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
Korean BBQ Meatballs
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 50 mins
- Yield: 18 to 20 meatballs 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Asian
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
20190405 1st time. 2T gochujang in the meatballs will make for very spicy meatballs, perhaps too much for some. I made this while visiting with my 6 year old granddaughter and did not add 1T gochujang until after I shaped 4 meatballs for her. I baked the meatballs for 15 minutes electric and that was enough. Likewise the sauce. 1 cup shoyu, though low sodium, still makes for a very strong sauce. I added ½ the recipe callout amount for shoyu and added a big splash of Guinness (Yes, Guinness). I thickened the sauce, set some aside for my little ‘not hot’ person, then added the gochujang. I did not add the 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. That would be way to HOT for most folks. Though you may be a FireEater, taste and then add just a pinch if you really like it Hot.
These are yummy and would also make great appetizer with meatballs on toothpicks and sauce to dip on the side.
love meatballs too, nice source of protein and always nice to have another meatball recipe since mine are a little tired, so appreciate this Korean version, thank you
Made this tonight and the hubby loved it! Great spice mixture in both the meatballs and glaze. Thank you!
Angie, I’m so glad! Thank you so much!
I found this too salty and it made way too much of the glaze
Michael, I’m sorry to hear this recipe didn’t work out for you!
Would these freeze well after cooking? I’m thinking of making tinier meatballs and adding them to some ramen along with some kimchi.
Pandora, Yes, they’d freeze great before adding the glaze!
Fantastic! my daughter loves them. I used sriracha in place of gojchuchang and 1/4 cup less soy sauce .
Angela, That’s so great to hear — thank you!
Great recipe! It does create a lot of delicious glaze, but that extra is perfect when you serve the meatballs with rice or rice noodles. Yum!!
Natasha, Can never go wrong with adding that glaze to rice or noodles! Thank you! 🙂
My husband loved the meatballs, but everyone else found them too spicy, so next time I would reduce the chili sauce. The glaze smelled wonderful but no one could eat it. It was soooooo salty, and I salt everything I eat even if there is salt in the recipe. We had reduced the soy sauce by 1/3 and used low sodium so I had hoped it would be ok.
Kathleen, Thank you for your feedback! I will take the salt into consideration and test it again!
Excellent recipe – first, I switched from gochujang since I needed to keep this gluten free. Doubled the ginger (love it!)….and increased the corn starch/water by 50%….I like a thick glaze…..the other deviation I did was to dip each meatball in the glaze and placed them back on the backing sheet (with some extra glaze….) and put it back in the oven for about 5 and used the broiler for a minute…they turned out amazing! I know I switched things a bit to my taste but these are amazing!! one of the best recipes for Korean BBQ meatballs I found…this is a keeper!
The flavor of these were amazing – and motivated me to buy the Korean chili sauce. I would use 1/2 the sugar in the glaze – and maybe add some snap peas – but otherwise it was the bomb!
Tammy, Thanks for the feedback! So glad you enjoyed!