Asian Quinoa Meatballs — Damn Delicious

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Asian Quinoa Meatballs

Healthy, nutritious and packed with so much flavor. Perfect as an appetizer or a light dinner!

Meatballs don’t get as much credit as they should. They’re incredibly versatile, they’re fun to eat, and they can either work as an appetizer or a main dish. Plus, it’s literally a ball of meat!

But for those cutting back on some heavy calories from all that meatball goodness, I have the perfectly lightened up version with quinoa.

The quinoa here is a great substitute for some of the meat, and provides an excellent source of protein too – all the while keeping it light on your pants.

Best of all, not only are these meatballs lightened up but they’re also baked to absolute tender perfection.

The sauce is also packed with tons of flavor – you can even set some aside and toss it on some rice or even a side of quinoa. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you’re anything like us, you’ll double the batch and serve these on game day, and save the rest for a light dinner the very next night!

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

Yield: 20 meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Healthy, nutritious and packed with so much flavor. Perfect as an appetizer or a light dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, quinoa, garlic, onions, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 18-20 meatballs.
  3. Place meatballs onto the prepared baking dish and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through.
  4. To make the sauce, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, sesame oil, Sriracha and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into soy sauce mixture until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve meatballs immediately with sauce, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds.

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116 comments

This recipe is next on my list to try.

These look delicious! In the recipe, is the rice vinegar the same as seasoned rice vinegar? I just started using seasoned rice vinegar and love it, but am not very familiar with how it is typically used. thanks for your help

It is best to use unseasoned rice vinegar but if that is all you have on hand, it should be fine.

I loved your simple lo mein recipe and will definitely be trying this one!

I love your blog. Can I subsitute turkey to something vegetarian? Would greatly appreciate your input!

Vidya, you can certainly substitute a vegetarian option here but I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish as further recipe testing is needed. I also worry that the meatballs may not be able to hold up!

I get tubes of a ground veggie product at Whole Foods and make really good meatballs with it.it is in the cooler by the veggie lunch meat and sausages. It works great.

I dried (but didn’t press) a block of firm tofu for a few hours (wrapped in a clean, dry kitchen towel) and crumbled it in lieu of the turkey. Instead of the egg, I just used some starch (potato or arrowroot, or Ener-G), and I also sprinkled in

1tsp of powdered veggie broth (my favorite is the Rapunzel brand). I then doubled the bake time, flipping them over halfway through. The “meat”ball texture was airy, light, but they do fall apart easily so would NOT be toothpick-friendly (if serving as an appetizer). Next time I’ll add more quinoa, maybe 1.5 times, and some slivered almonds. Oh, actually, grinding up some nuts would be a great idea to add as they’ll help make them a bit denser …. I don’t think the veggie bouillon made a difference, so I’ll leave it out. I haven’t eaten meat in nearly twenty-five years so I don’t know how they compared to le vrai chose, but we all liked them! A bit too spicy for my eight year-old, so lots of rice to help dull it a bit. I also doubled the brown sugar in the sauce because it was a too acidic, but I think a healthy squirt of agave would also work.

Oh boy – I can taste them now. I don’t see the 1/2 cup of water listed in the sauce ingredients that is mentioned in the text but am pretty sure it’s necessary. Will be making these soon. Thank you so much for all the great recipes and ideas. You Are Terrific!

Yes, the 1/2 cup water is necessary.

I just made the asian quinoa meatballs sans meat with 2 eggs. I loved the sauce but thought it did not make much so I added water to it. It was delicious. I printed your recipe and I do not see 1/2 cup of water in the list of ingredients? Excellent meal!

This looks delicious i will try it sometime

It looks so delicious, I love the ingredients on the sauce,can’t wait to try this recipe!

Gimme a toothpick and some bread for mopping, this looks delicious 😀 I made meatloaf the other day, which is basically just a massive meatball ^ ^ yum! x

Chung Ah, I’m convinced this will go to my favorite food list. The recipe is so simple, flavorful…and healthy! Nom nom.

Can I substitute ground ginger for the fresh ginger?

PS: I made your Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce last night with a side of Baked Parmesan Zucchini.

It was a huge hit that even our young kids loved.

Can’t wait to try these!! Thanks.

Yes, absolutely. It is recommended to use a 3:1 ratio of fresh to dried/ground.

And I’m so glad you made the teriyaki salmon and the baked parmesan zucchini – both are favorites here!

These look perfect! I love all of that tangy sauce. Must try this one.

I love the idea of using quinoa in meatballs. I can’t remember the last time that I made turkey meatballs so this recipe is definitely one that I am inspired to recreate!

Wow these look so delicious!! Tasty and healthy!

What do you recommend as a good substitute for rice vinegar? I have Aji-Mirin… 🙂

You can certainly substitute Mirin but without further recipe testing, I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish. It is always best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.

Thank you Chungah for your reply! I’ll be making them soon 🙂

I have minced garlic in the fridge. How many tablespoons do you think would equate to 3 cloves?

The decision is really yours on how much garlic to add as cloves of garlic can range in size from half a teaspoon, to half a tablespoon, and even up to a tablespoon.

Thanks. I’ll use 1 tablespoon.

I made these this afternoon and boy are they delish! Hubby does not like spicy at all 🙁 so I cut back on the Sriracha to half in both the meatballs and sauce. Meatballs were great and I might have gotten away with a bit more of the Sriracha there, but the sauce was still a bit too spicy for his tastes. (not for me though – all the more for me to enjoy) I’m going to try freezing some of them – any tips on that? Also got tired of grating the ginger on my microplane – takes a lot of work to get a tablespoon! So I think I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 tablespoon. Chungah, do you grate yours on a microplane grater? Thanks for a great recipe and I’ll be making this one again!!

I’m so glad you gave this a try! But unfortunately, I do not have any tips on freezing as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! I recommend using your best judgment for freezing and reheating. And yes, I always grate my ginger on a microplane grater. It’s the best (and easiest) way to grate in my opinion.

I use the box grater that has 4 different sides and it grates quicker than the micro plane also I take a tsp. of the ginger and put it in each ice cube tray when frozen i put in baggies get as much air out as possible and use as needed .No water

Should the quinoa be cooked for this recipe?

Yes, Laurie, as indicated in the recipe, the quinoa should be cooked prior to using.

This turned out really good! Plan to make it again. Yummy Over rice!

These look like sticky goodness! I have some pork mince in the fridge so will definitely have to adapt this recipe!

I love Quinoa and love finding different recipes and ways to use it. These look amazing!

I made these tonight for dinner, they were fantastic, loved the sauce. This will be getting added to my faves! Think it would be a great to make them bite sized for a party app. Thanks for a perfect recipe.

I substituted ground chicken for ground turkey – bad idea! Came out very watery and I had to use a ton of breadcrumbs to soak it up. Otherwise, this was delicious, would definitely make again! I doubled the sauce recipe as well and found that it was the perfect amount.

I’ll try these served on a bed of noodles. And if I’m feeling really creative, you could make these meatballs slightly smaller and wrap them inside a dumpling for a doubly Asian appetizer!

YUM! I’m always trying to find new ways to use quinoa, so I’m pretty excited for these Asian quinoa meatballs!!

If I have a smaller baking dish, do I have to adjust the cooking time?

No, I don’t think it’s necessary to adjust cooking time.

These look awesome & I’d love to give them a try, but we have a toddler with an egg allergy at home. Would the balls completely fall apart if I left it out?

Yes, the meatballs need some sort of binding to hold them together and that’s exactly the role of the egg.

maybe try using a flax egg…..its suppose to be a good sub for eggs….we tried it once in some baking it worked really well =)
http://detoxinista.com/how-to-make-flax-eggs-or-chia-eggs/

Hi, I made these meatballs last night and omg were they delicious. However, I noticed that meatball mixture was very gooey when I went to form them into balls, and had to end up cooking for around 30+ mins. Is that normal or just me? I did noticed the lean ground turkey I used was a tab bit watery, perhaps I should have patted it dry before combine everything together? has this happened to anyone else?
But all in all, I LOVED the whole recipe! So damn delicious!

I’m not sure what could have gone wrong but I worry that as you mentioned, the ground turkey retained quite a bit of water.

Made your delightful meatballs tonight using beef instead of the turkey. They turned out wonderful – just needed an extra 10mins cooking time. The sauce was so yummy I doubled it & served it all with noodles. Thanks for a great recipe.

Was really excited when I saw this because I thought it was meatless? Has anyone found a veggie alternative for the meat?

Hi. I made these appetizers for a party we had last night and it was the only appetizer that got completely eaten. And the people who didn’t regularly eat healthy couldn’t belive that it was (healthy). I ended up adding finely chopped carrot to the mixture and drizzled on a little sweet chili sauce at the end (maybe 2T). I made the meatballs ahead of time and then put on the sauce and let them hang out in the fridge. Then warmed them back up in the oven. They still held together and the sauce cartelized a bit too. All in all pretty awesome. Thanks!

Hi! I have cooked these once and they were so delicious! I am trying to plan some freezer meals for the next month. Have you ever frozen these? Or the sauce? If so, did they defrost and cook well? Thanks!

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

Ok! I will let you know how they turn out after freezing and cooking.

I am eating these as we speak. One of the best recipes ever! And so simple! Thank you for sharing this divine secret with us.

I make a similar meatballs that the family loves but have never thought to substitute some meat for quinoa. Not only healthier but makes the meal less expensive. That’s a brilliant idea! Just a suggestion, put the sauce over the meatballs at about 15 minutes and let it bake for about 10 more. It makes the most delicious thick coat of the sauce on each meatball.

I added about 2t fresh ginger, 2 T chopped fresh cilantro and some panko breadcrumbs to tighten up the mixture. Loved them. I also tried them with sweet thai chili sauce which hit the spot.

Can I throw all of this in a crockpot?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to give exact conversion information to translate a traditional stovetop recipe to be used in a slow cooker without further recipe testing. However, here is an article worth checking out on a possible conversion guide: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-tips-for-converting-recipes-to-the-slow-cooker-189343.

Is the 3/4 cup quinoa measured before of after cooking?

The recipe calls for 3/4 cup cooked quinoa so it would be measured after cooking.

I have tried many turkey meatball recipes, but not an Asian inspired one! This looks amazing, and I just so happen to have a pound of turkey in the fridge that needs to be used. Making this TONIGHT. I will more than likely feature this delicious recipe on my blog because it can’t go without being shared. Thanks for the YUMMINESS. I love all of your recipes too by the way. Your blog is very inspiring 🙂

These are baking in my oven right now and the sauce is on the stovetop!! So excited to try these. I am down 150 pounds done all on my own so I’m always looking for new ways to use ground turkey. Thanks for the recipe!!

Does the nutritional information include the sauce or only the meatballs?

The nutritional information is for both the sauce and meatballs.

What type of turkey did you use? 93%? I’m making these tonight!!

I like to use Trader Joe’s ground turkey breast (99% fat free).

Thanks!! so jealous you have a trader joe’s!!

Can we replace ground turkey with pork or chicken? Not easy to find turkey where I live.

Yes, either should work just fine.

Another winner! Next time I make these, I’ll double the sauce. We had these meatballs with a side of quinoa and steamed vegetables. So yummy!

I can’t wait to try these! Thanks for sharing!

I made these tonight and they taste greate, however my meatballs didn’t stay together!! Any suggestions on this? I was wondering if it was because my quinoa was hot when I mixed with turkey.

Oh no – I’m not entirely sure what caused this. How was the texture of your quinoa? Dry? Moist?

wow those look so good pass’em over

OK, I may be drooling a little bit right now. These look SOOOO good! By the way, you have so inspired me on my journey of learning to love cooking that I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award (nomination post here: http://healthylittlechanges.com/2015/04/21/a-blog-award-plus-my-10-favorites/). Thanks for sharing such amazing, drool-worthy recipes! You help me feel like a pro in the kitchen.

I made this the other night and they tasted fantastic. I made the mistake of not mincing the onions so they were more like little individual meatloaf piles (couldn’t hold a shape). I sadly didn’t have sesame oil so I just used some olive oil and I used powdered ginger instead in the sauce.

What would you recommend for a turkey substitute for us vegetarians?

There are many vegetarian options for meatballs – I have seen recipes using tempeh, chickpeas and even mushrooms!

Made them yesterday and I had a lot of compliments. I will definitely make them again! I had to add a lot more sugar as the sauce was way too salty at the beginning. Maybe because of the soy sauce I used?

Yes, I have found that reduced sodium soy sauce has the least amount of saltiness and of course, less sodium 🙂

So far this is the only way I’ve enjoyed eating ground turkey! Amazing flavor, so delicious!

I can’t get my meatballs to stay together. Any suggestions?

I am not entirely sure why they are falling apart. Did you follow the recipe exactly as written without any substitutions?

Hiya! I just wanted to give you a shout out and express how much I am enjoying your site. I found your site after looking on google for a prawn bacon avocado salad, which I am excited to try tonight! Yum! The gorgeous pictures of creative tasty dishes and the bright, happy vibe of your site has sent me down a rabbit hole obsessed with new recipes I MUST try. So thank you. I am even going to finally try quinoa because of you! Wow!
All the very best, Gabbie

These were a HUGE hit at our house! I doubled the recipe so that we would have leftovers, and I’m so glad I did! Going to try the Whole Food’s inspired salad next. Thanks for the great recipe! Lizzie

Can I prepare the meatballs the night before and then bake them and prepare the sauce the next evening?

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