Meatballs don't have to be smothered in tomato sauce and served on top of spaghetti (although that's delicious too!). Rich and flavourful red curry, coconut, and peanut sauce takes these Thai Meatballs to the next level. Bonus is they are super fast and easy to put together!
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What kind of meat can I use for Thai Meatballs?
In this recipe, I use ground pork but you can easily substitute ground chicken or turkey, or beef. Or any combination.
Thai red curry paste
Thai red curry paste has become widely available. The level of heat varies between brands. The one I use is Maesri. You can find it for much less in Asian specialty stores, or if your supermarket has a specialty aisle, but is not often found in regular grocery stores, at least not where I live. Any red curry paste can be used for this recipe so don't worry if you don't have access to a specialty store.
kaffir lime leaves
Kaffir limes are native to Southeast Asia and are used extensively in that part of the world, especially Thailand. They have a very distinct flavour unlike any other citrus fruit. It is what makes many Thai dishes so uniquely flavoured. If you don't have access to an Asian supermarket or specialty store you can order Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves. You can also substitute the lime leaves with grated, regular lime, zest. The flavour won't be the same but the dish will still be delicious! I do recommend picking up some of the leaves if you like cooking Thai food. They are a game-changer!
Roasted and unsalted peanuts are best for this recipe. If you use salted the dish will be very salty. Use a food processor or blender to get them broken down to a fine crumb. Another handy tool for this is a Magic Bullet. I bought one for my husband to make smoothies and now I find myself using it for lots of things like salad dressings, mayonnaise, pestos, you name it. Sometimes I don't want to pull out a full-sized blender or food processor for just a small amount.
I always use full-fat coconut milk because it has the richest and creamiest texture. Also coconut fat is a healthy fat that our bodies can't get enough of! You can use a lower fat coconut milk keeping in mind the sauce won't be as thick. Read the labels for fat content. They are all different.
Making the meatballs
Simply mix together all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Your hands make the best tool for this job but if you are not into that just use a spoon or spatula. Everything mixes together quicker with your hands which helps avoid over mixing. This can cause the meatballs to be tough.
Shape into balls about 1 ½" to 2" in diameter. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. There are 2 options for cooking. They can be baked in a hot oven or fried in batches on the stovetop. Frying produces more browning, which adds flavour but baking allows you to cook them all at once so it saves time. That's the option I chose. Also, the meatballs are only being partially cooked at this stage and will be finished off in the curry sauce.
making the sauce
This sauce is very simple and easy. The curry paste is fried a little first to release all the wonderful spices, then add the coconut milk along with the partially cooked meatballs, ground-up peanuts and lime leaves, if using, or some grated lime zest. Everything simmers for 5 minutes before adding all the other ingredients except the fresh basil and cilantro. We save those for the very end.
rice or noodles?
Either option is delicious! Just depends on what you have on hand or what you’re in the mood for. Any type of noodle works for this but I would probably choose Soba or fresh Chinese egg noodles. As for rice, well I used brown Jasmine rice because I really wanted to try it. Guess what? I may never use white Jasmine rice again! I sprinkled the rice with some extra chopped basil and cilantro and garnished each dish with a wedge of lime. Perfection!
ON THE GINA LIVY PLAN?
- Zucchini noodles
- Cauliflower rice
- Sautéed Bok Choy, Chinese broccoli, Swiss chard or collard greens
- A bed of fresh leafy greens or shredded cabbage
Other recipes you might enjoy
Thai Meatballs In Red Curry Peanut Sauce
- 900g/2lbs ground pork, turkey, chicken or a combination
- ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped, reserve ¼ cup for sauce
- 2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped, plus ½ cup whole leaves for sauce
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste, plus more for sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more for sauce
- 2 teaspoon fish sauce, plus more for sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for sauce
Red Curry Peanut Sauce
- ¼ cup Thai red curry paste
- 2 cans coconut milk (400 ml/14 oz cans)
- ¾ cup roasted, unsalted, peanuts ground or finely chopped
- 2 lime leaves (optional) or grated zest of one lime
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Prepare the meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 450°F
- In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix gently with your hands or a spoon.
- Shape into approximately 1 tablespoon sized balls and arrange on a parchment lined tray.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes or fry in batches in a skillet until browned. If oven baked they won't brown as much but you can cook them all at once to save time.
Red Curry Peanut Sauce
- While the meatballs are baking or frying start the sauce by adding the red curry paste to a large saucepan or saute pan heated over medium-high heat. Stir and fry for one minute.
- Add both cans of coconut milk, peanuts, baked or fried meat balls, and lime leaves, if using, or grated lime zest. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
- Add the stock, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, peas and red pepper slices. Let simmer 5 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and add reserved basil and cilantro leaves. Serve with Jasmine rice or noodles of your choice and fresh lime wedges.
- Meatballs in their sauce can be refrigerated for 3 days and frozen for up to 3 months. You can also freeze it along with the rice for a complete meal ready to be defrosted and reheated.
- You can use ground chicken or turkey instead of the pork or a combination of pork with chicken or turkey.
Aimee Pawsey says
This has become a staple in our house and is usually on the weekly menu. It’s quick and easy but packed with so much flavour. I need to double this for my family of five as we just devour it!
I'm so happy to hear you are all enjoying the meatballs so much! Thanks for commenting!
Heidi G says
My family loves this recipe but I'm thinking of making it into a soup. Other then adding more chicken broth and spices and some rice or cauliflower rice what would you suggest.
Hmmm...I've never thought of making this I to a soup. I would start with the adjustments you mentioned. You probably do t need to increase the red curry much as the flavour of a curry is usually more i these than a soup. But that's personal preference. Let me know how it turns out!
Could green curry paste be substituted? Or, would the flavours not Mel’s?
Hi Audry! I don't think green curry would be a good substitute for this recipe. Too many modifications would have to be made to make it work. However, an Indian curry paste would work! Hope that helps!
OMG every recipe I make from this site gets better and better! Just made this recipe for tonight's supper (on the Livey plan) and put over lime and cilantro basmati rice - it was super tasty! I have enough left overs for the next few days too. I also added a couple of thai chili peppers and it adds the perfect amount of heat - I could drink the broth lol Thank you Andrea for another amazing recipe!
I'm so happy you enjoyed the meatballs! The cilantro lime rice sounds absolutely perfect! Thanks for your comment!
This was soooo tasty. Hubby loved it too. I used dried herbs instead of fresh as that's what I had on hand. Substituted fish sauce with oyster sauce. Added a couple handfuls of baby spinach. Served on bed of cauliflower rice with a side of braised shredded cabbage. Big hit!
Sounds delicious Sherry! So happy you enjoyed it!
Rose Marie Fisher says
could you make this with chicken pieces ?
Hi Rose! Absolutely you can make the sauce and use chicken pieces instead of meatballs. Enjoy!
Rose Marie says
Thank you ! I am totally loving your recipes ... Have made at least 6 and love them all .. you are very talented ... Makes Gina's program not seem like a weight loss program... Lost 6 pounds so far !
Thank you so much for your lovely comment Rose Marie! I really appreciate it and I'm so happy you are enjoying the recipes and the program!
Hi there. Just trying this recipe for the first time. I went to an Asian food store and couldn't find Lime leaves but one of the grocers told me lemon leaves were the same and I could use those. Is that correct? Or would it be better to use lime rind instead of lemon leaves?
You can use lime zest. The substitute is listed in the ingredients on the recipe. Hope you enjoy it!
Yes I loved it! I ended up just using the lemon leaves seeing as I had bought them but next time I will use the lime zest and see which one I prefer. Thanks!
Like cooker girl your recipes have inspired me to cook due to your easy and flavourful recipes. This is my favorite one so far.
I am so happy to hear that! Glad you are enjoying the recipes!
This is my favourite so far! It was a little more prep time needed so glad to have had made it on a weekend. Flavors were outstanding, best Thai recipe I have ever made. Thank you Andrea!!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it!!
Anne Bourne says
I used ground turkey - it was amazing! Thanks so much for a hearty, delicious, quick healthy recipe!
I'm so happy you liked it! Turkey works perfectly too!
Can I substitute falafels for the meatballs or use vegan meat substitute?
Yes absolutely! Sounds yum!
I love the way you always suggest substitutions for items that may not be readily available. I think it would be beneficial to suggest a dry quantity substitution for the fresh basil. I surveyed many sites, got different answers and became confused especially when one said that the timing of adding the spice would change if you’re using dried. Despite all that, it turned out tasty and approved by my family. Thank you for these delicious recipes!
Yes it really does vary with substituting dry herbs for fresh. I don't usually offer that conversion if it's a recipe where I wouldn't substitute with dry herbs, which is the case for this recipe. I'm happy the recipe turned out and you enjoyed it!
Diane H says
Beyond tasty! We used a little less sugar and sprinkled some red Thai peppers for a bit of extra heat. Once again, simple to follow recipe, great flavours, quick and easy. Will definitely be making this again! Thanks Andrea!
Karin Pettit says
Regarding the fish sauce, my husband has a shellfish allergy. Would this be safe?
Hi Karin, I would omit the fish sauce and increase the lime juice and soy sauce a bit to compensate but don't worry about matching the total amount of fish sauce. Hope that helps!