Party Tricks: Nelda Siebold’s Meatballs

When can we gather again together? I don’t know, which means that I’ve not gotten to make my favorite meatball recipe in a long time. It’s hard to justify making 3 lbs of meatballs when I’m only cooking for four people. I could scale this down, but it freezes well and reheats nicely, so it’s a good choice for cooking on a weekend and eating now and later.

The recipe is based on Patti Clark’s contribution to the Clay Center, Kansas Evangelical Covenant church cookbook from 1999. It’s in honor of her mother, Nelda Siebold. I know neither of these women, and the cookbook was a gift to me from a former church member. The recipe is titled “Mom’s Barbeque Meatballs,” but since Nelda isn’t my mother, I call them “Nelda Siebold’s Meatballs.” I don’t know Nelda Siebold or anyone related to her, but I thank God for her meatballs about a dozen times a year.

This recipe makes a significant number of meatballs–a 9×13 pan and another 9×9 pan. So they’re good for a potluck or a party. If you use certified gluten-free oats and make sure that your onion powder and liquid smoke are gluten-free, you can make a gluten-free main dish that your friends who avoid gluten will appreciate.

a casserole pan of meatballs.


for meatballs

  • 3 lbs hamburger
  • 2 1/4 c. oatmeal
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 1/4 tsp. chili powder

for sauce

  • 2 2/3 c. ketchup
  • 1  1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion (or, really, a whole onion, chopped any size you like, of any size)


Briefly mix meatball ingredients until combined. Shape into walnut-sized balls and place into a 9×13 pan and a 9×9 pan. They should be crowded in the pan, each meatball lightly touching the ones around it.

Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Add sauce and bake for 60 additional minutes.

We tend to eat these with egg noodles and Brussel sprouts.






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