Sweet Chili Cocktail Meatballs

published Dec 8, 2023
Sweet Chili Party Meatballs Recipe

These cocktail meatballs celebrate the sweet-and-spicy flavors of sweet chili sauce.

Serves6 to 8

Makes24 to 26 meatballs

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Overhead shot of sweet chili party meatballs in a small white bowl, topped with sesame seeds.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

One day, when looking at my fridge for inspiration, I saw a half-used bottle of sweet chili sauce and came up with these sweet-and-spicy, cocktail-sized “party” meatballs. They’re easy to make, fun to share, highly customizable, and absolutely fantastic. So if you want to charm the crowd at your next dinner party, whip up these tiny meatballs. I guarantee that everyone will love them. Or, if you want to have a party for one, create your perfect party bowl with a couple of meatballs (or as many as you would like), some steamed white rice, and veggies — then get cozy on your couch. In my opinion, that’s a better party!  

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Ingredients in Sweet Chili Party Meatballs

  • Ground meat. I used ground beef, preferably 80% fat, but the recipe can easily be substituted with any ground meat, like ground pork or chicken. 
  • Sweet chili sauce. The star of these party meatballs! I use this in both the meatballs and the glaze. In the meatballs, it helps season the meat. And when it’s used in the finishing glaze, its flavor really comes through — especially because the meatballs get baked one more time once it’s glazed. You will taste the sweet chili sauce in every bite. 
  • Oyster sauce. Its earthy, slightly saltier taste balances the sweetness of sweet chili sauce.
  • Soy sauce. A little bit of soy sauce, especially combined with oyster sauce, makes the flavors of sweet chili sauce well-rounded because of its umami-rich saltiness. 
  • Toasted sesame oil. Just a tiny amount of toasted sesame oil makes a big difference in flavor.
  • Ground ginger. Instead of fresh ginger, I use ground ginger to season the meat. It brings a beautiful, bright, citrusy flavor to the mix.
  • Panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs have bigger, flakier pieces than traditional breadcrumbs, and they form the meat mixture into a pliable mix.
  • Egg. Works as a binding agent to bring the meatball mixture together, keeping their shape circular.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

If You’re Making Sweet Chili Party Meatballs, a Few Tips

  • Don’t overmix the meatballs. The less you mix the meatball batter, the more tender and lighter your meatballs will be. Overworking ground meat will make the texture of meatballs tough. 
  • Feel free to mix in different ground meat. I call for 1 pound of ground meat to make the recipe unfussy, but you can add other ground meat to add more flavor. Half a pound of ground beef and half a pound of ground pork will be delicious!
  • Be sure to thicken the glaze. Make sure your glaze is very thick. It should not look watery; it should resemble a syrupy glaze. You’ll know the glaze is ready when it coats the meatballs nicely.

Sweet Chili Party Meatballs Recipe

These cocktail meatballs celebrate the sweet-and-spicy flavors of sweet chili sauce.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 24 to 26 meatballs

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 1 pound

    ground beef, preferably 80% lean (or 8 ounces each ground pork and ground beef)

  • 1/2 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 tablespoons

    sweet chili sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    toasted white sesame seeds

For the glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons

    sweet chili sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon

    rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    honey

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Finely chop 1/2 medium yellow onion and 2 garlic cloves. Place both in a large bowl. Add 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix together with your hands until evenly combined.

  3. Using wet hands or a cookie scoop, portion the mixture into about 26 meatballs (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each). Roll each one between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place on the baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Place 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. SImmer until slightly thickened and syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  5. Remove the meatballs from the oven and brush the meatballs with the glaze, using it all.

  6. Return the meatballs to the oven. Bake until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes more. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The meatballs can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.