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Ree Drummond’s turkey meatballs are a Pioneer Woman appetizer worthy of any party. However, the celebrity chef and Food Network star loves making them on game day. 

Doctored up barbecue sauce is a key element to the Pioneer Woman meatballs 

Ree Drummond smirks wearing a multicolor top on 'Today'
Ree Drummond | Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Drummond’s turkey meatballs, officially called Spicy Mango Barbecue Turkey Meatballs, can’t be made without some barbecue sauce. And, as she said on Food Network’s The Pioneer Woman, she whips up a “very, very simple” barbecue sauce concoction using “just a few ingredients.” 

“In order to make barbecue sauce you have to start with some barbecue sauce,” she said with a laugh. “What I like about kind of doctored up barbecue sauce is you can use your own favorite as a base and then you can doctor it up with anything you want.”

Drummond flavors hers with agave, habanero peppers, mango (either jarred or fresh is OK), and soy sauce. The result is a barbecue sauce that’s “got a lot of different flavors going on.”

Drummond’s meatball-making tips 

Now for some tips on making Drummond’s turkey meatballs. First up is what goes in the meatballs.

The Pioneer Woman host combines ground turkey in a bowl with grated onions. Why grated instead of chopped? “They’re grated because then they won’t interfere with the texture of the turkey,” she explained. 

The same goes for other ingredients including celery and garlic. They’re all grated so at to not throw off the texture of the turkey. 

Next is shaping the meatballs. Drummond uses an ice cream scoop to speed up the process. “You can use your hands and form them individually one by one but we don’t have time for that,” she said. 

Additionally, Drummond suggests lining a baking sheet with foil because it will come in handy at the end when the meatballs are coated in barbecue sauce. Simply pull the foil off and pour the barbecue sauce over the meatballs.

“Then you don’t have to mess with a whole separate bowl,” she said. “You have fewer dishes which is good because that game is getting ready to start on TV.” 

Lastly, the Super Easy cookbook author advises having an immersion blender nearby when making the barbecue sauce. “That way you don’t have to transfer the sauce to a blender blender which can be pretty perilous when the sauce is hot,” she said. 

How to make Ree Drummond’s Spicy Mango Barbecue Turkey Meatballs

Maria Shriver and Hoda Kotb watch as Ree Drummond pours liquid into a bowl
(L-R) Ree Drummond, Maria Shriver, and Hoda Kotb | Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Drummond’s turkey meatballs are ready in 35 minutes thanks to their simplicity. They’re comprised of only two elements, the meatballs and the sauce. 

She prepares the ground turkey mixture and puts them in the oven to bake. While they’re cooking she prepares the barbecue sauce. Using storebought barbecue sauce as the base, she adds in agave for sweetness, frozen mango, and peppers for some spice. 

It simmers on the stove for about 10 minutes until it’s thickened. At this point, Drummond uses an immersion blender to puree it. Next, she pulls the meatballs out of the oven and removes the foil from the baking sheet. Finally, she pours the sauce over the meatballs and transfers them to a serving platter. 

“Talk about a platter full of wonderful-ness,” Drummond said as she garnished the meatballs with green onions. “They’re so spicy but in a very exciting way.”