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meatballs and rice in a black bowl
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4.54 from 13 votes

Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs

Absolutely packed with flavor, Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs are a fun variation on the Chinese takeout favorite. With peanuts for crunch, it’s all tossed in a rich spicy (or not) sweet and savory sauce.
To adjust the servings in this recipe, click on the number next to servings.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: chicken dinner, easy, weeknight-friendly, family friendly, gluten free adaptable
Servings: 4
Calories: 457kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Skillet
  • Slotted Spoon

Ingredients

Chicken Meatballs:

  • ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons minced White Onion
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Five Spice Powder (this adds extra flavor to the meatballs, but feel free to skip it)
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 pound Ground Chicken
  • 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
  • ½ cup Roasted, Salted Peanuts
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
  • 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • Rice, for serving

Kung Pao Sauce:

  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated Fresh Ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce (see note)
  • 3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine panko breadcrumbs, milk, onion, salt, five spice 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).
  • Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until smooth. (You may need to whisk a few extra times to get rid of any dried cornstarch lumps.) Set aside.
  • Set a paper towel-lined plate near the stove.
  • Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add cooking oil. When cooking oil is hot, add peanuts and saute just until fragrant and toasted, 1 to 2 minutes (keep a close eye on them - they can burn quickly if they get too hot).
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peanuts to the paper towel-lined plate. Leave the oil in the pan.
  • Add meatballs to remaining oil in the pan, Let meatballs cook on one side until golden brown, then gently turn meatballs until evenly golden brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. (Note: If the pan starts to look dry or the meatballs start to stick at any point during cooking, add some extra oil.
  • Add diced red bell peppers to meatballs. Pour sauce over top. Simmer sauce until it thickens slightly, turning meatballs to coat in sauce.
  • Remove pan from heat and top meatballs with peanuts and green onions.
  • Serve meatballs over rice.

Notes

Breadcrumbs - Find Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs in the international aisle or near the Italian-style breadcrumbs. You can substitute Italian-style breadcrumbs, but be sure to use unseasoned (the flavors in the seasoned variety will compete with the flavors in the sauce).
Cooking Oil - Use any high-heat cooking oil with a neutral flavor. My favorites are avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oil.
Soy Sauce - I test my recipes with low-sodium soy sauce. If using regular soy sauce, use 2 Tablespoons soy sauce mixed with 1 Tablespoon water to avoid the sauce being overly salty.

Nutrition

Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1232mg | Potassium: 777mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1216IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg