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Vietnamese-Style Meatballs with Chili Sauce

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vietnamese meatballs

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My husband calls these Vietnamese-style meatballs “flavor bombs.” Serve them over rice for a quick weeknight dinner.

Vietnamese Style Meatballs

My husband calls these Vietnamese-style meatballs with a deliciously bright and pungent sauce “flavor bombs” (which, by the way, is a good thing). They are flavored with fish sauce and soy sauce—two umami-rich condiments commonly used in Vietnamese cooking—along with ginger, lime, spicy Sambal Oelek (not a traditional Vietnamese ingredient, but the spicy, garlicky flavor works so well here), and fresh herbs. They practically explode with flavor. I love them over rice, but they are also delicious wrapped in lettuce cups or served over rice
noodles. Be judicious with the chili sauce—a little goes a long way.

What you’ll need to make Vietnamese-Style Meatballs

how to make vietnamese meatballs

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, scallions, lime zest, cilantro, and mint.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Whisk to combine.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Add the beef, pork, and panko.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Using your hands, mix until evenly combined.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Roll the mixture into golf ball-sized balls and arrange on an unlined baking sheet. The mixture will be a bit sticky; dampen your hands every so often while rolling the meatballs if necessary.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once with a metal spatula halfway through the cooking time, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

Meanwhile, make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Be sure the sugar is completely dissolved and not stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

how to make vietnamese meatballs

Serve the meatballs drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with scallions, cilantro, mint, and peanuts.

how to make vietnamese-style meatballs

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Vietnamese-Style Meatballs with Chili Sauce

My husband calls these Vietnamese-style meatballs “flavor bombs.” Serve them over rice for a quick weeknight dinner.

Servings: 22 to 24 small meatballs (Serves 6)
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped (about ¼ cup), plus a few more for serving
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, from 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
  • ¾ lb 85% lean ground beef
  • ¾ lb ground pork
  • 1 cup panko
  • ½ cup chopped unsalted peanuts, for serving

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce, such as Sambal Oelek, or Asian chili garlic sauce (available in Asian aisle of most supermarkets)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice, from 2 to 3 limes
  • ¼ cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, scallions, lime zest, cilantro, and mint. Whisk to combine. Add the beef, pork, and panko. Using your hands, mix until evenly combined. Roll the mixture into golf ball-sized balls and arrange on an unlined baking sheet. The mixture will be a bit sticky; dampen your hands every so often while rolling the meatballs if necessary. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once with a metal spatula halfway through the cooking time, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through. (If the meatballs stick a bit to the pan, simply slide the metal spatula underneath them and they should release.)
  3. Meanwhile make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Be sure the sugar is completely dissolved and not stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Taste and add more chili sauce if desired.
  4. Serve the meatballs drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with scallions, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. (Be judicious with the sauce; it's very strong in flavor.)
  5. Make Ahead: The meatballs can be made completely ahead of time and refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for 2 to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve them, reheat them in the microwave.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 488
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Sodium: 2046 mg
  • Cholesterol: 141 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Not quite “flavor bombs”. All the flavor was in the sauce, which was delicious. Was quite time-intensive, probably wouldn’t make this again, and if I did I would add some chili garlic sauce to the meatballls

    • — Nicky on September 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Fantastic, and my husband is already thinking of ways to use the recipe to alter “koftas” and “burgers”. He is great at “fusion” cooking, always tweaking and recombining spices, herbs and the like. He rates this recipe as PERFECTLY BALANCED, with no one ingredient dominating, and thinks it would be hard to figure out the ingredients if you hadn’t seen the recipe.
    I too have had problems with fish sauce, until I asked an Asian lady in the store which one she buys. Some are unpalatable, and perhaps this is the problem others have had with this ingredient.
    Cilantro is not prominent in this recipe and would be missed if left out, so if you hate cilantro, try adding a bit. Use this recipe as your “gateway drug” to learning to love cilantro.
    Thanks again Jen for your great recipes and your 2 beautiful recipe books

    • — Barbara Ottolino on August 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made these for my family for the first time and they were a huge hit! I have loads of fresh mint and cilantro growing in our garden so it was a great way of using some up for this recipe. My husband ate the leftovers the next day on a crusty roll with pickled carrots, fresh cucumber and cilantro and the sauce, and said they were even better tasting a day later. I’m planning on making a double-batch to freeze so that we can have them for an easy weeknight dinner once school starts. Thanks so much Jenn for sharing this terrific recipe!

    • — Ellen on August 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have to admit I changed the recipe slightly. I hate to be “that person” but I really struggle wish fish sauce… I reduced it to 1 Tbsp in the meatballs and omitted completely in the sauce. But it was delicious, flavorful, and the family verdict was “REPEAT”.

    I would like to make this again for some family members who are gluten free – do you have a suggestion of substitute for the panko?

    • — Miranda on August 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad the family liked them! You can make this with gluten-free panko or gluten-free bread crumbs (if you can’t find gf panko).

      • — Jenn on August 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • I do not usually leave comments on recipes, but I have to say if I could give this recipe a 6 out of 5 I would. We used thai basil instead of mint and put these bad boys over coconut rice. It was a hit! This will be a staple in our house for meal prepping.

    • — Shannon on August 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • wonderful flavours – definitely “flavour bombs” as Jenn’s husband said!

    • — Patti on July 31, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just when I was getting sick and tired of meatballs, here comes this umami-bomb!!! It’s a rave in my mouth!!! You really need lots of fluffy, plain rice to sop up all that flavour intensity. And it makes a huge difference to use a top-quality fish sauce (like Red Boat) for the sauce, as it’s not being cooked.

    And just like that, I’m in love with meatballs all over again.

    • — Listen Linda Listen on July 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • So good! This is unlike any meatball we’ve ever had. It’s so flavorful. It will definitely be a repeat recipe in our home!

    • — Sharon on June 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wow! Made this to celebrate Bourdain day today. I made some tweaks, used basil in place of cilantro, and honey in place of sugar. Delicious recipe! Thank you so much.

    • — AG on June 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • These are so delicious. My family loved them. We served with rice, Asian slaw, and roasted broccoli. So good!

    • — Laura C on June 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, another hit. Fast and tasty, the sauce is delicious, and the combination of condiments is great. Thank you inspiration.

    • — katarina on April 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is one of our go-to meals! The prep time is a little long for me (I always seem to take forever with prep), but the result is worth it. I’m a huge fan of many of Jen’s recipes and this one is no exception. Absolutely delicious. Bonus that it makes enough food for multiple nights for the two of us!

    • — Aleisha C. on April 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • More prep time than indicated… for the effort my crew gave it 2 out of 3 thumbs up. I have agreed with all high rated recipes up til now, however from Jen’s site and/or cookbooks!

    • — Efen on February 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this recipe as written and it is INCREDIBLE!!!! Served it with jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. Lots of flavor and very delicious! Thank you for sharing!

    • — mrskratt on February 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made these tonight. The meatballs turned out pretty tasty but not crazy about the sauce. This is the first of your recipes I’ve tried that I’m not crazy about. You’re still my favorite food blogger.

    • — Leah Ann on January 24, 2022
    • Reply

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