Vietnamese Pork Meatballs

I was just going to fold the recipe for these meatballs into an upcoming post for bun (coming later this week!), but then I figured that they’re definitely special enough to merit their own post.

I think I’ve made at least a couple hundred pork meatballs over the past couple weeks in search of the perfect version.  I wanted a meatball that’s quick and easy to make that would work well as a component in various other dishes (such as lettuce wraps and bun/noodles, both pictured below), but also be special enough to be a stand-alone appetizer.

I think I think I finally nailed it, if I do say so myself.  Ground pork is combined with garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce and sugar for a touch of sweetness; the pretty green flecks are courtesy of green onion and fresh cilantro.  Finally, a bit of baking powder provides lift and a bouncy texture.

One word of warning: you’ll probably want to double the batch- it’s hard to keep from snacking on them after they’ve been pulled out of the oven!


Vietnamese Pork Meatballs

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


* 5 cloves garlic, peeled
* 2 stalks lemongrass, woody ends trimmed and outer leaves removed (just use the bottom 3-4"), thinly sliced
* 1-1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 1-1/2 Tablespoons sugar
* 1 pound ground pork
* 1/4 cup roughly chopped green onion
* 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
* 1 teaspoon baking powder (note: the Alsa brand in the pink package sold at Asian markets is not gluten-free... use standard, double-acting baking powder)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce and sugar in a food processor and process until the garlic and lemongrass is very finely minced. Add the pork, green onion, and cilantro and pulse until the mixture is combined and the green onions and cilantro are finely chopped and incorporated into the mixture.

Scoop the mixture out into a medium-to-large sized bowl and add the baking powder. Mix thoroughly.

Use your hands to roll into 20-24 meatballs. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, flipping the meatballs halfway through baking, or until the meatballs are lightly brown and cooked through.

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17 Responses to “Vietnamese Pork Meatballs”

  1. #
    Anonymous — August 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    YUM! These look so good! Can't wait to try them!


  2. #
    kankana — August 8, 2012 at 2:21 am

    you got to be kidding me .. couple 100 meat balls!! I am still struggling to make a juicy meat balls. Mine always lands up dry.


    • CATE — August 8th, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

      Wish I was kidding! It's a good think I like pork :)


  3. #
    Laura — August 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    These look very similar to the meatballs in The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. So delicious and one of my faves!


    • CATE — August 15th, 2012 @ 5:19 am

      Laura- yes, definitely similar… that recipe inspired me to include lemongrass as one of the flavorings (most other pork meatball recipes left it out). These are a slightly quicker version since the seasonings are thrown into the food processor, which means the meatballs don't need sit around for hours to let the flavors meld. And if I'm remembering correctly (I've made so many different meatball recipes and they're all starting to blur together!), the texture of these is a bit different since I think that recipe used cornstarch?

      But anyways, yes. Very similar and I do love that cookbook… it's definitely going to be part of my suggested cookbooks in my wrap-up of Vietnam :)


    • Laura — August 16th, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

      I also made a version in the food processor that used cubes of pork loin (barely frozen) instead of ground meat. The texture was super coarse, so fantastic. I found that people preferred the easier version using ground pork, but I really loved that method. Try it sometime, I bet you'd love it, too.
      Mine does use cornstarch, which I decreased to 1 tablespoon in the reprinting of the book. After more tinkering I thought 3T was too heavy. It's hard to just let the recipes be; I could tweak forever!


    • CATE — August 16th, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

      Laura- I'll have to try it that way! I'm sure I'll love it. And yes, tell me about recipe tweaking. My thin pizza crust recipe changes a little bit each time I make it… it never ends :)


  4. #
    Esther@thefussfreechef — August 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I love these meatballs. Rminds me of those i ate in austrralia in those vietnamese restaurant where they grilled them. So yummy! Thanks for sharing, i cant wait to try making. Cheers


  5. #
    silsies — August 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Baking soda or Baking powder? You mention Baking soda in the intro and than Powder at the end? Thank you in advance for the clarification! It looks yummy…can't wait to try..maybe this weekend!


    • CATE — August 18th, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

      Eek! Thanks for the catch… it's baking powder. Just made the change. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know :)


  6. #
    artifactrix — September 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Made these the other night. Incredibly delicious. Oven didn't quite do the trick for browning, so I finished them under a high broiler for a few minutes on each side after baking. Browned them right up.


  7. #
    Miss Food Fairy — June 5, 2013 at 1:07 am

    These look fantastic and sound delicious! Can’t wait to give them a try. When my husband makes his meatballs for our friends next I will definately be cooking these too! Thank you


  8. #
    BrandiLynn — July 24, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I LOVE these. I add a nice dose of ginger also. I also just make up the spice mix and keep it in my fridge to put on half of everything.

    Matta fak, right this second, I have some made up with turkey and jerkying in the dehdrator NOW.

    I soaked squash chips in this spice mix and dehydrated them. And at them all. Too bad whoever wanted to taste!

    I need a bigger dehydrator. :} Thank you!


  9. #
    lobaloba — August 29, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Made these last night, and they were a HUGE hit! I made a double portion — but I wish I’d made 3x!! Sooooo delicious!! Served with asian slaw (nappa cabbage with rice vinegar, etc.) which was perfect. Broiled them about 30 minutes total. Sooooo delicious & fresh tasting!! Can’t wait to make them again!


    • Cate — August 29th, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

      So glad you liked them! And thanks so much for commenting to let me know :)


  10. #
    Sophie — January 26, 2014 at 1:26 am

    This is so delicious and easy! Thank you for sharing this recipe!


  11. #
    Brandilynn — July 2, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Cate – I am crazy in love with these flavors, and I wanted to tell you a spin I do that is awesome.

    I triple the spice mix and put it in coconut milk, then soak whatever meat in it (pork, chicken, shrimp, scallops!) and then cook and ZOW!

    Also a thing I just did was make the coconut milk spice mix, and then made a savory custard out of it! AMAZING!! and while I was eating it (even cold) I thought, hmmmmm.this would make an awesome clam chowdah base!

    anyway, you are appreciated! So much!


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