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Takeout-style Weeknight Sticky Honey Garlic Meatballs – inspired by classic Mongolian beef. Easy homemade chicken and ginger meatballs, tossed in a sweet, spicy, and extra sticky honey garlic soy sauce. Then served over rice and topped with plenty of sesame seeds for a deliciously fun dinner. Make the meatballs even better with a creamy garlic dipping sauce. Quicker than any take-out meal…and made a little more wholesome too.

overhead photo of meatballs in bowl with rice and chopsticks

Thursday night takeout-style food at home! What if we made this a weekly series? It could be fun, especially since we all know how much my family loves Chinese, Thai, and Korean-inspired dinners. Plus, I have so much fun with a “takeout” inspired meal. It’s always a nice change from our usual pasta and pizza nights.

Creighton has been asking me to make Mongolian beef for some time now. Really anything beef (or lamb). He’s kind of a guys-guy, he wants at least a little beef in every meal.

Since I have a Mongolian beef recipe in the new cookbook, I wondered if there was a fun spin I could take on the quick and easy recipe. Meatballs are something I usually make with a more Italian-style sauce. But a sweet and spicy Mongolian-inspired meatball sounded fun. And like the perfect simple twist on the very popular restaurant entree, Mongolian beef.

meatballs on plate before cooking

Mongolian beef is a very simple dish consisting of thinly sliced steak, stir-fried with garlic, and ginger, then tossed in a sweet soy-based sauce. It’s not usually too spicy, just a touch, but a little sweet and tangy.

The sauce is the key. It’s usually topped with green onions (scallions) and paired with vegetables, then served over rice.

For the meatballs, instead of using steak, I made ginger chicken meatballs.

meatballs cooking in skillet

Here are the details

For the meat, I used ground chicken, but ground pork or ground beef will work just as well. I seasoned them up with plenty of green onions, ginger, and a splash of soy (well, I like to use tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce). Then I rolled them through cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) to give them a little breading before pan-searing in a skillet.

Similar to how I make this orange chicken, but with meatballs.

While the meatballs cook, mix up the sauce, which is simply soy sauce mixed with honey and water. I then made a quick cornstarch slurry to use to thicken the sauce.

Once the meatballs are seared, pull them out of the skillet, then toss in lots of broccoli. I love to use broccoli here, but bell peppers, asparagus, or even brussels sprouts would all be delicious.

Pan-fry the broccoli for a few minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, and a pinch of chili flakes. Pour over the sauce and add the meatballs back.

meatballs cooking in skillet with sauce and broccoli

Simmer the sauce a few minutes, then pour in the cornstarch slurry and let the sauce cook until it coats the meatballs.

Grab your bowls full of rice and spoon the meatballs and sauce over top. Next, add lots of fresh green onions and sesame seeds.

So quick and easy, but the flavor is perfect. I made mine a little less sweet than the traditional sauce and added double the ginger. Totally delicious.

Here’s a tip, double the recipe and save the leftovers for quick and easy lunches. The meatballs would also be great atop a chopped salad or served over rice noodles.

They’re great as party appetizers too, so the serving options are endless! Of course, around here we love them over rice with lots of vegetables. It’s our kind of “comfort” food.

overhead close up photo of meatballs in bowl with rice and chopsticks

Looking for other weeknight dinners? Here are my favorites: 

Spicy Orange Sesame Chicken

Ginger Sesame Chicken and Crispy Brussels Sprouts

French Onion Dumplings

Crockpot Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos with Avocado Jalapeño Crema

Lastly, if you make these Weeknight Sticky Honey Garlic Meatballs, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Weeknight Sticky Honey Garlic Meatballs

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories Per Serving: 536 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1. To make the meatballs. Combine the meat, 1 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce, 1 tablespoon ginger, green onions, and a pinch of pepper in a bowl. Mix until just combined. Coat your hands with oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon-size balls. The mix will be wet.
    2. Place 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Dredge the meatballs in cornstarch to coat. Take the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch and mix with 2 tablespoons water, set aside.
    3. To make the sauce. In a glass jar, whisk together 1/2 cup tamari/soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, and 1/3 cup water.
    4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs, cook until seared all around, about 8 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the skillet.
    5. To the skillet, add the broccoli and cook until lightly charring, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes, cook 1-2 minutes. Pour in the tamari/honey sauce. Bring to a boil, boil 3-4 minutes, then add the chicken. Toss with the sauce and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Pour in the cornstarch slurry and cook another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce coats the meatballs.
    6. Serve the meatballs and sauce over steamed rice with sesame seeds, green onions, and dipping sauce (recipe in notes).

Notes

Sweet/Creamy Dipping Sauce: combine 1/2 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon tamari/soy sauce, and 1 clove garlic in a bowl. Thin with 1-2 tablespoons water. 
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photo of meatballs in bowl with rice and chopsticks and sauce on table

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Very good, whole family loved it. Surprised by the comments. I probably added more garlic than called for, and since we have Type1diabetics in the house, I subbed most of the honey for a substitute and doubled the recipe. Will make again!

    1. Hey Heather,
      Happy Monday!! I appreciate you giving this recipe a try and sharing your review, so glad to hear it turned out well! xT

  2. 3 stars
    The recipe turned out like the instructions. The flavor was missing something but could not figure it out. Maybe the meat needs more seasoning? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Hannah,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback! Sorry to hear you felt like it was missing something! Let me know if you think of what that could be! xx

  3. 5 stars
    I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and it turned out so good! I used ground turkey for the meatballs and they were so soft and tasty! The broccoli soaked up the sauce, the perfect flavor bomb. My two and five year old cleared their plates.

    1. Hey Belle,
      Happy Monday!❄️🎄 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it was enjoyed! xT

  4. 3 stars
    I used beef since that’s what I had on hand. I definitely would prefer it sweeter and less salty. I did use low sodium soy sauce and it was still too salty. The honey garlic flavor just wasn’t there.

    1. 3 stars
      Tried this tonight. Used coconut aminos instead of soy. Way too salty for me, but my husband loved it! Think next time I might cut back on the soy sauce & maybe use more water & honey?

      1. Hi Diane,
        Thanks for giving this recipe a try, so sorry to hear it was salty for you! If you used coconut aminos that really should have cut down on the salt factor. xx

  5. 3 stars
    The meatballs had good flavor, but the dish as a whole is a massive salt bomb. Definitely heed other raters’ suggestions to use low-sodium soy. Also, the time required is way longer. It takes longer than 20 mins to prep the veg and roll the meatballs by hand, and the cooking time is more like 25+ mins.

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, so sorry to hear you didn’t love it. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xx

      1. I agree it takes longer than 20 minutes. The chicken was so wet and sticky that it was time consuming to roll the meatballs and to turn them in the pan trying to keep a meatball shape. The meatball flavor was great but I agree the sauce was very salty and there was no honey taste. I think the sauce would be great with some adjustment of proportions- less soy, replace reduced amount with water and add more honey. That said, my daughter loved these, salt and all..