Quite possible the perfect cocktail meatballs, this recipe for slow cooker bourbon meatballs is going to turn heads at any party or gathering. With the deep, rich, sweet flavor of bourbon, along with honey barbecue and a handful of other ingredients, this is a recipe you’re going to be asked for again and again. And by all means, share away!
If you’re asked to bring something to your next family party or get-together, this is the recipe. It’s super easy to make – basically dump a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker and let it do it’s thing for 3 hours. That’s it! Just be prepared for them to go quickly. Because they’re THAT good!
What are Bourbon Meatballs?
Bourbon meatballs are an appetizer dish which uses frozen meatballs in a honey barbecue sauce that contains bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is prized by chefs and culinary artists for it’s unique flavor characteristics, which include flavors best described as vanilla, caramel and oak. Oak you say? Yes indeed, those barrels where bourbon spends it’s early days, imparts a unique flavor that is cherished by bourbon connoisseurs.
For our bourbon meatballs, the bourbon works in harmony with honey barbecue sauce and a few other simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand, to create a sauce that is savory, sweet and unbelievably good on meatballs. I mean, seriously, you’re not going to believe this. You’re going to say “Bourbon meatballs, where have you been all my life?!”
This is one of those recipes where we really like to keep things as simple as possible. Dump and go as they say. So we start with frozen meatballs. What kind? Any kind, just make sure they’re ½ ounce – 1 ounce in size. This is a huge timesaver since most packages of frozen meatballs are already actually cooked through.
Of course you’ll need some bourbon. You don’t have to get too crazy here. If you have a favorite brand on hand, go ahead and use it. We only need ¾ cup. Then we need a honey barbecue sauce. Again, any brand you have is fine. I really like Sweet Baby Ray’s, but feel free to use your favorite.
We’ll take those main ingredients and bring them all together in harmony with some minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and onion powder.
Add all the ingredients, except the meatballs into a large bowl and whisk them all together. This is important! Get all those ingredients mixed together so they’re nice and smooth and well incorporated. Add the meatballs to the slow cooker and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Make sure all the meatballs get covered. Give it all a gentle stir.
That’s it. You’re done with the prep. See? I told ya this was easy.
Cook on High for 2-3 hours or Low for 4-5 hours
The frozen meatballs are already cooked so really, we’re just heating them through while we marry all the flavors together in the sauce and into the meatballs. That’s why the slow cooker is so perfect for this recipe. Personally I like to cook on high and then everything is ready to go in just a couple hours. But if you’re planning to be away and want to let them cook on low, that’s fine too. If cooking on high, just make sure to not let them go much longer than 3 hours. We don’t want to sauce to burn.
Keep Warm and Serve
Once our bourbon meatballs are done with their time in the slow cooker, they’re ready to serve right away. Most slow cookers have a keep warm function which is perfect for, well, keeping them warm. You can also plate them, cover with some extra sauce, add toothpicks or appetizer forks and serve them to guests.
Leftovers and Storage
Store leftover meatballs in an airtight plasticware container. Be sure to scoop out any extra sauce from the slow cooker and add to the meatballs being stored. They can be refrigerated up to 3 days and reheat perfectly in the microwave.
When reheating in the microwave, be sure to keep them covered. The sauce will cook very quickly and likes to splatter. If you’re reheating in the plasticware containers, keep the lid loosely attached. I like to add the meatballs to a small microwave safe bowl and use one of those special microwave food covers to keep the splatter down.Print
Best Damn Slow Cooker Bourbon Meatballs
- Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings
Frozen meatballs are slow cooked in an incredible sauce of honey bbq and bourbon to create the ultimate appetizer or party food. Everyone will want this recipe once they try these!
- 2 lbs. frozen meatballs (pre-cooked, ½oz – 1oz each in size)
- 2.5 cups honey barbecue sauce (your favorite brand)
- ¾ cup bourbon
- 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together barbecue sauce, bourbon, vinegar, pepper, red pepper, onion powder and minced garlic. Whisk well to get it all incorporated.
- Add meatballs to slow cooker. Pour sauce over and stir to coat all the meatballs.
- Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours.
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 180 minutes
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: American
Can I make this using fresh homemade meatballs instead of frozen?
Hi Tammy. Indeed you can. Best to brown the meatballs first in a skillet, before adding to the slow cooker.