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Sweet Chili Meatballs

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Sweet chili meatballs are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, made with ground chicken plus the spicy kick of Thai chili sauce, fresh cilantro, garlic, and ginger. They’re perfect for an appetizer or main dish and can be made ahead of time and frozen.

a baking sheet with sweet chili meatballs garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds and bowl of chili sauce and a slice of lime on its side with a gray cloth, bowl of green onions, and bowl of rice in the background

Do you love sweet and spicy flavors? I’m sure you’re going to love these sweet chili meatballs! They are packed with flavor and will leave your taste buds tingling. These meatballs are made with ground chicken, so they are nice and juicy.

The sweet chili sauce gives them a delicious Asian Thai flavor, and the fresh cilantro, garlic, and ginger add a wonderful aroma. Be sure to serve them with green onion and sesame seeds for a beautiful presentation!

What do Sweet Chili Meatballs taste like?

As I mentioned, these meatballs have a sweet, spicy, and savory flavor. The sweet chili sauce is slightly spicy with a hint of sweetness from the sugar.

The fresh cilantro adds a bright color to the dish, and the garlic and ginger add a zing of flavor. While the green onion and sesame seeds give the meatballs a beautiful presentation and a little bit of crunch.

What I love about these meatballs is that they are so easy to make! You can either bake them or cook them in a pan on the stove.

The baking method is my favorite because it is less messy and the meatballs come out nice and crispy. But, if you’re in a hurry, cooking them on the stovetop will work just fine.

So, if you’re looking for a delicious and easy recipe, give these sweet chili meatballs a try! You won’t be disappointed.

Love meatballs? Check out our turkey sausage balls, cheesy sausage balls, spicy meatballs, and marinara meatballs recipe. They’re perfect for dunking in our sauces and dips just like these meatballs!

a baking sheet with sweet chili sauce with a slice of lime and dipping sauce beside it

What you’ll need for Sweet Chili Meatballs Recipe

For the Meatballs

  • Ground chickenthe base of the mix
  • Large egghelps bind the meatballs together
  • Panko breadcrumbshelp absorb extra moisture in the meatballs to keep them juicy without being soggy
  • Sweet chili sauceadds a bit of spice and sweetness to the meatballs.
  • Soy sauceadds a salty umami flavor to the recipe
  • Cilantroadds a fresh, grassy flavor to the meatballs
  • Garlicfor that kick of flavor
  • Gingeradds a zing of flavor
  • Sesame oil adds a nutty flavor and helps crisp the meatballs while they bake.
ingredients for this recipe which includes large egg, ground chicken, cilantro, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, panko bread crumbs, garlic, ginger, lime, water, and sesame oil.

For the Sauce

  • Sweet chili saucethis Asian sauce adds the perfect flavor
  • Lime juiceadds a bit of acidity and freshness to the sauce
  • Water – helps thin the sauce to your desired consistency
  • Green onion, cilantro, sesame seedsfor garnish

Ingredient Notes:

  • I recommend using “ground chicken” not “ground chicken breast” because it has a bit more structure and less moisture.
  • Garlic and ginger are classic additions to Asian flavors, as is the sweet chili sauce. Using grated aromatics in these meatballs, lets them mix together smoothly without big chunks.
a white mixing bowl with the chicken meatball ingredients

Equipment Used for Sweet Chili Chicken

How to make the Sweet Chili Meatballs

Cooking the Meatballs

Mix the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, mix together the ground chicken, egg, bread crumbs, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, minced cilantro, grated garlic, and grated ginger to a large bowl.

a white mixing bowl with the chicken meatball ingredients

Pour the sesame oil over a large sheet pan or baking sheet. Rub it all over the pan with your hands. This will help the chicken not stick to the pan.

Prepare for baking. Use a scoop or a heaping tablespoon to roll the chicken into smooth golf ball sized portions (about 1.5 tablespoons). Place them at least 1” apart on the prepared baking sheet.

unbaked meatballs on a baking sheet

Bake. Bake the meatballs for 15-18 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165°F.

meatballs on a baking sheet

While the meatballs are baking, mix together the dipping sauce.

Making the Sweet Chili Sauce

Mix the Sauce. To a large bowl, add the sweet chili sauce, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk together until the sauce is thin and pourable. If it is not yet thin enough, then add another tablespoon of water.

a mixing bowl with sweet chili sauce

Put the chicken meatballs in the sauce and mix them together. You can enjoy it with green onion, cilantro, or sesame seeds on top.

a white mixing bowl with meatballs and sweet chili sauce

How to Serve the Meatballs with Chili Sauce

These meatballs are perfect for appetizers or as a main course. To make this a meal, serve it over rice like our Basmati rice, brown rice, mashed potatoes, or with your favorite vegetables on the side.

You can also pair them with a side of salad for a complete meal. For a fun twist, try serving them on toothpicks as an appetizer!

a hand holding the baking sheet with meatballs and dipping sauce and a gray cloth, bowl of green onion slices, bowl of sesame seeds, bowl of rice, and another bowl of dipping sauce in the background

How to Store Sweet Chili sauce and Meatballs

The meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Then the Thai sweet chili sauce will last in the fridge for up to one week.

If you find the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out before serving.

Can I freeze this?

You can freeze the meatballs and dipping sauce in a freezer safe container for up to three months. However, I recommend freezing them without the sauce, so they don’t get soggy when reheated.

a baking sheet with sweet chili meatballs garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds and bowl of chili sauce and a slice of lime on its side with a gray cloth, bowl of green onions slices in the background

When you’re ready to eat them, simply heat the meatballs in the oven and then mix them with the sauce.

Meatballs in Sweet Chili Sauce Variations

  • I am using ground chicken in this recipe, but you can use ground pork, ground turkey, ground beef, or any mixture of ground meat. For the best results, do not use extra lean ground turkey.
  • To make these sweet and sour meatballs with chili sauce gluten-free, swap out the panko breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs and use a gluten-free soy sauce.
  • For extra heat, add a teaspoon (or more) of sriracha sauce or chili flakes to the sweet chili sauce mixture.
  • You can also dip chicken tenders or strips and fried chicken strips into this Thai sweet chili sauce.
  • The dipping sauce can also be enjoyed with spring rolls.
a hand holding chopsticks picking a meatballs placed in a baking sheet with dipping sauce and slice of lime and bowl of sesame seeds, bowl of green onions, and a bowl of rice in the background

Get the Full Sweet Chili Meatballs Here

sweet chili meatballs with slices of lime places in a baking sheet
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Sweet Chili Meatballs

These sweet chili meatballs are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside thanks to ground chicken and packed with flavor from sweet chili sauce, fresh cilantro, garlic, and ginger. They’re tossed in a sweet chili sauce and garnished with green onion and sesame seeds.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack, Dinner, Holiday
Cuisine Asian
Keyword Chicken, sweet and spicy sauce, meatballs, sheet pan chicken, spicy meatballs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 463kcal

Equipment

  • Baking Sheet
  • large bowl
  • Scoop or large tablespoon

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken (can substitute with ground turkey)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the Sauce

  • ½ cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 piece lime juiced
  • 1-2 tablespoons water as needed to thin the sauce
  • Sliced green onion cilantro, and/or sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

For the Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, minced cilantro, grated garlic, and grated ginger to a large bowl. Gently mix until well combined.
  • Drizzle the sesame oil over a large sheet pan and rub it over the pan with your hands (coating your hands with oil will prevent the chicken from sticking).
  • Portion the chicken into golf ball sized portions (about 1.5 tablespoons) and roll them into smooth balls. Place the meatballs at least 1” apart on the oiled baking sheet.
  • Bake the meatballs for 15-18 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165°F.

For the Sauce

  • Add the sweet chili sauce, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of water to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  • If the sauce is not thin and pourable, add another tablespoon of water.
  • Add the hot chicken meatballs to the sauce and toss to combine.
  • Enjoy garnished with green onion, cilantro, or sesame seeds.
  • To make this a meal, serve it over rice with your favorite vegetables on the side.

Notes

  • Ground chicken is a great base for this flavor! I’m using “ground chicken” not “ground chicken breast” because it has a bit more structure and less moisture. You can substitute with regular ground turkey (not extra lean).
  • Egg helps bind the meatballs together.
  • Panko helps absorb extra moisture in the meatballs to keep them juicy without being soggy.
  • Sweet chili sauce adds a bit of spice and sweetness to the meatballs.
  • Soy sauce adds a salty umami flavor to the meatballs.
  • Cilantro adds a fresh, grassy flavor to the meatballs.
  • Garlic and ginger are classic additions to Asian flavors. I like using grated aromatics in these meatballs, so they incorporate smoothly without big chunks.
  • Sesame oil adds a nutty flavor and helps crisp the meatballs while they bake.
  • Lime adds a bit of acidity and freshness to the sauce.
  • Water helps thin the sauce to your desired consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 902mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 83IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?

Baking meatballs is an easy way to make juicy and flavorful meatballs. Fried meatballs can be crispy on the outside but they might be dry on the inside. If you choose to fry them, make sure there is enough room for them to cook evenly so they don’t get dry.

Should you let meatballs rest before cooking?

No, but if you have the time, it won’t hurt. Letting the meatballs sit for 20-30 minutes will help them hold together better when cooking. This is especially true if you are baking the meatballs instead of frying them.

If you are short on time, you can skip the resting step. Just be sure to form the meatballs tightly so they hold together well.

What is a good substitute for sweet chili sauce?

You can swap the sauce with hoisin sauce, plum sauce, or apricot preserves. If you don’t have any of those on hand, you can make a sweet chili sauce by mixing together equal parts sugar, vinegar, and ketchup. Just be sure to adjust the other ingredients in the recipe accordingly.


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