These baked cilantro meatballs are full of fresh and intense Asian flavors, like ginger, garlic and lime. The fresh ingredients also keep these meatballs tender, moist and juicy so that no glaze is needed.
For more juicy appetizer meatballs, also check out these baked Italian sausage meatballs.
Meatball ingredients, notes & substitutions:
- I recommend 90 percent lean ground beef for this recipe. Ground beef with a higher fat content tends to be too greasy for these meatballs. (Fattier ground beef is better for dishes where you pre-cook the beef and then drain the released grease, like this ground beef butternut squash.)
- Instead of bread crumbs, this recipe uses sandwich bread that gets soaked in milk and lime juice and then gets mashed up. This adds both flavor and moisture and makes the texture of the meatballs nice and fluffy. (This is a trick I learned from America's Test Kitchen.)
- I don't recommend substituting ground ginger for fresh ginger root in this recipe. The fresh flavor of ginger adds so much to these meatballs!
How to make the meatballs:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix whole milk, lime juice and sandwich bread cubes together in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Step 2. Mash up the soaked bread cubes with a fork.
Step 3. In a large bowl, combine ground beef and the mashed bread mix.
Step 4. Mix together using a large fork (a serving fork works great for this).
Step 5. Add cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and egg.
Step 6. Mix together until well combined.
Step 7. Form 18 to 20 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons per ball). Set the meatballs directly onto non-stick baking sheets and bake until cooked through and browned (about 20 minutes).
Baking versus frying meatballs:
I have done these meatballs both ways, baked and fried, and they get nicely brown and crispy either way. Since baking is much less messy and less work, this recipe calls for baking.
Recipe and equipment notes & tips:
- If you have a metal scoop with spring-loaded handle, I recommend using that to form the meatballs. That way they will all be evenly sized, plus you won’t need to get your hands dirty. If you don’t have a scoop, use a spoon and then roll the meatballs with your hands. (The soaked, mashed bread and the egg give the mix a great texture that forms balls very well.)
- As long as you use non-stick baking sheets you won't need to grease or line the sheets.
- Mixing the ingredients together by hand (rather than using a food processor) prevents overmixing and keeps these cilantro meatballs from getting too dense.
How to store leftovers:
You can store any leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days. Heat them up in the microwave before serving.
How to freeze the baked meatballs:
Let the fully baked meatballs cool to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze.
To reheat, set the frozen meatballs into a cast iron pan or a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees F. until heated through (about 30 minutes).
More Asian-inspired recipes:
- Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Shrimp1 Hours
- Thai Pineapple Yellow Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk50 Minutes
- Ginger Cilantro Soy Sauce-Marinated Asian-Style Chicken Wings1 Hours 45 Minutes
- Honey Sesame Tofu20 Minutes
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating or comment! Thanks!
Full Printable Recipe
- measuring cups and spoons
- citrus juicer
- garlic press (optional)
- ginger grater
- knife and cutting board
- mixing bowls
- serving fork
- spring-loaded metal scoop OR large spoon
- non-stick baking sheets
For the meatballs:
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 2 slices white sandwich bread
- 1 pound ground beef, 90 percent lean
- ⅓ cup finely chopped cilantro (about 1 bunch)
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger root
- 1 large egg
For the chili oil (optional):
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the meatballs:
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Mix milk and lime juice together in a bowl. Cut the sandwich bread into 1-inch cubes and soak in the milk mix for 10 minutes.
- Mash up the soaked bread cubes with a fork.
- In a large bowl, stir together the beef and the mashed bread mix.*
- Mix in cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and egg.
- Form 18 to 20 meatballs (~2 tablespoons per meatball) using a spring-loaded metal scoop or a large spoon. Set the meatballs directly onto non-stick baking sheets (there is no need to grease or line the sheets).
- Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through and brown on the outside (about 20 minutes).
For the chili oil (optional):
- Heat vegetable oil and pepper flakes in a pan until the oil is sizzling. Let cool.
- Drizzle a few drops of the hot oil onto the meatballs and serve.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.