How to Make the Best Bourbon Meatballs Ever!

How to Make the Best Bourbon Meatballs ever! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

These luscious little Bourbon Meatballs are going to be the hit of your next party ~ people will flock to the meatballs, but they’ll hang around for the sauce!!

 These luscious little Bourbon Meatballs are going to be the talk of your next party ~ people will come for the meatballs, but they'll stay for the sauce!! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

I have to confess, although these Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs are clearly meant to be appetizers, in our family we just as often make a meal out of them. Last night we had them with mashed potatoes and peas ~ so good! The meatballs themselves are moist and tender because I use a combination of ground beef and ground pork. The pork gives the meatballs great flavor, but also keeps them from being dense. I lighten them up even more with my favorite secret ingredient, Ritz cracker crumbs!

Tender and juicy Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs will be the hit of your next party! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

The sauce for these meatballs is pretty darned amazing, if I do say so myself.  It’s thick and glossy, with a hefty dose of bourbon.  It’s also got that classic cocktail meatball combo of sweet and tangy, thanks to apricot jam and barbecue sauce.  Oh, and there’s a hint of heat from sriracha.  Just typing out those ingredients has got my mouth watering.

 These luscious little Bourbon Meatballs are going to be the hit of your next party ~ people will flock to the meatballs, but they'll hang around for the sauce!!

Since Grant drinks Manhattans we always have bourbon and rye whiskey around, and you can use either for the sauce in this recipe. But even if you don’t drink on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to keep certain spirits in your pantry. I consider bourbon and Marsala wine to be pantry staples.

I like to collect mini airline sized bottles of various spirits so they’re on hand when the need arises. Who knows when a stew might need a shot of cognac, or a frosting could use a touch of Kahlua?

Airline sized bottle of liquor

I’ve probably made a gazillion meatballs in my career ~ I’ve spiked them, super-sized them, and even made them with zucchini. I’ve drawn inspiration from all over the globe, too, with my Swedish Cocktail Meatballs, my Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce, and my Moroccan Cardamom and Lemon Meatballs. But it seems to me there’s something uniquely American about these mini cocktail meatballs slathered in a thick Bourbon sauce, I’m going to claim these for the homeland.

Bourbon Glazed Cocktail Meatballs

This recipe makes approximately 60 meatballs, so enough for a crowd. But they also freeze well, so you can use half the batch and freeze the rest if you’re not in party mode.

TIP: Meatballs can be frozen either cooked, or uncooked. Freeze them on a tray in a single layer until solid, and then transfer to a thick freezer bag or container.

Delicious Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs are tender and light, and slatherd in a dreamy bourbon barbecue sauce! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Cheers!

Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs

Yield: Lots!

 Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup (1 sleeve, finely crushed) Ritz Cracker crumbs (you can use plain bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (for browning the meatballs)
    Bourbon Sauce
  • 1 jar apricot preserves (about a cup, give or take)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp hot chili sauce (use mild chili sauce if you can't take the heat)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Put the above ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using the tips of your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat. I like to do this in my stand mixer.
  3. Form into small 1" balls, I use a small scoop to make them nice and uniform.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. (Check with a thermometer, it should read 160 degrees)
  5. Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve. Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce, and lots of napkins. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.
  6. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick.
http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/its-five-oclock-somewhere-friday-bourbon-meatballs/

notes:

  • If you need to reheat these meatballs, do it gently. I put the meatballs in their sauce, cover with foil, and heat in a 350F oven until bubbling. If you do it on the stove, do it over medium heat, and just bring them to a simmer.

How to Make the Best Bourbon Meatballs ever! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

 *This post was updated from a post published in 2012

 

don’t forget to pin it!

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BOURBON MEATBALLS EVER! These luscious little Bourbon Meatballs are going to be the hit of your next party ~ people will flock to the meatballs, but they'll hang around for the sauce!!

craving more bourbon?

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Bourbon Banana Butter

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Salted Maple Pot de Creme with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Bourbon Meatloaf recipe

Bourbon Glazed Meatloaf

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe | theviewfromgreatisland.com

Black Bottom Bourbon Pecan Pie

68 Comments

  • Reply
    John
    February 5, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I have them in a crackpot. How do of get the sauce to thicken? Take the lid off?

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      You can remove the meatballs and turn the pot to high, with the lid off, or do it in a saucepan on the stove and put the sauce back in the crockpot John.

  • Reply
    Ernest Garcia
    January 8, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    That’s a nice amount of bourbon and with the pork in the mix I bet these are divine. Think I’ll make them large!

  • Reply
    Adina
    December 23, 2016 at 1:55 am

    I wish I had seen these meatballs yesterday. I made some and they were good, but your version sounds even better!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    December 15, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    That bourbon sauce sounds incredible, Sue! What a crowdpleaser!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      I’ve never met anybody so far who doesn’t go crazy over these :)

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    December 15, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Great combination of the sauce with the meatballs, Sue! It is on my list for next week!
    Just so to know….why do you cook the meatballs first in the skillet and then in the oven?

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Yes, you brown them first in the skillet, then finish cooking in the oven. Then they go into the sauce.

  • Reply
    Paula | Vintage Kitchen
    December 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Sensational for the holidays! I just love anything with bourbon, anything!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    December 15, 2016 at 3:16 am

    You’ve definitely got my mouth watering before the sun’s even come up Sue!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    December 15, 2016 at 3:03 am

    Bourbon meatballs?! What?? My husband is gonna die over these. I love that they make so many. I’ll be freezing some for sure. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours
    December 15, 2016 at 2:42 am

    I wouldn’t have imagined Bourbon with meatballs, but reading this makes me think it must work.

  • Reply
    Igor @ Cooking The Globe
    December 14, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Ah, meatballs are like the best food ever for me. They are quick & easy to throw together and they never disappoint. I’ve never tried them with bourbon sauce, though, and yours sounds fantastic!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Thanks Igor!

  • Reply
    Holly
    December 14, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Wow – these look pretty amazing! I love the addition of bourbon and the hot chili sauce for some heat! YUM!

  • Reply
    Debra C.
    December 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Oh my gosh these look absolutely delicious! What a perfect party treat!

  • Reply
    Matt @ RoughEats
    December 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Looks like these would be brilliant in a meatball sandwich!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Oh my, now you’ve got me racing out to the store to grab a nice chewy hero roll!

  • Reply
    Cathy
    December 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I’m so happy I saw this, they look amazing. We are planning a party sometime just after New Year’s and this would make a great appetizer and not too time consuming to make. I love cooking with wine, brandy, now this, but then I have found so many great recipes from you!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 14, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Cathy <3 Happy entertaining!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    December 14, 2016 at 11:05 am

    These appeal to me on so many levels! I could make a meal of them without any trouble. If I get invited out this year or invite others in – I’m making these juicy little bites of yum!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 14, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Juicy Little Bites of Yum ~ might have a catchy new title for this recipe there :)

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    December 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Fabulous! I can just imagine sitting around at night popping one after another of these in to my mouth :) Yum :)

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 14, 2016 at 9:46 am

      That pretty much sums up what we did ;)

  • Reply
    Beth
    November 19, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Two questions:

    1. Do you freeze the meatballs before or after baking?

    2. Can I make the sauce ahead and freeze that?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 19, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Well, I think you can do it either way. Freezing the cooked meatballs would be easier. And yes, you could make the sauce ahead and freeze.

  • Reply
    Alicia
    October 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Could I use frozen meatballs instead of making them myself?? Thanks!!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 16, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Yes, sure!

  • Reply
    Ashlee
    October 11, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Made these last week for a work function and they were AWESOME!! Made them Sunday, had some for dinner with mashed potatoes and carrots. The extra sauce on the potatoes was perfect! Warmed them in the crock pot the next day for work and they were nearly as good as the night before. This will certainly be something I make for dinner regularly now!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 11, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Yay, and I can’t think of a better dinner! I really appreciate you taking the time to come back and leave a comment Ashlee <3

  • Reply
    Alfred
    August 25, 2016 at 7:27 am

    I made these for a cocktail party last night and they were a huge hit! There were no leftovers and my boyfriend wouldn’t allow me to dispense of the remaining sauce.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 25, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Haha, that sauce is liquid gold :)

  • Reply
    Shannon
    May 4, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    What type of hot chili sauce? Sriracha? Tabasco? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 4, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      You an use whatever you like, Shannon, I usually have sriracha in my fridge.

  • Reply
    Jj Ebelhar
    April 16, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Please help me. I cannot seem to pull up the recipe for “Its 5 o’clock somewhere bourbon cocktail meatballs.” I can see the ingredients, but when I click on “make it”, I just see the comments- no recipe. It’s so frustrating. I am relatively new to Pintrest, so I must be doing something wrong.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 16, 2016 at 7:57 am

      I’m not sure what you mean Jj, because you’re on the post right now…but I’ll email it to you.

  • Reply
    Jonathan
    November 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    SUE! This sounds crazy amazing. I’m adding them to my Christmas Cocktail Party, appetizer list! – Jonathan (The Stiers Aesthetic)

  • Reply
    Lara
    May 1, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Would these be still good if I cooked the meatballs a day in advance?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 1, 2015 at 11:43 am

      I’m afraid they would not be as good, Lara, because cooked ground meat doesn’t keep very well, it gets dense and tough. You could form the meatballs ahead if you like.

      • Reply
        Alfred
        August 25, 2016 at 7:30 am

        Actually, I made these a day in advance, reheated them in the slow cooker and they were just as good as when they were freshly made. Set your slow cooker to warm and let them reheat for at least an hour.

  • Reply
    Jenny
    April 20, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Sorry if this has already been asked… but can I use frozen meatballs?? Yours look divine but I need to save on time :) Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I haven’t tried it myself, Jenny, but you certainly could just add the sauce to the pre-made meatballs.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Birthday Feature: Goodbye Roaring 20s {a glitz and glam 30th birthday celebration}
    February 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    […] did our best to choose crowd pleasing appetizers.  The menu?  Saucy Bourbon Meatballs {recipe from the view from great island}, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Pickled Prawns, Salmon Mousse and one of our family’s favorites […]

  • Reply
    J
    February 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    The Friends of the Library have an annual mini-golf in the library fundraiser and this year we are adding an adult evening wine/beer tasting. This will be a perfect recipe for me to make–it makes a lot with an affordable amount of ingredients. Thank you.
    I like your idea of appetizers on Fridays. If I lived alone, this is how I would eat. I do buy nips at different times when I am trying a recipe. I love the mini sized bottles that a lot of the liqueurs come in.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      February 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I think these would be perfect, and they don’t have to be super hot when you serve them. The only thing I would say is that meatballs, especially small meatballs, don’t do too well if made far in advance, they tend to get tough in the fridge. So I would make them just before the event! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    January 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I definately have to try these for the Super Bowl Party

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    October 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    What kind of BBQ sauce did you use? Also, when you say this recipe makes “lots”, about how many is that? Trying to plan ahead for a party. Need to know if I should double this.

  • Reply
    Matt
    September 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    As a bourbon drinker myself, I am excited to try this recipe. They look awesome!

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I love the idea of using a bourbon sauce on these. The meatballs are, indeed, a great starter. Your pictures are getting better and better. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    Bites from life with the barking lot
    September 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    That’s a nice amount of bourbon and with the pork in the mix I bet these are divine. Think I’ll make them large!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      I did get a lovely whiff of bourbon as I was setting these out to eat. I couldn’t think of a way to serve these as regular meatballs, but I’m sure there’s a way. Let me know if you try them!

  • Reply
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen
    September 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I love these and the bourbon must make them taste fantastic. I’ll save this for our cocktail hour get-together at the pool at the condo this winter. Thanks!

    It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. Can’t wait until next Friday.
    Sam

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    oh, my, heaven, not only did you leave me craving meatballs once again, but you managed to include all those fantastic flavors! I’ll start collecting the mini bottles with you, Sue. I LOVE having them around for holiday baking!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Between us we could corner the meatball market!! I’m so nuts about my mini liquor bottle collection that I hate it when anyone wants to use one up…I want to have as many varieties as possible…I think I have a problem…

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    September 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    what an excellent excellent recipe, so perfect and quite fruity tasting I imagine? and you know it’s always ‘gin-o’clock’ somewhere….

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      The taste is fruity, sweet, hot and smokey. I forgot to mention that lots of different jams would work, including marmalade, peach, blackberry, etc.

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    September 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Bet they are good:)

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    September 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I need to do this with tofu! Bourbon, brown sugar, apricot, chili….this is like my savory mecca, right there! Love it!!

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    September 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Just showed them to hubs, he swooned and asked if we could meet you next time we’re in LA!

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    September 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I die! I’m drinking bourbon right now, it’s 7pm here, I have to make these!
    Oh I made your brownies two hours ago – complete disaster, my fault I guestimated the butter and chocolate and they are so oily and wet, still the hubs will eat them, but I like my brownies dry, chewy and cakey.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Too bad about the brownies— at least you saved yourself some calories! I thought of you when I was making these meatballs :)

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