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Thai Turkey Meatballs

Thai Turkey Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce make great party food. Serve them as an appetizer, a snack, or even over steamed white rice as a quick weeknight dinner.

Hi angle shot of a serving platter piled with Thai turkey meatballs with a bowl of red curry coconut dipping sauce.

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These baked turkey meatballs are the perfect thing, seasoned with curry paste and served with a Thai Coconut Curry Sauce for a Southeast Asian twist. If you love Thai flavors, you are going to love this recipe!

❤️ WHY YOU’LL LOVE THESE THAI TURKEY MEATBALLS IN COCONUT CURRY SAUCE

Cocktail-size Asian meatballs are always a hit, whether it’s a game day party or as a sophisticated cocktail party. Here’s why you love this recipe:

  • Cocktail-size Thai turkey meatballs are always a hit, whether it’s a game day party or a sophisticated cocktail party.  Here’s why you’ll love this curry meatballs recipe:
  • These turkey meatballs are full of flavor! The addition of red curry paste gives them so much flavor because it’s loaded with flavorful ingredients like hot chiles, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shrimp paste, coriander, cumin, and other spices and seasonings. Just a couple of teaspoons brings so much flavor! If you like, you can substitute Thai green curry paste in the meatball mixture.
  • They’re a fun changeup of the usual meatball appetizer recipes. Adding Asian flavors and a spicy dipping sauce is a game-changer. These are some of the best meatballs to make for a party.
  • This Thai meatball recipe is quick and super easy to make. Instead of pan-frying, I bake meatballs on a baking sheet. Baked meatballs are much quicker and easier to cook because you can cook them all at once. You don’t have to babysit a skillet on the stovetop, so you can use the baking time to make the sauce!
  • These healthy Thai meatballs are low fat. Using ground turkey in these meatballs makes them lighter than meatballs made with beef, pork, or other red meat.
  • These Thai Red Curry Turkey Meatballs make a great appetizer, and they can also be served over basmati or jasmine rice or cauliflower rice for a quick, healthy dinner that’s just as good as anything from your local Thai restaurant. It’s a great alternative to the standard spaghetti and meatballs you’re probably getting tired of!
  • The creamy red curry coconut sauce is so good you’ll want to eat it with a spoon!
  • You can thin out the sauce with some extra coconut milk and then toss it with the meatballs and some cooked rice noodles for another easy dinner idea.
Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make Thai turkey meatballs.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED FOR THIS ASIAN TURKEY MEATBALL RECIPE

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

If you cook a lot of Thai food, you likely have most of these ingredients on hand. If not, a quick trip to an Asian market (or online) will be in order. Here’s what you need to make these healthy Thai Turkey Meatballs in Red Curry Coconut Sauce: 

  • Ground turkey: You can use ground chicken or ground pork in place of lean turkey mince if you like.
  • Aromatics: Fresh ginger (if you can get galangal, you can substitute it for the fresh ginger), garlic, green onions, cilantro, and makrut lime leaves (optional) provide lots of fresh flavors.
  • Fish sauce: This ingredient is ubiquitous in Thai cooking. It provides salt and umami, giving these meatballs a distinctively Southeast Asian flavor. I love the 3 Crabs brand of fish sauce.
  • Red curry paste: You can buy red curry paste in Asian markets or online. Even your supermarket likely has some. I love the Mae Ploy red curry paste. Maesri also makes a good one. Be aware that curry pastes vary widely in terms of how spicy they are. Thai Kitchen’s, which is available in many supermarkets, is much milder than either Mae Ploy or Maesri. I use the Mae Ploy when I make these turkey meatballs. If you’re using a milder curry paste, you may want to use more of it.
  • Hot chiles: Again, this will depend on how spicy your curry paste is and how spicy you like your food. I use a couple of Thai bird’s eye chiles or other types of red pepper. You can use more, less, or leave them out entirely depending on your preference. Use Thai bird’s eye chiles, serrano peppers, or red jalapenos.
  • Panko: These Asian-style breadcrumbs act as a binder for your meatballs. You can use gluten-free panko if you like!
  • Egg: Using one large egg helps to hold the mixture together, too.
  • Oil: I brush or spray a bit of oil on the meatballs before baking. This helps them brown nicely. Oil is also used for cooking the base of the sauce.
  • Sugar: Palm sugar, which you can buy in Asian markets or online, is ideal here, but you can substitute brown sugar.
  • Peanut butter: A few tablespoons of all-natural (no-sugar-added) peanut butter adds nutty flavor and richness to the dipping sauce.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk gives the sauce creaminess as well as rich coconut flavor. Use canned, unsweetened coconut milk to make the flavorful red curry and coconut milk sauce.
  • Lime juice: A bit of acid brightens the dipping sauce and heightens all of the other flavors. If you don’t have limes, you can substitute lemons or use a bit of tamarind concentrate or tamarind paste.
Thai turkey meatball on a fork.

WHAT IS THAI RED CURRY PASTE?

Thai red curry paste is made from a combination of red chilies, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste, cumin, and other spices. It gets its red color from the red chilies. Red curry paste is the spiciest of the three primary Thai curry pastes (the other two being green curry paste and yellow curry paste). The curry paste provides layers of flavor to this red curry sauce.

Overhead shot of the ingredients to make the Thai red curry coconut dipping sauce.

HOW TO MAKE THAI MEATBALLS AND CREAMY RED CURRY SAUCE

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

This Thai Turkey Meatball recipe is easy to make. The meatballs are mixed and formed like any other meatballs and then baked in the oven on a cookie sheet. I always bake my meatballs because it’s so much less labor-intensive than searing them in a skillet on the stovetop. And they still turn out bursting with flavor!

Here’s how to make these baked Thai turkey meatballs and the dipping sauce:

  1. Preheat the oven and line a large baking sheet with parchment spritzed or brushed with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey with all of the other meatball ingredients and mix well using a fork.
  3. Use a small cookie scoop or your hands to scoop the ground turkey mixture and roll the meatballs between your palms to make them round. They should be about 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. Using a cookie scoop makes it easy to portion out the balls in equal sizes.
  4. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Then spritz or brush the tops of the meatballs with a little oil.
  5. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and beginning to turn golden brown.
  6. While the meatballs cook, make the dipping sauce. Heat some oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the curry paste and whisk to combine. Saute for a couple of minutes. Next add coconut milk, sugar, peanut butter, and fish sauce and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the lime juice.
  8. When the meatballs are done, arrange them on a serving platter along with the dipping sauce. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
  9. Serve the cooked meatballs, garnished with fresh cilantro if desired, with the red curry coconut sauce on the side for dipping.

Tips for Success

  • Be sure to use unsweetened coconut milk. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can substitute heavy cream.
  • Instead of serving these juicy turkey meatballs as an appetizer, you can serve them over rice (white rice, brown rice, Coconut Rice, or cauliflower rice) with the sauce drizzled over the top.
  • If you like, thin the sauce with a little additional coconut milk, some chicken broth or vegetable broth, or water. Then add meatballs to the sauce and simmer them together for a couple of minutes before serving.
  • You can freeze meatballs after baking them. Let them come to room temperature and then put them in the freezer on a baking pan. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag. You can keep these meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • The sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Make this recipe ahead of time to make it even easier!
Low angle shot of thai turkey meatballs on a serving platter with dipping sauce.

HOW TO SERVE THESE HEALTHY THAI TURKEY MEATBALLS

Serve these Thai Turkey Meatballs with coconut red curry sauce for dipping as meatball appetizers. You can also make a rice bowl by putting the meatballs over steamed rice or Coconut Rice and drizzling the dipping sauce on top. Add sauteed greens, steamed broccoli, or Dry Fried Green Beans to make it a meal.

These ground turkey meatballs make a great meatball appetizer recipe that’s perfect for parties. Serve them alongside your other favorite party appetizers. I love to serve Thai Curry PuffsChicken Satay, and Thai Fish Cakes with these, but you don’t have to stick to a Thai theme.

Other Asian appetizers, like Salt and Pepper ChickenChicken PakoraPaneer Pakora, and Samosas (or Onion Samosas or Air Fryer Samosas) would be great alongside these Thai Turkey Meatballs.

Or serve them as an appetizer before a meal of your favorite Thai recipes like Thai Chicken CurryThai Pumpkin CurryThai Rice Noodles with Peanut SauceVeggie Pad Thai, or Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles.

Yield: Makes about 48 meatballs

Thai Turkey Meatballs

Thai Turkey Meatballs

Asian meatballs are always a hit, whether it’s a game day party or as a sophisticated cocktail party. These baked turkey meatballs are seasoned with Thai curry paste for a Southeast Asian twist.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (mae ploy)
  • 2 to 4 hot red chiles, minced (optional depending on how spicy your curry paste is)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 or 4 makrut lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • Spray oil or a bit of oil for brushing

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cups coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spritz or brush the parchment with a little oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, curry paste, red chiles (if using), scallions, cilantro, panko, and egg. Stir with a fork to mix well.
  3. Form small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. I like to use a small cookie scoop to portion out the balls and then roll the between my palms to make them nice and round. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. You can put the meatballs pretty close together as long as they aren’t touching. Spritz or brush the tops of the meatballs with a little oil.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes,  or until the meatballs are beginning to turn golden brown.
  5. To make the sauce, heat the tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next add the sugar, coconut milk, peanut butter, and fish sauce and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  6. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the lime juice. Stir to incorporate.
  7. When the meatballs are done, arrange them on a serving platter and put the sauce in a bowl for dipping. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with cocktail forks or toothpicks.

Notes

Note: the sauce can be served warm or at room temperature. 

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By on November 1st, 2022

ABOUT ROBIN DONOVAN

Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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