Slow Cooker Vegan BBQ Meatballs

These Vegan BBQ Meatballs are the best food to bring to a party! Since they’re made in a slow cooker, they’re the perfect tailgate recipe! In partnership with Lightlife!

Slow Cooker Vegan BBQ Meatballs

It’s already September…excuse me, WHAT?! There’s no way. Is anyone else kind of anxious about this year passing by so fast? Before you know it, we’ll be bundled up with a blanket and all our favorite cozy recipes.

Although the passing of time is a bit nerve-racking, I do enjoy the colder months. I don’t really have a favorite season – I enjoy each of them for different reasons. I love the spring because my birthday month is April and it’s so colorful. But then I also really love summer mainly because, watermelon (lol). Fall and winter are fun because you get to bundle up and enjoy the holidays, plus winter food is THE BEST. Hellooooo, potatoes and chilis and comfort food.

Let me introduce you to another dish to put on your cozy meal list: BBQ Meatballs. You remember those crockpot meatballs that were at every party when you were younger? You know the ones I’m talking about – the sweet, grape jelly meatballs? Well, these Vegan BBQ Meatballs are going to remind you of those, but without the grape jelly. They’re made in the slow cooker, so if you’re into sports, they’re the PERFECT tailgate recipe. Or you could totally serve them up with a baked potato and veggies for a simple dinner.

a fork holding two bbq meatballs

Ingredients for BBQ Meatballs

The meatballs we’re using are the Lightlife Smart Menu Meatless Veggie Meatballs! You may have seen Lightlife at your local grocery store (Target, Safeway, & others); they make delicious meatless products like organic tempeh, crumbles, veggie dogs, and veggie deli slices. I’ve actually used Lightlife products in a few of my other recipes, like these Taco-Style Veggie Dogs and my Vegan Seven Layer Tostadas.

The Lightlife Smart Menu Meatless Veggie Meatballs are perfect for this bbq meatball recipe. They have 13 grams of plant protein for serving that will help to keep you feeling satisfied, and they taste amazing. Check the Lightlife store locator to find their meatless meatballs (and other products) near you!

Obviously the meatballs are the star of the show, but you’ll also need:

  • Tomato paste. You’ll want two 6 oz cans.
  • Apple cider vinegar. You could totally use another vinegar if you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand.
  • Maple syrup. This will help sweeten our bbq meatballs to remind you of those grape jelly meatballs, but just without the grape jelly!
  • Blackstrap molasses. This is going to give our homemade vegan bbq sauce that deep, delicious flavor that will keep you coming back for more.
  • Spices. You’ll want to grab garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Yellow mustard. This is going to add a bit more tang to our bbq meatballs.
  • Liquid smoke. You could skip this if you don’t have it, but I highly recommend picking some up at the store for a delicious smoky flavor.

a slow cooker filled with barbecue meatballs

How to Make Crockpot Meatballs

I’ve talked before about my long-time distaste for BBQ sauce, but I’ve come around in the last few years. Now I like to make my own with simple ingredients like tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and sweeteners like maple syrup and molasses. Perfect for BBQ tofu, topping veggies, or these slow cooker sweet BBQ meatballs!

To make these crockpot meatballs, you’ll start by defrosting your Lightlife Smart Menu Meatless Veggie Meatballs if you’re pulling them out of the freezer.

Then, to the bowl of a slow cooker, add your tomato paste, vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, salt, liquid smoke, paprika, and pepper and give it a good stir. Then, add the meatballs and your water water and stir to evenly coat all meatballs in the sauce.

Set your slow cooker to high and let your meatballs cook for 4-6 hours. That’s it! Who doesn’t love a good hands-off recipe?

a bowl of meatballs next to a Lightlife meatball box

How to Serve BBQ Meatballs

These crockpot meatballs are perfect for entertaining, or for an easy weeknight dinner.

If you’re bringing them to a party, just bring the whole crockpot of finished vegan bbq meatballs with you and pack a container of toothpicks. Anyone who wants one can grab a toothpick and enjoy! They’re truly the best appetizer for parties or an amazing go-to tailgate recipe! I know it might be too early to start planning your holiday menus, butttttt… you may want to save these for later, just sayin’.

If you’re hoping to enjoy these for dinner, I think they’d be delicious on the side of (or on top of!) a baked potato and served with your favorite roasted veggie. This makes a pretty big batch, so you can always pack up any leftover bbq meatballs and stash them in the freezer.a bowl of meatballs topped with barbecue sauce

More Vegan Tailgate Recipes

If you’re looking for more vegan tailgate recipes to share with your friends, I’ve got you covered! From vegan dips, to party platters and loaded tots, take a look at these other game day recipes!

a fork stabbing a meatball

How to make:

Slow Cooker Vegan BBQ Meatballs

These Vegan BBQ Meatballs are the best food to bring to a party! Since they’re made in a slow cooker, they’re the perfect tailgate recipe!

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
4 hours
Total Time:
4 hours 10 mins
a bowl of barbecue meatballs
6-8 1x
Rating: 5 from 4 reviews


  • 2 8-ounce packages Lightlife Smart Menu Meatless Veggie Meatballs
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup water


  1. Defrost Lightlife Smart Menu Meatless Veggie Meatballs if needed.
  2. In the bowl of a slow cooker, add tomato pasta, vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, salt, liquid smoke, paprika, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add meatballs and water; stir to evenly coat all meatballs in the sauce.
  3. Slow cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. Stick a toothpick in each meatball for serving.

Thanks to Lightlife for sponsoring this post! I love working with brands whose products I really love and would honestly recommend. Thank you for supporting this blog that I love oh-so-much!