Moink Balls are the perfect appetizer that everyone loves. They have a funny name but are simply beef meatballs wrapped in bacon and glazed with barbecue sauce.
Usually, they are made on a smoker, but if you don't have a smoker, you can also bake them in the oven.
You may wonder where the word "Moink" comes from and it is a made-up word that describes these meatballs which use both beef and pork. The "M" is for Moo and the "oink" is for oink like the sound a pig makes. Yes, it's a bit silly, but they are delicious!
These bacon-wrapped meatballs are easy to make and definitely a crowd-pleaser!
I'm using the Ninja Woodfire Grill and Smoker to smoke the meatballs, but you can use any pellet grill or smoker or any other type of smoker. One thing to keep in mind with the Woodfire Smoker is food cooks faster than in other smokers with indirect heat.
For more information on this compact electric smoker you can take a look at this article: Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Comparison Guide
If you are using a larger smoker, you will most likely have to cook them longer. I do recommend smoking them at a low temperature so the bacon has enough time to render its fat and firm up. Otherwise, the bacon can be a little fatty and soggy.
Suggested Kitchen Tools for Moink Balls
- Outdoor Smoker
- Serving Platter
- Sharp Knife
- Cutting Board
- Mixing Bowl
Ingredients & Substitutions
The ingredients for Moink Balls are simple and easy to find in your local grocery store.
I use all ground beef in my Moink ball recipe and make the meatballs from scratch, but you can use prepared meatballs if you prefer. Many times people will use Italian meatballs from the grocery store, but I much prefer to make my own and infuse the flavors of BBQ into the meat mixture itself by adding my favorite BBQ sauce and rub.
You can also use a combination of ground meats in your moink balls, like ground pork, beef, and/or Italian sausage. I don't recommend using lean ground meat like turkey or chicken because, during the smoking process, the internal temperature of the meatball will reach way above 165℉/74℃ and leaner meats can become too dry. If you must use lean ground meat, then finely dice some extra vegetables like green peppers and add them to the mix to add a little more moisture.
As far as binders go, you can use crushed crackers in place of the bread crumbs or whatever you usually use to make your meatballs, but I don't recommend oatmeal because when I tried the recipe with oatmeal, they were too dense. There aren't any rules here, make the meatballs exactly how you like them!
I have also seen some people put a small cheese cube inside the meatball and although I haven't tried that, it sounds delicious! You could use cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, or any cheese that will pair well with the BBQ flavors you are using in your meatballs.
The bacon is a very important part of making Moink Balls and I found that for the best results you need to use thick-cut bacon and not the thinner strips. My preference for the bacon is thick-cut applewood smoked, but the flavor of the bacon is completely up to you.
Although this may sound counterintuitive, the thin strips of bacon do not crisp up like the thicker ones do. I tested the recipe with both thin and thick-cut bacon and there is no comparison in the texture. The thick-cut bacon is a must if you want the outside of your Moink Balls to have crispy bacon while locking in the moisture of the meatballs themselves.
BBQ Rub & Sauce
You can use your favorite BBQ rub and sauce in this recipe or you can use the recipes I've provided.
Another option is to skip the BBQ glaze and instead glaze with some hot pepper jelly!
I like the flavor of apple wood pellets the best for this recipe, but cherry or maple are other great choices. The type of wood or wood pellets you use is completely up to you.
How to Make Moink Balls
If you are using premade meatballs, then skip to the step of wrapping them in the bacon. I really hope you make them yourself, though!
Mise En Place (Prep)
The only prep required for this recipe is making the BBQ sauce and rub if you want to use homemade versions like I do.
I've tried this recipe with several different types of BBQ sauce and found that a basic red BBQ sauce that has a sweet heat pairs best with the meatballs. I use the same recipe that I used to use when I owned my BBQ restaurant and it is super easy to make and only takes about 10 minutes. Although my recipe is made in the Ninja Hot & Cold Blender, you can just as easily make it stove-top and blend it in a blender afterward. Stovetop instructions are in the written post.
If you aren't using an already made BBQ rub, I have included the ingredients for my rub in the notes section of the recipe at the end of this post.
Making the Meat Mixture
In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, BBQ seasoning or your seasonings of choice, a large egg, bread crumbs, and BBQ sauce.
If you are using your own rub and aren't sure how salty it is or how much you should add, start off with ½ Tablespoon and you can add more if needed. I have a tip below for how to taste for seasonings.
The best way to mix your meatball mixture is with clean hands. Make sure to mix it well so all the ingredients are well combined.
Taste for Seasonings!
Once the meat mixture is completely mixed, pinch off about a Tablespoon and flatten it out. Fry it in a pan until it's cooked and then taste it. If you like the seasonings, you will like the meatballs. If you need to add more seasonings, go ahead and repeat the tasting until the meat mixture is just how you like it.
Once the meat mixture is seasoned perfectly for you, scoop out about 1-ounce meatballs. I use my (affiliate link)Pampered Chef Medium Scoop which is about 2 Tablespoons of meat mixture per scoop.
Set up the Woodfire Smoker for Smoking
Now is a good time to get the smoker going if you are going to be smoking the Moink Balls right after making them. The Ninja Woodfire smoker will take about 10 minutes to get going and you want it to be smoking for several minutes before adding the meatballs.
Fill the hopper with whatever pellets you are using and make sure the lid of the hopper closes.
Look to see if the grease tray is in the back of the smoker and if not, put it in there to catch the drippings.
Turn the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill on and turn the dial to select the smoker function. Set the temperature to 275℉/135℃ and the time for 1 hour.
If you are using a different type of pellet smoker or wood-burning smoker, they may take longer to get up to temperature and burn off the white smoke, so I would start those types of smokers before starting the recipe.
Forming the Meatballs & Wrapping in Bacon
Cut the slices of bacon in half and have toothpicks or small bamboo skewers handy to secure the bacon.
Roll each meatball in the palm of your hands until it's smooth and round. Wrap ½ slice of bacon around the meatball and secure with a toothpick.
Dip the top of the meatball into a small bowl of the dry rub.
Place the finished meatballs on a tray.
Smoking the Moink Balls
Open the lid to the Woodfire Smoker and let any white smoke out. This smoke can be a bit harsh and impart an acrid taste into food so whenever cooking smaller pieces of meat or foods I like to make sure it has burned off before adding the food.
Place the Moink Balls on the grill grate of the Woodfire. Close the lid and set the time back to 1 hour if it has started the countdown already.
Leave the lid closed on the smoker for at least 30 minutes and after that you can check on the meatballs. I have found that smoking them for 1 hour is the best timing for the bacon and, even though the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches about 180℉/82℃, they are still nice and moist.
You can remove the meatballs at any time as long as they have reached an internal temperature of at least 165℉/74℃.
You see in the picture below that my Moink balls look really dark, but they are not burnt, that is just the smoke and the caramelization of the sugars in the bbq rub.
Once the Moink Balls are finished, let them cool and remove the toothpicks. They are best served warm or room temperature and can be left at room temp for up to 2 hours.
How to Make Moink Balls in the Oven or Air Fryer
If you don't have a smoker, you can absolutely still make these delicious appetizers.
I would recommend either using your air fryer or oven for the best results.
Make the Moink Balls as instructed, but instead of smoking them, place them on a tray in preheated oven at 275℉/135℃ and bake them for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165℉/74℃ AND the bacon is crispy. It is okay to let the meatballs cook until they reach 180℉/82℃ if the bacon needs more time.
Air Fryer Instructions
Make the Moink Balls as instructed, but instead of smoking them, place them on a tray in the air fryer as far away from the heating element as you can. Set the temp to 300℉/150℃ and air fry them for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165℉/74℃ AND the bacon is crispy. It is okay to let the meatballs cook until they reach 180℉/82℃ if the bacon needs more time. You do not need to preheat the air fryer.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
How to Store Leftover Moink Balls
Place the meatballs into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Before freezing it is very important that the meatballs are cold, so I recommend refrigerating the leftovers overnight before freezing them.
If the food is warm when packaged for freezing, steam can be produced inside the container or freezer bag, resulting in ice crystals forming.
Air is another issue when freezing food, so make sure you choose a container that is the proper size for the amount of leftovers. You don't want a large bag or container for just a few meatballs or there will be too much air trapped in the container which can lead to decreased quality of the meat.
You can freeze the meatballs for up to a year, but I would use them within 3 months for the best quality.
How to Reheat Moink Balls
I recommend just warming them in an oven on 350℉/175℃ until they reach an internal temp of 165℉/82℃.
You can wrap them in foil for the first part of reheating, but remove it towards the end so the bacon crisps back up.
Frequently Asked Questions
I really like apple wood because it is a mild smoke flavor that compliments the BBQ flavors in the recipe.
You can also use cherry wood or maple which also give a mild smoke flavor.
If you want a more traditional smoke flavor, try oak, hickory, or even mesquite.
Absolutely! Just increase or decrease the ingredients to make the amount of meatballs you want and the smoking time stays the same.
If you enjoy this recipe, you may also like this recipe for Smoked Meatloaf with BBQ glaze.
Moink Balls Recipe
- Woodfire Smoker or Other Smoker
Beginners Luck BBQ rub
For the Meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef 80/20
- 1 Tablespoon Beginners Luck BBQ rub
- 1 Large Egg
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs or crushed crackers
- 1½ Tablespoons 10-minute BBQ sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce
- 9 slices thick-cut bacon
- 18 toothpicks or 9 if you want to break them in half.
Beginners Luck Rub
- Mix all the spices together to make the rub. This will yeild about 1 cup of rub. Store leftovers in a sealed container. Be careful with the chipotle powder, a little goes a long way. Skip it if you don't want a spicy rub.¼ cup white sugar, 2½ Tablespoons onion powder, 2 Tablespoons seasoned salt, 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika, 1½ Tablespoons chili powder, 1 Tablespoon fine grind sea salt, ½ Tablespoon celery salt, ¼-½ teaspoon chipotle powder
- In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, Beginners Luck bbq rub or your rub of choice, a large egg, bread crumbs, and bbq sauce. Mix well so all ingredients are combined.1 pound ground beef, 1 Tablespoon Beginners Luck BBQ rub, 1 Large Egg, ⅓ cup bread crumbs, 1½ Tablespoons 10-minute BBQ sauce
- Scoop out 1 ounce (about 2 Tablespoons) meatballs and place on tray.
- Cut the bacon in half and roll each scoop of meatball mixture into a smooth ball. Wrap each one with ½ slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Dip the tops into a small bowl of the BBQ rub.9 slices thick-cut bacon, 18 toothpicks
- Fill the hopper on the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker with ½ cup of apple wood pellets or whatever pellets you are using. Select the smoker function and set the temperature to 275℉/135℃ and the time for 1 hour.
- Allow the pellets to ignite and burn off any white smoke. I usually let it run 5-10 minutes then open the lid and let the white smoke out.
- Place the Moink Balls on the grill grate and close the lid. Adjust the time back to 1 hour and let them smoke uninterrupted for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can check on them and take an internal temperature.
- I found them to have the best texture when smoked a full hour even though the internal temperature reached above 180℉/82℃. You can remove the Moink Balls anytime after they have reached an internal temperature of 165℉/72℃.
- Allow to cool and remove the toothpicks. They are best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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