Favorite Bourbon Meatballs for a Crowd

This bourbon meatballs recipe is a crowd favorite! It’s a staple on the menu for cocktail parties and appetizer parties. Serve them for holiday gatherings, family celebrations, or for a Kentucky derby party. Just add everything to the slow cooker for easy prep!

bourbon meatballs in white bowl overhead view

I’ve been hosting parties for over 2 decades and this heavy hors d’oeuvres recipe is always on the menu for cocktail parties with a large group. My friends just devour these meatballs!

If you’ve made the classic meatballs with jelly and chili sauce, it’s time to upgrade to this bourbon infused version. It’s easy to make and you can do it a day ahead, or put them in the slow cooker 3 or 4 hours before your guests arrive.

Why You’ll Love It

  • They feed a crowd with very little effort.
  • Cocktail meatballs in bourbon sauce can be made ahead in the crockpot for easy entertaining.
  • They’re a must-have item for any appetizer party menu. It’s as classic as a crudites platter or a charcuterie board. And it appeals to men, women, and children (the alcohol cooks off).
  • Not only are cocktail meatballs economical, they’re also a great time saver.
  • The magic is in the sauce and this recipe is tried and true.

Best Tips

For the best flavor, make the bourbon meatballs a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.

Letting the recipe sit overnight allows the meatballs to fully absorb the flavors of the sauce. Also, the fat that’s rendered from cooking the meatballs will float to the top and harden when it gets cold. Then you can skim it off with a spoon before re-heating and serving.

bourbon meatballs in white bowl

These bourbon meatballs fit right into a Kentucky derby party menu since bourbon is a big theme at the event.

Another bourbon infused recipe that’s great for holidays and derby parties is sweet bourbon balls. These are great for when you want small bites of sweetness.

PARTY TIP: Transfer the prepared meatballs to a pretty chafing dish with Sterno canned heat and place on the buffet table to keep warm.

cocktail meatballs in bourbon sauce overhead view

What to Serve With It

For a great start to a cocktail party menu serve these meatballs, plus marinated shrimp cocktail.

Add one of these baked brie topped 3 ways, and baked spinach or artichoke dip.

Round out with veggie dip cups or a crudites platter.

And for some sweet bites try these champagne Jello squares and sweet & spicy pecans.

bourbon meatballs recipe overhead with text

If you like this post, PINShare, or sign up for our Newsletter at the top of the page. And don’t forget to follow CAH on Instagram or Facebook. Cheers!

meatballs in bourbon sauce

Bourbon Meatballs Appetizer Recipe

Yield: about 20 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

This Meatballs in Bourbon Sauce is a classic party appetizer recipe. They're always the first thing people want to eat at cocktail parties or home entertaining.


  • 32 ounce bag Frozen meatballs {I get them from Sam’s or Costco}
  • 2 cups traditional barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder {not garlic salt}
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Add frozen meatballs to large crock pot. Combine all of sauce ingredients together in a bowl and then pour over meatballs.
  2. Add lid and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Turn to low or warm setting and serve.


I like to transfer these to a pretty chafing dish with sterno to keep them warm, for a party!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts


  1. Sounds delicious! How do you recommend reheating them if you make them ahead of time?

    1. Hi Caroline, for a party I reheat in the crock pot and serve them directly from there, or transfer them to a chafing dish once they’re warmed through. You can also heat them in a large pot on the stove over medium-low heat. You should have plenty of sauce to warm them in.

  2. Can you use “Italian styled” meatballs? I am asking because that is what my Costco has right now. Otherwise I need to look somewhere else.

Comments are closed.