A Hint of Bourbon Meatballs

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | April 12th, 2022 | Appetizers, Recipes, Tapas Monday

An appetizer with hints of bourbon- why not?

saucy bourbon meatballs

As I think about this recipe, I am surprised that it took me until 2018 to create a meatball recipe that included bourbon. Both meatballs and bourbon are favorites on my husband’s list of items to consume. Although it came later than it should have, it’s definitely used frequently and provides much culinary happiness.

From the wayback time machine

To learn more about this recipe, originally published in January 2018, keep reading.

January arrives, and it’s time for a fresh start. All of the shimmering decor of the holidays is put away, and life in general becomes quieter. As a parent of college-aged students it brings about an even greater amount of quiet, as my two pack up their belongings and head off to their respective schools. It’s a bittersweet time for me. I miss the small conversations had over coffee and the extra companion on a trip to the store. I also enjoy the time as just two for my husband and me.

With the house down to a headcount of two on the second Sunday in January, the return to Tapas Monday was inevitable the following day. With holiday activities, work travel, and kids at home, we hadn’t celebrated this event in at least a month, if not two. This would not be a half done event, it would be a meal with a theme running through it.

Since cooking is one way I like to give to others, I decided to make this Monday’s theme an homage to things my husband loves. The easy first choice was bourbon. An aficionado of this amber liquor, I would infuse it into several of the dishes, which wouldn’t be too difficult to do. He also adores meatballs in almost any shape and form. The combination of these two loves was simple- find a way to incorporate bourbon into meatballs.

It’s all about the sauce

The key to this recipe is the sauce. Although there is bourbon in the meatball mixture, that flavor seems to get lost. However, the sauce delivers a decent punch of bourbon. For this recipe, don’t feel the need to hit your top shelf liquor. The bourbon is mixed with many other ingredients, so the elegant hint from a $50 bottle would be lost. Use whatever well bourbon you have on hand. You won’t notice a difference. Save the good bourbon for a recipe like this.

saucy bourbon meatballs

A Hint of Bourbon Meatballs

Michele Pesula Kuegler

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins

Course Appetizer

Servings 36 meatballs



  • Meatballs
  • 1-1/2 pounds 85% lean hamburger
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Sauce
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder



  • Meatballs
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Using hands, mix until ingredients are well blended.
  • Form into walnut-sized balls and place on rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Sauce
  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot; bring to a boil.
  • Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Finishing the meatballs
  • Combine cooked meatballs and sauce in a small crockpot or medium saucepot over low heat.
  • Simmer for 2 hours before serving.

Keyword meatballs
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