Sweet & Zingy Asian Meatballs are made from scratch and far better than the pre-made globs-in-a bag. They're also healthier because they're baked and finished in the sweet, zingy sauce. These are always a favorite at football parties and potlucks.
Looking for New Year's Eve party appetizer ideas?
You've come to the right place! Making this party appetizer recipe from scratch rather than using pre-packaged meatballs means a healthier appetizer with more flavor. WIN!
The difference is amazing: these meatballs are absolutely packed with flavor.
Sweet and Zingy Asian Meatballs: Not your standard party appetizer
Living in Wisconsin, I have had my share of cheese curds, brats, cheese 'n' meat trays, and pre-made meatballs in goodness-knows-what sauce.
Even though these things are all unfailingly delicious, I am always on a quest for unusual football party-fare that I don't have to dump out of a bag or a box.
Homemade generally means healthier food, after all.
This recipe for Asian meatballs uses pork, but you could also use turkey—or even a mix.
You can make this recipe a day in advance and re-warm in the Asian meatballs in the crockpot.
In fact, I've made up a large batch and frozen the extra meatballs for another time.
These meatballs contain less fat than a standard meatball because you bake them rather than frying.
Admittedly, that sauce is full of sugar (thus the sweet part of sweet & zingy Asian meatballs).
But keep in mind that you'll only be eating the tiny bit of sauce that clings to the meatball.
These meatballs travel well: because the sauce is thick and sticky, there are no spillage issues while you transport them to the party—unless you turn the whole crockpot upside down, in which case I really can’t help you.
I always set out toothpicks for easy noshing.
My nine-year-old nephew recently commented that he liked these meatballs because of the complex flavors and the fact that no two bites taste exactly the same. (Someone’s been watching Chopped Junior!)
If you want to lighten the meatballs up even further, you could cut the pork with ground turkey or chicken (a 1:1 ratio is fine)—or substitute it entirely. The sweet, sticky, zingy sauce that finishes the Asian meatballs knocks the flavor out of the park—it's also great on chicken wings!
If you have leftover meatballs, they're fabulous in my Meal-Prep Meatball Vietnamese Noodle Bowls.
FOR THE SAUCE
- 6 tsp. cornstarch*
- 8 tsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup chili garlic sauce
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. finely minced garlic
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 2 lbs. ground pork
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. finely minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. finely minced ginger
- 1 tbsp. finely minced lemongrass, (soft, center part only)**
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
- 3 to 4 pinches coarse salt
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- Several grinds of fresh black pepper
- chives, minced, for serving (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE
- In a small bowl, dissolve corn starch into vinegar.
- Combine mixture with other ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (sauce should reduce and thicken slightly).
- Remove from heat; cool, cover, and chill until you're ready to use the sauce.
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with foil. Set a metal rack on top of the foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Roll up your sleeves and mix it all together with your hands. At this point, you can check the flavor of your meat mixture (if you like) by taking about a half teaspoon and frying it quickly in a small frying pan. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Roll into ~1-inch diameter meatballs and place on the rack. When your meatballs are all rolled, place the cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes.
- Toss the meat balls with your sauce and add to a slow-cooker set on low. Cook for an additional hour. Keep warm until serving.
*If you like your sauce thicker, add more cornstarch (be sure to mix with an equal part of cold water first!). I suggest trying an additional 1 tsp. of cornstarch at a time, bring to a boil, and check for thickness. I've found that I get my favorite consistency with 10 (total) tsp. of cornstarch.
**Or use lemongrass paste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1–2 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 351Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 560mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 28gProtein: 18g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!