A Splash Of Bourbon Is All You Need To Amp Up Homemade Meatballs

The benefit of homemade meatballs is that you can use pretty much any ingredients you crave or already have in the kitchen. Ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, or vegetables combine with an array of other ingredients like breadcrumbs, herbs, onions, and your go-to blend of spices. Out of all of the ways there are to customize homemade meatballs, a unique way to boost the flavor is to reach into your liquor cabinet and grab a bottle of bourbon.

That's right, a splash of bourbon will give your meatballs a richer flavor. As you may already know, a sip of bourbon offers different flavor profiles depending on what kind you try, but you can generally expect various levels of smoky, sweet, and woodsy notes. When added to foods like meatballs, the booze will elevate the flavors of the dish and add nuttiness, smokiness, and a sweetness similar to caramel. Use whatever bourbon you have, or consider brands like Evan Williams, Jim Beam, and Maker's Mark, which some consider to be ideal for cooking. Don't worry too much about the liquor content, because a good portion of the alcohol will cook off depending on how long the meatballs simmer. This is all about adding flavor.

How much bourbon is required to improve flavor?

It really won't take much bourbon to improve the quality of your meatballs. When we say a splash, we actually mean just that. Some recipes call for ¼ cup or up to ½ cup of bourbon, depending on how many servings you're making, but a splash will suffice for smaller batches. For this technique, many recipes suggest incorporating the bourbon into the sauce with other ingredients like brown sugar, chili sauce, molasses, and Worcestershire.

Bourbon's deep flavors, especially those from varieties that have been aged for a while, are best paired with meatballs made with rich meats like beef, pork, or lamb. However, it's fine to try a splash with any meatball recipe, even turkey. Consider trying it with Tasting Table's recipe for special Italian meatballs made with ground beef and veal or pork. Or give it a shot with our BBQ meatballs recipe made with ground beef. Even if you swear by your family's secret recipe that's been passed down for generations, you should try adding bourbon to your next batch to impress guests and put your own signature stamp on a classic.