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Bourbon Meatballs are tender, bite-sized meatballs smothered in a silky, rich bourbon-infused sauce.
For the last several years, my husband Jack and I have been helping to run the concession stand at our daughter’s swim meets. Each swimmer’s parents sign up to donate food, then the proceeds go to support the team.
One of the parents, Russ, always brings Bourbon Meatballs as his contribution to the menu – and they are often the first to sell out. Tender, mini meatballs are coated in a luscious, sweet sauce with a kick of bourbon flavor. The sauce is so good – you’ll be tempted to eat it with a spoon!
The alcohol in the bourbon sauce cooks off, so it’s safe for kids (or non-drinkers) to eat these meatballs. But, with the bourbon flavor left behind, it’s the parents at the meets who really love these meatballs!
Russ shared his Bourbon Meatballs recipe with us – and we’re sharing it today.
How do you make them?
We include an easy homemade meatball recipe below – made with both ground beef and pork, milk-soaked panko bread crumbs, eggs, and seasonings. The meatball mixture is portioned with a small scoop into bite-sized balls, then rolled and partially baked in the oven on a sheet pan.
While the meatballs bake, in a large sauce pan, whisk together brown sugar, ketchup, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce and a little hot sauce. Heat over medium heat just until the sauce begins to bubble.
Add the baked meatballs to the saucepan with the bourbon sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid, then lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes – to cook the meatballs through.
Serve as an appetizer with toothpicks or little bamboo forks like these. Or, spoon the Bourbon Meatballs and sauce over rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.
A few tips and tricks
Russ uses the bagged, frozen meatballs for his Bourbon Meatballs sold at our swim meets. You can certainly do that to save some time.
You can skip the sauce pan and go right to placing the meatballs and sauce in a slow cooker. It will take the meatballs some additional time to cook all the way through in the sauce, but then, you can keep this dish warm in the slow cooker.
You may enjoy these other meatball recipes:
- Porcupine Meatballs
- Sweet and Tangy Cocktail Meatballs
- Stuffed Meatballs
- Baked Meatball Parmesan
- The Real IKEA Swedish Meatballs Recipe
1 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup whole milk
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 whole eggs
¼ cup minced onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
1 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce (we use Chalula because it is flavorful but mild)
In a small bowl, mix panko and milk and set aside.
In a large bowl mix beef, pork, eggs, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the panko-milk mixture.
Use a one-ounce scoop and scoop out 42 balls.
Line the balls up on your cutting board and slice each in half.
Place a piece of parchment over a sheet tray and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Keep your hands wet and roll each ball round, total of 84 and line up on a sheet tray.
Bake ten minutes. This is just enough so that they keep their shape before adding to the sauce.
While meatballs are baking, in a medium to large pan, add brown sugar, ketchup, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and whisk over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Hold on low until the meatballs come out of the oven.
Add the partially cooked meatballs to the sauce, bring to a simmer and cover. Lower heat to low and cook 25 minutes.
Alternately you can cook uncovered for the 25 minutes, stirring every so often. This will yield a thicker sauce.
Serve as an appetizer, or as a meal with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.
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