Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs

apple butter brandy meatballs in a small copper skillet

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs ~ the name tells you all you need to know. These luscious meatballs are smothered in a sweet and tangy apple butter brandy sauce that will bring you to your knees! Technically for the cocktail hour, no one will complain if you serve them for dinner.

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs in a skillet

apple butter brandy meatballs steal the show!

While these might technically be considered ‘cocktail’ meatballs, I purposely didn’t put that in the title, I don’t want to discourage anyone from making a dinner out of them, because that’s what we did (two nights in a row 🙂 )

But truly, this is one starter that doesn’t necessarily need a follow up act. If you love heavy appetizers, or want to set out a finger food spread for dinner, these are perfect. They’re bite sized, juicy, and absolutely explode with flavor.

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs in a skillet

ingredients for apple butter brandy meatballs

There’s no second fiddle ingredient in this recipe ~  the soft plush meatballs infused with finely minced fresh sage hold their own in that awesome sauce. The apple butter and brandy flavors come through strong, as does the tang from the bbq sauce. The whole thing is rich, complex, and delicious.

  • ground beef and ground pork ~ the combination makes for extra juicy meatballs.
  • onion ~ make sure to mince it finely.
  • bread crumbs ~ use dried packaged crumbs, or make your own homemade bread crumbs.
  • egg ~ a classic binder in meatball recipes.
  • apple butter ~ adds moisture and lovely flavor to the meat.
  • brandy ~ works with the apple butter to make an unforgettable sauce. Some of the alcohol will cook off, but not all, so these meatballs are for adults only.
  • barbecue sauce ~ use your favorite from the supermarket.
  • chili sauce ~ gives a gentle heat to the sauce.
  • brown sugar ~ for a subtle sweetness and hint of molasses.
  • sage ~ balances out all the heavier flavors.
  • salt and black pepper
apple butter brandy meatballs ready to go into the oven

how to keep those meatballs nice and round!

I use an interesting technique to cook my meatballs, after forming them I put them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes first, then I add them to a hot skillet to brown them, keeping the pan moving often, so they stay nice and round. No more flat sided meatballs!

Cooking meatballs for Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs

apple butter is such a wonderful ingredient to cook with in fall

Most of us have spread it on toast, or baked it up in bread, or in a cake, but don’t count it out of savory recipes like this one, too. The flavor is rich and spicy, and not too sweet. Look for it in the jam or peanut butter section of your supermarket, most stores will stock it. You can make your own quite easily, too. I have a recipe for a quick One Hour No Sugar Apple Butter, but that one has no spices added to it. I also make a delicious Cranberry Apple Butter, which would be an interesting variation in this meatball recipe.

Apple butter brandy meatballs cooking in a skillet with a spoon

stainless steel cocktail forks

Of course you can use toothpicks to serve your meatballs, but I also love inexpensive stainless steel cocktail or ‘tasting’ forks. They’re reusable and make such a nice presentation. They comes in lots of different versions, including plastic, but I prefer the stainless steel. You’ll use them year after year.

If you’ve inherited a complete set of flatware you might already have some tiny vintage forks in your collection, they were used for butter, pickles, fish, dessert, etc. I have a mix-matched set that I’ve gathered from thrift stores.

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs in a skillet with a cocktail fork

Can’t get enough meatballs? Try these ~

apple butter brandy meatballs in a small copper skillet
3.74 from 50 votes

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs

Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs, the name tells you all you need to know. These luscious meatballs are smothered in a sweet and tangy apple butter brandy sauce that will bring you to your knees. Technically for the cocktail hour, no one will complain if you serve them for dinner.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 48 servings
Calories 82kcal
Author Sue Moran



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 medium onion finely minced
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp each salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp finely minced fresh sage


  • 1 and 2/3 cups apple butter
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce bottled
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar optional
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Mix the meatball ingredients together gently but thoroughly. I like to use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but you can do it by hand, as well. Make sure everything is evenly incorporated into the meat before forming your balls.
  • Use a tablespoon or small scoop to portion out the meatballs. You can them to be cocktail, or bite, sized. I use a rounded tablespoon for each ball. Roll them between your palms until they are smooth and round. Set them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • To make the sauce, add all the ingredients to a large saucepan and heat, stirring to combine, until the sauce comes to a boil. Lower the heat and let it boil gently for about 5 minutes. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients or seasonings.
  • Meanwhile heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. After removing the meatballs from the oven, brown them, in batches, in the skillet. Cook, turning often, for about 5-7 minutes, or until done inside The internal temperature should reach 155F (the meatballs will continue cooking in the sauce.)
  • Combine the meatballs and the sauce together and bring up to a gentle simmer. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes to heat everything through.
  • Serve hot with toothpicks or cocktail forks. If you like you can load everything into a crock pot set on warm and serve from there.

Cook’s notes

This recipe is not suitable for kids. Even though much of the alcohol will cook off, some will remain. Reduce the amount of brandy if you like.


Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Donna Wallen
    December 7, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    5 stars
    Another excellent Sue Moran recipe!!

  • Reply
    Sandi Wolf
    October 12, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    5 stars
    Perfection. Meatballs held together & the sauce was devine.

  • Reply
    September 18, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Sue, the recipe says brown sugar is optional. Do you usually add it? Are these sweet enough without it?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

      I usually add it, but so many readers want to cut down on sugar I mention that it’s optional. Be sure to taste as you go with the sauce so you can get it the way you like it.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2020 at 7:03 am

    5 stars
    The Blackberry Slab was out of this world.
    Want to make it every day but that’s a
    No-No.. thanks for good info!!!

  • Reply
    Patricia Lomax
    August 26, 2020 at 5:51 am

    I have a friend who is allergic to alcohol. Can you recommend a substitute for the brandy? I have considered chicken broth. Thanks.

    Trish, [email protected]

    • Reply
      August 26, 2020 at 6:12 am

      You might try some good cider, Patricia.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2020 at 11:01 am

    5 stars
    For some reason, I had to subscribe again, and with a few other people that I subscribe to also. But I am glad to be getting your posts again, and this is one recipe I will definitely try! I love meatballs and these look so delicious!

    • Reply
      August 16, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      These are yummy Cathy, and I’m so glad you reconnected with me 🙂

  • Reply
    September 20, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Is there a brand of chili sauce that you would recommend? I’m in Texas and the variation of chili sauces is unreal. I’m unsure of what to use! Help.

    • Reply
      September 20, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      I’m afraid I’m going to be boring and recommed good old Heinz…and if I’m feeling adventurous I will sometimes use a super hot chili sauce like sriracha. I think you should go with your instincts and pick an interesting Texas style sauce, I’m sure it will be wonderful.

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