Easy Mongolian Meatballs

4.34 from 3 votes
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Tired of your usual meatball recipe? Try these Mongolian meatballs in a sweet, savory sauce that makes a quick and super-satisfying meal!

Mongolian Meatballs in a skillet

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.

Sweet and Sour Mongolian meatballs in a skillet

Cooking tips

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.
Sticky, juicy meatballs in a skillet

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.

Step-by-step photos for making sweet-sour-savory meatballs

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!

Mongolian meatballs on top of white rice

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!

Close-up of brown meatballs in a white skillet
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Tired of your usual meatball recipe? Try these Mongolian meatballs in a sweet, savory sauce that makes a quick and super-satisfying meal!

Mongolian Meatballs

4.34 from 3 votes
Tired of your usual meatball recipe? Try these Mongolian meatballs in a sweet, savory sauce that makes a quick and super-satisfying meal!
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Mongolian
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 24 meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 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

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic , grated
  • 2 teaspoons ginger , grated

Slurry

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water

Cooking

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 green onion , sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • 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 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 306kcal, Carbohydrates: 26.5g, Protein: 32.2g, Fat: 7.6g, Saturated Fat: 2.6g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 1147mg, Potassium: 514mg, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 12.4g, Calcium: 59mg, Iron: 19mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

More Takeout-style inspiration

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. k says:

    How many meatballs are in a serving?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      There’s 6 meatballs in one serving

  2. Mike says:

    Maggie
    Your ingredient list has a typographic error, it reads as 1 lb (450 lbs) beef it should read 1 lb (454 grams) beef

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Thanks for pointing it out! Just updated the recipe.
      PS. I usually round up the numbers so it’s easier to purchase and measure.

  3. Sylvie says:

    5 stars
    Tha ks! Another winning recipe! Easy and and flavourful.

  4. swee says:

    How long do you brown/cook the meatballs in the pan?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      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.

  5. Rudy says:

    4 stars
    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.

  6. Alene says:

    4 stars
    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!

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