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 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.
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
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!
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.
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.
Can’t get enough meatballs? Try these ~
- Meatballs al Forno
- Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs
- Bourbon Meatballs
- Swedish Cocktail Meatballs
- Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce
- Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs (low carb and keto friendly)
Apple Butter Brandy Meatballs
- 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.