Maple Whiskey-Laced BBQ Meatballs

When you combine delicious meatballs with maple whiskey-laced BBQ sauce you’ve entered a new realm of unique flavor celebrations!  Whiskey, maple syrup, smoked paprika and cumin are only a few of the ingredients that combine to create the perfect complement to your meatballs.

Can you believe I’ve never put BBQ sauce on meatballs?  Honestly, it’s never occurred to me but when I saw this amazing recipe in Kristy Gardner’s new book, Cooking with Cocktails, I knew I had to have it!

Kristy is a fellow Canadian and extremely talented recipe creator, food photographer, blogger and now author of this amazing cookbook.  I’m so thrilled for her success and wanted to share this recipe so you can get a peek at the beauty of cooking with wines, spirits and beers.  They add that extra depth of flavor and richness that takes your dish to the next level.

Maple Whiskey - Laced BBQ Meatballs - Simply Fresh Dinners

Kristy’s writing is humorous and personable and after reading the introduction you want to ask her to be your best friend.  I love this lady!   She’s self-effacing, hilarious and super talented.  And now she’s sharing her glorious creations with us.

Cooking with Cocktails - Kristy Gardner

I first ‘met’ Kristy on Twitter when I noticed her tweet about escaping to Salt Spring Island (a gorgeous island on the west coast of Canada) to finish writing her book.   She was sitting out on the deck sipping on some wine and I tweeted to her that she might want to keep an eye out for cougars, ha!  I think I freaked her out a bit but I’m very familiar with the cougar population on the island and they are everywhere!  As someone who has had a cougar bound through my backyard  while also sipping on some wine, I thought I should let her know it was a possibility!

Maple Whiskey - Laced BBQ Meatballs - Simply Fresh Dinners

I tried my best to replicate the styling in her photo from the book because it’s so beautiful.  All of her shots are stunning and mouthwatering and I can’t wait to make Strawberry Chambord Whipped Stilton Cheese Toasts,  Mushroom Thyme Sherry Soup, and the Beef & Barley Red Wine Stew just to name a few.

Maple Whiskey - Laced BBQ Meatballs - Simply Fresh Dinners

This isn’t just a cookbook, it’s an experience.  Each time you pull it out to find a recipe you will smile because you know you’ll get a taste of Kristy’s contagious enthusiasm along with her gorgeous dishes.   First one up – these amazing meatballs – go for it!  Cheers!

Oh, and don’t forget to share your photos when you make these.  Both Kristy and I would love to see and share them.  Hashtag us on Instagram!  #kristy_gardner  and #simplyfreshdinners

By the way, are you known for burn marks on your hands from the oven?  I picked up some safety gloves to keep my skin safe.  What a difference.  Check out this related site.

Smoky Stout or Maple Whiskey BBQ Sauce

When you combine delicious meatballs with maple whiskey-laced BBQ sauce you’ve entered a new realm of unique flavor celebrations!

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup stout beer or maple rye whiskey (if unavailable, regular rye whiskey and a tablespoon of pure maple syrup will do it)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp adobe sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  1. Heat the butter in a medium pot over medium heat.  When sizzling and melty, add the onion and garlic.  Saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often.

  3. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a food processor.  Puree at high speed until smooth.  Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender, but be careful – it’s hot!

  4. Pour into a mason jar os other nonreactive vessel.

Maple Whiskey-Laced Meatballs

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 4 good dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 batch Smokey Maple Whiskey BBQ Sauce
  1. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and line a large late with parchment paper.  Set aside.

  2. Place all the remaining ingredients, except the oil, in a large mixing bowl.  Using your hands, mix well to combine , being careful not to overwork the meat.

  3. Roll the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls and then gently toss in the flour – this helps the balls stay together during cooking and creates a good crust on the outside.  Shake off the excess flour and place one the prepared plate.

  4. Once all balls are formed, preheat your oven to 350 F

  5. Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe pan.  When the oil is hot, add the balls and carefully shake to coat with the oil.  Brown well on all sides.  Be careful not to crowd the pan, or you’ll steam the balls rather than brown them; you may need to do this in batches if your pan isn’t large enough.

  6. Cover the pan and place in the hot oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

  7. To serve, coat with the Smoky Maple Whiskey BBQ sauce and heat through, if necessary.

Don’t forget to PIN IT!

An amazingly delicious recipe from 'Cooking with Cocktails' by Kristy Gardner!



  • Reply
    kristy @ she eats
    March 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Robyn. You are amazing – like, totally incredible. I’m speechless. And you know that’s a rare thing 😉 Thank you so so much for sharing my book on your blog and all the social medias. I’m THRILLED you liked the meatballs and whiskey BBQ sauce – you know your food and your photos always blow me away. I’m honoured to be here and to be your friend. You amaze me.
    kristy @ she eats recently posted…Cooking With Cocktails Blog TourMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

      Shhhhhh, Kristy! People are going to know I paid you to say all those things when you go overboard 😉
      You know I love you and your book and the photos were easy because I copied your styling, ha! These were the best meatballs I’ve had, girl!
      Robyn recently posted…Maple Whiskey-Laced BBQ MeatballsMy Profile

  • Reply
    blair @ The Seasoned Mom
    March 5, 2017 at 6:50 am

    YUM! We love slow cooker BBQ meatballs, but I’ve never thought to add whiskey to the mix. Sounds delicious! Any dish prepared with a bit of alcohol tastes so much more complex and interesting!
    blair @ The Seasoned Mom recently posted…Our Week in Meals #18My Profile

    • Reply
      March 5, 2017 at 9:02 am

      I do meatballs in the slow cooker, Blair, but I cheat and buy the good quality frozen ones made at the farm. Easiest meal ever, lol. Meatballs are right up there with shrimp and salmon on my favorites list. I bet with 3 boys , you have a meatball loving family!
      Robyn recently posted…Maple Whiskey-Laced BBQ MeatballsMy Profile

      • Reply
        blair @ The Seasoned Mom
        March 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

        Oh, please…you know I’m the queen of shortcuts! More often than not I use the frozen meatballs from the store, too. SO easy — and yes, my boys love them!
        blair @ The Seasoned Mom recently posted…Our Week in Meals #18My Profile

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    March 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    These look phenomenal! I’m such a big fan of Jameson anyway – so I cannot wait to try this. It’s perfect for the next week of Irish inspired food for St. Patrick’s Day. The cookbook looks beautiful – I’m going to have to get a copy! Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe. Congratulations Kristy!
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert recently posted…Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse CakeMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      I just tried Jameson’s not long ago, Tricia, and I’m a big fan so I was happy that Kristy gave me the go ahead to use it with this recipe. Your ‘EDitor’ mentioned to me that you both drink Jameson’s so when we finally meet, I’ll be sure to have some on hand!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    March 6, 2017 at 8:11 am

    I can’t resist a good meatball and this is more than good! That sauce!! Love it and I know my husband would as well 🙂 What a fabulous cookbook , too!
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers recently posted…Very Berry Crumb CakeMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 8, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Don’t you think the world is a better place because of meatballs, Jennifer? lol This sauce blew my mind! And now I have decided that Jameson’s is the best whiskey ever made!

  • Reply
    March 6, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Robyn, these maple whisky laced meatballs are absolutely swoon worthy, love cooking with wine, will have to try whisky. Your pics are gorgeous!!!
    cheri recently posted…Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Herbs and SpicesMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 8, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      They were so delicious, Cheri! I totally copied Kristy’s styling so it was a breeze – love when that happens. I want to come check out your cauliflower. I have bought it with the intention of roasting it whole a least 5 times but somehow it never happens, lol.

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    March 8, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Sounds like a good book. Certainly these meatballs look terrific! Wonderful flavor in these — thanks.
    John/Kitchen Riffs recently posted…Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpea SoupMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 8, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      The book is so fun, John, and every dish is enticing! I’m making these meatballs again very soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Bam's Kitchen
    March 9, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks so much Robyn for introducing us to Kristy! Need to check out her cookbook. Loving these lip smacking delicious meatballs.
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted…Baked Tilapia with Caramelized Onion LentilsMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 10, 2017 at 7:40 am

      I’m a huge fan of Kristy’s and you’ll love her blog, Bobbi! Can’t wait to your new site, friend – so exciting!
      Robyn recently posted…Vegan Sriracha Ranch DressingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Linda Primmer
    March 11, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Beautiful meatballs. They are a favorite. Love the twist with the addition of maple and whiskey. A true winner. Have a lovely weekend my sweet friend. Lots of love from W.W.
    Linda Primmer recently posted…Interior LandscapingMy Profile

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