Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Meatballs

These smoked meatballs are made with lots of cheddar cheese and more jalapeno than you'd normally add to a meatball. As if that's not enough, they are stuffed with cream cheese. I wanted these to be small enough to pop in your mouth so as to get the full effect as you bite down into it.

Reminiscent of smoked jalapeno poppers known as ABT's, you will love the flavor that is packed into these babies!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 160°F
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan
What You’ll Need
IMG 0492 1000x715Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats– you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

Making the Meatball Mixture

Clean and dice the jalapenos

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Note: For a spicier meatball, use a hotter pepper and/or leave in some of the seeds. You can also add about a TBS of red pepper flakes to the mixture to crank it up a little.

Add the ground beef, ground sausage, jalapeños, Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) and cheddar to the bowl.

Combine the ingredients with your hands but do not over mix.


Stuff and Form

I chose to make the meatballs a little smaller than normal but you can make them any size you like.

Mine were about an inch in diameter after stuffing.

Take enough meat mixture into your hands to make a 1-inch meatball.

Roll it between your palms then flatten it out in your hands to stuff.


Place a ¼ inch piece of cream cheese into the center of the flattened meatball.


Wrap the meatball back around the cream cheese and roll in your palms again to give it a uniform round shape.


Make all of the meatballs and lay them on a Bradley rack, Weber grill pan or other pan for easy transport to and from the smoker.

Using a Bradley rack makes it real easy but you can also just use a cooling rack, or even a cookie sheet if that's all you have available.

The recipe makes about 30 meatballs depending on what size you make them.


Looking good and ready for the smoker!


Smoke the Meatballs

Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F with indirect heat.

If your smoker has a water pan, it's a good idea to use it.

I like to use pecan wood for smoke on these but other smoking woods will work just fine.

Once your smoker is up to temperature and ready to go, you can continue.

If you are using a bradley rack or Weber grill pan or similar, you can just place the entire pan in the smoker. It is also ok to place the meatballs on the smoker grate making sure they will not fall through and that there is a little space between them for the heat and smoke.


Mine took almost 2 hours but yours may take a slightly different amount of time depending on their size, how cold they are when they go in, outside temperature, etc.

I did not baste mine in the smoker but chose to serve them with some of my warm Jeff's original barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) on the side.

It is perfectly ok to brush some of my barbecue sauce onto them during the last 15-20 minutes if you want to add another layer of flavor.

Use a thermapen or other digital meat thermometer to check the temperature and make sure they are perfectly and safely done.

When they reach 160°F in the center, they are perfectly done and ready to eat.


Pop a few as you walk them into the house.

Serve it Up

These are amazing appetizers for any party or as a great appetizer while waiting for the main meal to finish.

Please note: These can be made a day or two ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. I have not tried freezing these, but I suspect they would work just fine as long as you let them thaw a few hours in the fridge before placing them in the smoker.



I toyed with the idea of wrapping these in bacon and while I chose to leave these as they were, I think it would be an amazing addition of flavor. 1/3 piece of bacon should do the trick if you keep the meatballs on the small side.

If you decide to go off the rails and change things up, fry a little of the sausage mixture in a skillet to test the flavor before making them into meatballs.

Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
Jeff's Rubs and Sauce

✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!


You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.

Jeff’s Smoking Meat Books

smoking-meat-book-coverSmoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that “no smoker should be without this book”!

With more than 1000 reviews on and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended and is a Bestseller in Barbecuing & Grilling books on Amazon.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | German Edition

smoke-wood-fire-book-coverSmoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.

It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.

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Printable Recipe

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Print Recipe
4.8 from 10 votes

Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Meatballs

These smoked meatballs are made with lots of cheddar cheese and more jalapeno than you'd normally add to a meatball. As if that's not enough, they are stuffed with cream cheese. I wanted these to be small enough to pop in your mouth so as to get the full effect as you bite down into it.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Servings: 6


  • ½ lb ground beef ((85/15))
  • ½ lb ground breakfast sausage ((hot))
  • 1 cup jalapenos ((diced (3-4 large jalapenos)))
  • ½ cup cheddar ((shredded (mild or sharp)))
  • 2 TBS Jeff's original rub
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • Jeff's original barbecue sauce


  • Add all ingredients to large bowl and combine with your hands but do not over mix.
  • Form meatballs between the palms of your hands.
  • Flatten meatball and place a ¼ inch cube of cream cheese into the center of the meatball.
  • Wrap meat back around cream cheese and roll between your palms again to form into a meatball.
  • Place stuffed meatballs onto a Bradley rack or other pan for easy transport to the smoker.
  • Set up smoker for cooking indirect at about 225-240°F using pecan or other smoking wood.
  • Place meatballs into smoker and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • Serve meatballs immediately while they are still hot.


  1. Tim C July 3, 2021 at 11:49 am - Reply

    5 stars
    The instructions are wrong. You don't add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix. Cream cheese and BBQ sauce are separate actions. I did not try them, but they sound delicious.

  2. Jeff House March 6, 2021 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Made these today and they were fantastic. Not too hot, but full of flavor and of course the heat can be adjusted. 5/5, will make again. I’m wondering how using pickled jalapeños would change the flavor.

  3. Craig Theisen November 22, 2020 at 11:40 am - Reply

    5 stars
    Made these last night and they were great. May like them even better than poppers.

  4. Craig Theisen November 21, 2020 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Made them tonight and they were great, I like them even better than abt's.

  5. Lance Fowler September 18, 2020 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    I cook these all of the time. Everyone loves them. You talked about wrapping them in bacon but I went the lazy route and added real bacon bits while mixing them up. I do it that way all the time now

  6. Tyler April 2, 2020 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Very delicious recipe one of my favorite things to put in the smoker. something to try is using ground venison instead of the hamburger.

  7. Paul Winter August 11, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    I’ve made these many times and they are always a huge hit. I usually make 2 lbs at a time, but have done 4 lbs several times. I smoke and put in crock pot to bring to parties and it works excellent.

  8. John LeMay November 16, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Wondering if anyone has made these and tried holding them for a few hours before serving or reheating? I've done these once so far and they are excellent straight from smoker to serving. I don't want to lose a lot of the flavor though by holding in a crock pot with bbq sauce or reheating them.

  9. Dave Bohn December 31, 2016 at 11:30 am - Reply

    I have used a basic meatball recipe. Smokedthem for an hour or two. Then threw them in homemade sauce. Very good

  10. Brent Strabala September 10, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

    5 stars
    I made a double batch of these last weekend and now I just got done preparing a quadruple batch for later today. I find making meatballs a little mundane with the cream cheese in the middle, but well worth the effort…

    • Brent Strabala September 10, 2016 at 8:05 am - Reply

      I might try adding some diced pineapple to a small bit and see how that turns out

  11. Mike Holland August 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    I made these meatballs for our family reunion this wknd and what a hit they were. !!! I made a total of 8 pounds worth and it wasn't enough. I made no changes other than half of them didn't have jalapenos.

  12. Patrick Nelson July 17, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    I made these tonight and the only change in made was to double the recipe.. they were absolutely amazing!!

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