These sweet chili meatballs are fragrant, sweet, spicy, and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
I love sweet and spicy meatballs, and these sweet chili meatballs are just the perfect amount of sweetness and spiciness. With plenty of aromatics, these meatballs are perfectly glazed and make for an irresistible dinner recipe that everyone loves.
Ingredients for the sweet chili meatballs:
The best part about this recipe? It’s versatile, and you can throw it together in less than an hour. You only need a handful of ingredients, including:
- Meatball aromatics: Mix and match the aromatics here! I used Thai chili pepper, garlic, shallot, lemongrass paste, minced ginger, scallions, and lime juice. If you don’t have one or two of those aromatics, simply omit it and increase one of the other flavors elsewhere. For instance, if you don’t have lemongrass paste, add a teaspoon or so of ginger to compensate.
- Meatballs: I use pork, fish sauce, brown sugar, egg, and panko. If you have chicken or turkey instead, swap it out!
- Sauce: You need just a few ingredients for the sauce, including shiitake mushrooms, sweet chili sauce, light soy sauce, and water or chicken broth.
What sweet chili sauce should I use?
How to make the meatballs:
I recommend a food processor to make quick work of mincing the aromatics but feel free to mince by hand.
- Step 1: Start by prepping the ingredients for the meatballs. I throw all the aromatics in a food processor and blitz until finely minced.
- Step 2: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until combined. At this point, you can fry up a small piece of the mixture to taste the seasonings.
- Step 3: Fry up the meatballs! You don’t need to cook them completely; just brown them nicely on all sides.
- Step 4: Make the sauce by frying up the mushrooms and then adding all the liquid ingredients.
- Step 5: Throw in the meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy and the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve the meatballs and sauce over cooked white rice, and you’re ready to eat!
Sweet Chili Meatballs
- Food processor
- 1 Thai chili pepper, trimmed, or use a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
- 2 teaspoons lemongrass paste
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 3 scallions, trimmed
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, for frying
- Cooked white rice
- 2 scallions, minced
- Sesame seeds
- Lime wedges
Make the meatballs:
- Place the Thai chili pepper, garlic, shallot, lemongrass paste, minced ginger, scallions, and lime juice in a food processor. Pulse until finely minced and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the ground pork, fish sauce, brown sugar, and egg and mix with your hands until combined. Season all over with salt. Add the panko and mix with your hands. Add more panko in ¼-cup increments if the mixture is too loose. The mixture should be workable but not too dry. Be careful not to add too much more than ¾ cup panko total.
- If you like, fry or microwave a small piece of the mixture until cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
- Roll the mixture into tablespoon-sized meatballs and transfer to a plate.
- In a wide pot, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the meatballs in an even layer and cook for 3–5 minutes per side until browned all over. They do not need to be cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Make the sauce:
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon neutral oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5–6 minutes until golden brown.
- Pour in the Shaoxing wine, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the meatballs. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the pork registers 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer and the sauce is thick and glossy. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the white rice between shallow bowls and pile the meatballs on top. Serve with a lime wedge and more minced scallions on top. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy!