Looking to liven up your ground beef? These Asian meatballs are baked then served in a sweet chili sauce. Serve them as a simple party appetizer or for an easy dinner over rice.
I think I may have an addiction to sweet chili sauce because I use it all the time. As I was thinking about my cooking style the other day, I realized I tend to put an Asian twist on recipes: Thai Sweet Chili Shrimp with Cabbage “Noodles”, General Tso’s Sweet Chili Shrimp, Sweet Chili and Pineapple Thai Burgers. Even my shrimp tacos are Asian (but not a drop of sweet chili sauce in sight – I should fix that). Some of my Pittsburgh friends may find this blasphemous but – I think I love it even more than ranch dressing (and this is coming from someone who dips mediocre pizza, tater tots, and fish sticks in ranch). I can’t help it though. There’s something special about that sweet and spicy condiment that makes everything, well, taste better. These Sweet Chili Baked Meatballs are no exception. What can I say – habits are hard to break (good or bad). The idea for this recipe came when I was thinking about those cocktail meatballs you often see at parties made in a slow cooker. You know – the ones with a “sauce” of grape jelly and chili sauce. It sounds odd, but they are really, really good. However, I decided to do an Asian twist on the meatballs (surprise!) and make them from scratch with sweet chili sauce. Since I don’t own a slow cooker, I opted to bake the meatballs instead. That way, anybody with an oven can make these meatballs.
If you’ve never had sweet chili sauce before, it’s a sweet and spicy Asian condiment made of chili peppers, garlic, and sugar (and a few other things). I do have a recipe for homemade sweet chili sauce, but when I don’t have any red spicy peppers, I often buy a bottle, often found near the soy sauce.
When I think of meatballs, I think of food for a crowd, especially tailgating and Super Bowl parties. You can serve these meatballs two ways – either with a toothpick in each one or keep them warm in a pot or slow cooker and serve with a spoon. The key to keeping the meatballs round while baking is to place on a roasting or cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. That way, the fat drips down and the meatballs aren’t flat against the tray.
Even though I’ve been focusing on serving meatballs to a crowd, they aren’t just for parties (if that were the case, I’d only eat these like once or twice a year, and that just wouldn’t be fair). I like to serve them for dinner over rice. You can even serve them on a hoagie bun to make meatball subs for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to serve with extra sweet chili sauce.
- 1/2 pound ground beef, thawed
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs*
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (homemade or store bought)
- 3/4 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil then place a wire rack on top.
- In a large bowl, mix together the beef, onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, salt, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, and egg. Roll the mixture into roughly 1 inch meatballs and place on the baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until brown and cooked completely.
- Shortly before the meatballs are done, add the sweet chili sauce to a medium saucepan and heat until just before boiling. Once the meatballs are cooked, roll in the sweet chili sauce until fully coated. Keep warm while serving.
- If serving the meatballs with rice, add the rice and water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is soft. Fluff with a fork then serve with meatballs.
*Panko bread crumbs are Japanese-style bread crumbs that are coarser than traditional bread crumbs and are often found in the Asian section of your grocery store. In a pinch, you can substitute regular bread crumbs or even crushed up butter crackers.
More Sweet Chili Sauce Recipes
Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce