General Tso’s Chicken Meatballs
A new twist on General Tso’s Chicken! I’m making General Tso’s chicken meatballs and serving them as a complete meal, loaded with tender broccoli over a bed of rice. You could easily make these as appetizers too!
Well, what do we have here?
General Tso’s Chicken Meatballs! As in homemade meatballs rolled around in General Tso’s sauce and served over a bed of fragrant jasmine rice and served to the family as a meal. These meatballs are melt in your mouth good. Tender and flavorful on the inside and you already know with all that sauce, they’re super flavorful on the outside too. I kid you not; I could eat these straight from the pan as a meal without even needing any carbs on the side.
After getting back from Chicago, I had a hankering for Chinese takeout. But I also knew I didn’t want something greasy and deep-fried, the way chicken is when you’re making traditional General Tso’s chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it’s utterly delicious with all those crunchy bits, but it’s also in no way waistline-friendly. After eating Chicago-style pizza, hot dogs, and gyros, waistline-friendly is of the utmost priority. These chicken meatballs add a little something unique to the whole thing and believe it or not; you won’t even miss the fried stuff.
As you can see, I’m serving these General Tso’s chicken meatballs as a main meal. There’s steamed broccoli that I’m adding to the sauce and serving this over white rice. Adding broccoli to something automatically makes it healthy right, mmhm.. sure let’s go with that.
You could also easily omit the broccoli, prepare, and pop these meatballs into a crockpot if you’d like to serve these for a party though.
Let’s talk about the chicken meatballs. The base recipe is the same one I always use when I’m making homemade meatballs. It starts with ground chicken, panko bread crumbs, an egg, and tons of chopped garlic. From there, I like to play around with the ingredients and flavor the meatballs to make them a little more unique based on the sauce I’m serving them with.
These meatballs get flavored with a little ground ginger, Chinese Five spice powder, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. Can I just add that the combination of these ingredients make these chicken meatballs so tasty that I could eat them without the General Tso’s sauce? We add just enough five spice to flavor them without overpowering, and the toasted sesame seeds give them a little crunchy texture. They also brown up and give them a delicious outer crust.
Out of this world.
Big tip for making homemade chicken meatballs:
Make sure you combine all your ingredients in a bowl before you add the ground chicken. The reason you want to do this is so that you don’t end up overworking the meat. Overworking the meat means you’ll end up with dry or tough meatballs. When you combine the ingredients before adding the chicken, you work the meat as little as possible, thus leaving you with more tender and delicious meatballs!
You’ll get anywhere from 18-22 meatballs out of one batch. I use a cookie scoop (affiliate link) when I’m dividing out my meatballs so that they’re all the same size. Not only does it make it easier to divide them out but it also helps when you’re cooking them because they all cook up in the same time, so there’s no guesswork. I like to cook the meatballs just about three-quarters of the way through here and finish cooking them off in our General Tso’s sauce so that they soak up some of that flavor.
What are General Tso’s Chicken meatballs:
Okay, so we’ve talked about the meatballs, let’s talk about the sauce. General Tso’s sauce is a simple combination of soy sauce, some kind of vinegar, sugar, dried chilies, sugar, garlic, and a cornstarch slurry. I like to add a little hint of tomato paste to my sauce as it adds a new flavor dimension to the dish. I have a strong feeling that our local Chinese restaurant does the same. You could use this sauce on just about anything, but chicken meatballs and fried chicken pieces are my favorite ways!
And there you have it! Homemade General Tso’s chicken meatballs! Now I want to add that I know there isn’t always time to make homemade meatballs, and for nights like those, it’s okay if you want to use store-bought meatballs, pan fry them and add them to homemade sauce. I’m not gonna knock you for that. But when you do have the time, I urge you to make these homemade meatballs and pop them in the freezer so that the next time you want to have this for dinner, you’ve got chicken meatballs tucked away that are ready to use!
Serving suggestion: straight from the pan, without a fuss. But you can also serve these with white or brown rice, cooked quinoa, cooked noodles, or a side salad.
These are just too good for any more words, try them for yourself!
- 1 1/4 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tablespoons EACH: low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil AND sesame seeds
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3/4 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon pepp
General Tso's Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced (separate the whites and the greens)
- 8 dried Thai chilies
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup EACH: low sodium soy sauce AND chicken broth
- 1/3 cup EACH: brown sugar AND rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
- 2 tablespoons EACH: hoisin sauce AND tomato paste
- 2 cups steamed broccoli florets (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoon water
- MEATBALLS: In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together all the ingredients except the ground chicken. Then add the ground chicken and mix until *just* combined. Just be sure you don’t overwork the meat. Roll into 18-22 meatballs using a cookie scoop (affiliate link) or about 1 1/2 tablespoons each.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a little oil. Add the meatballs to the skillet but do not overcrowd. Cook in batches if they don’t all fit. Sear the meatballs for 6-7 minutes, flipping to brown all sides evenly. We’ll finish cooking the meatballs through in the sauce later. Remove meatballs to a plate.
- SAUCE: In a large measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, dried ginger, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and tomato paste. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thinly sliced scallions (white portion) and the dried Thai chilies and let sizzle for about a minute before adding the garlic and letting it cook for just 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the prepared sauce and allow the sauce to reach a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and you’ll notice the sauce thickens a little. Add the meatballs into the sauce and let cook for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Stir in the steamed broccoli florets. Top with the remaining scallion greens and serve warm over jasmine rice, quinoa, or egg noodles.
- You can steam the broccoli in the microwave in a deep bowl and 1 tablespoon of water for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes or until they turn bright green. Alternately, this can also be done in a steamer basket set over a pot of hot water on the stove for roughly 3 minutes.