Vietnamese-Style Chicken Meatballs With Ginger and Mint Recipe

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Precooking the aromatics reduces their moisture for a more firm meatball and improves their flavors.
  • Using a pair of spoons dipped in hot oil makes it easier to form the sticky chicken mixture into football-shaped meatballs that can easily be slipped into the pan.
  • The football shape cooks quickly and fits perfectly in a lettuce cup.
  • Tossing the meatballs in turbinado sugar give them a crisp crust and some sweetness to balance the aggressive flavors.

These quick and easy chicken meatballs are loaded with flavor for a fast meal that's still impressive. Fish sauce adds umami and funk, while Thai green chilies, scallions, and fresh ginger offer different levels of heat, and a sprinkle of crunchy turbinado sugar balances it all out. Serve these meatballs up as lettuce wraps with a pantry raid of whatever pickles you have on hand to make it a fresh and light meal perfect for any warm summer night.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 2 to 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (30g)

  • 3 Thai green chiles (or more or less depending on heat preference), stemmed and finely minced (about 30g)

  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely minced (about 30g)

  • One 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 40g)

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (about 10g)

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender white part only, finely minced (see note)

  • 1 pound (454g) ground chicken

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20g) fish sauce, such as Red Boat

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1/2 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped (about 30g)

  • Neutral oil or refined coconut oil, for cooking

  • 1/4 cup (60g) turbinado sugar

To Serve:


  1. In a small sauté pan or skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the chilies, scallions, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, cooking until they soften and become aromatic, about 5 minutes; don't allow them to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, fish sauce, salt, mint, and cooked aromatics along with the cooking oil. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined and the mixture feels sticky and cohesive. In a small sauté pan with oil over medium heat, cook a teaspoon of the chicken mixture to taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

  3. In a medium straight-sided sauté pan, add 1/2 inch of oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Dip two large spoons in the hot oil, then scoop up a portion of the chicken mixture, using the two spoons to form it into a rough football shape; carefully drop the meatball into the oil. Repeat with all the chicken, dipping the spoons in oil as needed to prevent sticking. Cook the chicken meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl or large plate.

  4. Once all the chicken meatballs are cooked, sprinkle the sugar over them, tossing gently to coat. In the same sauté pan with the residual cooking oil, increase the heat to high and add the chicken meatballs. Cook on each side until the sugar caramelizes, about 1 minute. Remove to a serving platter.

  5. Serve right away with Bibb lettuce, assorted pickles, crispy shallots, and any other condiments you desire.

Special equipment

Sauté pan, mixing bowl


If you can't find lemongrass, in a pinch the zest of 2 limes can step in as a tangy substitute. There's no need to sauté the zest, just add it to the ground chicken along with the cooked aromatics, salt, fish sauce, and mint.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
569 Calories
33g Fat
42g Carbs
33g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 569
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 43%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 121mg 40%
Sodium 8364mg 364%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Total Sugars 26g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 36mg 181%
Calcium 546mg 42%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 2037mg 43%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)