One Pan Thai Meatballs

Bright flavors that will make you and your peeps so happy. These Thai meatballs make a quick weeknight dinner with rice or zoodles and are perfect on a buffet for a big gathering.

bowl of Thai Meatballs with bowls of rice and sweet potatoes and peppersHave you returned home from vacation feeling like that commercial for a famous pink antacid? You know that commercial where the actors’ bellies move and wiggle from overindulgence? I’m certainly dating myself with this commercial reference, but hey, I’ve never claimed to be a teenager. The antidote to post-vaca ick is here, honey—in the form of some Thai Meatballs that will give you all the right feels. Fresh-tasting with a touch of heat, Thai Meatballs are the answer when the question is “I’m hungry for something satisfyingly healthy.” All you English teachers – I know – that wasn’t really a question.

close up of thai meatballs and a scoop with an empty bowlI came up with Thai Meatballs because I wanted something meatbally that wasn’t Italian, felt lighter like spring. Don’t get me wrong – I will never turn away a good meatball in red sauce. I’m kind of like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer when he’s offered meatballs in his hand as payment for singing lessons.

These Thai Meatballs make the perfect bite. And they offer up lots of options because of their shape. Meatballs are a great crowd-pleaser whether in a chafing dish or skewered on skewers.  [Sidebar: is skewered on skewers redundant? Where are those English teachers I insulted a couple of paragraphs earlier?]

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ground pork and chicken and spices for thai meatballs in a white bowl on a marble backgroundThe ingredients

My Thai meatballs start with equal parts of ground chicken and pork. The pork helps keep things light, but also adds necessary fat which, you know, always means flavor. We can’t stop there though because these are Thai Meatballs and need the necessary Thai influences. Lemongrass, ginger, and cilantro kick things off along with jalapeno, onion and garlic. Are meatballs really meatballs if they don’t have garlic?

meatballs browning in stainless panJust to keep things a little Italian, you’ll start your meatballs by sauteing a little onion and garlic together in a pan big enough to hold all the meatballs (after they’re browned) along with the sauce. The onion and garlic help flavor the meatballs and keep things nice, savory and offer a little Italian send-off.

Once your onions and garlic are all copacetic, you’ll remove them from the pan and add a touch of olive and sesame oils to which you’ll add your first batch of meatballs. In shifts, brown them for about 2-3 minutes per side and remove them from the pan.

saute pan of thai meatballs with rice on a blue and white towel with cilantroGet saucy

After your meatballs are pan-kissed, it’s time to make the sauce. Oh, the sauce. Did I mention how good this sauce is? And did I mention what’s in it?  This sauce is comfort in a bowl!

It all starts with one polarizing word: curry paste. I completely get that the mere mention of curry forces some people to change the channel, turn the page, stop reading the blog (please—don’t do this last one). Please keep reading—you might realize that the reason you won’t give curry paste a try is that it has the word curry in the name. However, curry is really the name of a stew-like dish, not an all-encompassing flavor.

thai red curry paste and spices with a bowl of ground meat for meatballsCurry powder or paste?

Indian foods use curry powder, an aromatic spice blend while curry paste is a crushed blend of fresh ingredients used in Thai food. Turmeric is an ingredient in curry powder and gives it that bold yellow color. On the other hand, curry paste is green, yellow or red (or somewhere in between) and is made from a variety of fresh or dried ingredients like chiles, lemongrass, ginger or garlic that are mixed with oil. They are completely different. You can read more about the difference between curry paste and powder here and here but do that later—after you’ve checked out these yummo Thai Meatballs.

tablescape of thai meatballs in white bowls with rice on a blue and white napkin and sweet potatoes and riceWhen you make these meeatballs, follow my lead and don’t call them curry. Just sit back and revel in all the “mmmm’s” and “oh yums” you’re gonna hear. And who knows? Someone you know might accept a few for some piano lessons.


For a crowd: Thai Curry meatballs make the perfect buffet party food. Add a little brightness to your Your next Holiday table with these babies in a chafing dish.

For a few: Make a whole batch and freeze half for a night when “WFD” (what’s for dinner?) is a challenge!

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saute pan of thai meatballs with rice on a blue and white towel with cilantro.
5 from 9 votes

Thai Meatballs

Satisfyingly light but in only the most comforting way, Thai Meatballs are great with rice or as an appetizer for a gathering or buffet.
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes
Total Time:50 minutes
Servings 6



Meatball Prep

To Cook Meatballs

For the Sauce


For the Meatballs

  • WIth hands, gently combine all ingredients through cilantro. Make into 2" balls and set aside.
  • Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add both oils. Wait about 20-30 seconds and carefully place meatballs in pan. Don't overcrowd the pan. Leave a little room so they're not touching. You'll be cooking these in a couple of batches so it's all good.
  • Lower heat to medium and cook meatballs approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. You want them golden brown before flipping. If they stick to the pan, they aren't ready. They'll release when they're ready.
  • As each batch is cooked on both sides. remove the meatballs to paper towel lined plate or rimmed baking sheet. You don't want those babies rolling away. And no testing because they're not cooked all the way through yet.
  • Time to make the sauce.

For the Sauce

  • In the same pan, raise the heat to medium-high and add the olive oil. Once heated, add the chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes. After they are golden brown and translucent, add the garlic and saute until you can smell it for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken broth and stir in the red curry paste, coconut milk and fish sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the sauce come together for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Gently add the meatballs to the sauce, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thoroughly cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, put the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove about 1/4-1/3 cup of the simmered sauce into the bowl with the cornstarch and stir completely to make a slurry. Add the slurry back into the skillet to thicken the sauce.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Meat
Cuisine: Thai
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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  1. Ok Lori.. I’m going to make these! I do not or rather my sensitive tummy does not abide anything in a red sauce😬 but I DO like anything Thai and I’m out of ideas..
    thanks 😊