Discover the rich flavors of Asian chicken meatballs with soy, ginger, and garlic. Perfect as finger food for gatherings or as a centerpiece of a savory dinner.
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Table of Contents
- About Asian Chicken Meatballs
- What’s in Asian chicken meatballs?
- Can you use a different type of meat?
- Can you make them in advance?
- How long do they last?
- Can you freeze meatballs?
- Should you freeze meatballs before or after cooking?
- How to reheat meatballs
- What to serve with Asian chicken meatballs
- Notes & tips for these chicken meatballs
- More fun appetizers
- Other delicious dinners
- How to make Asian chicken meatballs
- Recipe Details
About Asian Chicken Meatballs
Whether served as a delicious appetizer or a simple dinner, these Asian chicken meatballs are a culinary gem. Combining tender chicken with aromatic spices and a touch of umami, they’re a testament to the rich flavors of Asian-influenced cuisine, spanning from China to Korea to India.
What’s in Asian chicken meatballs?
In order to make your own batch of these sweet heat meatballs, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Ground chicken – The primary protein used to make and form the meatballs.
- Panko breadcrumbs and egg – Adds texture and helps bind the meatball mixture, resulting in a softer interior.
- Sesame oil – Adds a nutty aroma and depth to the overall taste to both the meatballs and the sauce.
- Garam masala – Common in Indian cuisine, this spice adds sweet, spicy, and earthy notes.
- Sichuan pepper – Adds a unique numbing and spicy heat that’s characteristic of Sichuan cuisine.
- Garlic chili paste and ginger paste – Adds fresh garlic and ginger flavor with a slight kick.
- Light brown sugar, soy sauce, white pepper, cornstarch, and water – Forms the base of the sauce, giving it a touch of deep sweetness and thick texture.
- Red chili peppers – Contributes an added layer of smoky heat and spiciness. The peppers are cooked whole within the sauce and then removed before serving. If you’d like the sauce to be more mild, you can either skip these entirely or use one pepper instead of two.
Can you use a different type of meat?
Of course! This recipe has a soy-ginger-infused sweet and spicy sauce, making it a great pairing for most other ground meats like turkey, pork, or beef. Feel free to substitute the ground chicken for an equal portion of another meat of your choosing.
Can you make them in advance?
Totally! Meatballs are great for planning ahead and can be stored (both before or after cooking) for up to 24 hours before serving. To do this:
- Refrigerate raw: Mix and shape the meatballs, then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let the meatballs sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come back to room temperature, then cook as directed.
- Refrigerate cooked: Follow the recipe instructions to prepare and cook the meatballs, let them cool, then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
How long do they last?
Once prepared and cooled, meatballs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.
Can you freeze meatballs?
Absolutely! Meatballs are great for freezing. And better yet, whether you’re freezing them cooked or uncooked, the process is the same:
- Place room-temperature meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: this means that if you’ve already cooked the meatballs, they should first be cooled to room temperature.)
- Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer until meatballs are frozen.
- Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, then transfer the frozen meatballs to a ziplock bag.
- Seal the bag and store it in the freezer until ready to eat. Raw meatballs can be frozen for up to three to four months while cooked meatballs can be frozen up to two to three months.
When you’re ready to use the meatballs, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat them as desired.
Should you freeze meatballs before or after cooking?
The decision really boils down to personal preference. Both raw and cooked meatballs can be effectively frozen, but each approach has its unique advantages.
But if you’re having trouble deciding, there are some minor benefits between the two:
- Freezing raw: This method will capture the freshness of the ingredients and give you more freedom in how the meatballs are cooked up later (whether that be baking, frying, simmering in sauce, etc). Raw meat also still has plenty of moisture, so it will be less susceptible to freezer burn than its cooked (and dryer) counterpart. Plus, freezing raw meatballs is great for meal-prepping days when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
- Freezing cooked: Cooked meatballs are the ultimate heat-up-and-eat meal and can be added to a variety of dishes. And once cooked, the meatballs will have a more even and firm texture (so they’ll maintain their shape better once frozen) and they’ll be less likely to harbor bacteria.
How to reheat meatballs
When ready to reheat leftovers, allow the meatballs to sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come to room temperature, then use the following guidelines for bringing these meatballs back to their original tastiness:
- Microwave method
- Place meatballs in a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid, paper towel, or paper plate, ensuring that there’s a loose corner to vent the steam.
- Heat on medium power for one to two minutes, or until heated through. Check and stir every 30 seconds to ensure even heating.
- Oven method
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place meatballs in a baking dish, preferably in a single layer.
- Heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until they’re heated through. For frozen meatballs, you might need to extend the time.
- Stovetop method
- Slow cooker method
- Add meatballs (and sauce, if using) to the slow cooker.
- Cover and heat on the LOW setting until they’re warmed through, anywhere from one to two hours.
What to serve with Asian chicken meatballs
While this dish is delicious on its own as an appetizer or dinner, you can also serve it with different sides, such as:
- Rice like egg fried rice or cilantro lime rice.
- Noodles like stir-fried lo mein or rice noodles.
- Vegetables like garlic Parmesan broccoli, stir-fried vegetables, or a simple coleslaw.
- Fresh and leafy salads.
Notes & tips for these chicken meatballs
- This recipe is great for making larger batches. I’ve doubled and tripled the recipe with great success.
- When baking, use the center rack of the oven if you can; it’ll ensure the meatballs are cooked evenly from top to bottom.
More fun appetizers
Other delicious dinners
How to make Asian chicken meatballs
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 2 – In a large bowl, toss in the ground chicken, panko breadcrumbs, green onions, ginger paste, garlic, sesame oil, garam masala, Sichuan pepper, and egg. Give it a good mix—feel free to use a spatula or, you know, go old school and use those hands.
Step 3 – Scoop out a chunk of the meat mix, about 1-2 tablespoons, and roll it gently between your palms. Aim for a smooth surface and a tight ball. No need for perfection, but try to avoid any major seams or cracks. Line them up on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so that they’re not touching. Keep going until you’ve turned that entire mix into beautiful meatballs.
Step 4 – Bake!
Step 5 – While they’re baking, let’s whip up the spicy soy-ginger sauce. Over medium-low heat, take a saucepan and combine brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic chili paste, ginger paste, and white pepper. Give it a good whisk. Toss in the red chili peppers and wait until the sauce to simmer and the sugar melts away, roughly 5-10 minutes. Afterward, those red chili peppers have done their job, so take them out and discard them (no need to keep them.)
Step 6 – Create some slurry by whisking the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Now, gently pour this into the saucepan, whisking as you go.
Step 7 – With everything mixed in, turn off the burner, but let the saucepan sit there covered. It’ll thicken up nicely while you wait for the meatballs.
Step 8 – Once the meatballs have had their time in the oven and a brief two-minute rest, move them over to a big bowl. Drench them in that amazing sauce you just made, giving them a gentle toss to ensure they’re well coated. Fancy a bit more color? Sprinkle some extra green onions on top.
Step 9 – Serve and enjoy!
Asian Chicken Meatballs
For the Chicken Meatballs
- In a large bowl, add ground chicken, panko breadcrumbs, diced green onions, ginger paste, garlic, sesame oil, garam masala, Sichuan pepper, and egg. Using a spatula (or even just your hands), mix or knead meat into dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.2 pounds ground chicken, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup diced green onions, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan pepper, 1 large egg
- Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture and work it with your hands. For best results, gently press meat as you roll it into a ball; doing this will help meatballs keep their shape. If there are any seams along meatball surface, pinch them closed, then roll meatball between your hands until smooth. Take about 10-20 seconds for each meatball to ensure they’re rolled correctly. Once finished, place meatballs on prepared baking sheet; it’s okay if meatballs are placed close together, but ensure they’re not touching. Repeat this step until all meat mixture has been used.
- Bake meatballs for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
For the Spicy Soy-Ginger Sauce
- While meatballs bake, prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan over medium low heat, add brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic chili paste, ginger paste, and white pepper, then whisk well.2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons garlic chili paste, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- Add red chili peppers to pan. Heat until sauce beings to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 5-10 minutes2 red chili peppers
- Remove red chili peppers from heat and discard.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water, creating a slurry. Using the same whisk, slowly pour in slurry into saucepan while whisking constantly.1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon water
- Turn off heat but leave saucepan on burner. Cover and let sauce rest and thicken while meatballs finish cooking.
Putting it All Together
- Remove meatballs from oven. Let rest for two minutes.
- Transfer meatballs to a large bowl and pour prepared Asian sauce on top. Use a spatula to gently toss and coat. Garnish with more chopped green onion (optional).1/4 cup diced green onions
- Serve immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.