Bourbon BBQ Bison Meatballs

Bourbon BBQ Bison Meatballs

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Method: Bake

This recipe doesn’t need a long intro because who doesn’t love a great meatball? This easy, flavorful recipe for Bourbon BBQ Bison Meatballs adds a little extra kick of flavor that you are sure to love. Not drinking alcohol these days? Just leave it out. The BBQ flavor has plenty of sweet tang. This recipe uses our Ground Bison Heart & Liver Blend and is a great way to add (or sneak) extra nutrients into a delicious meal but you can use regular Ground Bison or Ground Beef instead if you prefer and get equally tasty results. Bake these in the oven for about 30 minutes or throw them in your slow cooker for 2-3 hours and chill. 

Pro tip: Double or triple the recipe and freeze some for an easy weeknight meal!

Recipe & photographs from Modern Farmhouse Eats.


Bison meatballs:

  • 1 lb Ground Bison Heart & Liver Blend (Can also use regular Ground Bison or Ground Beef)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ yellow onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Bourbon BBQ Bison Meatballs

Bourbon BBQ sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ beef broth
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  •  3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika

 Recipe Hack: Don’t have all these ingredients on hand or want to save some time? Simply use a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce instead.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease an oven-proof skillet with olive oil. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil and chives. Use your hands to mix until combined. 
  3. Roll 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into a ball and place into the skillet. Repeat with the remaining meat. 
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until the tops of the meatballs are lightly browned. 
  5. While the meatballs bake, mix together the Bourbon BBQ Sauce ingredients. 
  6. Remove the meatballs from the oven and pour the sauce over the top. Gently mix to combine. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken and caramelize. 
  7. If desired, transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm and garnish with chopped chives.

Want to make these in your slow cooker instead?

Follow the directions above to make the Bison meatballs and the BBQ sauce. Then transfer both the meatballs and BBQ sauce to your slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 2-3 hours or until the sauce is warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What seasoning is good on bison?

Bison has a very clean, slightly sweet taste with no gamey flavor. You don’t need to add a lot of seasoning to bison. I like adding onion, garlic, and a few simple seasonings to make bison meatballs.

Can you cook ground bison like ground beef?

Ground bison and ground beef can be used interchangeably in any red meat recipe. Keep in mind that bison is leaner than beef so it will cook a little faster.

Can I use ground beef in this recipe?

Yes, you can substitute ground beef with a 1-to-1 ratio. 

What is the secret to making good meatballs?

Do not overmix the meat! Once you add breadcrumbs, egg, and seasoning to the meat, mix with your hands until just combined. Overmixing the meat results in tough meatballs.

Is milk or egg better for meatballs?

Mixing a raw egg with ground meat helps to bind the meatball together so it holds together while cooking.

How long does alcohol take to cook off?

It may come as a surprise, but alcohol actually takes a lot longer to cook off than you would typically think. Below is an alcohol burn-off time chart that comes from the USDA showing the amount of alcohol that remains after cooking.

  • 15 minutes cooking time: 40%
  • 30 minutes cooking time: 35%
  • 1 hour cooking time: 25%
  • 1.5 hours cooking time: 20%
  • 2 hours cooking time: 10%
  • 2.5 hours cooking time: 5%

For example, Bourbon BBQ Meatballs bake in the bourbon BBQ sauce for about 10 minutes, and after that time, about 40% of the alcohol remains. Something to keep in mind if you’re avoiding alcohol.

Avoiding alcohol? Simply leave it out.

Storage instructions

Transfer leftover meatballs to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Reheat the meatballs on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave until warmed through. If the BBQ sauce thickens up too much, add a little beef broth or water.

Freezing instructions

Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

About Modern Farmhouse Eats: Rachel Riesgraf is a recipe developer, food photographer, and avid deer hunter. She grew up on a farm in Minnesota which is where she learned how to create the best homestyle recipes using only the best fresh, seasonal ingredients. Today she applies that same passion for ingredients and style of cooking as she develops easy, from scratch, comfort food recipes for the busy, modern cook. View the original recipe post on Modern Farmhouse Eats and check out more of Rachel’s tasty work!

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