Every country has its own version of meatballs, and Vietnam is no exception. Made with juicy pork, these Vietnamese Meatballs feed a crowd! I like to serve them as an appetizer with a spicy dipping sauce, but they are equally at home on top of rice noodles, or stuffed in a bahn mi sandwich. They are packed with characteristic flavors of Southeast Asia, like lemongrass and fish sauce. Best of all, they are baked so there is no stove top mess and they are ready in less than a half hour!
The Not So Secret Sauce
I like to serve these Vietnamese Meatballs with a spicy, creamy sauce. It has just 3 ingredients, and can be whipped up beforehand and kept in the fridge. A little spicy, sweet, and creamy, this sauce also makes an excellent condiment for burgers.
Vietnamese Meatballs can be made with chicken and beef too, but I really love the richness from pork. Vietnamese Meatballs don’t have any binders-no breadcrumbs and no egg, so the texture is fun and springy. And no fillers mean that the funk of the fish sauce and the brightness of the lemongrass really shines through.
The longer you mix, the chewier and springier the meat will be. Asians love chewy meatballs and often work the meat well or put in some more more texture with bits like beef tendon, but you do you. Mix gently for tender ones or give it some rough slapping treatment for extra chew.
When I am serving these as a starter, I shape them into pretty big meatballs- that way people have a couple before the main event. Plus it keeps the meatballs from drying out in the oven. If you want to enjoy these with noodles, you can shape them smaller.
If using a 2 tablespoons scoop, you should have a dozen meatballs.
I bake them on a parchment lined sheet in the oven. This is a lot less messy than panfrying, and preserves their wonderful texture. It should only take about 20 minutes for them to be cooked through. I used a fairly fatty pork grind, which I recommend for both meatballs and sausages, so I didn’t use any oil for baking. In order to have moist and tender meatballs, I feel a certain amount of fat is necessary. However, if you prefer to use leaner pork, spray the tops of the meatballs with some oil before baking to ensure a golden color and better flavor.
If you really want to earn a gold star, try serving these with the nuoc cham sauce from my Lemongrass Chicken Bowls. That way there’s one spicy sauce, and one citrusy sauce so people can choose. These Vietnamese Meatballs are so versatile you can add them to pho, or serve them with other small plates like Sriracha Chicken Wings, Thai Corn Fritters, and Spring Rolls for a fun mix and match meal. Make them tonight and let me know what you think! Rate the recipe below and leave a comment- we love hearing from you. And show off your gorgeous platter of Vietnamese Meatballs by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen.
For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground pork (not lean)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 3 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 Tablespoon Sriracha or other garlic chile sauce
- 4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Ketchup
- Mix the sriracha, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Combine the ground pork, sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine.
- Next add the oil and mix again to combine.
- Scoop the mixture into 2 Tablespoon portions. You should yield 12. With clean hands roll the balls in your palms to smooth the surface.
- Place the meatballs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425. Roast the meatballs for 18-20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through (break one open to check or take a temperature test. It should be 165 degrees).
- Serve immediately with the dipping sauce on the side.
*If you are using a lean ground pork mixture, you may want to spray or brush some oil on the meatballs before they go into the oven. This will ensure better flavor, more moisture, and an even golden crust.
Keywords: vietnamese meatballs, bun cha, appetizers