is one of those meals that stands on its own. It's amazing how just the BBQ meatballs and rice can fill you up. Since my kiddos are picky, I serve the vegetables on the side so everyone can pick and choose what they like. We usually add in sliced sweet mini peppers and chopped chives. Broccoli is another vegetable that seems to go well with the flavors. Since the rice covers the starchy side dish need, we usually just add a simple fruit side dish like peaches and cottage cheese. If you want more vegetables, an Asian-inspired coleslaw would be great too! Mini egg rolls for an appetizer would be fun as well.
If making my meatballs in the pressure cooker do I have to dirty a saucepan to make the spicy bbq sauce?
Nope! This is one of my favorite parts of this meal—there's only one dish: the pressure cooker liner. When cooking the frozen meatballs, I place them on a steamer basket that is propped up on a trivet above the water. This allows them to steam cook and keeps them from getting soggy. The only downside is after they are done, you'll have to empty that water (which now has some grease drippings). I simply pour it into a solo cup and wait for it to cool. I wash down the pressure cooker insert and place it back in. You'll then switch to the "saute" button and add in the chili sauce, the grape jam, and the KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce. It will cook faster than it does on the stovetop since the pressure cooker is warmed up! Once it starts to bubble, switch the button over to "keep warm" and place the meatballs back in—coating with the sauce. Voila! A slow cooker also means one less dish!
Other quick weeknight meals you might enjoy:
Be sure to pin to your favorite weeknight dinner board on Pinterest!
SPICY MEATBALLS AND RICE RECIPE:
Spicy Meatballs and Rice
For the Sauce:
- 1 16oz BBQ Sauce KC Masterpiece
- ½ cup grape jam or jelly
- 1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce
For the Meatballs and Rice:
- 1 bag frozen meatballs 24-32 oz bags work well
- 6 cups cooked rice
Pressure cooker instructions:
- Place 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker, and add a small trivet on top.
- Place a steamer basket on top of the trivet. This allows fat and liquid to pass down into the bottom of the pressure cooker. Place frozen meatballs on top of the basket and close lid. Set to sealing.
- Cook meatballs on high pressure for 8 minutes. If not frozen, cut time in half. You can either do a quick release or a slow release. Whatever works better for your schedule!
- Remove the meatballs from the pressure cooker. Drain water and leftover grease out (I put in a disposable cup). Wipe the inner liner with a paper towel or wash.
- Set pressure cooker to saute and mix the bbq sauce, asian chili garlic sauce, and grape jam together. Continue stirring, allowing the grape jam to melt down. Once the mixture is smooth and boiling, turn off saute. This only takes about 2 minutes.
- Place meatballs back into the sauce mixture and coat well. You can serve immediately or place on "keep warm" until ready to serve.
- When ready to eat, serve the meatballs and sauce on top of cooked rice. Garnish with peppers and green onions if desired.
Slow Cooker / CrockPot instructions:
- Place the grape jelly, asian chili garlic sauce and bbq sauce in the slow cooker. Whisk to combine. Place frozen meatballs in and coat well.
- Cook on high for 2-3 hours, or low for 4-6 hours.
- Serve as an appetizer or over rice! Enjoy!
- Cook your meatballs according to directions on the package
- In a saucepan combine the grape jelly, asian chili garlic sauce and bbq sauce. Cook over medium heat.
- Once the jelly has melted and the sauce is thin and boiling, move heat to low.
- After meatballs are cooked, combine them with the sauce in the saucepan.
- Serve over rice!