Tired of your usual meatball recipe? Try these Mongolian meatballs in a sweet, savory sauce that makes a quick and super-satisfying meal!
A New Kind of Meatball
I think everyone loves meatballs. Most people eat them Italian-style or get the Swedish ones from IKEA. They’re each delicious in their own way. But if your family is getting tired of meatballs on the menu every week, it’s time to jazz things up with these Mongolian meatballs.
Combine Two Classics for an Easy Pleaser
If you like ordering Mongolian beef at your favorite Chinese restaurant, this dish is a fun twist – both on the Chinese dish and on traditional meatballs. This dish uses that same sweet yet savory sauce and marries it with the tender and meaty bite of a Western-style meatball.
For this reason, it’s a pretty low-risk dish – using the two time-tested techniques, you’re sure to please any audience by making it – just take care to brown the meatballs properly.
Browning is the Key
It’s important to brown the meatballs properly here for a couple of reasons:
- It makes a huge difference in flavor development. Browned meat tastes better than steamed meat. It’s just a fact. Aim for an even, brown color on most sides.
- It helps the meatballs stay together. These meatballs do have egg and breadcrumbs, which help a lot to bind the meat together, but they’re more likely to fall apart if you don’t brown them.
The Best Meats for Mongolian Meatballs
With my Mongolian meatballs recipe, I’ve used ground beef but you can also use ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey. Whatever you use, make sure you use a slightly fattier blend instead of super lean meat so your meatballs will be juicier. If you’ve ever experienced dry meatballs before, the secret is in the fat content of the meat you use.
A Time-Saving Shortcut
And it’s so easy to put together from scratch, though if you’re in a rush, you can use store-bought meatballs to get dinner on the table even faster.
How to Pair Mongolian Meatballs
On Good Ol’ Steamed Rice
Just like Mongolian beef, Mongolian meatballs are perfect to serve on top of steamed rice. That sauce! It is so amazing on rice! It’s an obvious pairing, but also one of the best.
Pair Them with Veggies
I also like to serve it with some roasted or blanched vegetables. Things like asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower go quite well with this dish. You can cook them in the oven while the meatballs are in progress on the stove. Don’t forget to get lots of sauce on the veggies!
The MMS: Mongolian Meatball Sub
It may be a bit unconventional, but I love a good meatball sub and these Mongolians are great in a sandwich. Use a hoagie or hot dog roll and try it with my Chinese Coleslaw, Pickled Shallots, or any other (pickled) veggie you like, and get prepared for a next-level meatball sub!
A Great Option for Meal Prep
Do you meal prep? If so, Mongolian meatballs could be your next favorite meal prep item. Because it’s so easy and packs so well, you’ll always have something delicious when you’ve got Mongolian meatballs.
Even on a busy night, you can get this one on the table in less than 30 minutes. Yes, even if you make the meatballs yourself. But if you’re crunched for time, use the store-bought ones. Once it’s done, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to pack up and enjoy later too!
- 1 lb (450 g) beef
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic , grated
- 1 teaspoon ginger , grated
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 4 green onions , chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic , grated
- 2 teaspoons ginger , grated
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 green onion , sliced, for garnish
- In a medium-size bowl combine ground beef, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, chili flakes, brown sugar, garlic and ginger. Beat until the meat starts to fill sticky and bouncy. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, and green onions. Mix incorporated fully.
- Form the mixture into 24 heaping tablespoon sized meatballs using your hands. For easy forming, grease your palm with a bit of oil to prevent the meat from sticking too much.
- Add the sauce ingredients to a small bowl. Mix to dissolve the sugar completely.
- Combine the slurry ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1 teaspoon of oil until hot. Add the meatballs with some space in between. Cook without touching until the bottom turns brown. Flip the meatballs 2 to 3 times, until most of the sides turn golden brown.
- Turn to medium heat. Move the browned meatballs to one side of the pan. Use a spoon or a few layers of kitchen paper towel attached to a pair of tongs to remove some of the excess fat that collects in the pan.
- Pour the sauce into the pan. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring the meatballs to coat them in the sauce evenly.
- Turn to medium low heat. Stir the slurry again to dissolve the cornstarch completely and swirl into the pan. Stir immediately and let cook until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Garnish with sliced green onions.
- Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.
More Takeout-style inspiration
- Seafood Chow Mein (海鲜炒面)
- General Tso’s Chicken (crispy, no deep frying)
- Authentic Hot & Sour Soup (酸辣汤)
- Black Pepper Steak (黑椒牛柳)
- Home Style Tofu (家常豆腐)
Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.
Questions and Reviews
How many meatballs are in a serving?
There’s 6 meatballs in one serving
Your ingredient list has a typographic error, it reads as 1 lb (450 lbs) beef it should read 1 lb (454 grams) beef
Thanks for pointing it out! Just updated the recipe.
PS. I usually round up the numbers so it’s easier to purchase and measure.
Tha ks! Another winning recipe! Easy and and flavourful.
How long do you brown/cook the meatballs in the pan?
It really depends on your heat level and how hot your pan is, but I think I used about 2 to 3 minutes for the first side, then another 2 to 3 minutes for the other sides.
I haven’t tried it yet, and I certainly will. However, your “Instruction #6”, is incorrect. You do say you use Kitchen Paper Towels, that remove the fat. I have done this before, using paper towels to wipe oil away from a hot cast iron pan. And you know what, a fair bit of oil disappeared, but many bits and pieces of the paper towel remained in the pan! I started using a thick cloth, and use it to soak up the oil.
Hi it looks delicious want to try it, but don’t have wine or sherry what else can I use please
Hi Moira, you can use chicken broth to replace it. Happy cooking!
I liked this recipe very much. My husband didn’t, but he’s getting pickier and pickier, the older he gets. I will make half for me next time. I love your recipes and look forward to new ones. So thank you!
This was so easy to make and tasted absolutely Devine!!!
This was absolutely delicious and very easy to make. I loved that all the ingredients were easily found in my local grocery store. I made extra sauce to serve with rice and vegetables. Loved it.
I made this tonight and it was delicious! My husband and I devoured it!!
So easy and so delicious – I always serve it with Jasmine rice and a roasted veggie. It is less messy to bake the meatballs in the oven and then add to the sauce on the stove top.
We made this recipe yesterday. Excellent flavour in the sauce. The instructions were easy to follow.
Just made the mongolian meat ball last week. Huge hit with the family. I made an alteration to the sauce portion of the recipe. The sauce tasted a little too sweet to me so I added white wine vinegar to taste
Made this tonight! You made the recipe very simple to follow. My husband, my 2 year old and I all enjoyed it so much! Thank you!!
Could you make it with half pork and half beef?
Yes you can!
Are you using fresh or dry breadcrumbs? Any recommendations for veggies in the sauce? Thanks!
It is dried breadcrumbs.
I feel like baby bok choy would work perfectly in this sauce. Broccoli, onions, peppers, and carrots work as well (any of those).
Very good flavor. I ended up needing to cook the meatballs covered in the sauce after browning them because they weren’t cooked enough inside. The sauce reduced a lot so i never needed the cornstarch slurry, and i finished cooking them in covered pan. In the future I will double the sauce. The meatballs were delicious.
I’m thinking about how I could meal prep and freeze. Would you suggest prepping the meatballs and then freezing them before cooking? Baking and then freezing and preparing the sauce when ready to cook?
You can do different ways. Certainly you can freeze the uncooked ones, but I think it’s easier to bake them and freeze. For the sauce, it’s the best to make it fresh.
Could you use frozen meatballs? How would you go about it?
You can! You should thaw the meatballs first. Then you should brown the meatballs lightly in the pan to heat them up before pouring in the sauce.
Holy cow this is my new go to easy hamburger meal. The flavor is out of this world despite the few ingredients (obviously use the finer ingredients to get the better taste). I love this recipe! This is my 4th time making it (:
Loved this! I added extra chili flakes. I had 12 meatballs from this recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Delicious! Will definitely make again. On step #5 though, you should heat your pan to medium high (not medium) to brown the meatballs. Possibly a typo!
This recipe sounds so delicious. I am going to make the meatballs a bit smaller to use for cocktail party, like those grape jelly and chili sauce ones. I believe they would be a wonderful change. I will get back to you when I do so.
Yummy! Something I’ve learned from watching professional chefs tho, is to never beat your ground meat. That’s how you end up with tough meatballs. Handle it as little as possible to keep the meatballs tender. Also, step #5 says heat your pan to medium. It should say medium high. Hopefully the author will update that.