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This recipe for Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Lemongrass Sauce, created by chef and friend, MaryAnn Delaney instantly transports me to sunny Thailand with its fragrant aromas and fresh ingredients.
The turkey meatballs are made with ground turkey and simmered in a fragrant Coconut Lemongrass Sauce, infused with star anise, cardamom, and coriander that will make you want to lick the bowl.
Fresh lime and cilantro finish the dish giving it a beautiful brightness that I crave. Serve these as an appetizer, or with rice for dinner, or over a bowl of rice noodles, mopping up the delicious sauce.
Thai Turkey Meatballs Video
Those of you who know MaryAnn, will agree when I say that she is genuinely one of the most thoughtful humans I have ever known. Her peaceful, gentle way blesses those around her, without her even being aware of it.
Her deep and soulful spirit, reminds me often, that we too have a wellspring of wisdom and insight that we can dip into if we choose to. I feel honored to be able to witness her journey through this world …and share a little of her here.
Ingredients in Turkey Meatballs
- ground turkey (or sub ground chicken)
- olive oil or peanut oil
- shallots and garlic
- soy sauce
- fish sauce
- Sambal Oelek, or chili paste
- panko breadcrumbs ( or gluten-free breadcrumbs, or almond meal)
- salt and pepper
- cardamom pods
- cinnamon stick
- coriander seeds
- star anise
- coconut milk
How to make Ground Turkey Meatballs
Like every good recipe, it starts with fresh, whole ingredients. Ginger, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and whole spices- cinnamon, star anise and cardamom.
Add to a skillet and saute them until tender. Add garlic and chopped lemongrass.
Add fresh ginger and fish sauce and red chili paste.
Add fresh cilantro and optional bread crumbs.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and with wet hands form turkey meatballs.
This recipe makes about 18 two-inch meatballs.
Place the meatballs in the fridge for 1 hour, allowing flavors to meld and meat to firm up.
Then brown them in a skillet with oil.
When the meatballs are browned, add bruised lemongrass stalks and ginger to the same pan.
Crush cardamom, star anise and add to the pan.
Add the cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger pieces, coriander seeds, coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
Enjoy as an appetizer (pricking with appetizer forks) or turn it into a meal and serve with rice or over a bowl of rice noodles.
More recipes you may like:
- Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce
- Thai Turkey Burger Recipe w/ Asian Slaw
- Italian Turkey Meatballs with Sundried Tomatoes & Basil
- Lamb Meatballs with Indian Curry Sauce
- Moroccan Meatballs with Pomegranate Glaze
Thai Turkey Meatballs with Lemongrass Coconut Sauce
- Prep Time: 60 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Thai
Flavorful Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce
- 1.5 pounds ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
- 1/3 cup chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 stalk of lemongrass white part only chopped fine ( 2–3 tablespoons)
- 1.5 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek, or chili paste
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs ( or gluten-free breadcrumbs, or almond meal)
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
- 3 cardamom pods lightly cracked
- 3” cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1.5 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 points of a star anise pod
- 1 14.5 oz can of coconut milk with full cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- juice from 1/2 of a lime
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and lemongrass and cook for one minute longer. Take the pan off of the heat and set aside so that the shallot mixture can cool down a little.
- Transfer the ground turkey to a bowl and create a well in the center of the ground turkey. Add the ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, bread crumbs, cilantro and salt and pepper along with the reserved shallot mixture to the well. Mix with your hands or a spoon until just combined. Dampen your hands and shape the mixture into meatballs. This will make 18 to 20 2” meatballs.
- Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for about an hour. This step will give the flavors time to meld and help the meatballs stay together while you cook them.Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of oil over medium-high in a large skillet. When the pan is hot add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
- Bruise the lemongrass with a mortar and pestle and add to the skillet. Give the cardamom pods a light tap with the pestle and if you don’t have one you can use the back of a knife. Add the cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger pieces, coriander seeds, star anise points, coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
- Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer the meatballs over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the fresh-squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with lime zest and cilantro. You can enjoy as an appetizer, or turn it into a meal and serve over rice or rice noodles.
For a low-carb option, try almond meal instead of bread crumbs.
- Serving Size: 3 meat balls
- Calories: 475
- Sugar: 2.9 g
- Sodium: 1693.1 mg
- Fat: 31.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 16.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 20 g
- Fiber: 2.3 g
- Protein: 27.4 g
- Cholesterol: 79.4 mg
Keywords: Thai turkey meatballs, turkey meat balls, Thai meatballs,
Forgot to star rate!
6 stars if I could!
What a first class recipe! The whole family devoured it and my “home from Uni” daughter asked for the recipe….you are very honoured!
I made a couple of minor adjustments….
1) I chopped lemongrass/shallot/garlic/ginger in my little electric chopper for speed.
2) I removed browned meatballs and sauteed some chopped asian veg to up the nutrition for a minute before adding the coconut milk and returning the meatballs.
We like spice so next time I’ll add a tsp of the Sambal to the sauce.
Thank you for the recipe!
Wonderful to hear Emma! Thanks for sharing the adjustments, sounds great!
What voodoo alchemy IS this? No one ever looked at a package of ground turkey and imagined such a transformation possible. And how is it I’ve been a devotee of your blog all these years and only just made this extraordinary dish now? Pure genius here. So crazy delicious and easy to make. We had it with cauliflower rice. My only regret is that the recipe calls for 1.5 pounds of turkey, so I have a leftover naked half-pound in the fridge that COULD have been made glorious. 😉
Thanks Lily! Glad you enjoyed this. You could freeze the extra half pound for when you want to make this again?
Absolutely AMAZING! Best dinner I have had in ages. The flavours were really awesome. The meatballs were succulent, and I had clean bowls all round. Well done again Sylvia! Will definitely be making this again.
Love it Michele, great to hear!
This recipe felt luxurious! The comforting, flavorful broth. The soft, equally as unique meatballs. And the rice noodles were a great complement! I’ve never eaten something like this, and I will certainly be making it again.
Glad you enjoyed this!
A+ recipe!! I’ve never cooked with cardamom pods or star anise but it really brought out unique flavors. This website is always pushing my spice game a little farther.
This dish is unbelievably silky and aromatic. I felt like I was eating a gourmet Thai meal right in my own kitchen.
Yay! Love it.
I’ve been using this recipe for years (at least five!) and finally popped into say: ITS PERFECT. Made it again tonight and just melted over every bite. Tonight I sautéed the meatballs in pastured tallow, added extra sambal oelek, and used homemade chicken bone broth. It was so rich and cozy. Can’t wait to eat leftovers tomorrow, it was very hard not to go nuts and eat it all.
Awwww thanks… I appreciate this Desiree!
I used ground cardamom & coriander because I didn’t have the pods or seeds. It was still delicious! Kids loved it & I will definitely make again.
That sounds perfect – glad you enjoyed!
What would you recommend replacing the breadcrumbs with as a binder if I were trying to keep this super low-carb?
How about Almond Meal? I bet that would work Brooke!
10/10!! Served it with zucchini noodles. Delicious!! Everybody loved it. 🙂
Great to hear Ingrid- love the zucchini noodle pairing!
These fabulous meatballs have graced our table many times! The seasonings are spot-on, and leftovers (if there ARE any, are delicious. We serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and extra lime wedges. I’m making them tomorrow.
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this Leslie!