Carolina BBQ Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

This week, for our Meatball Mondays feature, we’re headed to South Carolina for some “cue”!

When I moved here to rural South Carolina from CT a few years ago, I wasn’t really a huge fan of the mustard based BBQ sauce that is popular around here.  Over time it really grew on me though, and now I outright crave it’s tangy sweetness!

carolina bbq meatballs (low carb & gluten free)

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Our local Piggly Wiggly fires up their huge BBQ trailer every Saturday morning, and sells ribs that are generously slathered with their famous mustard sauce.  They sell out quick though, and the last time I tried to get some they had just sold the last rack – and it wasn’t even Noon yet!  The happy customer who snagged them?  My father in law Maurice, who waved the still steaming, foil-wrapped package in my face, cackling gleefully as he tore out of the parking lot.  Did he share?  Nope!  But I wasn’t even mad about it, because I probably wouldn’t have shared either – they are just that good!

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So (still dreaming of those delicious ribs I missed out on), when I was kicking around low carb recipe ideas for this week’s Meatball Monday’s post, this one was a no-brainer.  It’s not difficult to execute, and doesn’t require a lot of fancy ingredients, which is a plus.  I made them with ground pork since that’s traditional BBQ fare, but you could also use ground chicken or turkey with good results.  I seasoned the meatballs with the spices you would find in a classic South Carolina dry rub, and the sauce has all of the flavors (or my low carb interpretation of them) of the typical Carolina mustard-based BBQ sauce.

carolina bbq meatballs low carb and gluten free

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I’m not sure they are quite as satisfying as gnawing on some sticky, messy ribs, but they are definitely a close second – and take a lot less time to make!

Carolina BBQ Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

Yield: 16 meatballs

Serving Size: 4 meatballs

Carolina BBQ Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

The perfect meatball for Summer, these have all the flavors of classic South Carolina BBQ.


    For the meatballs
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar substitute (honey for Paleo)
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • For the BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar substitute (honey for Paleo)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp low sugar ketchup
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Start the sauce first so the flavors have time to develop while you are making the meatballs.
  • For the sauce
  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring until smooth. Simmer on low heat for about 8 minutes.
  • For the meatballs
  • Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into 16 meatballs. In a large, nonstick saute pan, fry the meatballs over medium heat until golden on all sides and cooked through. About 3 - 4 minutes per side. Toss the meatballs gently in the sauce, then spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and broil (carefully!!) for 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Serve with low carb cole slaw for the authentic BBQ experience!


Approximate nutrition info per meatball: 92 calories, 7g fat, 1g net carbs, 6g protein

Serve alongside your favorite low carb cole slaw, with a big pile of napkins, and you are good to go!  Sharing is optional.  ;)

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Got any ideas for a low carb meatball makeover, or a dish you want to see re-interpreted as a low carb meatball?  Please do leave your suggestions in the comments, and I’ll add them to my growing list!

Here are some links to my most popular low carb meatball recipes so far:  The General Tso’s Meatball, Low Carb Meatball Parmigiana, and Buffalo Balls (no, not really)

Or, for more great recipes, download your copy of The Gluten Free Low Carber today!



  1. Kathy H. says

    I wish you would do a take on a gyro meatball with some with an option of feta cheese center and a taziki dipping sauce….tried the General Tso’s last night…YUM! Many thanks…great ideas!

  2. Sweet T says

    can i just say…I FREAKING LOVE MEATBALL MONDAY!!!! ahem. i eat low carb/paleo, and I have a hard time eating leftover meat (like in my work lunches) but I NEVER have a problem with meatballs, and I do love me some Carolina BBQ. I will be trying these. I hope everyone has awesome ideas for meatballs so that Meatball Monday shall live on forever!!!

  3. Sweet T says

    How about a Mexican style meatball? They do have albondigas…but what if you did some in a chile verde sauce, or a red chile sauce?

  4. Eric says

    I bet you could come up with a killer thai meatball (fishball?)

    Also, don’t mean to complain but I just printed out this meatball recipe, and it went to 2 pages. Any way to shrink the photo so that it could be only 1 page? Thanks.

  5. Kelly says

    Just made these for dinner tonight with ground beef and bacon instead of ground pork (cause that’s what I had). OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD!

  6. Layla says

    Loving Meatball Mondays! And gyro meatballs are definitely a great idea. Now, how about some type of meatball that would emulate a naked “dumpling” (or won ton) with a sesame ginger dipping sauce? Mmmm…

  7. Carolyn says

    I LOVE SC mustard BBQ sauce! I don’t have Frank’s Hot Sauce, but I have Cholula’s hot sauce, original and chipotle. Would that be similar? I think 2 tsp would send my kids screamin’ for the creek, though. Is Frank’s not so hot, or do these have quite a kick?

    • says

      Frank’s isn’t quite as hot as Cholula’s so I would maybe start with half and keep tasting and adjusting until the heat is to your family’s preference. Enjoy!!! :)

  8. Clytemnestra's Sister says

    Have you ever tried south african food? They make a gently spiced curry/chutney meatballs called frikkadels.

  9. Rachel says

    I keep meaning to try all your delicious meatball recipes, but I always end up making the parmigiana meatballs, since we usually have all the required ingredients for those. But I really want to try these. Picky boyfriend loves bbq and loves all things mustard. Do you already have a low carb coleslaw recipe posted? Or any other recommended side dishes?

      • Rachel says

        Made these earlier this week and they were delicious! Love the sauce. Picky boyfriend liked them too. The only dislike was the dried onion flakes-we are not huge fans of the onion crunch. But i’m not sure if what i got was the right thing. All i could find in the spice aisle was “chopped onion pieces”

  10. Dancingtigga says

    These sound great – i love all things bbq. Is the yellow mustard – American mild mustard or English mustard.

  11. Jamie says

    These were a hit! Husband: “You should make these ones more often.” Made it with your broccoli slaw recipe but with regular cabbage slaw mix. Thanks for all your yummy recipes :)

  12. Kelly says

    O.M.G.!!! These are amazing! My husband and I have been doing Keto for about 3 weeks and I just made these for lunch. So good! I ate half of them by myself. Definitely helped with the BBQ craving. Thank you so much for these great recipes!


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