Healthy Asian Meatballs

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These healthy Asian meatballs are full of fresh and intense flavor from grated ginger, garlic, lime, cilantro and a few drops of hot chili oil. All these easy-to-find ingredients add a lot of flavor and keep the meatballs moist so that no sauce is needed.

The meatballs make a great appetizer but can also easily be turned into a main dish when served with coconut rice.

A large bowl filled with baked beef meatballs, a dipping dish with chili oil and a fresh sprig of cilantro.

This post was originally published on Feb. 10, 2015.

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How to make Asian meatballs step by step:

Step 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup milk and 1 teaspoon lime juice. Cut 2 slices of sandwich bread into small cubes, stir them into the milk mix and let them soak for 10 minutes.

RECIPE NOTE: The soaked bread will add flavor to the meatballs and will also keep them from getting too dense (a trick I learned from America’s Test Kitchen).

Step 2. Using a fork, mash up the soaked bread cubes.

Step by step photos showing how to soak and then mash up sandwich bread for use in meatballs.

Step 3. In a large bowl, stir together 1 pound ground beef (90 percent lean) and the mashed bread mix.

Step 4. Prepare the remaining ingredients: 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro, 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger and 1 whole egg.

Step by step photos showing ground beef being mashed up in a bowl along with the ingredients used in this recipe to flavor the beef.

Step 5. Mix the remaining ingredients into the mix.

Step 6. Using a metal scoop or a large spoon, form 18 to 20 meatballs, set them directly onto non-stick baking sheets and bake the meatballs until cooked through (about 20 minutes).

Step by step photos showing ingredients mixed into ground beef and raw meatballs on two baking sheets.

Step 7. To make the chili oil, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to a small pan and heat until the flakes start to sizzle.

Step 8. Drizzle a few drops of the hot oil onto the meatballs and serve.

Baking versus frying the 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, healthier and simply less work, this recipe calls for baking.

What to do with 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.

A few recipe tips:

  • If you have a small metal ice cream scoop, 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).
  • You can easily make this appetizer recipe a main course by serving the meatballs with coconut rice. Here is a great coconut rice recipe.

More Asian-inspired recipes:

Made this recipe? It would be awesome if you could leave a rating. Either tap or click the stars in the recipe card or leave a comment below. Thanks!

A large bowl filled with baked beef meatballs, a dipping dish with chili oil and a fresh sprig of cilantro.
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5 from 6 votes

Healthy Asian Meatballs

These healthy Asian meatballs are full of fresh and intense flavor from grated ginger, garlic, lime, cilantro and a few drops of hot chili oil. All these easy-to-find ingredients add a lot of flavor and keep the meatballs moist so that no sauce is needed.
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Total Time:40 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: asian
Keyword: asian beef meatballs, healthy asian meatballs
Servings: 4
Calories (estimated): 368kcal

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 pound ground beef, 90 percent lean
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 egg

For the chili oil:

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions:

For the meatballs:

  • 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.
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Mash up the soaked bread cubes with a fork.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the beef and the mashed bread mix.
  • Mix in the cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and egg.
  • Form 18 to 20 meatballs using a metal scoop or a large spoon and set them directly on non-stick baking sheets.
  • Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through (about 20 minutes).

For the chili oil:

  • 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.

Notes:

You can turn this recipe from an appetizer into a main course simply by serving it with coconut rice. I recommend this recipe: Coconut Rice

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A large bowl filled with baked beef meatballs, a dipping dish with chili oil and a fresh sprig of cilantro.

14 comments

  1. meme shebroe says:

    MINOUCHKA:

    Amazing good! Similar to my old quick recipe with ground turkey. I bake my meatballs au lieu of frying, and served them over the coconut rice garnished all with chopped cilantro and crushed garlic for extra taste. It was a YUMMY meal and/or served for cocktails! Thanks Nicole for bringing back this great recipe, and which I have shared many times.

  2. Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says:

    I almost broke my laptop reaching in to grab one of those babies….this is my kind of flavours!! My kind of food!!

    You probably get sick of hearing me say this but I love your photo…as usual….in particular, I like that this one is pulled back compared to most that you share which is basically just you showing off the breadth of your skills ;) Thanks for the tips as well!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Aw, thank you, Nagi! (I actually would have liked to step back even further here but couldn’t because the metal tray in the background wasn’t wide enough). :)

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