Vietnamese-Style Meatballs with Chili Sauce

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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 with chili sauce in a bowl over noodles.

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.

Eggs, seasonings, and minced vegetables in a bowl.

Whisk to combine.

Bowl of egg and vegetable mixture.

Add the beef, pork, and panko.

Ground meat and panko added to a bowl of egg mixture.

Using your hands, mix until evenly combined.

Meat and panko mixture in a bowl.

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.

Baking tray of uncooked meatballs.

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

Baking tray of 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.

Vietnamese-style meatballs with chili sauce in a bowl over noodles.

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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 (see note)
  • 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. Note: Check out easy guidance on how to peel, grate, and chop fresh ginger here.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

  • Hi Jenn
    I’m absolutely in love with your website
    I’m a huge foodie as are my daughter and granddaughters
    I’m working through your recipes and am so impressed with everything I’ve cooked
    My 10 year old granddaughter is giving you ⭐️5 stars
    Btw the meatballs were sooo delicious 🤤
    Thank you and please keep giving us these amazing recipes
    Annie 😍

    • — annie Woodhall on May 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on May 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made these on Sunday night and they were delicious! So easy and pretty fast if you have two people chopping. We added extra red pepper flakes to the meatballs for some extra heat. Will totally make again!

    • — Ashley on May 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • I really like the flavor of this dish, and it was very easy to make. The only thing I might do next time is make it a little more saucy – I served it over rice noodles like you have in the picture, but found it a little dry with only a judicious amount of sauce. 😉 I loved the flavor and spiciness of the sauce, though, so may adjust it next time so I can use more of it.

    • — Caroline on March 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jennifer , do you have a recipe that isn’t so hot to go with meatballs? I don’t do well with hot foods, but I love the flavors of Asian cooking . So if you might have a sauce that isn’t very hot, but still flavorful please let me know. Thank you.
    Jennifer T

    • — Jennifer T on March 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, I have a wide variety of meatball recipes. The sauce for these is the only spicy one in the bunch You can check them all out here. Hope you find some options you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Fantastic! I think cooking them for 25 minutes was too long for my oven at 400°. Next time I will reduce the cooking time or the temp as they were a little bit overdone for my taste. But that being said these meatballs were little flavour bombs.

    • — Judy on March 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • I did make this recipe and it was a hit. The soup was made in the Insta Pot. I am going to freeze the leftover meatballs with the sauce. Thanks for your website and recipes with modifications and notes. They are really appreciated.
    Ann from Calgary

    • — Dowling, Ann on March 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another excellent recipe! Made this recipe as written and no substitutions. So good, will make a double batch next time to freeze

    • — Mary R on March 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • JENN, WANT TO MAKE THESE, BUT AM CONFUSED, IS IT CHILI SAUCE OR PASTE

    • — Carol on March 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I always call it sauce, but the bottle says paste. Sorry for any confusion!

      • — Jenn on March 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • Super delicious!! The flavour is outstanding and the chili sauce is super good…………but a little goes along way!

    • — Jillian on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can the mint be omitted? These sound fabulous but I am really not a fan of mint when cooking…

    Thanks!

    • — Shelley on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, I’d just replace it with more cilantro. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • This sounds fantastic! Do you think it would work with ground turkey in place of beef and pork?

    • — Donice Gilliland on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Donice, Turkey will work – just make sure it’s not too lean. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • Do you think you’d have similar results if you swapped beef for turkey/chicken? We don’t eat beef.

    • — Bee on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep, I’d go with chicken.

      • — Jenn on March 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious! Stop scrolling “What’s for dinner tonight?” and start making these flavor bombs.

    • — Robin on February 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made these meatballs tonight and put them in a baguette with some quick pickled broccoli slaw to make banh mi, they are fantastic. After cooking the meatballs I simmered them in the sauce for a few minutes and they were juicy and delicious.

    • — Donny B on February 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • My family loved them and I am so happy to have leftovers! They were so tender and the flavour is beautiful. And so easy to make (a bonus!)
    I am wondering if I can freeze the leftover sauce? Next time I would halve the amount of sauce as I have so much left over.

    • — Jane R on February 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed them! I’ve never frozen the sauce, but I think you could.

      • — Jenn on February 18, 2023
      • Reply
    • Absolutely love this recipe!
      Made for fantastic leftovers from the freezer too.
      Was wondering if you think you could make this into a loaf?

      • — Raphaela on February 20, 2023
      • Reply
      • Glad you like it! Yes, I think you could make this into a meatloaf. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

        • — Jenn on February 22, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hello! We don’t eat pork. Do you know what I could use as a substitute? Thanks in advance!!

    • — Hiba on February 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Hiba, Feel free to replace the pork with more beef. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious. The aroma of the meatballs, even prior to cooking is outstanding – so fresh. Another winner Jenn!

    • — Joe on February 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another winner from Jennifer! The chopping/grating of fresh ingredients was a Zen experience …lovely smells as you work. I did up the amounts a bit as others did to accommodate 1 lb of each meat. Served over rice vermicelli that I tossed with a bit of the sauce before adding the meatballs. Topped with fresh mint, cilantro, scallion and crushed peanuts. Wow! I served with a lovely mango/cucumber/pepper salad with a lime dressing. I wanted to take a picture but it got eaten by the family so quickly I missed out.

    • — PHYLLIS on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • OMG. What great flavor! Pretty easy to make as always prep takes longer than cooking!! I added sesame seeds to sauce and warmed it for 1min in microwave which also thickened it. I used sweet chili sauce so it’s not as spicy as I think intended. Also used vegan fish sauce. Excellent dinner!!

    • — Rose Marston on January 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Do you use chili sauce or paste? I see a lot of paste at the store?

    • — Edythe on January 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Edythe, You’re looking for chili paste. If you scroll up and take a peek at the picture of the ingredients, it’s the jar with the green top. You should be able to find it in the Asian section of your grocery store. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2023
      • Reply
      • Just to clarify… the bottle in your picture is actually labeled as chili paste, not sauce. But I’m making it this week regardless!

        • — Eric on February 19, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Eric, Thanks for pointing that out – I just updated the wording there. Hope you enjoy the meatballs!

          • — Jenn on February 20, 2023
          • Reply
  • Delicious. Added 1 tablespoon cornstarch to sauce and cooked on stovetop until thickened. Added meatballs to coat in glaze and served over rice with peas.

    • — HoneyBunny20 on December 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made a vermicelli bowl with these meatballs and sauce (I added rice noodles and lots of veggies). I used ground turkey instead of pork/beef and it was delicious!

    • — Beth on December 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love these meatballs! I was a bit hesitant, as cilantro, mint and fish sauce can all be very strong flavors. These meatballs were very well balanced. None of the components stood out as overpowering. The sauce was excellent! I made the recipe as is, but next time I will scale it up and use 1 pound of both pork and beef, simply to not have to find a way to use up the remaining and have extra leftovers. Sounds like the best of both worlds. Thank you Jenn for yet another awesome recipe!!

    • — Rhonda Geoffrey on December 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • These meatballs AND the sauce are amazing! Didn’t change a thing except increased the recipe for 1# each of beef and pork. Happy to have a few leftover to freeze! I served with rice, but they would also be great with rice noodles. Your recipes are always a hit!

    • — Nancy on December 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • These are awesome! They taste just like Vietnamese Fried egg rolls and so much healthier and flavorful! My family and I couldn’t stop raving about them as we ate. My younger son actually hid the leftovers for himself :). I’ve shared this with all my friends. Thank you!

    • — Lisa Mormile on December 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • YUM!!!!!

    (mic drop)

    • — Sally D. on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • My husband is supposed to avoid eggs. Is there anything I can substitute for them?

    • — Kathy on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume these would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delicious! Other than overcooking them, they were quite tasty — next time I’ll use a thermometer 😀 The fish sauce is not my favorite smell when mixing it all up, but it does not over-power the finished product. I served it with rice and roasted broccoli with garlic, and also some sweet chili sauce to balance the heat of the sauce in this recipe (which is also delish!)

    • — Altitudemama on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Haven’t made these in a while and after eating them, I realize I need them in my regular rotation!. Super fast to pull together. Served with brown rice and roasted broccoli. Definitely agree these are flavor bombs! They need the rice to temper the intensity. Yum, yum, yum!

    • — Elizabeth on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious! My husband usually does the cooking (he was a professional chef like Jenn) and I surprised him with these tonight. He hasn’t stopped raving about them. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

    • — Martha on November 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • We have a winner! This recipe is so tasty, satisfying, and QUICK to pull together. For the sauce, I halved the sugar and used a little less fish sauce, and I have no complaints. I served the meatballs with jasmine rice and pickled daikon, which made the perfect weeknight meal. It’s great fresh or as leftovers the next day. And I will definitely be looking for other ways to use that sauce.

    • — Jillian on November 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I prep the meatballs a day in advance and then cook them the following day?

    • — Jessica Villanueva on November 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on November 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe “sounds” and looks great. HOWEVER, cilantro is NOT permitted to cross the threshold of my home! Any substitute that can be used for it in this recipe??

    • — Marion Siegman on October 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Marion, You can just leave it out. A combination of basil and mint would also be good. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • These are delicious!!!! Used venison in place of ground beef!

    • — Sarah on October 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Has anyone here made these meatballs using tofu instead? I used to make these meatballs a lot, but I’ve slowly cut meat out from my diet. But I miss them! It occurred to me that it might work to use tofu…or maybe beans? Any veggie alternatives are welcomed!

    • — Rachel in NL on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

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