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Bourbon Meatballs Appetizer

This bourbon meatballs recipe fits the bill of a well-loved and delicious appetizer. The meatballs are succulent, the bourbon sauce is scrumptious and their flavors complement each other famously!

A white shallow bowl with the meatballs in bourbon sauce with others in the background

I usually serve these meatballs as an appetizer but you can also serve them as your main dish.

Christopher and I love appetizers and will periodically eat them instead of a typical dinner. So, when I told Christopher I was making these delicious meatballs, he advocated loudly that he wanted me to make them with a full pound of ground beef.

I crowed silently in my head because I knew I wanted to eat my fill of these bourbon meatballs without having to worry about how much I was eating and whether Christopher was getting his fair share.

Of course, we supplemented this appetizer with some bacon wrapped chicken livers, air fryer pickles, an assortment of olives, pub cheese on crackers and a salad.

Yum. We certainly know how to live!

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Helpful tips

  • If you care how and where your meat and fish are sourced and you haven’t tried ButcherBox yet, you really should. It’s a meat subscriptions service that delivers high quality meat products directly to your door. It’s so convenient and will make you feel good knowing your consuming such delicious and excellent quality meats.
  • If you can, buy grass-fed beef because you can taste the difference.
  • Make the bourbon sauce at the same time as the meatballs as this will save you time.
  • Hubby is sensitive to heat, so I only use a little chipotle powder, I encourage you to use as much as you like.
  • These meatballs freeze very well. Just make sure they are in an airtight container.
  • They can also be made ahead of time. You can keep them in the refrigerator, formed but uncooked up to 24 hours before cooking.
A white dish filled with meatballs with a sauce on them with toothpicks in them
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

How to make bourbon meatballs


Get a sauté pan and a mixing bowl.

Step one

Gather the ingredients – bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, egg, herbs and spices and ground beef.

Ground beef, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese egg and spices for the meatballs

Step two

Place all the ingredients above into a mixing bowl.

Ground beef and all the ingredients in a glass bowl with the pan in the background

Step three

With your hands, mix the ingredients together.

Take small amounts of the ground beef mixture with your fingers and roll them into medium-sized meatballs.

Raw meatballs on a blue platter with a cast iron pan in the background

Step four

Heat a sauté pan (or two if you don’t want to cook the meatballs in batches) on medium. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil and once that heats up, place the meatballs in it and stand there while they brown, turning them every 30 seconds or so. Cook for approximately 8 minutes.

Sautéed meatballs in a cast iron pan with other meatballs in the background

Step five

Remove meatballs from the pan and set aside.

Gather the ingredients for the bourbon sauce – ketchup, bourbon, brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, apple cider vinegar, chipotle powder and salt.

The ingredients for the sauce for the meatballs

Step six

Add the bourbon sauce ingredients to a saucepan and heat on medium. Once the sauce comes to a boil, let it cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat and add the meatballs, stir and let them simmer for 5 minutes.

Place the meatballs on a serving plate, making sure to get all of the bourbon sauce out of the saucepan.

Time to sample one.

Bite taken out of one of the meatballs and held over the plate

Now for the overhead view.

Overhead view of the plate of bourbon meatballs


I hope you enjoyed this bourbon meatballs appetizer recipe.

Other meatball recipes

And as always, may all your dishes be delish!

If you’ve tried this or any other recipe on the blog, I’d love the hear what you thought about it in the comments below. I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST  to see more of my delicious food and delightful cocktails!

A white plate with bourbon meatballs on it

Bourbon Meatballs Appetizer

This slightly sweet boozy meatballs appetizer recipe is a true people pleaser. It's so delicious with just the right amount of zing from the bourbon sauce.
5 from 46 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Appetizer
Keyword: bourbon appetizer, bourbon meatballs, meatball appetizer
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 27 meatballs
Calories: 125kcal



  • 1 pound ground beef grass fed
  • .50 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • .25 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon basil dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Bourbon Sauce

  • 4 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 dashes paprika
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 dash chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt



  • In a large mixing bowl, place all the meatball ingredients (except the olive oil) and mix them together with your hands
  • Grab a small amount of meat and roll it into a meatball (you choose the size), place each ball on a plate until all the meat is used up
  • Heat a sauté pan and add up to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Add the meatballs and sauté them, turning them every 30 seconds to brown all the sides. Should take around 8 minutes total
  • Remove meatballs from pan and set aside


  • Add all the ingredients for the sauce, bring it to a boil and cook it for 10 minutes
  • Lower the heat and add meatballs. Stir until the sauce covers them
  • Continue simmering for 5 minutes
  • Plate
  • Eat
  • Smile
  • Enjoy
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Helpful tips
  • If you can, buy grass-fed beef because you can taste the difference.
  • Make the bourbon sauce at the same time as the meatballs as this will save you time.
  • Hubby is sensitive to heat, so I only use a little chipotle powder, I encourage you to use as much as you like.
  • These meatballs freeze very well. Just make sure they are in an airtight container.
  • They can also be made ahead of time. You can keep them in the refrigerator, formed but uncooked up to 24 hours before cooking.


Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
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From lighting up stages with her BA in theater to food journalist, Elaine Benoit's journey is a testament to passion's transformative power. As the CEO of Dishes Delish, she offers a blend of healthy, comforting recipes and exquisitely crafted cocktails. Beyond the kitchen, Elaine voiced her culinary adventures on her podcast, "Dishing," and co-owns Food Blogger Help, extending her expertise to guide budding food bloggers to success. Whether it's for a heartwarming dish or insights into food blogging, Elaine's diverse experiences make her a beacon in the culinary digital landscape.

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  1. These would be perfect to bring to a Super Bowl party! My husband would love the bourbon flavor too… Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Mmmm… that bourbon sauce has me drooling! I bet it would also be awesome on top of meatloaf! Delicious! These are so perfect for game day!

  3. Anything with Brown Sugar and Bourbon immediately moves to the top of my “favorites” list! These meatballs are no exception, so delicious. If I were there, you’d have to make a full batch because I know I’d eat a large portion…

  4. These sound amazing!!! Of course, I’m kinda crazy for any/everything bourbon so I know I’d love them! Definitely pinning them!

  5. Those meatballs!! My mouth is watering just looking at your photos – so yummy! And I love the idea of a boozy bourbon sauce. Great recipe!

  6. I tried these and they came out so delicious!! So easy too! I will make these for my husbands next football party! Thanks Elaine! 🙂

  7. It would be great if someone who had actually made the meatballs left a review . If we are reading the review s we obviously think it “looks” good.

    1. I understand Lorna, but I can’t control how people comment on my website. It is a great recipe and my family makes it regularly! I hope you give it a try.

        1. I’m so happy you liked them. Hubby and I love them and are actually going to have them today as an appetizer! Thanks for taking the time to tell me and rate the recipe, Carole! I appreciate it.

    1. Yes, Janice, you definitely could. I’ve done it before – you can turn the crockpot to low for 4 hours. Or even heat it on the stove but the crockpot will let you set it and forget it.

  8. They are the best, I love them and are so easy. I was wondering if they can be mixed, and either refrigerate for 24 hours? Would be a lot easier on me the next day. Thanks, Dottie

    1. Dottie, you can shape the meatballs a day before and bake up to 24 hours later. Hope that helped. I’m glad you enjoyed them. 🙂

  9. The sauce is so good, that I double it just so I can bathe my meatballs in it, drizzle it over rice, and lap it up from the plate! YUM!

    1. Lol! I double it too when I have a bunch of people as they want to drink the sauce. If it’s hubby and I, I keep as is or I’ll be drinking it too. 😉 Thanks Jenn!

  10. These Meatball appetizers look incredible! I love how easy the Bourbon sauce is to make! I need this in my life!

  11. I love having appetizers for dinner especially when they look this good. These brazen bourbon meatballs will be perfect for entertaining or a great family meal.

  12. This bourbon meatballs recipe looks really appetizing! I wish I could have this on my plate right now! My wife will surely love this, too.

  13. What a wonderful appetizer idea. And you make it more appetizing. Thank you for sharing your yummy recipe

  14. Elaine, this looks amazing! I’m not a fan of meatballs but your photos and the recipe are making me so hungry right now! Love the idea of bourbon glaze!

  15. Those tasty little bourbon meatballs will be a perfect addition to my Superbowl party! Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe!~

  16. These are THE BEST bourbon meatballs I have ever seen. Delicious, juicy and so inviting. And the combination of flavors is simply outstanding – can’t wait to enjoy it! 🙂

  17. These are just the perfect thing for game day! The idea of adding bourbon is amazing, I love it! Thanks for the tips and recipe.

  18. I wanted to make a different kind of meatball for our party and the minute I saw bourbon meatballs I knew I’d found the recipe I wanted. The meatball appetizer is even better than I imagined. Everyone gobbled them up and they all wanted the recipe. This is one of those recipes that will be a regular at our parties.

  19. Bourbon and meatballs??? Count me in! These look positively scrumptious! And we LOVE Butcher Box for their ground meat too!

  20. There’s nothing better than a juicy meatball as an appetizer! But then you add in all of these flavors together and you have a WINNING combination! YUM!

  21. Can’t take my eyes off those mouthwatering meat balls. Oh my,.. the flavors are fantastic! Full points for that insanely delicious bourbon sauce.

    1. Becky, I have and it comes out delicious. I’ve used each of these meats by themselves: pork, lamb and chicken. Let me know how it comes out.

  22. Would the sauce lose any of its flavor if I made it the day before or is it one of those recipes it is even better the next day?

    1. Hi Margarett! Yes you can freeze them in the sauce. There isn’t enough booze in it to not freeze, so you are good to go. It’s one of my most asked-for appetizers! Good luck and thanks for your question.

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