Recipe Review

I Tried Ree Drummond’s Five-Star “Comfort Meatballs” and They’re the Perfect Cozy Dinner

published Oct 4, 2023
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The Pioneer Woman's Comfort Meatballs in a baking dish
Credit: Lena Abraham

As we enter holiday season, the search begins for delicious winter dinners to impress your friends and family. Ree Drummond’s wildly popular, five-star comfort meatballs appear to fit the bill; they’re easy to make, covered in a sticky-sweet and savory sauce, and perfect for cozy nights. I decided I needed to test them out for my growing holiday entertaining roster. 

Get the recipe: Ree Drummond’s Comfort Meatballs

How to Make Comfort Meatballs

To make the meatballs, combine ground beef and quick oats in a large bowl. Add milk, very finely minced onion, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to the bowl. Stir mixture until all ingredients are incorporated into the beef, then form mixture into tablespoon-sized meatballs and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate meatballs for 30 to 45 minutes, until firm.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium bowl, stir to combine ketchup, minced onion, distilled white vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.

Before you pan-fry your meatballs, preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge meatballs in all-purpose flour and cook in batches until lightly golden on the outside. Once cooked, transfer meatballs to a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Pour prepared sauce over meatballs and bake until bubbly and hot, 45 minutes.

My Honest Review of Comfort Meatballs

Credit: Lena Abraham

If you love a good savory-sweet meal, this recipe will definitely satisfy. With plenty of umami from ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, these meatballs make for a rich and satisfying bite — especially as a foil for any boozy beverage. I really enjoyed the contrasting flavors of these meatballs, although the sauce was just a little too sweet for me. Next time I’d skip adding sugar to the sauce, as ketchup already supplies plenty of sweetness.

The interiors of the meatballs were incredibly tender and not at all dry, thanks to the addition of milk. The addition of oats worked well as a binder, but I didn’t love their texture. Next time, I might opt for breadcrumbs instead.

If you’re looking to pair them with something to make it a heartier meal, try some fluffy mashed potatoes or, of course, you could go for the classic buttered noodles. Either way, they’re sure to be a hit!

Two Tips for Comfort Meatballs

  1. Go heavy on the black pepper. A little brightness and spice from freshly cracked black pepper perfectly complements the sweet sauce. In fact, you can ramp up the spice further with some crushed red pepper flakes or ground cayenne. 
  2. Get a good sear on the outside of the meatballs. To add some much-needed texture, make sure you get a nice sear on the outside of the meatballs. I found that shaking the pan occasionally to allow the balls to resettle on a different side helped me achieve even browning.