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Beef-Apple Meatballs with Bourbon Sauce

We are huge fans of evidenced by the long list of meatballs that we have made: The Great Disappearing Chinese Meatballs, Soutzoukakia (Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce), Albóndigas de Pavo con Salsa de Guayaba (Columbian Turkey Meatballs in Guava Sauce), Bitokes (Russian Meatballs), Spicy Meatball Bánh Mì, and more!

I wanted to make meatballs that were indicative of the season. Autumn is definitely upon us. So, I set to work making meatballs with apples and incorporating bourbon into the sauce. Oh, and they are gluten-free!!



  • 1 pound ground beef (prefer organic, grass fed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 C tart apple, shredded
  • 1/2 C gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 to 2 T fresh herbs (I used parsley and oregano)


  • 1 C bourbon
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 C ketchup
  • 2 T tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t oregano leaves
  • 2 T shredded apple

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. Shape into tablespoon-sized meatballs. Place them on a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, make bourbon sauce.

Place the sugar and bourbon together in a heavy skillet. Bring to a simmer and swirl pan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in the ketchup, tamari, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Bring to a simmer again and stir in the oregano and the apples. Bring to boil, then, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced by about half. The sauce should be just thick enough to coat meatballs with thin layer of sauce.

Once the meatballs are cooked, remove from oven and gently scoop them into the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, basting the meatballs with the sauce. Serve immediately.


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