korean bbq meatballs
Kick your meatball routine up a notch with these sweet and spicy Korean BBQ meatballs. They make a fabulous appetizer on their own but also pair perfectly with a bowl of sticky white rice for a complete meal. With just a few minutes of prep time, you’ve got a tasty new meatball recipe go-to.
I can safely say that, in my world, meatballs are a regular mealtime occurrence. We enjoy them slow-cooked Italian-style; we eat the Swedish version with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce; sometimes I’ll even plop them in a soup. And of course I grew up on the classic cocktail version that you pick up with a toothpick — it was a party standard.
So it’s no surprise to me that when my husband suggested I make a recipe for Korean BBQ meatballs, there wasn’t a question — except to ask, when is the soonest moment humanly possible I can get these meatballs in my life?
The answer is not long, because once I had the idea in my head, I couldn’t shake it. The combination of a sweet and salty soy-ginger sauce with a kick of gochujang (aka Korean chili paste, aka my new favorite sauce of all the sauces) and savory meatballs flavored with even more gochujang, ginger and scallions… I mean, do you blame me? You’re probably already itching to make them, too.
HOW TO MAKE KOREAN BBQ MEATBALLS
Here’s the breakdown of the recipe: First, you make the beef meatballs — a basic combination of meat, panko bread crumbs, an egg for binding and spices. I baked mine in the oven because I love the ease of putting them on a baking sheet and calling it a day, but you certainly can make them on the stove in a skillet, too, if you wish! Just be sure to add a tablespoon or two of oil to the skillet before cooking the meatballs.
While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce on the stove. Adding the diluted cornstarch mixture helps to thicken the sauce so it lovingly coats the meatballs, so be sure to stay patient and stir the sauce until it thickens up.
Finally, gently toss the meatballs in the sauce, sprinkle them with sesame seeds and sliced green onions and serve them on their own as an appetizer or on top of rice (with a sriracha mayo glaze, if you feel so inclined) for a flavorful but easy weeknight meal.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST MEATBALLS
A few more tips to guarantee meatball-making success:
1. Mix the meatball mixture by hand — I know it’s messy and kind of gross, but just get in there (and then clean your hands really well with soap and water!). This is the best way to mix meatballs without overmixing them and turning the mixture into more of a paste — blech.
2. Roll the meatballs into even, approximately 1-inch-size balls. An ice cream scoop can help you out tremendously with this task!
3. I don’t recommend skipping the gochujang or swapping it for something else in this recipe — it’s really the star of the flavor show here, and if you love Korean food or Korean barbecue, you’ll really love this sauce. I found a bottle at Target so I’m sure it’s fairly easy to find these days at standard grocery stores near the soy/teriyaki sauce section (or here, on the Amazon!).
Pretty (read: definitely) sure I’m going to find all the excuses I can to make these sweet and spicy Korean BBQ meatballs as often as possible. That glaze just gets me.Print
Sweet and spicy Korean BBQ meatballs get a kick from gochujang (Korean chili paste) and a soy-ginger glaze that takes this recipe to the next level.
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean-style chili paste)
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Cooked white or brown rice, for serving (optional)
For the glaze:
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon gochujang
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Make the meatballs: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, pepper, salt, 3 green onions, 2 cloves garlic, egg and 1 tablespoon gochujang until well mixed. Roll into 1-inch balls; place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 4 cloves garlic, soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon gochujang, rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil and red pepper flakes to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water together in a separate small bowl until well combined; stir into boiling sauce until just combined.
- Reduce heat to medium; simmer and stir constantly 8-10 minutes until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and gently stir to coat. Serve meatballs warm topped with remaining 1 green onion, sesame seeds and cooked rice, if desired.
- This recipe makes a generous amount of sauce. This is great if you plan to serve the meatballs over rice, as the rice will absorb some of the sauce into a yum-yumminess. BUT, if you plan to serve these on their own or as more of an appetizer, feel free to halve the sauce recipe (directions stay the same).
Keywords: Korean BBQ Meatballs