Thai Chicken Meatballs in Coconut Curry
Published Feb 01, 2022•Updated Nov 10, 2022
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Meatballs make every meal more fun, and this twist on Thai-style chicken curry uses tender, flavorful meatballs in place of chopped chicken. The rich curry is somewhere between a soup and stew, perfect to serve over rice with roasted peanuts, lime juice, and fresh herbs.
Perhaps you’ve noticed, but I’ve been on a real meatball kick. I’ve been just seeking a little more joy and fun in my weeknight cooking and meatballs just seem to fit that bill. Plus, they’re so easy to make in a big batch and freeze. I think my freezer is currently stocked with meatballs for this soup (which we’ve been eating so much this winter), this stir-fry, and this classic meatball-red sauce combo. (There might be a batch of my favorite cashew chicken recipe and Thai basil chicken recipe in there as well.)
If you love meatballs and Thai curries as much as I do, you’re going to love today’s dish!
Thai Coconut Curry Meatballs Video Recipe
Whether you’re making today’s dish or eating / cooking other Thai recipes, I’d love to see them! Tag me on social @inquiringchef and use #thaifoodmonth. For more Thai-inspired ideas, check out all of my Thai Recipes.
How to Make Thai Chicken Meatball Curry
- Make the meatballs. These are super straightforward chicken meatballs with breadcrumbs and grated onion to keep the meatballs moist as they cook and fish sauce for some authentic Thai flavor.
- Make the curry. A fairly classic red curry is the base for the soup. Like most of my Thai curries, make it by simmering a small amount of coconut milk until it breaks and naturally releases oil. Stir in red curry paste, add some liquids and then simmer the meatballs in the liquids until tender.
- Taste and season. Even more than ordinary recipes, it’s important to taste the curry and adjust. Store-bought curry paste can vary widely in spice and flavor, so taste your finished dish and add more of the flavors you like – more fish sauce for savory flavor, more sugar for sweetness, more lime juice for tart flavor, and definitely some hot sauce or more curry paste if you want that heat.
- Serve over rice. That’s it! You’re ready to ladle out and serve.
Using Store-Bought Red Curry Paste
If you are up for a challenge, making your own curry paste is a lot of fun and will give you incredible flavor. Check out this post for more details. However, if we’re looking for weeknight-friendly Thai food (which most of us are), store-bought curry paste is a big time-saver.
Many store-bought versions of Thai curry paste are very good and are worth the big chunk of time you’ll save by using them. As noted in the steps outlined above and in the recipe, the best way to get delicious results with store-bought curry paste is to taste and adjust the finished dish. A not-so-flavorful curry paste can often be improved with the addition of fish sauce, lime juice, a pinch of sugar, and / or a generous squeeze of Sriracha (if you want more spice).
Thai Kitchen – Walk down the international aisle at any well-stocked grocery store and you’ll likely find Thai Kitchen Curry Paste in small 4-oz jars. It’s super affordable and these small jars are great if you just plan to make a batch or two of curry over the next few months. American-made versions of Thai curry paste like this one are significantly less spicy than their Thai-made counterparts, so this is a great brand to start with if you’re hesitant about spice. I find this brand of red curry paste to be fairly spicy and to have a clean, somewhat muted, red curry flavor.
Mae Ploy – This is the tried-and-true Thai brand of curry paste that I used when I lived in Bangkok and have reliably found at Asian / international grocery stores. It comes in larger 14-oz tubs, so if you plan to make a lot of curry, it’s worth tracking down. (You can portion it out in ice cube trays and freeze it if you don’t use it right away.) Because this is a Thai brand, it is significantly more spicy than Thai Kitchen mentioned above. The flavor has more of the shrimp / seafood elements and more aromatic flavor from lemongrass and galangal.
- Make it Gluten Free – Just grab gluten-free panko and this dish is easily gluten-free. If you’re looking to use a substitute for fish sauce, grab gluten-free Tamari.
- Mix up the Vegetables – Curry is a perfect meal for using any vegetables you like (or want to use up). Red bell peppers are great here, but broccoli, cauliflower, squash, sweet potatoes, chopped green beans…just about any vegetable will work.
- Low Carb Option – Skip the rice or use cauliflower rice in place of the jasmine.
More Ways to Use Red Curry Paste
- Red Curry Salmon with Coconut Brown Rice
- Red Curry Chicken with Snake Beans
- Thai Coconut Chicken Curry
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Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs
- Mixing Bowl
- Dutch Oven, Saute Pan, or Wok
Thai Chicken Meatballs:
- 1/3 cup Panko Breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if needed)
- 3 Tablespoons Coconut Milk
- 2 Tablespoons minced White Onion
- 2 teaspoons Fish Sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 pound Ground Chicken
- 1 1/2 cup Coconut Milk, divided
- 3 Tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste (see note)
- 2 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
- 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
- Jasmine Rice or Coconut Rice, for serving
- 1/2 cup Roasted, Salted Peanuts, for topping
- Cilantro or Thai Basil leaves (optional)
- Combine panko breadcrumbs, milk, onion, fish sauce, salt, ground coriander, ground ginger, garlic powder, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl until even. Add chicken. Use your hands to gently combine all of the ingredients. Form into meatballs that are about 1.5-inches in diameter (these should be fairly small; if the mixture sticks to your hands, wet your hands with a small amount of oil or water). Set aside.
- Heat a Dutch oven, wok, or saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk (if using canned coconut milk that has separated, use the top, thicker portion of the milk) to the pan. Simmer coconut milk, stirring constantly, until it has reduced by half and you can see oil separating from the milk, 5 to 6 minutes. (Note: This step to “break” the coconut milk is part of the traditional process, but don’t worry if your coconut milk doesn’t show signs of separating after this initial cook time – just proceed with the recipe.)
- Add curry paste and saute until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add meatballs to the pan and then pour chicken stock and remaining 1 cup coconut milk over top.
- When liquids begin to simmer, stir in bell peppers, fish sauce, and brown sugar.
- Let curry simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove curry from heat and stir in lime juice. Taste and season with some more sugar if you’d like a bit more sweetness or more fish sauce if you’d like it more salty.
- Serve curry and meatballs over cooked rice. Top with peanuts and cilantro or basil leaves.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.