General Tso’s Meatballs
These General Tso’s Meatballs are the perfect combination of sweet, sour and a little spicy. Keep them warm in a crock pot for your next tailgate or party!
These Asian Style Meatballs make the perfect game day treat!
I love the flavor of a really good sweet and spicy General Tso’s sauce. Most people are most familiar with this as General Tso’s chicken, which is made with fried chunks of chicken.
While this tastes great when it’s piping fresh straight from the fryer, the breaded chicken pieces tend to get soggy if not eaten immediately, and leftovers are generally pretty disappointing.
Since the sauce is the best part anyway, I decided to take homemade General Tso’s sauce and slather it all over meatballs. They can’t get soggy, they can be kept warm in a slow cooker, and the leftovers reheat quite well.
What you will love about these Asian Pork Meatballs
While I apparently serve meatballs for lunch, dinner and even breakfast grain bowls, they really shine brightest in a party setting.
So today, I’m rolling up some all-pork meatballs and slathering them in a homemade General Tso’s sauce.
These General Tso’s meatballs stay super succulent, even if you need to keep them warm in a slow cooker for a few hours for serving (more on that later).
The sauce for this Chinese meatball recipe is everything a good General Tso’s sauce should be – the perfect combination of sweet, sour and a little spicy.
General Tso’s Meatballs ingredients
- ground pork – the main ingredient for these meatballs, so they’ll be nice and juicy!
- eggs – acts as a binding agent, helping to hold the ingredients together.
- breadcrumbs – also helps bind the ingredients together. I use panko breadcrumbs, but regular ones work, too.
- green onion – enhances the flavor of the meatballs with a mild onion taste, and can also be used as a garnish.
- kosher salt – proper seasoning is the most important part of any great meatball.
- ground white pepper – adds a mild heat and contributes to the overall Asian-inspired flavor profile of the meatballs.
- chicken broth – forms the base of the General Tsos sauce. I use low-sodium broth since there’s so much sodium in the hoisin.
- cornstarch – the thickening agent for the sauce.
- olive oil – used for sauteeing the garlic and ginger for the sauce.
- garlic – infuses the sauce with deep savory flavor.
- ginger – adds a warm aromatic note to the sauce.
- dried Arbol chiles – this is what makes the sauce nice and spicy!
- hoisin sauce – adds sweetness and umami to the sauce.
- rice vinegar – adds acidity to balance sweetness.
- light brown sugar – sweetens the sauce to balance the spicy elements.
- honey – adds a different type of sweetness and creates a glossy finish for the sauce.
- sesame oil – adds a distinctive sesame flavor the sauce.
How to make Asian Meatballs
- FORM. Add the eggs, pork, breadcrumbs, onion, salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix until just combined. Form the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs and place them on a rimmed baking pan coated in cooking spray.
- BAKE. Bake the meatballs until their internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- SAUCE. While the meatballs cook, whisk together 1/2 cup of the broth and the cornstarch, then set this aside. Cook the garlic and ginger in olive oil in a small pot, then add the chiles, hoisin, vinegar, sugar, honey, and remaining broth. Heat this to boiling, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture and cook until the sauce has thickened.
- TOSS. Place the cooked meatballs in a large bowl and pour the sauce over them. Toss until the meatballs are coated in sauce, then serve garnished with green onions and sesame seeds.
Do I have to use dried Arbol chiles?
Great question. Traditional General Tso’s sauce always contains dried red chile peppers, and I can usually find dried Arbols at the better grocery stores in my area.
If you can’t find Arbol chiles or simply don’t want to buy them for just this General Tso’s pork meatball recipe (I totally understand), I have a General Tso’s cauliflower recipe that also has a homemade General Tso’s sauce, but uses sambal oelek hot sauce for spice and tomato paste for color.
It’s certainly not traditional but is delicious. In a pinch, you can substitute sriracha for sambal oelek, but it will change the flavor of this Chinese meatball recipe a little bit.
If you DO buy Arbol chiles for these General Tso’s meatballs and want to use the rest of them up, Masterclass has a (free!) article about how to cook with chile de arbol, with a variety of ideas to use them, including making salsa and homemade chili powder.
Can I use a different type of meat for these General Tso’s meatballs?
Absolutely. You are not required to make these General Tso’s PORK meatballs!
Feel free to use to make these General Tso’s ground BEEF meatballs, or use ground chicken or ground turkey.
You could even use a combination of several different types of meat in this Chinese meatball recipe. Whatever you prefer is what you should use for these meatballs.
Home Chef Tips for Asian Pork Meatballs
- When mixing the meatball mixture, be sure not to overmix, as that will make a tough meatball. Mix until everything is just combined, then stop.
- Uniformity is key when forming the meatballs, so that they all cook evenly. If you have a small cookie scoop, use it to portion meatballs.
How to serve this Asian Meatballs Recipe
My Epic Game Day menu is simply my favorite tailgating and watch party recipes, all in one place. These are the dishes I make on repeat all football season. I hope they also become staples of your tailgates, get togethers, or casual nights at home.
Along with these meatballs, there’s also:
- Toasted Ravioli Nachos
- Pork Belly & Tomato Jam Sliders
- Garlic Parmesan Wings Sauce
- French Onion Cheese Fondue
These General Tso Meatballs can be kept warm in the crock pot
These General Tso’s pork meatballs can be made in advance and then served at a tailgate or party in a crock pot (as long as your slow cooker isn’t already full of slow cooker baby back ribs)!
I recommend following the recipe below just before you head out, and then transferring the still-warm General Tso’s meatballs to a crock pot set to LOW or WARM. They’ll keep in the slow cooker for 2 to 3 hours.
If you’d like to make these meatballs the night before, that’s fine too! Follow the recipe as written below, then transfer the meatballs to the refrigerator.
When you want to serve the meatballs, place 1/2 cup chicken broth in the bottom of the crock pot, then add the meatballs. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until meatballs are warmed through, stirring occasionally.
Once the meatballs are warm, keep them on a LOW or WARM setting for 2 to 3 hours.
How to store leftover Asian Meatballs
Cool leftover meatballs to room temperature, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
General Tso Meatballs FAQs
To achieve firm meatballs, use a combination of ground meat with a higher fat content (like pork) and add binding agents like breadcrumbs and eggs.
The choice between pork and beef meatballs depends on personal preference. Pork offers a milder flavor, while beef provides a heartier taste.
Dry pork meatballs can result from overcooking. Ensure the meatballs don’t exceed an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
Yes, General Tso’s sauce typically has a spicy kick. But, the level of spiciness can vary. You can adjust the amount of dried chiles according to your preference.
For The Meatballs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 eggs
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the General Tso’s Sauce
- 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 teaspoons minced ginger
- 6 dried Arbol chiles
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Green onions
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Make the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. Place eggs in large bowl and beat. Add pork, breadcrumbs, onion, salt and pepper. Stir (or mix with hands) until just combined. Do not overmix. Using hands, gently form into golf-ball sized meatballs and place on prepared pan.
- Transfer to oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 160 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, make the General Tso’s Sauce: In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup broth and cornstarch; set aside. Heat olive oil in small pot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chiles, hoisin, vinegar, sugar, honey, sesame oil and remaining 1 cup broth. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Whisk in broth-cornstarch mixture. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce has thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.
- Place meatballs in large bowl. Pour General Tso’s Sauce over meatballs and toss until meatballs are coated in sauce. Transfer meatballs to serving dish and serve garnished with green onions and sesame seeds.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 4 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 506Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 696mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 34g