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Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Peanut Sauce & Cilantro-Lime Cucumber

chicken meatballs with coconut peanut sauce and cilantro-lime cucumber

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This recipe was inspired by delicious chicken satay with peanut sauce! I’d like to include “Thai-Inspired” in the title but it’s too long as it is, haha. I am no expert on Thai food so that’s why it’s “inspired” and not “authentic.” So! In this recipe, we start with juicy chicken meatballs flavored with Thai-inspired aromatics. These delicious meatballs are simmered in a rich and flavorful coconut peanut sauce, and served with a bright and crunchy cilantro-lime cucumber salad. I like to serve this whole dish over a nice bed of brown rice, but white rice, quinoa, or simply on its own will be delicious!

Ingredients You’ll Need

There are three components of this dish: the chicken meatballs, the coconut peanut sauce, and the cilantro-lime cucumber salad. They share a lot of the same aromatic ingredients like garlic, ginger, cilantro, and lime.

Chicken Meatballs

These chicken meatballs are juicy and delicious! Flavored with Thai-inspired aromatics like garlic, green onions, ginger, cilantro, and fish sauce, they taste great alone or tossed in yummy Coconut Peanut sauce!

  • Ground chicken: Chicken’s subtle flavor is a great base to be able to taste the stronger aromatics we use to flavor the meatballs. Turkey would be great here too, and beef is definitely usable but will change the flavor profile more.
  • Eggs: Eggs act as a binder. If you don’t want to use eggs, you could try replacing them with mayo, yogurt, or a flax egg, however I have not tried any of these substitutions.
  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs soak up the liquid in the meatballs and make it so that the meatballs remain juicy. We like juicy meatballs! You could use crushed crackers instead or oats as a gluten-free alternative.
  • Garlic, green onions, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, & fish sauce/soy sauce: These all act as tasty aromatics to infuse our meatballs with yummy Asian-inspired flavor! A microplane grater will help a lot when you prepare these ingredients. If you wanted to omit any of them, you can and the meatballs will still work out just fine. Or if you only have dried ginger, garlic, and onion in powder form, I’d use 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp of ground garlic & onion.
chicken meatballs ready to get cooked
This is a double batch of meatballs!

Coconut Peanut Sauce

This Coconut Peanut sauce is inspired by Thai Chicken Satay dipping sauce! It’s super rich and flavorful and tastes great with our Asian-flavored chicken meatballs.

  • Unsweetened coconut milk: Coconut milk makes the base of our sauce. It makes a delicious, rich, and creamy dairy-free sauce!
  • Smooth peanut butter: I use Skippy because I’m not a natural peanut butter fan (as mentioned in my No-Bake Crispy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate post) but I know a lot of people are! You can absolutely use natural peanut butter in this recipe, but I personally think the sauce benefits from a touch of sweetness, so I would add a half tablespoon or so of brown sugar to the sauce. Be sure to taste as you go so you can decide for yourself how much sweetness to add.
  • Lime juice: A nice pop of lime juice cuts the heavy richness of the coconut milk & peanut butter. Lemon could work in a pinch but lime is more true to authentic Thai flavors.
  • Ginger, garlic, and red curry paste: These ingredients are flavor enhancers and pump up the Thai flavor. You could use 1/8 tsp ground ginger and 1/2 tsp ground garlic in place of fresh if you must. If you don’t have red curry paste, green curry paste could be a good substitute, or a pinch of curry powder. Both of these subs will give the sauce a bit of a different flavor but still a good flavor! The red curry paste could be left out completely if needed.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce provides the salt factor in the coconut peanut sauce. Fish sauce could be used instead!
  • Sriracha: I like a nice kick of heat in this sauce, and sriracha is the perfect hot sauce for that—the original sriracha sauce is actually from Thailand! You could leave the sriracha out if you don’t like spice, or try a couple shakes of red pepper flakes for minimal spice.

Cilantro-Lime Cucumber

The first time I made this recipe, I felt like the Coconut Peanut sauce was a bit too heavy and rich and needed a bright crunchy pop of something to offset that. This cucumber salad is a perfect pairing!

  • Cucumber: I used an English cucumber, unpeeled, but any cucumber will be fine.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro in the cucumber salad calls back to cilantro in the meatballs. If you’re a cilantro-hater, no worries, leave it out.
  • Lime: Lime is to make the cucumber salad pop!
  • Salt: Doiiii. Gotta have salt.
chicken meatballs with coconut peanut sauce and cilantro-lime cucumber

How to make Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Peanut Sauce & Cilantro-Lime Cucumber

  1. Make the meatballs. Add all meatball ingredients to a large bowl and gently mix with your hands until ingredients are evenly dispersed. I like to wear a disposable plastic glove to do this because I hate touching raw meat with my bare hands!! Form meatballs into balls—they should be about 2 heaping tbsp each. Sauté meatballs in a large skillet over medium heat for 6–8 minutes, turning once halfway through. You’ll probably have to do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove meatballs from pan and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to let any excess oil drain off.
  2. Make the sauce. In the same pan, add the ginger, garlic, and red curry paste. Sauté for just a minute, then add the can of coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and sriracha. Stir until smooth and combined, then bring to a light simmer. Make sure to scrape up any chicken bits from the bottom of the pan!
  3. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce. Add the meatballs back into the sauce, flipping so they are covered in sauce, and cook for 15 minutes. This will thicken the sauce and cook the meatballs the rest of the way through.
  4. Make the cilantro-lime cucumber salad. While the meatballs are cooking in the sauce, combine the cucumber, lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
  5. Serve! Serve the meatballs over rice with spoonfuls of sauce and cilantro-lime cucumber salad. Yum!!

Questions, Answered

Can you bake the meatballs instead?

Absolutely! Bake the meatballs at 425° for 10 minutes or until internal temperatures are 165°. You could also make them in the air fryer this way!

How can you make this recipe gluten-free?

The only gluten in this recipe comes from the breadcrumbs in the meatballs. You could substitute oats, coarse almond flour, or crushed gluten-free crackers for breadcrumbs.

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chicken meatballs with coconut peanut sauce and cilantro-lime cucumber

Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Peanut Sauce & Cilantro-Lime Cucumber

  • Author: Salted Spoonful
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Thai-Inspired

Description

Juicy, Thai-inspired chicken meatballs simmered in a rich & flavorful coconut peanut sauce, served with a bright and zingy cilantro-lime cucumber salad. I like to serve it all over brown rice. So good!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated (about 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • zest of 2 limes
  • high-heat oil like avocado oil for sautéing

Coconut Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated (about 1/2 tbsp)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (I use regular Skippy but if you want to use natural peanut butter, add a tbsp of brown sugar, or more, to taste)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 12 tbsp of sriracha, optional

Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad

  • 1 cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (juice from 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Serve over rice, optional. 


Instructions

  1. Mix up the meatballs. Add all meatball ingredients to a large bowl and gently mix with your hands until ingredients are evenly dispersed. 
  2. Form the meatballs. Shape about 2 heaping tbsp of chicken mixture into a ball and repeat with rest of the chicken. Set aside. 
  3. Sauté the meatballs. In a large skillet, heat a few glugs of oil over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add meatballs, at least an inch apart. You will probably have to do this in a couple batches. Sauté for 3–4 minutes, then rotate and sauté for another 3–4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper-towel lined plate. 
  4. Make the sauce. In the same pan, add the 1/2-inch grated ginger, 3 cloves grated garlic, and 2 tbsp red curry paste. Sauté for just a minute, then add the can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 1–2 tbsp sriracha. Stir until smooth and combined. Bring to a light simmer.
  5. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce. Turn the heat on the sauce down to low. Add the meatballs back into the sauce, flipping so they are covered in sauce, and cook for 15 minutes. The meatballs should be cooked all the way through and the sauce should thicken. 
  6. Make the cilantro-lime cucumber salad. While the meatballs are cooking in the sauce, combine the chopped cucumber, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. 
  7. Serve! Serve the meatballs over rice with spoonfuls of sauce and cilantro-lime cucumber salad. Enjoy!


Notes

  • Makes ~13 meatballs. 
  • See “Ingredients” header above for substitution and modification ideas. 

Keywords: thai, asian, meatballs, chicken, peanut sauce

2 Comments

  • Brian
    March 10, 2022 at 11:55 am

    We made this recipe last night and it was so good! Didn’t have red curry paste so left that out but the sauce was still great. Another winner from Salted Spoonful!

    Reply
    • Megan B-L
      March 10, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Thank you Brian! I’m so glad you liked it!

      Reply

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