Spicy Korean-Style Meatballs

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist approved recipe for spicy Korean-style meatballs.

Polar vortex 2019! Enough already!

I know, I know, I live in Vancouver and thus should not be complaining. It’s -3°C here with a light dusting of snow, and I am MISERABLE because I have to wear a scarf and gloves. Meanwhile, in the rest of Canada, schools are closing, pipes are freezing, and those in Manitoba and Alberta battle against a wind chill of -50°C.

So, okay, maybe I shouldn’t be MISERABLE. I used to battle those frigid temperatures when I lived in Edmonton, Alberta. I can say with confidence that I absolutely do not miss -30°C weather, and all the associated layering, outerwear, and scraping ice off the windshield.

Let’s heat things up, shall we?

My spicy Korean-style meatballs may be just the thing to warm you up from the inside out. These are great for the instant pot, but you could also bake them in the oven in a covered casserole dish or Dutch oven. I love these on top of rice, with veggies, and maybe a little sprinkle of cheese or a dollop of mayo to cool down some of the heat.

Spicy Korean-Style Meatballs

Makes about 12-15 meatballs


For the meatballs:

2 lbs extra lean ground beef, or ground chicken or turkey

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced

A few cracks of black pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

½ cup no-sodium chicken stock

½ cup tamari, or low sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup to ½ cup Sriracha, or other Asian hot sauce (I found with ½ cup it was HOT, so I will cut it down next time)

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons sesame oil


If you’re using your oven, preheat to 375°F.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs, and mix well with your hands. If the mixture seems too wet, add more bread crumbs.

Roll out the meatballs to your desired size and set on a plate or tray. I like them about the size of a golf ball, but if you’re feeling lazy, you can always make them bigger and increase the cooking time.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine chicken stock, tamari, honey Sriracha, and lime juice. Taste and correct the sauce until it’s exactly how you want it – add more honey for sweetness, more lime for tang, and more hot sauce if you dare.

Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or big oven-proof pot, or in your Instant Pot on the sauté function.

Working in batches, brown the meatballs on a few sides. This browning step gives great flavor, and helps prevent the meatballs from sticking together in the Instant Pot or oven.

Once all the meatballs are browned, add the meatballs back to the pot, and pour all of the sauce over the meatballs. For the oven, cover the meatballs and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 160°F is reached. For the Instant Pot, cook under high pressure for 15 minutes and release pressure immediately (you could do natural release if you aren’t in a rush, but typically I’m too hungry to wait).

If you’d like to reduce the sauce, remove all the meatballs to a plate, and boil down the sauce on the stovetop or in your Instant Pot until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.

This recipe freezes beautifully, and can easily be doubled for batch cooking.

Enjoy Food Lifers!