Asian Turkey Meatballs are a quick and easy recipe, and so versatile. The flavors are amazing and the best news is, they aren't dry!
If you have made turkey meatballs before, you know what I'm talking about. No matter what you add, they still tend to be dry and the texture is a little tough, but one ingredient changes all that.
Cauliflower! Cauliflower rice to be specific. Even if you aren't a fan of cauliflower, give it a try. You'll never taste it in the meatballs, I promise!
You also don't have to worry about finding uses for the leftover cauliflower, you can make one of these delicious recipes! I'll bet I can make you a cauliflower fan in no time with these healthy recipes!
- Cauliflower Arancini Balls
- Cauliflower Fried Rice ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Air Fried Cauliflower with General Tso's Sauce
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad in the Ninja Foodi
- Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Cauliflower Mash
- Cajun Jambalaya with Cauliflower Rice
- Low Carb Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad
- Keto Broccoli & Cheese Soup
The great thing about meatballs is you can use them in so many ways. They are perfect for stir fries, in soups, as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre, and so much more. If you aren't a fan of Asian flavors, you can change up the flavors and create your own delicious turkey or beef meatballs.
Meatballs are also perfect for meal prep because you can make several different flavors and place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze either before cooking or after. Then, simply add the meatballs to your quick weeknight meals, like a healthy spaghetti sauce served over zucchini noodles, or a Greek Meatball Soup. If you need a basic beef meatball recipe, these are delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Making turkey meatballs is a little different from beef meatballs because the mixture is very tacky, especially if you aren't using any fillers, like bread crumbs. Instead of trying to form them by rolling them in your palms, I recommend using a cookie scoop. The one I use is about 1 Tablespoon and it's from Pampered Chef. Here is the link: Pampered Chef Small Scoop
It works great for cookies, meatballs and I use the bigger scoop for delicious hushpuppies.
If you are cooking the turkey meatballs right away, I heat the skillet and place meatballs directly in the skillet to cook. If you want to make them up ahead of time, I would use a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Absolutely! You can either freeze them with or without the sauce. Just make sure they cool completely before putting them into your airtight container. To freeze the meatballs without making the sauce, simply add a little water to the skillet and cover to steam until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
This recipe is easy to double or triple if you need enough for a large crowd. You will want to brown the Asian meatballs in batches and then you can add them to a crock pot or a large pot and cook on low with the sauce until the meatballs are cooked fully and the sauce has reduced. If the sauce is too thin, you can make a little cornstarch slurry and bring the meatballs and sauce to a low boil for a few minutes or until the sauce is as thick as you like.
Ingredients & Substitutions
If you didn't want to use ground turkey, you can certainly use ground beef, ground chicken , or even ground pork would work perfectly. When using either turkey, chicken, or lean ground pork, I would keep the recipe the same.
When using ground beef, fattier ground pork, or another ground meat that isn't lean, I would recommend skipping the cauliflower rice and instead use dry bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs to absorb the extra juices and help the meatballs stay together.
The cauliflower rice is used to keep moisture in the lean ground turkey for juicy meatballs. I really recommend using it with leaner meats. While you can add more liquid moisture, that can make the meatballs difficult to form and hold together.
If you don't want to use the cauliflower, try ricing some broccoli or even finely chopped zucchini will work.
Spices & Liquids
The spices and liquids I used in this recipe can be modified to your liking. While I chose Asian flavors, you can switch them up to be BBQ-influenced or a simple sweet and sour sauce.
If you love Asian food, I'm sure you will love these Asian-style turkey meatballs. If you haven't tried fish sauce, I definitely suggest grabbing a bottle. While it smells really fishy, it does not impart any fishy flavor into the meatballs. However, it does add an incredible depth of flavor that is hard to duplicate with another ingredient. You can try to substitute for it with Worcestershire sauce.
The garlic chili sauce adds a nice balanced heat to both the meatballs and the sauce, but you can certainly omit it if you aren't a fan of any spice.
I really recommend the use of fresh ginger in both the sauce and the meatballs, but you can use 1 teaspoon ground ginger for every 1 Tablespoon of freshly grated ginger in the recipe.
Varieties of Turkey Meatballs
If Asian Turkey Meatballs just aren't your flavor of choice, no worries! There are so many other combination of flavors that you can put together to create the meatballs you will love.
Some classic flavors that would be great with these turkey meatballs are:
- BBQ Turkey Meatballs
- Sweet & Sour Turkey Meatballs
- Traditional Turkey Meatballs with Gravy
- Mexican Inspired Turkey Meatballs
- Italian Turkey Meatballs
To make different flavors of meatballs, combine the ground turkey with the riced cauliflower and then add in seasonings that complement the flavors you want. For example if you want BBQ meatballs, I would add a touch of your favorite BBQ sauce to the meat mixture and maybe even a touch of liquid smoke.
Always keep in mind that when you want to make a lot of changes to meatball recipes, you can always mix up the mixture and cook a flattened small disc of the meat mixture to check the flavor balance. I recommend doing this whenever you are making any ground meat recipe, it's a great way to make sure your meatballs or meatloaf are seasoned properly.
How to Serve Asian Turkey Meatballs
These meatballs are wonderful as an hors d'oeuvre or a meal. If you want to serve them as a meal, add them to some freshly sautéd vegetables and serve with white rice or brown rice.
You can also make a lettuce wrap with these Asian-inspired meatballs. Simply add your favorite veggies, cut into small strips, add a few meatballs and wrap them up for a delicious lunch.
Or, keep them warm in a crockpot and serve them at a party for a delicious hors d'oeuvre.
How to Make this Asian Turkey Meatball Recipe
Making the Meatball Mixture
I always recommend prepping your ingredients before you get started. These meatballs are easy to make and cook quickly, so having all your ingredients ready to go will make it even easier.
In a medium bowl, combine turkey, riced cauliflower, soy sauce, orange zest, brown sugar, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, and salt. Mix well.
Making the Sauce
Combine the honey, rice vinegar, orange juice (about 2 tablespoons), grated ginger, garlic, and chili sauce in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Cooking the Asian Turkey Meatballs
Heat a large 10" skillet on medium high heat for a few minutes. If you don't have a large skillet, you can use a smaller one and brown the meatballs in batches. Or, you can also use your oven to cook the meatballs. Simply scoop the mixture onto a rimmed baking pan and set the oven temperature to 325F for baked meatballs.
Add about 1 Tablespoon of avocado oil or your oil of choice. I also like to add about 1 teaspoon of a toasted sesame oil for flavor.
When the oil is hot, but not smoking, use your scoop to scoop about 1 Tablespoon of turkey mixture into the skillet.
You can make the meatballs any size you like, even mini meatballs would be fun to add to a sweet-and-sour-style soup. Make sure to adjust the cooking time based on the size. The meatballs I made were formed with a small scoop and would be considered a small meatball about 1" in diameter.
Add the meatballs to the hot skillet and brown on one side, which takes about 5 minutes or so. Flip the meatballs and let cook another 1-2 minutes.
Add the sauce, cover and turn the stove down to medium low heat.
Allow the meatballs to steam for about 5 minutes to completely cook them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Remove the lid and reduce the sauce until it thickens and coats the meatballs. When the sauce is thick enough it will stay separated for 3-5 seconds when you run a spatula through it.
Add roasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish. Serve & Enjoy!
Asian Turkey Meatball Recipe
Turkey Meatball Mixture
Oil for cooking
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 green onions chopped
- Make the turkey mixture by adding all the ingredients into a medium size mixing bowl and mixing well.
- Make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients into a small to medium bowl and whisking to combine.
- Heat a 10" skillet on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon of avocado oil and 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Heat oil.
- Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of meatball mixture into hot skillet. Repeat until all the meatballs are in the skillet. By the time you get all the meatballs in, begin flipping them over. The one side should be nicely browned.
- When all the meatballs are flipped over, cook another 1-2 minutes and add the sauce. Cover and allow the meatballs to steam for about 3-5 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
- Remove the cover and reduce the sauce until it is thick and coats the meatballs. Adjust your heat down if needed. You want a nice gentle boil to reduce the sauce, but not hot enough to burn the sauce.
- Pour the meatballs and sauce into a bowl and top with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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