Rich, flavourful and smooth. These BBQ Bourbon Meatballs will be the hit at your next party.

It’s the week of the Kentucky Derby. Or it could simply be the first real warm days of spring (if you live somewhere in the northern hemisphere).

Either way, it’s the perfect time to invite your friends over for a glorious cocktail party in the garden.

And with the Kentucky Derby underway this weekend, you’ve got the perfect excuse to prepare some of the Derby’s iconic foods and drinks.

Celebrating Kentucky Derby With A Classic Mint Julep

Including of course the iconic Mint Julep, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.

Barbecue Bourbon Meatballs: The Perfect Party Snack Celebrating Kentucky Derby

Fancy (or classic) drinks apart, the real star of your party will be these absolutely delicious, rich and flavourful BBQ Bourbon Meatballs.

Though meatballs are always a party pleaser, it’s this super tasty, sweet, and thick barbecue sauce douse with bourbon that makes them irresistible.

Believe me, they will be gone in mere minutes.

And the best thing of all, they are also made in almost no time and can be even prepared in advance. This way, all you need to do before putting them on the buffet is to assemble the sauce and then add the meatballs to reheat.

Barbecue Bourbon Meatballs: The Perfect Party Snack Celebrating Kentucky Derby

By the way, meatballs are the perfect party food, but they also make a great weeknight meal. Simply serve with a side of basmati rice or mashed potatoes.

Recipe: Meatballs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Serves c. 30 meatballs

For the meatballs
1 kg ground beef (I typically us a 70/30 mixture)
6 slices bacon, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the barbecue sauce
250 ml barbecue sauce
100 ml beef stock
30 ml bourbon
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon apricot jam


In a bowl, mix onion, bacon, ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, chili powder and salt.

Using a fork, combine into a smooth mixture.

Scoop out small pieces of the meat mixture and using your palms, roll into small balls.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook the meatballs for about 15 minutes, frequently rotating them to ensure all sides are cooked, until they are well browned.

Remove meatballs from the skillet, then eliminate the excess grease from the pan.

Add barbecue sauce, broth, apricot jam, brown sugar, chili powder and bourbon. Stir together, return to heat, and let simmer for 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes to reheat.

Barbecue Bourbon Meatballs: The Perfect Party Snack Celebrating Kentucky Derby