Asian spiced quinoa meatballs with orange sauce are packed with bold flavors! They are great served over rice with vegetables or simply as an appetizer.
Meatballs are a staple at our house, especially the kind made by adorable Italian grandmas! As much as we could devour a plate of those at least once a week, I thought I would bring a little eastern flavor into the mix. The base is everything you would expect in a meatball; ground beef, bread crumbs, and eggs. But I’ve spruced them up with a little quinoa, fresh serrano peppers, ginger, oranges and enough spices to make your taste buds kick!
These tender bites of Asian spiced quinoa meatballs are great over rice with some vegetables, or as a savory appetizer, we had them for dinner, and it was a nice switch up!
Related: How to Cook Quinoa
Bold, in your face, I got you good ingredients like fresh ginger, garlic, spicy green serrano peppers, Asian five spice and Sriracha hot chili sauce makes the flavor of these meatballs addicting. Nothing overpowers each other, just a harmonious delivery of flavorful and exotic spices, and just a hint of lingering heat to keep you excited. The meatballs cooked quickly in the high heat in the oven, and you want them cooked through as they don’t simmer in the sauce for hours like traditional spaghetti and meatballs.
Wow, this sauce is potent! It might seem unyielding in flavor at first (if you taste it straight out of the pan), but once you break open the meatball and dip or have it over rice, the flavor is just right. This sauce comes together very quickly as a cornstarch slurry is used to thicken the sauce in minutes.
The fresh orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar and a little more Sriracha are bold flavors that come together in this sauce. If you like the sauce really spicy, add as much Sriracha until you start sweating. Extra calorie burn can’t be a bad thing, right?
Who knew meatballs could be so darn pretty? I topped them with some extra sliced chives, serrano chilis, sesame seeds, grated orange zest and cilantro just before serving. Sometimes you can’t tell what’s all of the happenings in mighty meatballs, but these garnishes help hint at the story before your first bite is taken.
I was thinking, these Asian spice meatballs are pretty hearty in size. If you want to have them as appetizer bites for a crowd, you could make them smaller and get 24 servings instead of 12. I would suggest reducing the cooking time to half and then checking every few minutes to see if they have cooked through.
I try my best to incorporate as many healthy ingredients as I can into my cooking, especially since James is eating what the grown-ups eat now. The quinoa is a wonderful extra source of protein, and I’ve also added whole wheat panko breadcrumbs that I recently discovered and have been adding to everything. Meatballs don’t have to be boring, adding some different fresh and bold flavors show just how versatile they can be, and still super satisfying!
What is the benefit of adding a cornstarch slurry?
Cornstarch slurries are a staple in Chinese cooking. It’s a quick and flavorless way to add thickness to any sauce. It works great for this orange sauce because all of the ingredients can simply be mixed and brought to a low boil. The slurry is usually a one-to-one combination of cornstarch and water. Make sure to whisk these together first, so the cornstarch gets hydrated. If you add cornstarch directly to the sauce, it will get lumpy. The thickening process happens at high temperatures, so keep that sauce nice and hot (near boiling), and keep whisking as you add the slurry until the sauce thickens, this will happen in a few minutes. You can always add less slurry for a runnier sauce, and then add more as you go.
Asian Spiced Quinoa Meatballs with Orange Sauce
- 1 pound lean ground beef, 92% lean meat was used
- 1 cup red quinoa, cooked
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced, more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon serrano pepper, minced, stemmed and seeded, save some slices for garnish
- 1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha, or hot chili sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 cup bread crumbs, whole wheat panko
- 1 large egg
- cilantro leaves, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 4 teaspoons orange zest, grated
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
- 2 teaspoons sriracha, or hot chili sauce, more if you like it spicy
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch, plus 4 more teaspoons of water
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with foil, lightly coat with nonstick spray or vegetable oil.
- In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients. Roll mixture into 2-inch meatballs, about 12 large meatballs. Transfer to the greased baking sheet, spreading them out equally on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, then flip each meatball and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. The sides should be lightly browned and cooked all the way through.
- In a medium sized pan with a lid, add all sauce ingredients to the pan except for the cornstarch and water mixture. Set heat to medium-high, whisk the ingredients together and allow it to come to just a boil.
- Mix the cornstarch and 4 teaspoons of water in a small bowl. Add to the sauce and whisk continuously until the sauce is thickened and there are no lumps, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce to rewarm, covered for 3 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Garnish meatballs with chives and sesame seeds. Serve warm as an appetizer or with vegetables and brown rice as an entrée. Enjoy!