Asian Meatballs with Orange Sauce

5 from 7 votes
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Asian meatballs with orange sauce are packed with bold flavors! They are great served over rice with vegetables or simply as an appetizer.

Asian Meatballs with Orange Sauce

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 spruced up the recipe by adding quinoa, fresh serrano peppers, ginger, oranges, and enough spices to make your taste buds kick! These tender bites are great over rice or as a savory appetizer.

Meatballs lined up on a sheet tray

Bold ingredients like fresh ginger, garlic, spicy green serrano peppers, Asian five-spice, and Sriracha hot chili sauce make the flavor of these meatballs delicious. 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 are 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 a traditional meatball recipe.

Meatballs marinating in a pan with spicy orange sauce

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?

close up of a meatball with lemon zest and white sesame seeds on top

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.

Meatball sliced in half showing the interior

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.

Recipe Science

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 Meatballs with Orange Sauce

Asian-spiced meatballs with orange sauce are packed with bold flavors! They are great served over rice with vegetables or simply as an appetizer.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 12 meatballs
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese

Ingredients  

Meatballs

  • 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
  • ½ teaspoon serrano pepper, minced, stemmed and seeded, save some slices for garnish
  • teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha, or hot chili sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, panko
  • 1 large egg
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

Orange Sauce

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons orange zest, grated
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha, or hot chili sauce, more if you like it spicy
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch, plus 4 more teaspoons of water

Instructions 

  • 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 balls, about 12 total. 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 saucepan with a lid, add all sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch and water mixture. Set the 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 it thickens and with no lumps, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce to rewarm, cover 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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 12 meatballs
Calories 264kcal (13%)Carbohydrates 38g (13%)Protein 13g (26%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0.2gCholesterol 25mg (8%)Sodium 572mg (24%)Potassium 237mg (7%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 50IU (1%)Vitamin C 5mg (6%)Calcium 30mg (3%)Iron 2.9mg (16%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Janice says

    These look great! I never thought of putting quinoa in a meatball. I was looking at the food and wine magazine the other day and they featured a quinoa meatball recipe as well. I’ll have to try adding quinoa the next time I make meatballs

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Janice!I typically don’t either, but I like the added texture and health benefit. I hope you get to try the recipe 🙂

  2. CakePants says

    These look fantastic! I wouldn’t have thought to pair meatballs with an orange sauce, but then again I love orange chicken, so why not? I’m looking forward to trying these!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you! Yes, you are so right, orange with asian spices and your favorite meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork) would all work nicely.