Honey-Balsamic BBQ Meatballz w/ Pesto Rice

This is one of my favorite things I have made to date! The meatballs turned out realllllly good. Super flavorful, super sweet and tangy at the same time. I’m pretty much the absolute worst when it comes to make a reduction sauce. Seriously. But I’m getting better at it. The pesto rice was more of an after thought, but if you’re like me and you LOVE pesto then you’ll love this simple combo. Which is literally just a tbsp or two of pesto mixed in with some cooked white rice. I was just trying to think of a decent side to serve with the meatballs and came across the idea on where else… GOOGLE. The meatballs were sweet and savory and I wish I had made like 30  more. Found the recipe on Iowagirleats.com. Her original recipe was Gluten-Free. She used quinoa instead of panko crumbs. I opted for the regular old panko crumbs cause I had some on hand. If you’re feeling creative and healthy go for the quinoa!



  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (OR 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 small onion chopped up small
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned or minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you’re going GF with the quinoa – you’d need to check label to ensure GF here too – Lea & Perrins brand is)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme ( I left out, didn’t have any)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Honey-Balsamic BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (again, check label if you’re going GF)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Pesto Rice:

  • pesto and cooked white rice 🙂 (as much or as little as you want)

Step One:

Mix your pesto (1-2 tbsp) with cooked white rice (2-3 cups). Keep covered and warm up later if need be.




Combine all your ingredients for the sauce in a sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring it to a boil over med-high heat stirring every so often, once boiling then reduce the heat and simmer for quite a while, continuing to stir every so often. The recipe said 45 min but that seemed way too long. I let it simmer until it looked like it was reduced pretty thickly for about 20 min give or take. Use your best judgement! I’ve definitely let it go too long or let it get too hot too quick and ended up with super thick and sticky barely usable stuff. You simply want it to be thick and solid and to have lost most of its vinegar bite. Once it has reduced let it sit. Stir it up here and there until you’re ready for the meatballs.



Step Two:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl combine your egg, panko crumbs (or quinoa), onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Next, mix in your ground beef.



Step Three:

Form your meatballs and pop into the oven for about 15-17 minutes until they are no longer pink in the middle. You may need to sacrifice one to check. RIP test meatball. Once they’re done, take them out and let them cool for a bit, then place them in a bowl and pour your sauce over. Be gentle :). 

                            Before                                                                     After



Step Four:

Serve them up and EAT your heart out. They turned out delicious and I was so proud of my sauce. This one is a must try for sure. 



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