These easy, healthy, baked turkey meatballs get a Thai twist with the addition of red curry paste and ginger for a tender and moist homemade Asian meatball.
Meatballs aren’t the sexiest recipe out there but they might just be one of the most adaptable. Just like skewers and kebabs, meatballs can be made with nearly every type of protein (even grains) and nearly every culture’s cuisine has one.
Today we’re going balls out (DOH!) and mixing and kneading my favorite basic Thai ingredient flavors with healthy ground turkey or chicken to make tender, moist baked meatballs that channel my boyfriend Justin Timberlake by bringing baked meatballs sexy back.
While these easy, 8-ingredient Thai meatballs may not be 100% authentic or found on your local Thai restaurant take out menu, poultry recipes are. My Thai Coconut Chicken and Rice recipe and Thai Basil Chicken recipe follow this Asian culture’s poultry classics, but when you’re craving something with a twist, this recipe will get you there.
What’s In Baked Thai Turkey Meatballs
With only 8 ingredients, this recipe takes turkey meatball basics like ground meat, egg and breadcrumbs, and mixes them with Thai flavored pantry staples.
- Ground turkey or chicken
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Green onion
- Soy sauce or fish sauce
- Ginger or ginger paste
- Red curry paste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tips for Making Turkey Meatball Mix From Scratch
Mastering fluffy and light meatball making means paying attention to just a few basic tricks of the trade.
Use turkey or chicken with a little fat in the mix. Avoid using extra lean ground turkey or chicken. I aim for somewhere around 90% lean ground meat, if not a little less. Fat equals flavor and helps keep your meatballs from turning into tough nuggets when cooked.
Add an egg for binding. Egg yolk also adds fat to bind the meatballs so they won’t fall apart.
Breadcrumbs make the meatballs lighter. To lighten the meaty load, I use crispy panko bread crumbs to make the meatball bite lighter and less heavy. The ragged edges and broader sides of panko crumbs adds air to the meatball mix. If you only have traditional breadcrumbs on hand, feel free to tuse the same amount of those instead.
Add flavor with Thai fish sauce or soy sauce and ginger. Thai fish sauce adds a salt umami that’s distinctively Thai. Substitute soy sauce if you prefer. Fresh ginger or ginger paste sold in a tube work both work well to add a hint of gingery heat.
How to Make and Roll the Turkey Meatballs
Mix well, but don’t over work the meat mixture. Mix the ground turkey with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, gently whisking the egg with a fork then folding everything together until lightly incorporated. Then, dig in.
Use a small scoop to keep your meatballs the same size. I use a small cookie scooper to measure out the meatball mix and place on a baking sheet. I do this step all at once, then go back and roll the meatballs all at once afterward to make it faster and less messy.
Use damp hands to mix. Lightly dampen hands so the meat doesn’t stick to your hands when mixing and rolling into balls.
How to Make Smooth Meatballs
Shaggy meatballs have that rustic look and taste just as yummy. But if you’re looking for a smoother surface, use wet hands when rolling the meatballs. If the meatballs become filmy or gummy, you’re using too much water.
How to Keep Meatballs From Falling Apart
To keep your meatballs from falling apart, be sure you’re following these steps:
- Avoid using extra lean turkey or chicken in the meatballs. Less fat makes them dry and they won’t bind as well.
- Use a binder like an egg.
- Don’t add large diced vegetables like onions or peppers that can cause the meatballs to fall apart because they break the ability to bind. Grate vegetables or finely dice if adding to the mix.
- Use a small scoop to pack the ball tightly.
- Use wet hands to mold the meatballs into tight, perfect orbs.
Baked Turkey Meatballs Vs. Fried
- There are several benefits to baking meatballs versus frying.
- There’s no extra oil needed for frying the meatballs so they’re more calorie conscious.
- Baking the meatballs is a hands off approach, with minimal monitoring involved.
- Baking also produces a softer, more pillowy meatball with a more tender crust.
How to Get a Perfectly Browned Baked Meatball
The secret to taking a pallid meatball to a perfectly bronzed and browned baked meatball is to bake them in a hot oven at 400°F just shy of being cooked all the way through, then crank up the heat to broil for 5 minutes or so to create that golden brown color without drying them out.
How and What to Serve With These Baked Meatballs
Baked turkey meatballs are a great for batch cooking in rice bowls, served with noodles, as an appetizer, or stuffed into a hoagie roll or bun.
- in Thai Meatball Coconut Curry over rice
- in Buddha Bowls with rice or noodles
- with Fresh And Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad
- with Sesame Soba Noodles
- with Sweet And Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Thai Baked Turkey Meatballs
- 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko
- ½ cup minced green onion
- 3 cloves pressed garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger or ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In large bowl, combine the ground turkey or chicken with the egg, panko breadcrumbs, green onion, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, red curry paste, and salt and pepper. Use a whisk to break the egg yolk and lightly fold the ingredients together. Gently knead the mix with damp hands until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes for the breadcrumbs to soften, up to overnight.
- Use a small scoop to form the meatballs into 1-inch balls and place on a cutting board. Dampen your hands and lightly shape and roll the meatballs between your palms and place evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake until no longer pink inside, about 20 minutes, then broil on high for another 5 minutes for a deliciously crispy crust. Remove from the oven. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
More Meatball Recipes to Love
- Thai Meatballs In Coconut Curry Sauce
- Pasta With Meatballs And Tomato Sauce
- Baked Turkey Meatballs With Creamy Polenta And Marinara
- Slow Cooker Sriracha Meatballs
- Tabasco Chicken Meatballs In A Spicy Tomato And Apricot Sauce
- Mexican Turkey Meatball Sandwiches With Avocado Smash
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