Smokey Cajun Cheddar and Jalapeno Meatballs

These smoky Cajun cheddar and Jalapeno meatballs are packed with flavor.  They are a hit any time you have people gathering.  This recipe makes 24 balls, yet they disappear quickly!  The secret to these balls is the added sweetness and texture of the pineapple paired with the smokiness from the bacon.

Smoky jalapeno cheddar Meatballs wrapped in smoky bacon served on a white plate with bbq dipping sauce.

Something is satisfying about making meatballs.  Outside of good egg and bread/cracker ratios, you can create adjustments and additions to suit your favorite tastes.  The pineapple addition was a fluke and one that I will be using from now on.  

Flavor has always been my thing, yet I have grown in understanding textures over the past few years.  Meatballs can be… meat-bally.   They present a consistent mouth-feel.  This can be a good thing.  Yet when you’re working with an appetizer, adding new textures can be rewarding.  This is one of those times.  Toss in some finely chopped pineapple to your Smoky bacon-wrapped Cajun meatball mixture and witness the difference in the outcome.  Yum.

Bacon-wrapped meatballs are sitting on a large baking pan waiting to go in the oven.
Smoky jalapeno cheddar Meatballs wrapped in smoky bacon served on a white plate with bbq dipping sauce.

Smoky Cajun Cheddar & Jalapeno Meatballs

Foodie de Froid
Servings 24 appetizers
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
These flavor-packed smoky Cajun cheddar and jalapeno meatballs are a hit at any gathering. The secret is the added sweetness and texture of the pineapple.
5 from 1 vote



  • 1 lb ground beef 80/20
  • ¾ cup cracker crumbs saltines
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp minced garlic dried
  • 2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
  • 6 ounces smoked sharp cheddar cubed very small
  • ¼ cup pineapple tidbits chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning


  • 12 slices smoked bacon No water added. Cut in 1/2
  • 24 toothpicks


  • Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large baking pan with foil and coat with high-heat cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients except the ground beef Then add the ground beef and mix gently until the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Use the pincher method to quickly incorporate without hurting the texture of the meat.
    1 lb ground beef, ¾ cup cracker crumbs, 2 eggs, 1 tsp minced garlic, 6 ounces smoked sharp cheddar, ¼ cup pineapple, 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, 2 jalapeno peppers
  • Using a #40 scoop, form the mixture into even-sized 1½-inch balls and place them on a pan lined with foil.


  • Wrap each meatball with 1 piece of the bacon and secure with a toothpick. (see notes)
    24 toothpicks, 12 slices smoked bacon


  • Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until bacon begins to crisp and the internal temperature is 155 °F. They will continue to cook when you move on to the basting process.


  • Baste with the sauce and bake for another 10 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble. Turn the oven to broil and watch carefully to caramelize the sauce. Serve immediately with additional sauce for dipping.
    1 cup roasted pineapple habanero sauce


Make-ahead:  Smoky cheddar jalapeno meatballs can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 4 hours before final baking.  The sauce can be made up to a day ahead and reheated before serving.
You can also flash-freeze the meatballs after wrapping them in the bacon.  When frozen, toss them in a freezer bag and use them within two weeks.  Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.
To wrap perfectly round and secure meatballs, position one end of the bacon on the side of the meatball, hanging toward the counter.  Wrap the bacon piece under the meatball and fold over the top, stretching to cover the first end.  Place the toothpick horizontally through the side until it pokes out the other side.
Sauce:  I like to serve our finished meatballs with a 2nd dipping sauce.  Stubbs Hickory Bourbon BBQ Sauce is an excellent complimentary flavor to the sweet and spicy habanero pineapple sauce.
Convection Oven:  Using a convection oven is ideal for this recipe.  The bacon will crisp up more quickly, and the sauce will caramelize beautifully.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, cajun
Calories 138


Serving: 24ballsCalories: 138kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 9gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 354mgPotassium: 150mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 181IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 1mg
Keyword appetizer, bacon, cajun, gameday, holiday, homemade meatballs, jalapeno, recipe, superbowl
Have you made this recipe? We'd love to hear how it was!

De Froid Tip: Food Scoops

Food scoop with a green handle
Food scoop with a blue handle
Food scoop with a yellow handle

Food scoops have made my kitchen more efficient!  No wonder chefs use them.  I love the Vollrath food scoops.  They have proven to be of high quality.  In addition, the colors indicate different sizes, making it easy to grab the proper size for a specific recipe.

Another reason I love them is that they have taken my presentations up a notch.  By using the scoop, I can make even-sized balls in no time.   Efficient with a beautiful display?  I’ll take it!

Because they’re so easy to use and cut down on prep time, make a large batch of balls, and freeze them for days when you don’t have as much time.

Meatballs are sitting on a large baking pan, waiting to go into the oven.

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Our mouth reacts to flavors in a transitional way.  That first taste creates an exciting experience with the food’s intense flavors, textures, and visual appeal.  Yet after the first few bites, our mouths and minds adjust, and that experience deadens.  

Thus, the tasting experience!  We served 14 consecutive courses at my last tasting party.  Each was purposely selected to bring new flavors, textures, and presentations, creating surprises and wow moments throughout the night.

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