Recipe: Thai Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce

updated Jan 29, 2020
Thai Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

If you thought meatballs were reserved for spaghetti and marinara sauce, think again. This one-pot meal will change the way you see meatballs. The combination of lean and tender chicken meatballs and a spiced sauce, plus all the ingredients you love in Thai food — like warm curry, ginger, cilantro, basil, coconut milk, and more — bring big flavor to weeknight dinner.

When compared to fattier meats, like pork or beef, ground chicken can often result in dry or flavorless meatballs — but these Thai-inspired meatballs couldn’t be further from that. Filled with garlic, ginger, and a smidgen of red Thai curry paste, these two-bite meatballs are packed with bright and intense flavors. A rich, warm coconut curry sauce and shower of fresh herbs bring it all together.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

To keep this meal simple and weeknight-worthy, I cooked the meatballs directly in the sauce. Not only does it save you a few dishes, but it also ensures the meatballs stay juicy and tender while they stew in the lightly spiced coconut curry sauce.

To finish, stir in leafy greens, like spinach or baby bok choy, in the final minutes of cooking. Serve the meatballs atop a pile of rice noodles or with your favorite rice. Ladle over the sauce — and don’t forget the fresh herbs.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Thai Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce

Serves2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    ground chicken

  • 4

    scallions, sliced thin (both green and white segments)

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, minced, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    grated fresh ginger, divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    red Thai curry paste, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    panko bread crumbs

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh basil

  • 1 tablespoon

    canola oil

  • 2

    limes, zested and juiced

  • 1

    (15-ounce) can coconut milk

  • 1 cup

    chicken stock

  • 4 cups

    chopped spinach or baby bok choy

  • Salt

  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, white parts of the scallions, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of curry paste, panko, cilantro, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together until just combined. Try not to overwork the meat.

  2. Spoon out a piece of the chicken mixture and gently roll between your hands to form 1 1/2-inch meatballs and place on a large plate or baking sheet. Continue shaping until all the meat is formed into meatballs. You will have about 16 meatballs.

  3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and ginger, stir to combine with the oil, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the remaining curry paste, and cook for another 30 seconds, then stir in the lime zest, coconut milk, and chicken stock. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

  4. Gently place the meatballs into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatballs reads 165°F.

  5. Stir in the spinach or baby bok choy and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lime juice, and add additional seasoning, as needed.

  6. Serve immediately over rice noodles or basmati rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Place meatballs and sauce in a covered container; store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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