Italian meatballs in bourbon sauce

These Italian meatballs are great as starters and for parties. Make sure you make enough because they’ll be gone before you know it. Maybe it’s sacrilege to throw Italian meatballs in a sweet American sauce, but we don’t care. What is tasty is tasty.

These are all the ingredients for the Italian meatballs except egg. As you can see, we don’t make burgers. Breadcrumbs and an extra egg are allowed in this recipe. These make the meatballs a bit firmer so that they remain nicely round and do not fall apart.

We grate the onion and garlic before mixing them into the minced meat. By grating the onion, you lose a lot of the moisture, which make the minced meat mix a bit too soft, and it just mixes better. We like the grated garlic better because it gives much more flavour.

The Grana Padano cheese gives the balls that extra surprise. The outside will be nice and crispy, and the cheese on the inside will melt through the minced meat.

Then we form the balls about the size of golf balls. Just a little bigger than you can stuff in your mouth in one go (this isn’t a challenge) and also just big enough that they don’t fall between the grates.

Now let the balls lie over direct heat until they formed a crust and come loose off the grates by themselves. Don’t pull or scrape to get them loose. A clean grate helps, of course.

When you are busy grilling the balls, you can also make the sauce. We do this in a dutch oven. Add all the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir until the brown sugar has dissolved and the sauce begins to simmer. Then add the meatballs and mix well.

Once the balls are in the sauce, continue cooking them to 70°C (158F). If you don’t serve them right away, let them sit over low heat until your guests arrive. Just as easy.

These are our Italian meatballs in bourbon sauce. Great as a snack at a party or with a few at a time on a sandwich.

If you are going to make these meatballs let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 1 kilo ground beef or pork
  • 100 grams breadcrumbs
  • 100 grams Grana Padano cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 white onion

For the bourbon sauce

  • 200 ml bourbon
  • 200 ml honey
  • 150 ml ketchup
  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Grate the onion and garlic very finely. Discard the juice released from the onion.
  2. Grate the Grana Padano a little coarser. Mix everything in a large bowl with the minced meat, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper.
  3. Make meatballs the size of a golf ball.
  4. Grill the meatballs over direct heat until they are browned all over.
  5. Mix all ingredients for the bourbon sauce in a large pan that will fit all the meatballs later.
  6. Stir the sauce until the sugar has dissolved, and add the meatballs. Make sure the sauce covers all the balls and let it simmer until the balls have a core temperature of 70°C (158F).

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