Jalapeno Popper Venison Meatballs

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I haven’t been able to eat a meatball since I was pregnant with Moose. Thanks, morning sickness. It’s been over two years since I’ve eaten a meatball. Coach loves them, and I loved them before.

I have a dear friend that transplanted here to Texas from New York and she shared a picture of her homemade meatballs on Facebook the other day that got me thinking maybe I can try them again. I asked her for her recipe. She shared it with me – handed down from her grandmother. Her exact response was, “They are my grandmother’s. But her parents were from Italy and she was from Brooklyn so the Italian roots run deep with them.” And now I’m officially intimidated. I have big plans this weekend to give her authentic Italian Meatballs a go, but I may make them a couple times before I write about them, just to be sure I don’t screw something up.

At this point I had meatballs on the brain. I also had some leftover ingredients in the fridge from our Easter feast. Coach had prepared this amazing Grilled Stuffed Backstrap for us,

1 Grilled Stuffed Backstrap

and there was about half a package of cream cheese left over. Suddenly my thoughts collided and the lovechild of meatballs and cream cheese was born. I present for you Jalapeno Popper Venison Meatballs.

30 Jalapeno Popper Venison Meatballs (420x420)

You will want to make these as an appetizer for the next gathering you attend. And if you can’t wait that long make them for supper. That’s what I did.

You will need:

2 Jalapeno Popper Meatballs

Ground Venison  |  Cream cheese  |  Jalapeno  |  Bell pepper  |  Cheddar cheese  |  Bread crumbs  |  Egg  |  Bacon


Step 1 ~ 20 minutes

In a minute we’ll be slicing up the bacon. Stick it in the freezer while you prep the meatballs. It’ll firm up and be easier to slice.

3 Bacon in the freezer

And go ahead and preheat the oven to 400°.


Step 2 ~ 10 minutes

Very finely dice a large jalapeno, seeded, and a small red bell pepper.

4 Jalapeno and bell pepper

Coach’s mom brought us these little bitty sweet peppers at Easter, and one was the perfect size.

IMG_0053 (640x427)

If you’re using a true red bell pepper I’d recommend only using half of it.

Dice them up as small as you can get them. Badger walked in at this point and said, “Yech! Peppers!” And yet she never even noticed them when she was eating. The smaller the better if you’re having to hide them from picky eaters.

Add the peppers to a pound of ground venison.

5 Into the meat

When Coach packaged our hamburger meat this year I asked him to package it a little heavy. One pound isn’t enough for us anymore when we grill burgers. So this is actually about 1¼ pounds.

Next add ¼ c bread crumbs. Mine were Italian flavored, but plain would be fine, too.

6 Bread crumbs

Next comes the cheddar cheese. This is how I measure cheese.

8 Cheese

I called this ¼ c, but we all know it’s a little closer to ⅓ c. I can’t help myself. I love cheese!

Grab a large egg and whisk it up.

9 Beaten egg

Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, and egg to the ground venison and peppers,

10 In the meat

and stir until it’s completely combined. Feel free to mix it up with your hands, too.

11 Mix it up


Step 3 ~ 2 minutes

I started with just over half an eight ounce block of cream cheese, and sliced the cream cheese into 26 small chunks. This cream cheese will go inside the meatballs, so keep it around half an inch by one inch so it’ll fit inside.

7 Cream cheese chunks


Step 4 ~ 2 minutes

When making these meatballs it’s a good idea to divide them up before stuffing to make sure you end up with equal slices cream cheese and equal chunks of meat. I needed 26 meatballs to go with the 26 chunks of cream cheese. If you’re using a pound of ground venison my high school math skills tell me that you’d want to aim for 20 meatballs.

Whatever number you decide on, I recommend dividing your meat into fourths,

13 Divide into fourths

then dividing each fourth up in equal parts until you get the number you need. And now that’s way too much math for one day, so just do what works for you and divide your meat into even sizes equal to the number of cream cheese chunks you have.

14 Divide fourths into mounds


Step 5 ~ 10 minutes

One at a time, flatten each lump of meat into a round disc, about three inches across.

15 Flatten each ball

Place a lump of cream cheese in the center,

16 Add a chunk of cream cheese

and wrap the meat around the cream cheese, completely sealing it off.

17 Seal edges

Stuff the rest of your meatballs. I stuffed mine on a piece of wax paper, then stuck them in the fridge while I prepped the bacon.

18 Shape remaining meatballs


Step 6 ~ 5 minutes

More math, sorry. You’ll be slicing the bacon into four sections per piece of bacon. I needed 26 pieces, so I used seven pieces of bacon, giving me two leftover pieces. {It is a lot of math, but I bet if all math in school revolved around food, especially bacon, we would have all done a little better at it…} If you’re using a pound of meat you should need five slices of bacon.

Slice the bacon in half,

19 Cut bacon in half

then slice each small piece in half lengthwise.

20 Cut lengthwise

Skinny pieces of bacon is the goal here.


Step 7 ~ 5 minutes

We’re ready to finish assembling the meatballs. Spray a 9×13 dish with some cooking spray.

12 Spray pan

Set out the number of toothpicks that you need. I find it helpful to set them out over the edge of a cutting board or plate so I don’t have to touch anything with my raw-meat-covered hands.

21 Hungover toothpicks

Grab a skinny piece of bacon and wrap it around a meatball as far as it will go. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon. {The toothpick is actually optional since the bacon will stick pretty well to the ground venison, but if these will be appetizers the toothpick will come in handy for your guests as they serve themselves.}

Place the meatballs in the greased dish, and bake them at 400° for fifteen minutes.

22 Wrappes and secured


Step 8 ~ 20 minutes

After fifteen minutes the pan will have a lot of liquid in it.

23 After 15 minutes

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and drain as much liquid out the pan as you can without letting any meatballs fall into the sink.

24 Drain and bake again

Place the dish back in the oven and bake for five more minutes to let the bacon crisp up a little more.

25 Finished baking

If you struggle with will power and food I’m warning you now not to make these meatballs. You will not be able to walk past this tray without grabbing one or two.

27 Jalapeno Popper Meatballs

If you’re serving these as an appetizer you may want to double up the recipe. They won’t last long, guaranteed.

26 Good luck walking by that tray

The next time I make these I plan to grill them instead of baking just because I love a little smoke flavor on my food. They are simply amazing baked, so I can’t imagine how wonderful they’ll be when I grill them.

Serve these Jalapeno Popper Venison Meatballs with buttermilk ranch dressing, or maybe this Southwest Ranch Dressing, and a few slices of avocado.

28 Jalapeno Popper Meatballs

And be sure to set a few aside for yourself. There will be no leftovers.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of these Jalapeno Popper Venison Meatballs! Leave a comment below!

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